World's Best Wrecks for Scuba Divers | Sport Diver

The World's 50 Best Wrecks

The Top Locations for Scuba Diving Wrecks

The 50 Best Wrecks in the World

The World's 50 Best Wrecks
We perused the globe to amass this list of top artificial reefs, featuring dramatic architecture, plentiful marine life and gripping tales of troubled waters. Click through to find the best wrecks to add to your next dive trip.

Illustration by Elizabeth Fleener; Alex Bean

Wreck lovers know the powerful feeling that overcomes them as they descend on a sunken vessel.

It’s a mix of excitement, awe and respect. Some might see only rusting, rotting hulks on the ocean floor, but divers see a living reef. And they can be amazing — these ships are often important ecosystems for the creatures that inhabit them, from sharks and other big animals that patrol the perimeter to the tiniest critters like arrow crabs, which seem to set up housekeeping almost immediately. Many of us also find ourselves intrigued by the story of a ship’s sinking. The tales are gripping ones featuring heroism during battle, the raging power of nature, and unsolved mysteries. And of course, there are those purpose-sunk ships with a colorful or historic past. Whatever your reason for being a wreck aficionado, these picks are worthy of adding to your list of wanna-dive sites.

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HMNZS Waikato - New Zealand

HMNZS Waikato - New Zealand
The wreck of the HMNZS Waikato lies off the picturesque Tutukaka Coast of Northland, New Zealand. Sunk as an artificial reef in 2000, this Leander-class frigate was once part of the Armilla patrol during the Falklands conflict. With its impressive twin 4.5-inch guns still on display — now encrusted with jewel anemones and hydroids — and at a maximum depth of 98 feet, the Waikato offers a great dive for everyone, from the novice to the most experienced wreck diver. — Richard Robinson

Learn More: diving.co.nz

Richard Robinson

San Francisco Maru - Chuuk*

San Francisco Maru - Chuuk
For those with tech training and experience, the San Francisco Maru beckons from 200 feet below. View the three Mitsubishi tanks on the deck at 160 feet. One sits atop another, a result of the shock this cargo vessel experienced when six 500-pound bombs ripped it open and sent it racing downward, smashing into the bottom. If time and gas allow, trucks in the forward hold at 170 feet also await discovery. — Brandon Cole

Learn More: trukodyssey.com

Brandon Cole

SS President Coolidge - Vanuatu

SS President Coolidge - Vanuatu
If you’ve got a passion for deep wrecks, the 650-foot-long SS President Coolidge might be perfect. This luxury cruise liner turned WWII troop ship was hit by mines in 1942, and subsequently sank to a depth of between 69 and 240 feet. Divers shouldn’t miss an encounter with “The Lady,” a ceramic figure in the first-class dining saloon showing a woman riding a unicorn. — Felipe Barrio

Learn More: aoreadventures.com

Felipe Barrio

USAT Libery - Indonesia

USAT Liberty - Indonesia
The USAT Liberty is Bali’s signature dive, and it’s not hard to see why. Lying just off the black-sand beach of Tulamben Bay, it is probably the world’s most accessible wreck dive: Just a short swim from the shore, and you’re exploring the remains of the ship, which sit in depths ranging from 26 to 100 feet, and are absolutely smothered in marine growth and a plethora of Indo-Pacific fish life. — Mark Evans

Learn More: tulambenwreckdivers.com

Mick Tait

Iro Maru - Palau

Iro Maru - Palau
Sitting upright on a 130-foot bottom, its soft-coral-covered kingposts reaching to within 45 feet of the surface, the 470-foot Iro is Palau’s most popular war wreck. It bears damage from a torpedo that didn’t sink it and a bomb that did. The bridge is easily penetrated, but to get the best shots (and to stay friends with your dive buddy), practice great buoyancy control; the wreck is heavily silted, and is easily stirred up by an errant fin. — Tom Morrisey

