5 of the World’s Best Underwater Adventure Destinations

5 of the World’s Best Underwater Adventure Destinations

Explore a whole new world

When planning a motorhome road trip, there’s a whole world that many travellers forget about entirely: that strange and wonderful realm beneath the surface of the water. Of course it’s easy to grab your mask and snorkel and head out to any number of coastal locations for an underwater experience of sorts, but we wanted to highlight a handful of spots where you can really escape the ordinary and discover something unique. Motorhome journeys are all about heading into the unknown and finding places that really make you say “wow” so why settle for anything less?

The clearest waters in the world and a gap between two continental tectonic plates: Silfra in Iceland has both.

Silfra, Iceland

There are so many things that make this one of the most mind blowing underwater destinations on the face of the earth. For a start, it’s located in the magnificent Thingvellir National Park in Iceland. No Icelandic road trip is complete without a visit to Thingvellir, a place so visually striking that it was featured prominently in the Game of Thrones television show. Silfra itself though is (if possible) much more remarkable. Not only is this fissure in the earth known for having the clearest water in the world, with an unrivalled visibility of 100 metres, the entire fissure is a crack between the North American and Eurasian continental plates and is the only place where you can place your hands on two different tectonic plates at the same time. Silfra’s water filters up through countless depths of volcanic rock and is literally as pure as water can be. Both diving and snorkelling options are available, and it’s located a mere 40 minutes from Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. Pick up a motorhome rental from Keflavik airport and you’ll be experiencing Earth’s clearest waters in no time.

Lake Niassa (more commonly known as Lake Malawi) is packed full of colourful fish life.

Lake Niassa, Mozambique

Mozambique is definitely outside the norm when it comes to road trip destinations. However, it’s well worth the journey not only for the country’s land-based wildlife but also the incredible biodiversity to be found in its waters. Lake Niassa (also known as Lake Malawi) has been lauded by the World Wildlife Foundation as “the most biodiverse lake in the world” but that’s just one part of its appeal. Not only can you find clouds of brightly coloured fish and all kinds of species which have evolved specifically for their tiny niche within Lake Niassa, the water itself is remarkably clear. Due to Niassa’s high alkalinity, there are very few plants and little organic matter in the water, which essentially means that you can clearly see the underwater life in all its glory. Lake Niassa is located in the northern half of the country, so you’ll have to take a bit of a road trip from Maputo or Vilanculos to get there, but that’s no hardship in a nation as beautiful as Mozambique.

The sunstar starfish is just one of the many colourful sea creatures you could spot off the coast near Ullapool.

Image: Keith Roper (CC BY 2.0)

North West Highlands, United Kingdom

The Highlands of Scotland might seem like an odd choice for an underwater expedition, but the seascape off the coast around Ullapool is remarkably rich with life. There are actual snorkel trails which you can follow to get the best out of this area, although obviously you’re also free to explore as you please. Large sea life which you might be lucky enough to spot includes dolphins, harmless basking sharks and whales. Smaller creatures you might encounter along the way: sunstar starfish, lion’s mane jellyfish (don’t touch - they have a painful sting), colourful periwinkles and barrel jellyfish. To get to the Ullapool area, you could fly direct to the Highlands and pick up an Inverness motorhome rental or start your journey further south in Glasgow or Edinburgh.

The gentle whale shark is completely harmless to humans, and swimming alongside the biggest fish in the sea is a truly humbling experience.

Ningaloo Reef, Australia

There are many reasons to make the trip to Ningaloo Reef, but perhaps the most compelling is the chance to swim with the largest fish in the ocean. Whale sharks (neither a whale nor a shark) feed at Ningaloo during the March to June period, and this has been praised as the best place on earth to get close to these gentle giants. Another great reason to visit Ningaloo is the fact that most of the reef is very close to shore, so anyone with a snorkel can step into the water and almost immediately begin admiring the sea life that’s made its home amongst the colourful coral gardens. Other animals that you might encounter at Ningaloo Reef include manta rays, sea turtles and even humpback whales - this of course is in addition to the vast array of brightly coloured fish species that inhabit the reef. Ningaloo is about 14 hours west of Broome and 13 hours north of Perth, so make sure to set aside a few days to reach this stunning aquatic destination and explore along the way.

Sodwana Bay on the eastern coast of South Africa has been named one of the top dive spots on earth.

Image: Shura (CC BY 2.0)

Sodwana Bay, South Africa

Set in the midst of the Maputaland Marine Reserve, Sodwana Bay is known as one of the best dive sites in the world, attracting tens of thousands of scuba divers annually. This 50 kilometre stretch of reef hosts about 1,200 different species of fish, as well as less commonly seen creatures like whale sharks, manta rays and leatherback turtles. This is also where the coelacanth, an ancient fish long known only from fossils, was rediscovered in the early 21st century. Even if you’re not an experienced scuba diver there are plenty of spots ideal for snorkelling. Even once you tear yourself away from the water, you’ll find yourself in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, where you might be fortunate enough to see lions, giraffes, elephants, rhinos or hippos. Sodwana Bay is only about 4 and a half hours northeast along the coastline from Durban, so picking up a Durban motorhome rental is a very attractive option for those hoping to explore Sodwana and iSimangaliso.

Don’t just stick to exploring Earth’s land based wonders. Dive into underwater worlds to add a whole new dimension to your next motorhome holiday!

Written By: Kristof Haines

It’s funny how motorhome memories stick with you. I can still recall a motorhome vacation my family took when I was five years old and how awesome I thought I was, tucked away in a loft bed above the cab. From revealing unique destinations to providing tips and tricks, it’s my mission to help others build great motorhome memories too.