Best Places in the World for Drift Diving
There’s nothing like a dive with a ripping current, coral whizzing by, and a frenzy of fish and little critters doing their best to hide from or fight the current. But despite the fast movement of water, stillness is key for drift dives. One way or another, the more you fight the current, the faster it pushes you along (I’m sure there’s a life lesson there). However, once you relax and find your proper place and position in the water, drift dives are the most relaxing, and even at times laziest dives you’ll do, all the while honing your skills as a scuba diver.
Too many people shy away from sites infamous for current. However, some of the most beautiful diving locations in the world are home to currents that constantly replenish the reef with abundant nutrients. Many forms of marine life can be sustained in these subsequent biodiversity hotspots, making the sometimes extra work worthwhile. You’ll find many animals in these places, from sponges and sea fans to manta rays and sharks, as well as tons of color in reefs with currents.
A perfect example of this is Elphinstone Reef in the Red Sea. This offshore reef is found in the open sea, and on the right day, you can drift from one end to the other without any effort! Currents are easy to get used to if you employ simple tips. First of all, like all diving, buoyancy is key! If you can maintain proper buoyancy and avoid excessive kicking or sculling, you’ll move much more slowly than your fellow divers. Fighting the current is futile, rather, those that do best in the current are those that embrace it. Unlike other types of diving, drift diving is the time to embrace stillness and let the ocean do all the work for you. Staying perpendicular to the current will keep your speed down and stay near any bottom topography where the friction results in a slightly slower current. Also, don’t forget to bring the proper fins - split fins won’t do you much good with a 3-knot current ripping you along!
Egypt is known for its vibrant and colorful dive locales. With the current allowing you to enjoy all these spots, check out Ras Mohammed and Shark & Yolanda Reef. While the currents tend to be far calmer than many of the spots mentioned above, they can still get pretty strong, and drift diving is usually the way to go. There is no shortage of life or color - you can see many brilliant creatures, from whales, sharks, Napoleon wrasses, lionfish, hammerheads, and many more.
With the world's biggest marine park, the Galapagos Islands' marine ecosystems are extremely well protected by the locals. The islands are regarded as one of the top diving destinations in the world for their unique and endemic species and the megafauna it often hosts. The current that hits the Galapagos stops many divers from exploring the beauty that the Galapagos has to offer, including schools of hammerheads and mola-mola in the pelagic zones and sea lions, marine iguanas, and penguins in the shallower areas.
The waters of Micronesia are renowned for their life and are also cursed with a current. The dive spots of Palau, like Ulong Channel and Blue Corner, will wow you and have you flying through the water-filled with sites of colorful soft corals, turtles, sharks, manta rays, and tons of other fishes.
The Maldives offer plenty of drift dives to those lucky enough to visit. Filled to the brim with life, many species of sharks are commonly seen, such as sea turtles, hoards of fish, and the occasional manta rays and whale sharks. Add Lhaviyani Atoll, Noonoo Atoll, and South Ari Atoll to the top of your dive list here!
One of the most biodiverse marine spots in the world, Komodo in Indonesia makes for the diving of a lifetime. Don’t let the currents scare you. Whether you’re a fan of megafaunas like sharks, dolphins, and whales or smaller critters like the wide variety of fish and invertebrates you can find here, you’ll surely love every second of cruising underwater. Be sure to explore the depths of Batu Sabun, Siaba Kecil, and Sabolon.