Learn More: samstours.com

Lea Lee

Carthaginian II - Maui, Hawaii

Carthaginian II - Maui, Hawaii
Sunk on Dec. 13, 2005, as an artificial reef, this whaling-vessel replica served for more than 20 years prior as a floating museum, examining Lahaina’s old whaling days. It rests at 95 feet, so dive time here is limited. If your timing is right, though, you might be circled by Maui’s Atlantis submarine. Much marine life — such as turtles and stingrays — now call this wreck home. Notable residents include the frequently seen frogfish: Six on one dive is my record. — David Fleetham

Learn More: mauiscuba.com

David Fleetham

M/V Pacific Gas - Papua New Guinea

M/V Pacific Gas - Papua New Guinea
Because of its exposed location, you must time your dive to the Pacific Gas just right, and variable to strong currents make it best suited for advanced divers. The stern lies in 143 feet of water, so watch your depth carefully as you descend the mooring line. Scuttled in 1986, the 213-foot-long ship is now home to tremendous quantities of marine life, including lionfish, ghost pipefish and batfish, and schooling jacks, snapper and sweetlips. — Rebecca Strauss

Learn More: loloata.com

Arturo Telle

Grumman F6F Helldiver - Maui, Hawaii

Grumman F6F Helldiver - Maui, Hawaii

This World War II plane in Maalaea Bay sits mostly upside down in 30 feet of water, with the engine and prop slightly deeper and about 100 feet away. The intact fuselage and wings, slowly settling into the silty bottom, are covered in substantial coral growth. This small site may hold whitetip reef sharks resting under the plane’s wings and endemic Hawaiian lionfish tucked under the hard coral. — David Fleetham

Learn more: mauiscuba.com

Courtesy Ed Robinson’s Diving Adventures

USS Saratoga CV-3 - Bikini Atoll

USS Saratoga CV-3 - Bikini Atoll
A 1946 nuclear test blast sunk this 880-foot aircraft carrier off Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Although this South Pacific destination is a commitment to reach — it’s approximately 30 hours by boat from the airport on neighboring island Kwajalein — the ship is worth the effort to get here. The bridge starts at 40 feet, and the deck at 90, giving divers relatively ample time to explore. — Brooke Morton

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Jake Seaplane - Palau

Jake Seaplane - Palau
Resting on one float, its wing tilted off the 45-foot sea bottom, this Aichi E13A seaplane is Palau’s most photographed aircraft wreck. That’s because the water is super clear at high tide and — seen from the front, at least — the wreck looks surprisingly intact. But move aft, and you’ll see that the tail and second float broke away on impact. Pose for pics near the cockpit, but be careful — there’s still a live hand-dropped bomb near the gunner’s position. — Travis Marshall

Learn More: samstours.com

Arturo Telle

Yongala - Townsville, Australia

Yongala - Townsville, Australia
Think of this 360-foot steamship as a satellite reef of the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. Lost with all hands during a 1911 cyclone, the Yongala has become an immense cleaning station and meet-and-greet hangout for VW Beetle-size grouper, sharks, sea snakes, turtles, swarms of barracuda and snapper, and squadrons of stingrays. Maximize your time being mobbed by marine life by choosing nitrox for the 90-foot-depth profile. Current and rough seas aren’t unusual. — Brandon Cole

Learn More: www.mikeball.com

Brandon Cole

King Cruiser - Thailand

King Cruiser - Thailand
Visibility and current can be daunting on this 278-foot passenger ferry, which went down in 1997 in unexplained conditions but with no loss of life. Its collapsed upper deck means it’s a deeper dive today — about 50 feet at its shallowest — and unsafe to penetrate, but many of its flat surfaces are home to Thailand’s lovely signature soft corals in lavender and white. Look for yellow and white snapper, fusiliers, goatfish, lionfish and barracuda, often in huge numbers. — Mary Frances Emmons

Learn More: aggressor.com

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Fujikawa Maru - Chuuk

Fujikawa Maru - Chuuk
Though 71 years have passed since the bombs fell and a fleet sank, divers exploring this shipwreck today are transported back in time to Operation Hailstone, two fiery days when a U.S. ambush crippled the Japanese navy. Chuuk’s most popular dive, the Fuji holds fighter planes, the iconic “R2-D2” compressor and coral-encrusted deck guns, mast and bridge. The anchor chain now acts as a high-rise condo for critters. — Brandon Cole

