8 of the Best Shore Diving Destinations in the World

8 of the Best Shore Diving Destinations in the World

8 of the Best Shore Diving Destinations in the World

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8 of the Best Shore Diving Destinations in the World

Scuba diving offers a chance to see a part of the world only a very, very small fraction of people ever get to experience. You get to see rare animals, feel what it’s like to escape gravity for a while, and get to breathe underwater while going eye-to-eye with colorful fish. What could be better?

Well, one thing could be better: getting that experience without having to deal with crowded scuba diving boats and early morning wake-up calls.

Fortunately, there are plenty of places in the world where you can shore dive, and the best shore diving resorts and destination have access to nearby reefs, gentle beach entries, and shipwrecks sitting just a few dozen meters from shore. Not having to rely on boat operators (or share a boat with divers of unknown abilities) offers the freedom for divers to dive when they want, where they want, as many times as they want.

The world’s best shore diving destinations range from the coral-laden shores of Bonaire to cold-water bays and kelp forests around San Diego.

best shore diving kubu in bali

Want to dive the Kubu Wreck (also called the Boga Wreck) in Bali? Good news: it’s a shore dive. Photo: DiveIvanov/Shutterstock

The shore diving locales below cater to a range of diving styles and experience levels. It’s a loose guide, so don’t let it deter you from going somewhere you really want to visit — every location below will usually have at least one or two sites suitable for beginners, and diving is technically available year-round in most places. If you’re a beginner considering Bonaire or Curaçao, you’ll be happy to know those two islands are known for having some of the easiest (and most impressive) shore diving in the world.

Most places where you can dive have one or two available shore diving sites, even if most of the diving is usually done from boats. So if you happen to be somewhere where diving is available, it’s worth asking if the nearby shops have any shore dive sites they could take you to.

Local dive shops are your very best source for trip-planning information and are usually happy to answer any questions that help you become a more informed and prepared diver.

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Jump to:

    • Bonaire, Dutch Antilles
    • Bali, Indonesia
    • San Diego, California
    • The Hawaiian Islands
    • Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Mexico
    • Red Sea, Egypt
    • Monterey and Big Sur, California
    • Curaçao, Dutch Antilles
    • Shore diving Q & A

Shore diving on Bonaire

best shore diving on bonaire - the hilma hooker wreck

The Hilma Hooker is easily accessible from shore. Photo: Bonaire Tourism

  • Peak season for diving: December through April
  • Good for beginners? Yes
  • Average peak season water temp: Low 80 degrees F

Bonaire, a small island in the Dutch Caribbean, has a well-deserved reputation among divers for having the best shore diving in the world. The island has more than 80 dive sites accessible directly from the shore, making the island hugely popular with divers who value freedom and flexibility in dive planning.

Bonaire’s reef system runs along the entire leeward (western) side of the island, and some sections of coral reef start just a few steps from the shore. Depths at nearly all sites are suitable for beginners,  and it’s easy to navigate between dive sites as there’s one loop road that follows the coastline. Nearly all dive resorts on the island offer packages that include a rental car and unlimited tanks, so you can drive directly to whatever site you want to visit.

The Bonaire National Marine Park protects the entire coastline, ensuring healthy reefs and an abundance of fish and marine critters. Expect to see vibrant coral formations teeming with colorful fish, turtles, or maybe octopus and and rays. Eagle-eyed divers might even spot the occasional elusive seahorse or frogfish. However, Bonaire isn’t the place to go for sharks — which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you feel about sharks.

The calm currents and excellent visibility, often exceeding 90 feet, make Bonaire ideal for all skill levels. Beginners can build confidence in the shallow reefs, while experienced divers can explore deeper walls and swim-throughs. Bonaire also boasts an extremely well-preserved wreck: the Hilma Hooker, a freighter that ran aground in 1985 and is now a popular dive site teeming with marine life.

Bonaire Dive Resorts



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Dive resorts are very popular in Bonaire, and a few dive resorts even have house reefs so you can dive from the resort without needing to hop in the car. Resorts that don’t cater exclusively to divers will almost always still offer diving as an activity, since it’s the reason many travelers visit the island.

