READERS CHOICE: BEST DESTINATIONS FOR WALL DIVING
Scuba Diving|May 2020
Big animals, currents and even pygmy seahorses add drama to your favorite sheer drop-offs
BROOKE MORTON
Invertebrate life thrives in the cold, nutrient-rich waters at Browning Wall off Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

BROOKE MORTON got hooked on diving at age 14, and went on to teach scuba on St. Croix after college. She’s dived and snorkeled on every continent.

1st Place Winner North America

1 BRITISH COLUMBIA

Browning Wall is undoubtedly the best coldwater wall dive on the planet. Found off Vancouver Island’s Port Hardy, this sheer wall dropping to 200 feet abounds in invertebrate life—species one is tempted to label macro, swollen to mammoth sizes here thanks to the rich nutrient flow.

The two biggies are the giant Pacific octopus, with arms spanning 6 feet, and the wolf eel, whose body spans up to 5 feet. Sea mammals such as sea otters, sea lions and white-sided dolphins are all common. But perhaps most rewarding are the invertebrates—acres of pink soft corals and plumose anemones, decorator crabs, nudibranchs that swell to a foot long, and starfish.

What’s most shocking to any first-timer is not only the size of these animals, but the extent to which life covers the site. Beyond Browning Wall, the Port Hardy area has 20 more sites, including North Wall and Frank’s Wall.

Corals cover Gordon Reef in the Straits of Tiran; healthy coral-covered walls abound in the Red Sea.

2 TURKS AND CAICOS

Sheer walls, average visibility spanning 100- plus feet and a parade of big animals add up to make Turks and Caicos one of the world’s top wall-diving destinations. And the island of Grand Turk offers something few other places can. “On our dives, we have the backdrop of singing whales,” says Henry Harries-Jones, instructor with Blue Water Divers. Humpbacks show up mid-January to mid-April to birth their young. “You can do two morning dives, then in the afternoon go out whale watching. We’re one of the only places where you can get in the water with them.”

CARIBBEAN AND ATLANTIC

1. Cayman Islands 2. Turks and Caicos 3. Belize 4. Mexico 5. U.S. Virgin Islands 6. Cuba 7. Bay Islands 8. Bahamas 9. Curaçao

PACIFIC AND INDIAN

1. Indonesia 2. Palau 3. Red Sea 4. Hawaii 5. Australia 6. Mexico 7. Fiji 8. Maldives 9. Philippines 10. Galapagos

UNITED STATES AND CANADA

1. British Columbia 2. California 3. Washington

What Is Readers Choice?

More than 5,000 readers chose their favorite destinations, resorts, operators, liveaboards and more for our 2020 awards. Here we feature some of the top vote-getters for each category, and highlight the winners serving those areas, listed in order of votes received. scubadiving.com/ readers choice

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