Learn More: trukodyssey.com

Brandon Cole

Nippo Maru - Chuuk

Nippo Maru - Chuuk
After swimming past the lush corals on the foredeck into the cargo hold of the Nippo Maru, you’ll notice that a stark contrast from bright and colorful to dark and eerie occurs. A Japanese gas mask lying in the debris of war takes on a ghostly appearance when seen through the camera’s viewfinder. The artifacts found on the Chuuk Lagoon wrecks have many stories to tell. The state of these once-grand ships would indicate most have a tragic ending. — Michael Gerken

Learn More: trukodyssey.com

Michael Gerken

Sea Tiger - Oahu, Hawaii

Sea Tiger - Oahu, Hawaii
Originally apprehended carrying 93 illegal Chinese immigrants, the Sea Tiger now sits just a short boat ride away from Waikiki Beach. Sunk as an artificial reef in 1999, it features marine life including squirrelfish, filefish, moray eels, green sea turtles, sharks and spotted eagle rays. Depth ranges from 80 to 127 feet, making this site best for intermediate to advanced divers. — Jennifer Penner

Learn More: waikikidiving.com

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USS Apogon - Bikini Atoll

USS Apogon - Bikini Atoll
Following the 1946 “Baker” nuclear blast, the 312-foot American submarine Apogon lies off Bikini Atoll in excellent condition, upright. The glassy-sweeper-patrolled conning tower, primary deck gun and passive sonar-detection head remain intact. Torpedoes sit loaded inside open hatches. Nose in carefully for a view — much live ammunition remains. Another reason to stay sharp is depth: It’s 130 feet to the top of the submarine. — Brooke Morton

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YO-257 - Oahu, Hawaii

YO-257 - Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu has several wreck dives, most off Waikiki Beach, easily accessible by a short boat ride. The YO-257, formerly a World War II oiler boat, now sits in 120 feet of water with the main deck at 85 feet. Currents can be strong, so it’s considered an advanced dive; it’s not uncommon to see reef sharks and spotted eagle rays cruising the blue, while green sea turtles will often rest on the decks of the wreck. — Jennifer Penner

Learn More: diveoahu.com

Jennifer Penner

Shinkoku Maru - Chuuk

Shinkoku Maru - Chuuk
This 500-foot tanker is both a grim war grave and a cheerful coral garden. Pay your respects to those lost in Chuuk’s World War II sea battle while carefully hovering inside the sick bay where a Japanese soldier’s bones solemnly rest on a silt-covered operating table. Then brighten your mood by reveling in resplendent soft corals, fans and sponges thriving on the ship’s exterior. Shinkoku is easily dived inside and out, since its deck is only 60 feet deep. — Brandon Cole

Learn More: trukodyssey.com

Brandon Cole

Helmet Wreck - Palau

Helmet Wreck - Palau
No one knows the name of this 189-foot freighter, which was bombed in March 1944, loaded with depth charges, machine guns, gas masks, sake bottles, aircraft engines and — yes — lots and lots of Japanese military helmets. With its stern at 45 feet and its bow at 110, the wreck looks like it’s still nose-diving for the bottom. Bomb damaged, unstable and packed with explosives, this wreck is a good one to peek into, but avoid penetrating. — Travis Marshall

Learn More: samstours.com

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M/V Capt. Keith Tibbetts - Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

M/V Capt. Keith Tibbetts - Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
The only Russian warship you can dive in the West, Cayman Brac’s M/V Capt. Keith Tibbetts was wrenched in two by a 2004 hurricane. Today, the 330-foot Tibbetts hosts picturesque tube sponges swaying over midships rubble, and encrusting sponges plaster interior spaces. Rising from 110 feet at the sand to 40 feet at its main deck, Tibbetts is accessible to all kinds of divers; both sections can be penetrated, with the bow giving a more challenging dive. Its rear guns provide an irresistible photo op. — Mary Frances Emmons