  • Buddy Dive: Among the most well-known of the dive resorts on the island, with a house reef, large dining area, and full on-site gear shop. A few dive packages are available, including ones with unlimited tanks and rental cars.
  • Captain Don’s Habitat: Another popular location for divers, and has an excellent house reef and reasonably priced week-long dive packages.
  • Harbour Village Beach Club: A bit more luxe, with more resort-style offerings. The house reef isn’t as large, but it has a small shipwreck, and you can shore dive or jump on one of the several daily dive charters that leave from the resort.
  • Divi Dive Bonaire. The house reef isn’t as impressive as some of the other resorts, but the five-minute walk to town is hard to beat, especially for non-divers in your group.

Shore diving in Bali, Indonesia

shore diving bali - usat liberty in tulamben

A diver on the USAT Liberty. Photo: Shahar Shabtai/Shutterstock

  • Peak season for diving: June to November
  • Good for beginners? Yes
  • Average peak season water temp: Low 80 degrees F

Bali, the “Island of the Gods,” is a paradise for scuba divers, and shore diving enthusiasts are well catered to on the island. With more than 50 shore diving sites accessible directly from the beach, Bali offers incredible freedom and flexibility for independent divers. Much of the shore diving is on the east coast near towns like Amed and Tulamben. Amed offers a laid-back atmosphere with numerous dive resorts and guesthouses catering specifically to divers, while Tulamben is famous for the wreck of the USAT Liberty, a World War II shipwreck teeming with marine life and accessible directly from the shore.

A nice bonus to diving in Bali is that there are plenty of dive sites accessible by boat, so you can blend shore and boat diving, based on your preference. There are a handful of more advanced (and semi-world-famous) dives around the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Menjangan Island, on the north side of the island, is part of a protected national park with exceptionally healthy marine life. If you visit the Nusas, be sure to do a dive to the manta ray cleaning station, where giant rays and mola molas are common sightings.

Bali has a dry season from April to November and a wet season from December to March. The dry season offers the best diving conditions with calm seas and excellent visibility, but the wet season can still be a good option for diving, with occasional rain showers and slightly lower tourist crowds.

Water temperatures remain pleasant throughout the year and are general quite warm (though the Nusas can have much colder thermoclines, requiring a five-mil). If encountering mola molas is on your wishlist, aim for a trip between July and October when sightings are most frequent around Nusa Penida.

In Bali, it’s required that you use the services of a dive guide or shop, and hotels do not offer self-guided house reef diving. But that’s a perk, as renting a car in Bali can be a bit of a pain, and guided shore dives usually include transportation from your hotel.

Bali dive resorts


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Bali is one of the most popular islands in the world for travelers, with a range of accommodations to suite all tastes. You’ll find everything from affordable hostels to mid-range dive resorts to extremely luxurious full-service resorts. Fortunately, the towns of Amed and Tulamben aren’t as touristed or as expensive as more popular destinations like Ubud or Seminyak.

  • Amed Beach Resort: Very reasonably priced and comfortable beachfront resort, starting around $45 a night and home to Two Fish Divers.
  • Bali Dive Resort and Spa: Dives start around $45 each and get progressively cheaper as you add more. There’s also a property in Tulamben; both have pools and spas. Nitrox is free for certified divers.
  • La Bila Dive Resort: Also in Amed is La Bila, with bungalows in a Balinese garden and included daily breakfasts.
  • Baliku Dive Resort: Check out Baliku if you prefer better views over waking up on the beach. Cliffside villas start around $38 a night and the property is home to Adventure Divers Bali.

More Bali lodging recommendations:

  • Bulgari Is Bringing Its Luxury Design to This Beachside Bali Resort
  • The Best Bali Airbnbs and Hotels To Embrace Nature in Luxury
  • This Rainforest Hotel in Bali Has One of the Coolest Infinity Pools in the World
  • This Balinese Hotel’s Infinity Pool Hangs 300 Feet Above the Indian Ocean

Shore diving in San Diego, California

san diego shore diving la jolla

Photo: NaturePicsFilms/Shutterstock

  • Peak season for diving: July-September
  • Good for beginners? Depends; best to go with a guide for your first time
  • Average peak season water temp: Mid-60 degrees F (but varies quite a bit)

San Diego is one of two excellent places in California for shore diving. San Diego may not be tropical, and the water is often chilly enough to demand a seven-mil or a drysuit, but the payoff is access to unique shore diving sites with healthy marine life like sea lions. Divers can choose from underwater canyons, kelp forests, and areas to see small leopard sharks.

