Written by Brian Johnston
Few adventures are as spectacular and eerie as scuba-diving among shipwrecks on the seabed. Whether you’re a novice diver or an expert, here are some top wrecks for an underwater thrill.
HMAS Swan, Australia
Scuttled off the coast of Dunborough after it had reached the end of its naval service, the 112m naval destroyer Swan was Australia’s first artificial dive wreck (there are now several more). The top of the wreck is just 6m below the surface, perfect for both beginner wreck-divers and underwater photographers. It now has terrific established marine life, and is home to wobbegongs, moray eels, rays, colourful clownfish and parrotfish, as well as superb soft corals.
Distance: 9,312 km
Flight Time: 10 hours, 50 minutes
USAT Liberty, Indonesia
There could hardly be a more conveniently located wreck: the Liberty lies just 30m offshore, at a depth of 9m–30m, off Tulamben in northeastern Bali, making it the holiday island’s most popular wreck-dive destination. The US army transport ship was sunk in 1942 by a Japanese submarine. Though it is too damaged and corroded to swim through, divers can admire plenty of detail from a safe distance. The 120m wreck also features a dazzling encrustation of corals and anemones.
Distance: 6,930 km
Flight Time: 12 hours , 10 minutes
Frequency: Daily via Singapore
MS Zenobia, Cyprus
This car ferry sank in 1980 on her maiden voyage, thankfully without loss of life. It lies on its side just outside Larnaca Harbour, making it readily accessible even for relatively untrained divers, since its starboard side is just 16m beneath the surface. Experienced divers can penetrate the lower car deck, with its weed-encrusted load of 120 vehicles.
Distance: 2024 km
Flight Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes
Frequency: 10 flights a week
SS Thistlegorm, Egypt
The best-known wreck in the Red Sea is a 130m British merchant navy ship sunk in 1941 by German bombers. It lies off Ras Mohammed near the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh and is strictly for good divers, since surrounding currents are strong, and surface and wreck currents run in different directions. The reward isn’t just the wreck itself, but the impressive coral and shoals of fish – including tuna and barracuda – for which these waters are known.
Distance: 2,066 km
Flight Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Frequency: 3 flights a day
HMS Hermes, Sri Lanka
This 12,900-ton British aircraft carrier sank off Sri Lanka’s east coast during the Second World War. It lies almost intact on its port side in ocean some 45m deep. Recently opened to experienced divers, the wreck has prolific marine life and is a rare opportunity to see a sunken aircraft carrier, complete with turrets and bow guns, in such clear waters.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Distance: 3,631 km
Flight Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Frequency: 3 flights a day
USS Oriskany, USA
Florida’s waters are thick with wrecks, from the remains of old Spanish galleons to modern Coast Guard cutters. Oriskany trumps them all: the decommissioned and deliberately sunken A-6 Intruder aircraft carrier has created the world’s largest artificial reef. You’ll find it south of Pensacola in waters 24m–44m deep, suitable for a variety of scuba-diving skill levels.
Distance: 12,342 km
Flight Time: 15 hour, 40 minutes
Frequency: Daily Flights