Learn More: reefdiverscaymanbrac.com

Joel Penner

El Aguila - Roatan

El Aguila - Roatan
Not far from West End’s beach-bar scene is a wreck that hosts a different kind of party. The 230-foot former freighter El Aguila was intentionally sunk in 110 feet of water off Roatan’s north shore in 1997; one year later, Hurricane Mitch ripped it apart. That knockout punch turned into a gift for divers: extra nooks where macro life like shrimp and arrow crabs shelter. Good-size grouper shadow you, and the divemaster can point out the resident green moray. — Patricia Wuest

Learn More: tobri-divers.com/en/

Allen Sullivan

Butler Bay Wrecks - St. Croix

Butler Bay Wrecks - St. Croix Although Butler Bay is listed as a shore dive, note that five ships lie in this west coast cove: You’ll have to be keen with a compass to pack them into one go. The alternative: Divide them into two dives. First, go deep with the 177-foot Rosa Maria, where you can glide between ship and prop, and the oil-refinery tugboat Coakley Bay. The shallower dive includes the Virgin Islander, a 300-foot oil barge, and Suffolk Maid, a 144-foot trawler, plus a section of the former NOAA hydrolab. — Brooke Morton

Learn More: canebayscuba.com

Steve Simonsen

M/V Bianca C - Grenada

M/V Bianca C - Grenada
One cannot dive Grenada and miss the Titanic of the Caribbean, as the former luxury liner Bianca C is known — but if the current’s running at a good clip, missing the ship becomes a distinct possibility. Descend fast and drift from stern to bow across the massive 600-foot ship, which sits in 165 feet of water at its deepest. Keep your eyes peeled for the famed swimming pool on deck and drop in for a dip — if the current allows. — Rebecca Strauss

Learn More: aquanautsgrenada.com

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Superior Producer - Curacao

Superior Producer - Curaçao
This 165-foot-long freighter, which lies in 100 feet of water, is a riot of color and marine life. Tube and rope sponges compete with cup corals for space on the wheelhouse and railings, and visitors might catch a glimpse of moray eels tucked into the holds or great barracudas lurking near the bow. This wreck is commonly visited by boat, but we prefer to access it from the beach so we can explore the nearby reef on our way back to shore. — Allison Vitsky Sallmon

Learn More: oceanencounters.com/en/

Allison Vitsky Sallmon

RMS Rhone - British Virgin Islands

RMS Rhone - British Virgin Islands
The 310-foot, iron-hulled RMS Rhone was considered unsinkable, but during an 1867 storm, the ship was pushed into Salt Island’s Black Rock Point and smashed in two. Artifacts like lifeboat davits are everywhere, and after the sun sets, orange cup corals unfurl to feed, treating divers to one of the Caribbean’s most spectacular night dives. — Patricia Wuest

Learn More: sailcaribbeandivers.com

Steve Simonsen

Hermes - Bermuda

Hermes - Bermuda
With more than 300 shipwrecks, Bermuda easily takes the title as the Shipwreck Capital of the World. Its Lincoln Memorial: the Hermes, a steel vessel measuring 165 feet. This former World War II buoy tender had many lives before breaking down in 1983 while on its way to deliver gifts to locals on the Cape Verde Islands. Today it gifts photographers with its fully intact body lying at 80 feet. Upon descent, the glory shot is the sunlit mast. — Tara Bradley

Learn More: divebermuda.com

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Ray of Hope - Nassau, Bahamas

Ray of Hope - Nassau, Bahamas
Wrecks are marquee attractions for divers, but giant-stride onto Nassau’s 200-foot Ray of Hope, and you’re in for a double feature — a wreck that’s swirling with gray reef sharks. That’s because Stuart Cove’s dive operation conducts its shark feed nearby. You’ll log plenty of bottom time, and pay attention to both the bow, in about 40 feet of water, and the stern, at 60 feet. Photo ops abound — frame your shots so the wreck is a picturesque backdrop for the sharks. — Patricia Wuest