Popular sites include La Jolla Shores, a protected cove with calm waters and a shallow reef teeming with fish life. The site in front of the Marine Room restaurant is known for leopard sharks, and experienced divers will find steep drop offs to the north of the Marine Room, just a short swim from shore.

La Jolla Cove is home to a thriving underwater ecological reserve where you can dive through kelp forests (which feels like diving in an underwater forest) and see rocky reefs teeming with colorful fish and playful harbor seals. Depending on the weather, entry and exit may be in strong(ish) waves. Be sure to wear booties as the entry can be rocky, and carry a diving knife since the kelp can occasionally get tangled on hoses. Because of the waves and currents, it’s usually best for experienced divers only.

Visibility in San Diego varies depending on the location and season, typically ranging from 15 feet on a bad day to 60 or 70 feet on a good day. Water temperatures are chilly year-round, averaging in the low 60s to low 70s. The water is warmest in August and September, but you can expect the calmest waves and best visibility from June to October. La Jolla Dive and Zach’s Scuba Shack are the main dive shops in La Jolla (though you can lobster dive in season with La Jolla Watersports).

San Diego dive resorts


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It goes without saying you’ll find every kind of accommodation under the sun in San Diego. If you’re diving, you’ll want to stay in La Jolla, since the traffic to get there from other parts of town can be quite bad (and parking in La Jolla is tough). Unfortunately, there are no dive-specific resorts around La Jolla. But most resorts in La Jolla or in the greater San Diego region may be able to recommend a few nearby dive shops.

More San Diego lodging recommendations:

  • 5 San Diego Bed and Breakfasts to Book on Your Next SoCal Trip
  • The Top San Diego Hotels Near Downtown and the Beach
  • 8 of the Prettiest Airbnbs in Downtown San Diego, California 
  • Get Green at These Cannabis-Friendly Airbnbs in San Diego

Shore diving in Hawai’i

shore diving in hawaii - oahu lava tube

Photo: bcampbell65/Shutterstock

  • Peak season for diving: June to September
  • Good for beginners? Depends on the site
  • Average peak season water temp: High 70 degrees F

Headed to Hawai’i? If so, you’ll find shore diving on Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai.

Oahu has more than 40 named dive sites, including a handful of beginner-friendly shore dive sites. Some of the best shore diving sites include Hanauma Bay, a world-famous nature preserve with calm, protected waters and abundant fish life; as well as Electric Beach (off Kahe Point Beach Park), popular for larger creatures like dolphins that like to play in the current. At Electric Beach, you’ll have about a 200-foot swim to get to the dive site, and may have to carry your gear through some mid-sized waves.

On the north shore, head to Shark’s Cove (named for the shape of the shoreline, not actual sharks), for swim-through lava tubes and lots of colorful fish. Lanai Lookout, also on the north shore, is known for eagle rays and reef sharks, as well as the occasional whale. But it has a steep, tricky entry, and can get some very strong waves, so it’s only for advanced divers, and should be done with a guide the first few times.

On Kauai, the shore diving is on the southern part of the island near Koloa Landing. The sites are in protected coves with very easy entries and basically no waves or currents, and it’s almost impossible to dive there and not see a sea turtle. It’s one of the easiest beginner shore dive spots in the Hawaiian islands.

If you’re on Maui, most diving is on the west side of the island, with a lot of variety. You can do night shore dives at Mala Wharf, or do a wall dive at Black Rock. Local operator Banyan Tree Divers has a good guide to popular Maui shore dive sites on its website, but it’s not an exhaustive list, as the island has dozens of potential shore-entry dive locations. Of the Hawaiian island, Maui is probably the best bet if you want to avoid boat diving entirely.

Finally, if you’re headed to the Big Island, you’ll want to base yourself on the island’s northwest side, where most of the shore diving sites are located. Of particular note is a site called “Nudi Madness,” and if you’re obsessed with nudibranch, you’ll be pleased to know it’s exactly what you think. The visibility isn’t great, but the site is shallow so you can spend all your time looking for the colorful, whimsical nudibranch that call the site home. Their numbers are at their peak in the summer. Kona Honu Divers has a great map of all the best shore diving sites.