Learn More: stuartcove.com

Stephen Frink / Corbis

Shakem - Grenada

Shakem - Grenada
Poor planning led to the sinking of this 180-foot cargo ship: A badly balanced load of concrete bags in the hold shifted, and down went the Shakem to 110 feet, where it now rests, perfectly upright on its keel. Divers can still see the algae- and coral-encrusted bags, but there are much more interesting diversions to hold your attention on this lovely wreck, including a cascade of white telesto coral covering the bow. — Rebecca Strauss

Learn More: aquanautsgrenada.com

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SS Stavronikita - Barbados

SS Stavronikita - Barbados
Although Barbados might not be known as a dive destination, it is home to one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean: the SS Stavronikita. The 365-foot Greek freighter — Stav, as it’s commonly called — was sunk in November 1978 as an artificial reef and sits upright in around 130 feet of water. After more than three decades on the sea bottom, the wreck is decorated with prolific sponge and coral growth. — Mark Evans

Learn More: divebarbadosblue.com

Tanya G. Burnett

Kittiwake - Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Kittiwake - Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
You can see it from the surface: The main deck of the 251-foot former submarine rescue ship Kittiwake is clearly visible thanks to Grand Cayman’s crystalline waters. Underwater photographers often direct models to follow a massive anchor chain leading to the stern and prop, and it’s a good place to get an Instagram-worthy pic. If you’re wreck certified, a popular interior route is through the galley and main deck, and then into a room that’s open all the way to the surface through the smokestack. — Patricia Wuest

Learn More: divecayman.ky

Scott Johnson

C/V Charles L. Brown - Statia

C/V Charles L. Brown - Statia
The wreck “Charlie Brown” is the farthest dive site from St. Eustatius’ coast, placing it smack amid an offshore current. The swim down to the 320-foot cable-laying ship’s starboard side — it rests sideways — is a workout, but the fast-moving water explains the presence of horse-eye jacks, numbering in the hundreds. Purpose-sunk in 2003, the ship offers several safe entries for penetration, plus a semi-covered exterior passageway known as the “highway.” — Brooke Morton

Learn More: goldenrockdive.com

Damien Mauric

C-53 - Cozumel

C-53 - Cozumel
The C-53 minesweeper off Cozumel’s coast grants divers a route of penetration spanning nearly from bow to stern. Also known as the Felipe Xicotencatl, the 184-foot vessel was purpose-sunk in 1999 on an 82-foot-deep flat patch of sand near Chankanaab Park. Highlights include the glassy sweepers and lobsters in the engine room, and the resident green moray swimming the perimeter and nestling in the galley, heads and other diver-accessible interior rooms. — Brooke Morton

Learn More: scubaclubcozumel.com

Brandon Cole

Hilma Hooker - Bonaire

Hilma Hooker - Bonaire
Bonaire’s signature wreck is accessible by ship or shore: If you choose to wade in from the beach, you’ll spend the first five minutes finning over a double reef before the ship appears in 100 feet of water, lying on its starboard side. The former drug-smuggling vessel languished in Kralendijk Harbor for months in 1984 before being towed to its current spot; it’s now host to plentiful coral growth, territorial sergeant majors and passing eagle rays. — Rebecca Strauss

Learn More: plazaresortbonaire.eu/en

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Thistlegorm - Red Sea

Thistlegorm - Red Sea
Many sunken ships get labeled “world’s best wreck,” but the Thistlegorm surely deserves such an accolade. This 425-foot British freighter, which sank in 1941 after being bombed by German Heinkel He 111s while at anchor in the Strait of Gubal, rests upright on a sandy seabed in 100 feet, almost totally intact, with an amazing cargo of Allied wartime supplies in its holds, including motorcycles, munitions, medical supplies and even rubber boots. — Mark Evans

Learn More: cameldive.com

Julian Cohen

Malin Head - Ireland

Malin Head - Ireland
Malin Head’s deep waters have become a graveyard for ships from both World Wars, including the HMS Audacious, SS Empire Heritage and Justicia. These strategically vital shipping lanes passed close to land, which made it a hot spot for mines and torpedoes, leaving rich pickings for experienced technical divers equipped to descend into the cold waters of the Atlantic to explore the monster remnants of these huge vessels. — Mark Evans