Hawai’i dive resorts


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Your search for lodging in Hawai’i should start with which island you want to visit, followed by making sure there’s a dive shop nearby. But since pretty much every coastal town in Hawaii has a dive shop nearby, that’s not hard to do. There aren’t many dive-specific resorts in Hawai’i, but many dive shops have partnerships with hotels. For example, the Grand Wailea Maui works with Dive Wailea, and Aloha Scuba Diving Company is inside Oahu’s Ala Moana Hotel.

More Hawai’i lodging recommendations:

  • The Finest Resorts in Honolulu for the Ultimate Family Vacation or Romantic Getaway
  • 8 Maui Beach Hotels With the Best Views in Hawai’i
  • These Hotels on Hawai’i’s Big Island Showcase the State’s Best Beaches
  • The Most Luxurious Resorts on the Hawaiian Islands for a Vacation of a Lifetime
  • Kauai’s Coolest Hotels Offer a Truly Relaxing Beach Escape

Shore diving in Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Mexico

tulum cenote diver

Photo: Dmitriy Efremychev/Shutterstock

  • Peak season for diving: December to April
  • Good for beginners? Select cenotes are beginner friendly, but having an AOW cert will give you more options
  • Average peak season water temp: Low-to-mid 70 degrees F

Tulum isn’t really shore diving — it’s cenote diving. But the concept is the same, as you’ll park just steps from cenotes (tropical sinkholes) and walk to your entry point. Cenotes are formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock and are usually connected by underground tunnels, creating a network of caverns, tunnels, and open water areas. The visibility is usually fantastic.

Tulum has more than 60 accessible cenotes, and most dive shops go to at least a dozen or so. Some cenotes are cavern-like, with sunlight filtering through openings overhead that creates an ethereal underwater light show. Others are open-air cenotes, resembling shallow lakes with lush vegetation along the edges. The most adventurous dives venture deep into the labyrinthine cave systems, requiring specialized training and equipment. And on some deeper cenotes, you can pass through a sulfur layer that looks like an underwater river.

Cenote diving emphasizes proper technique and respect for the delicate environment, since it doesn’t take much to make a stalactite break (and kicking up silt can reduce your visibility to almost nothing). You don’t need to be a certified cave or cavern diver, but having an advanced open water certification is a must, as is excellent buoyancy control. And you’ll want to carry at least two flashlights. Aktun Ha, also known as Carwash, is one of the closest cenotes to Tulum and very popular with beginner divers.

Entry points vary depending on the cenote. Some have convenient staircases leading down to the water, while others might require a giant stride entry from a floating platform. Most dive shops are located in and around Tulum Town, rather than at Tulum Beach (where traffic is a pain to deal with, anyway). Good options include Koox Diving, the Cenote Guy, and Agua Clara Tulum, among others.

You can dive year-round, but the dry season is December to April and offers the best diving conditions with minimal rain. The shoulder seasons (May/June and September to November) are less crowded and cheaper, but the cenotes will have poorer visibility after heavy rain. If you’re hoping to dive with the bull sharks off Playa del Carmen, visit between November and March.

 Tulum and Playa del Carmen dive resorts


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If you’re diving in Tulum, you’ll want to stay in Tulum Town or the northern end of Tulum Beach, as the extra time it’ll take you to drive to the southern parts of Tulum Beach can easily add 45 minutes to your commute. There aren’t any formal dive resorts in Tulum, though there are a few resorts with on-site dive shops in Playa del Carmen (about 40 minutes north), which is also near some divable cenotes. Options include the Iberostar, which works with the highly regarded Dressel Divers, or Ah Xok Suites, partnered with Phantom Divers.

More Tulum lodging recommendations:

  • The 8 Best Hotels in Tulum for Photo-Worthy Jungle Vibes
  • 9 Gorgeous Airbnbs for Your Tulum Bachelorette Party
  • These Top-Rated Tulum Airbnb Rentals Put You Right Near the Beach
  • Pablo Escobar’s Former Mansion Is Now a Luxury Hotel in Tulum, Mexico
  • The Rosewood Mayakoba Is the Perfect Mix of Luxury and Wellness Near Playa Del Carmen

Shore diving on the Red Sea, Egypt

red sea divers

Photo: Tunatura/Shutterstock

  • Peak season for diving: Year-round (more or less)
  • Good for beginners? Yes
  • Average peak season water temp: From the low 70s F to high 80s F

The Red Sea’s water clarity, shipwrecks, and large pelagics are already enough to land it on most divers’ bucket lists. But add in the fact that diving there is relatively inexpensive, and that the resorts along the Red Sea are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Africa, and it’s no surprise that it’s becoming more and more popular.

If you’re into shore diving, you have multiple places to choose from. While you’ll likely want to do some boat dives to reach the Red Sea’s deeper sites (or maybe even a liveaboard, as they tend to be quite affordable), you’ll find that many towns have resorts with house reefs and easily accessible shore dives.

High season for diving in the Red Sea is spring and fall, with water reliably in the high 70s/low 80s Fahrenheit and visibility reliably exceeding 100 feet. The water is still warm in the off-seasons (summer and winter), but remember that the temperatures on land in summer can be unbearably hot. Visibility can also be a bit reduced in the summer due to the occasional plankton bloom.

If you want to see hammerheads around Marsa Alam, visit between May and July.

Red Sea dive resorts


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  • Marsa Shagra: Near Marsa Alam,  this is an exceptional places to stay, with glamping-style luxury tents (or more traditional rooms) sitting just steps from the Elphinstone house reef. It’s more than a mile long, and guests get unlimited access to diving it, including zodiac rides if needed to the farther corners.
  • Marsa Nakari: This resort is 30 minutes south of Marsa Shagra and owned by the same operation (Red Sea Diving Safari). It has six separate dive sites along its house reef.
  • Wadi Sabarah: A new, luxurious eco-resort and botanical garden with a healthy house reef that’s managed by Emperor Diving. It’s an ideal place to stay before or after heading out on one of the company’s many liveaboard diving trips.
  • Fort Arabesque Resort, Spa, and Villas: This is a great pick around Makadi Bay, just south of Hurghada. It works with Hurghada’s iDive shop, which offers shore diving, boat trips, and speciality options like night diving.
  • Stella Makadi:  A big, luxurious hotel on the beach with lots of pools and a large house reef.
  • Serenity Makadi Beach: Another luxurious hotel with a house reef.

Shore diving around Big Sur/Monterey, California

shore diving point lobos

Starfish cling to the seafloor in a forest of giant kelp. Photo: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock

  • Peak season for diving: Late fall
  • Good for beginners? No, it’s best to have an AOW cert and experience in cold water
  • Average peak season water temp: Mid-to-high 50 degrees F

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, just south of Monterey in Big Sur, is a unique underwater experience accessible via shore diving and one of the prettiest state parks in California. This marine protected area is home to healthy kelp forests, rocky reefs teeming with life, and frequent sightings of charismatic fauna like otters.

Diving is done from Whaler’s Cove, via a boat entry ramp. It’s not difficult, but it can get slippery, so make sure you have booties with grip. There can also be waves and currents, so take your time with the surface swim on your way out to sites like Middle Reef and Worm Patch.

The main draw to shore diving at Point Lobos is the fact that the underwater world at Point Lobos is a kaleidoscope of color. Dozens of fish species live in the safety of the kelp forests, including colorful (and easy to spot) garibaldi. You’ll also likely see plenty of sea stars, rockfish, and eels, and otter and harbor seal sightings are very common, too. If you’re lucky, you may even see a few sharks or notice whales breaching in the distance.

Diving at Point Lobos has a daily cap of 20 divers and reservations are mandatory for all divers. You can make them up to two months in advance via the park website. There are no dive support facilities in the park, so make sure you have all your own gear or go with a guide from a shop like Spangler’s Scuba or Sac City Scuba. Both operators can take you to other shore dive locales around Monterey, too.

The best shore diving conditions around Point Lobos are in the summer, from roughly May to October. Expect calmer seas and better visibility (up to 60 or 70 feet, if you’re lucky), as well as slightly warmer temperatures. However, the water is always on the chilly side, only peaking in the low-to-mid 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Most people wear dry suits, though a head-to-toe seven-mil kit should be fine for one or two dives if you aren’t dry suit certified.