Learn More: mevaghdiving.com

Steve Jones

Kronprinz Wilhelm - Scotland

Kronprinz Wilhelm - Scotland
Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands is hailed around the world as a mecca for wreck divers, and this is due to one thing — the sunken remains of the World War I German High Seas Fleet, scuttled in 1919. There are seven ships in total — a mine layer, three cruisers and three battleships — but the crowning glory is the 580-foot battleship Kronprinz Wilhelm. It lies almost completely upside down, but divers can venture beneath its cavernous hull to see its giant main armament. — Mark Evans

Learn More: radiantqueen.co.uk

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Giannis D - Red Sea

Giannis D - Red Sea
Of all the wrecks on Sha’ab Abu Nuhas, the Greek freighter Giannis D is probably the most popular. The ship hit the reef at full speed and split into three distinct sections. The midships is smashed beyond recognition, and the bow is intact but lying on its port side, but it’s the fully intact stern section that attracts hordes of divers. Lying in just 78 feet, the immense stern can be easily penetrated, so you can explore the bridge, crew’s quarters and vast engine room on one dive. — Mark Evans

Learn More: emperordivers.com

Damien Mauric

Carnatic - Red Sea

Carnatic - Red Sea
The curved reef of Sha’ab Abu Nuhas lies on the edge of the main shipping lanes through the Suez Canal, and many vessels have come to grief here, but the Carnatic is quite possibly the oldest. It was a sleek 295-foot passenger and mail ship that hit the reef and went down in 1869. It now lies on its port side in 85 feet, rising to around 40 feet at the bow. Coral growth is so profuse that the wreckage is almost part of the reef now. — Mark Evans

Learn More: emperordivers.com

Debi Henshaw

Um El Faroud - Malta

Um El Faroud - Malta
This 360-foot-long tanker became Malta’s largest artificial reef when it was sunk in 115 feet in 1998. Over the years, a series of storms has taken its toll on the ship, breaking it in two and giving it the appearance of a natural wreck. The superstructure is split in front of the bridge, but both sections lie close together. Explore the huge holds, and don’t miss the imposing bow, impressive rudder and prop. — Mark Evans

Learn More: divewise.com.mt

Christian Skauge

Numidia and Aida - Red Sea

Numidia and Aida - Red Sea
The Numidia and the Aida cling impossibly to the vertical walls of remote Big Brother Island. An English freighter, the Numidia sank in 1901. The bow section has been smashed by wave action, but below 25 feet, the coral-covered wreck is relatively intact, dropping away to more than 260 feet. An Egyptian troop transport, the Aida sank in 1957 while trying to secure its mooring. It broke in two, but one section is pretty much intact, and it lies between 100 and 200 feet. — Mark Evans

Learn More: aggressor.com

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HMCS Yukon - California

HMCS Yukon - California
The HMCS Yukon, a 366-foot-long destroyer lying in 105 feet of water, is the crown jewel of San Diego’s Wreck Alley. Clusters of giant metridium anemones cover the hatches, bow and propeller, sharing space with sheep crabs, lingcod and colorful rockfish. One of the site’s best photo ops is the huge smokestack, which is thickly encrusted with bright-orange and pink corynactis anemones. — Allison Vitsky Sallmon

Learn More: loisann.com

Andrew Sallmon

HMCS Saskatchewan - British Columbia

HMCS Saskatchewan - British Columbia
Over 100,000 dives have been logged on the Saskatchewan since it was sunk in 1997 as an artificial reef – and it’s easy to see why. This 366-foot battleship metamorphosed into a thriving habitat where rockfish, lingcod and other cold-water creepy-crawlies flourish among anemones that cover the structure like a fluffy white blanket. The bulk of the vessel rests at 80 to 100 feet, with photo ops at its forward and aft guns. — Michael Patrick O’Neill