Big Sur/Monterey dive resorts


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If you’re diving at Point Lobos, you’ll want to stay in the southern part of Monterey or Carmel-by-the-Sea. You could also stay in Big Sur at one of the smaller resorts along Highway 1, but just remember that they’re mostly along one-land roads, which means traffic can be pretty bad in the peak season and on weekends.

Shore diving in Curaçao

curacao best shore diving bait ball and diver

Photo: NaturePicsFilms/Shutterstock

  • Peak season for diving: Year-round
  • Good for beginners? Yes
  • Average peak season water temp: Low 80 degrees F

Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island very close to Bonaire, has nearly 40 shore diving access points, some of which have multiple sites within them, making it a haven for divers seeking freedom and flexibility. It’s not as many divers as Bonaire, but the island is larger with more developed towns and more choices for large luxury resorts, making Curaçao potentially a better pick for groups who want diving to be only part of their vacation.

Most of the best shore diving sites are on the island’s south coast, which is surrounded by a healthy reef. Since many of the coral formations begin just steps from shore, shore diving is popular with divers of all levels, and dives can be as shallow as 30 feet or so. Entry points vary, but many of the most popular sites have purpose-built entry platforms or sandy beach areas where you can be in shallow surf to put on your fins and tank.

Like Bonaire, Curaçao’s reefs are very healthy and robust. This is for several reasons, one of which is that the islands are rarely hit by hurricanes, which can damage and destroy shallow reefs. Angelfish, butterflyfish, and colorful juveniles are a common sight, as are sea turtles, barracuda, and even the occasional octopus. The clear water, shallow depths,  and brightly colored critters also make it very popular with underwater photographers, as photos retain more color the closer you are to the surface. If there’s one site not to miss on the island, it’s Alice in Wonderland, with reliably clear water and some of the brightest reefs you’ll ever see outside of a fish tank.

Year-round, visibility is generally excellent, ranging from 60 to 100-plus feet, depending on location and season. While some divers may opt to wear just a rashguard, most divers will likely want a three-mil wetsuit to stay warm during multiple days of diving.

Curaçao dive resorts


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Many resorts near the best shore diving sites on the southern coast cater specifically to divers, with on-site dive shops, gear storage, tank fills, and easy access to house reefs for shore diving. Budget-friendly options like guesthouses and vacation rentals are also available. Popular dive-specific resorts on Curaçao include:

  • All West Curaçao: A beachfront building with multi-room apartments and unlimited tanks, on its own house reef. Packages include car rentals.
  • Lionsbeach Dive Resort: A full-service resort with a house reef, on-site dive shop and four on-site restaurants.
  • Sunscape Curaçao: An all-inclusive resort (owned by Hyatt) with a house reef that’s part of the Curaçao Underwater Sculpture Garden.
  • Marazul Dive Resort: A small, laid-back resort with beachfront villas, a house reef, and lots of nearby dive shops.

Ultimately, nearly every resort and hotel on the island is used to having divers visit, and the sheer number of dive shops means you won’t have to walk far from your resort to find one. Like in Bonaire, most divers do self-supported dives by renting a car and driving to the entry points, rather than going on guided dive trips.

What is shore diving?

shore diver getting into ocean

Photo: Arseniy Bobrov/Shutterstock

Choosing between shore diving and boat diving depends on what you’re looking for in your underwater adventure. Shore diving offers a taste of freedom and convenience. You can pack your gear, head to the beach, and explore the underwater world directly from the shore. There’s no waiting on other divers or having to plan your day around a boat schedule. You set your own pace and dive whenever you’re ready, as many times as you want. However, shore dives are typically shallower and limited to whatever you can reach in a short swim from land.

Boat diving provides a more structured experience with a guide or divemaster at the helm. They take care of navigation, brief divers on the site, and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Divers will need to follow the guide and have access to an expert to help them assemble and check their gear, which can be good for beginners.

Boat trips can also reach deeper sites and offshore locations, opening up a wider world of marine life encounters, wrecks, or underwater walls that wouldn’t be accessible from shore. The downside is that boat diving typically comes with a higher price tag compared to shore diving, plus crew tips. And you usually don’t get to do more than two dives per day on a boat-diving scuba vacation.

Pros of shore diving

best shore diving - woman entering water

Shore diving entires can be as basic as simply walking into the water. Photo: Alexandr Jitarev/Shutterstock

Shore diving boasts several advantages for scuba enthusiasts. First and foremost, it offers incredible freedom and flexibility. You ditch the rigid schedules of boat trips and dive on your own terms. This spontaneity is a big draw for many divers, as is the fact that it’s cheaper (you only need to factor in gas and parking, especially if your resort package includes unlimited tanks).

Another perk is the ease of logistics. With shore diving, there’s less gear to lug around since you enter the water directly from the shore, and you don’t have to haul your stuff in and out of a crowded boat or get ready in a hurry to time the currents correctly. You also don’t need to do backroll entries (though that’s a skill every diver should know), and you can say goodbye to getting seasick before your dive starts. Shore dives can also be a great way to develop your self-reliance as a diver. Since there’s usually no dive guide on hand, you’ll hone your navigation skills and become more comfortable planning and executing your dives.

Cons of shore diving

shore diver down stairs

You’ll skip the hassle of dealing with a boat, but may still have to carry your dive gear along beaches or down rocky and slippery staircases. Photo: blue-sea.cz</>/Shutterstock

While shore diving offers freedom and budget-friendly perks, there are also some drawbacks to consider.

One challenge is entry and exit. Unlike the ease of climbing onto a boat platform, shore entries can be tricky, especially with factors like waves, currents, or uneven rocky terrain. These conditions can make carrying your gear and navigating entry/exit points more difficult and potentially hazardous. They can also be quite easy, but it really depends on the site and conditions.

Another con is self-reliance. Without a dive guide on shore dives, the responsibility for navigation, dive plan execution, and awareness falls entirely on you and your buddy. This can be daunting for new divers and requires a strong foundation in dive safety procedures, gear assembly, and some basic navigation skills.

Finally, shore dives typically limit you to shallower depths. Breathtaking coral reefs and interesting underwater features are often accessible from shore, but if you’re hoping to encounter specific marine life like sharks or explore deeper wrecks and walls, boat diving may be the better option.

Tips for shore diving

buddies diving in the shore

Always dive with a buddy. Photo: Juice Flair/Shutterstock

  • Be good at navigation: Most tropical shore diving is done at your own leisure, so you usually won’t have a guide. Fortunately, navigating on shore dives is easy: go left or right from the site buoy, and turn around when you get to your halfway point. You’ll want to have you own compass to make sure you keep going in the right direction (and should pay attention to your depth, obviously). Using your own compass on shore dives is a good way to practice in an easy navigable environment, which can be a useful skill on future dives.
  • Always dive with a buddy: No exceptions. Don’t shore dive alone, ever.
  • Swimming: You may have a surface swim to get to the buoy or site marker. Take your time and don’t exhaust yourself by fighting the waves too hard to get to the buoy. Scuba diving is not a race and it’s fine to have a nice leisurely float before you descend.
  • Booties: You will definitely want booties for shore diving almost anywhere in the world. You’ll need to carry all your gear through parking lots, down cement stairs, across rocky beaches and across sea shells — the list goes on. You’ll want booties with some grip that protect your feet, not just a thin Aqua Sock.
  • Go against the current: If you start your shore dive and notice a gentle current, start your diving by diving against the current. This is basic diving 101, but it’s a good thing to remember for shore dives.
  • Turtle navigation: If you get lost on shallow shore dives (like those in Bonaire or around hotels with house reefs), you can always navigate sea turtle-style. After doing your requisite safety stop, make a slow ascent to the surface, then just look around until you see your car or entry point.
  • Shore diving with a guide: Guides are rare for shore dives in tropical and resort destinations. But for any shore dive in a new location with any factor that compounds the difficulty — be it a tough entry/exit, poor visibility, cold water, or strong currents — you’ll want to bring a local guide with you the first time. In any place you’ve never dived before, it’s a good idea to have someone with you who knows the site, conditions, and entry/exit routine. Shore diving without a local divemaster can be extremely risky.


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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.