Learn More: sundowndiving.com

Michael Patrick O'Neill

Oriskany - Florida

Oriskany - Florida
The Mighty O is called the Super Bowl of diving: At a whopping 888 feet long, it’s the world’s largest artificial reef, so abandon any hope of seeing it all in one dive — or even 100. What you will see: amberjack, grouper, red snapper, butterflyfish and French angels. Its island is accessible at 70 feet, but you’ll need deep-diving cred to drop down to the flight deck at 145 feet. — Patricia Wuest

Learn More: floridapanhandledivetrail.com.com

Amar & Isabell Guillen / Seapics.com

Manhattan - Great Lakes

Manhattan - Great Lakes
There’s a great reason to love the Great Lakes. Hundreds of sunken ships provide windows into the past. Lake Superior’s Alger Underwater Preserve contains several excellent wrecks, including the Manhattan in 20 to 40 feet. Move slowly to find nails, chains and pulleys among stout timbers. In your mind’s eye, rebuild the grand 19th-century steamer from this jumble to see it in all its glory. — Brandon Cole

Learn More: diversinc.com

Brandon Cole

LuLu - Alabama

LuLu - Alabama
Bags of dog food lined the cargo holds of the 271-foot freighter LuLu when it sank off Orange Beach, Alabama, on May 26, 2013, becoming the state’s first artificial reef. Red snapper, sheepshead and Atlantic spadefish instantly took notice. Now, divers travel the 90 minutes from shore for the chance to explore the cargo hold, wheelhouse and the rest of the made-safe superstructure that sits upright in the sand at 115 feet deep. — Brooke Morton

Learn More: downunderdiveshop.com

David Benz

HMCS Cape Breton - British Columbia

HMCS Cape Breton - British Columbia
Location is key in transforming bare metal into an artificial-reef extraordinaire. With the overwhelming success of the nearby Saskatchewan, it was a no-brainer to sink another big boat outside Nanaimo’s harbor. Critters large and small — lingcod, cabezon, plumose anemones — now happily reside on the ship. Another highlight is penetration into the meticulously prepared passageways and chambers. — Brandon Cole

Learn More: sundowndiving.com

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Papoose - North Carolina

Papoose - North Carolina
A slow day on Papoose, a 412-foot tanker off Morehead City, sees five to 10 sand tiger sharks — and on a good day, anywhere from 30 to 100. No one can say precisely what attracts the snaggletoothed predators: perhaps the current or the schooling amberjack and tuna. Beyond the marine life, the ship itself boasts a storied past (a German submarine torpedoed it in 1942) and penetrable interior. — Brooke Morton

Learn More: discoverydiving.com

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USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg - Florida

USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg - Florida
Key West is now firmly on the wreck map after the sinking of the 520-foot Vandenberg, a decommissioned U.S. Air Force missile-tracking ship, in May 2009. The vessel lies upright in 130 feet of water, and is a favorite with divers thanks to its immense size and the diversified superstructure, which includes some massive radar dishes. — Mark Evans

Learn More: divekeywest.com

Tanya G. Burnett

Spiegel Grove - Florida

Spiegel Grove - Florida
The Grove’s nickname when it served in the U.S. Navy was Top Dog, and for good reason: The massive 510-foot-long amphibious warfare ship once carried 330 troops, 18 officers and eight helicopters. Make the most of your time wherever your dive boat ties off: Fin through the wheelhouse, where you’re sure to encounter fish like bar jacks; find large spools and, if you’re lucky, barracuda on the deck; and swim through the huge propellers at the stern. — Patricia Wuest

Learn More: horizondivers.com

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U-352 - North Carolina

U-352 - North Carolina
At 218 feet long, the size of the German submarine U-352 isn’t impressive — until you consider that a crew of more than 40 served aboard. Of them, 15 remain inside as of May 9, 1942, when USCGC Icarus downed the ship with depth charges off Morehead City, North Carolina. Dive to 115 feet to experience this must-see and its highlights, including the conning tower, gun mounts, and torpedo-loading hatch. — Brooke Morton

Learn More: olympusdiving.com

Michael Gerken

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