4 Best Wreck Dives For 2023

Shipwrecks make for an exciting diving experience for people that love adventure and history. Over time shipwrecks become artificial reefs, with corals growing along the walls and marine animals swimming around and inside the wreckage. There are lots of incredible shipwrecks around the world that have become fantastic dive sites, so which one should you choose?

We have made a list of our favorite four wreck dives for you to discover in 2023.

1.MS Zenobia, Cyprus

The MS Zenobia is lying at a maximum depth of 42m/137ft deep, and it boasts an impressive length of 172m/564ft for divers to explore.

The ship made its maiden voyage from Sweden to Syria in 1980, unfortunately the boat took on water and the decision was made to let it sink 1 mile/1.6km off the shore of Larnaca. Luckily everyone made it off the boat safely, and the shipwreck is now considered one of the best wreck dives in the world.

It is not uncommon to see turtles, groupers, lionfish, triggerfish, and nudibranchs around the wreck. The dive site also promises excellent visibility year-round, but the best time to go is when the waters are warmer between June and September. Currents are rare, and the top of the wreck is only around 18m/59ft deep, but it is recommended to have an advanced certification that will allow you to go a bit deeper and appreciate the wreck properly, including some easy penetration. Those with a deep certification can explore the lower part of the boat including the surrounding trucks and cars on the seabed, and inside the captain’s quarters and the engine room. 

Not sure if scuba diving is for you? Do not worry, there are other ways to explore the ocean: 3 Ways to Explore the Underwater World

2. SS Thistlegorm, Egypt

Off the coast of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt you can find the sunken shipwreck of the SS Thistlegorm. It lies at a maximum depth of 30m/98ft, with the highest point being at 16m/52f, and it is 126m/413ft in length.

A cargo steamship, built in 1940, the SS Thistlegorm left Glasgow in 1941, carrying military equipment during World War II. The ship was mistaken for a troop carrier and was bombed by the Luftwaffe while awaiting escort transit through the Suez canal. Jacques Cousteau rediscovered the shipwreck in the 1950s and scuba divers have been heading there ever since to dive this incredible dive site.

The shipwreck is prone to quite strong currents so it is recommended to have an advanced certification when scuba diving here. The visibility remains excellent year-round, and water temperatures hit lows of 22C/72F in the winter months of December to March, and highs of 30C/86F in the summer months of July to September. It is possible to penetrate the wreck and see exciting sunken treasures inside including rifles, boots, and motorcycles. Marine life that is commonly spotted around the SS Thistlegorm includes turtles, batfish, snappers, eels, jackfish, and barracuda.

Cannot decide between the first two wrecks on this list? Here is an in-depth comparison to help you narrow it down: Wreck Diving: Zenobia vs Thistlegorm

3. USAT Liberty, Bali

The USAT Liberty wreck in Bali definitely deserves to be on the list of top shipwrecks in the world. The shipwreck lies on a sandy slope just 30m/98ft from the shore, and the top is just 3m/10ft deep, while the bottom is at around 30m/98ft, making it perfect for snorkelers as well as divers. There is 120m/390ft of length to explore, with a few easy swim-throughs.

The ship survived World War 1 and was then sent into World War 2 where she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on the 11th January 1942. The ship rusted on the beach for 20 years before a volcanic eruption in 1963 shifted it into shallow waters and it became a dive site that scuba divers, snorkelers, and freedivers have been enjoying ever since.

This dive site is suitable for divers of all levels, and is an easy shipwreck for those who are new to wreck diving. You can dive here year round but April to November is considered the best time to go. The ship is covered in anemones, gorgonians, and various corals, and it is not uncommon to spot reef fish including triggerfish, parrotfishsweetlips, and lionfish.

4. Hilma Hooker, Bonaire

The Hilma Hooker shipwreck is one of the most easily accessible shipwrecks in the world. It is a shore dive that lies 72m/236ft long, between two coral reef systems on a sandy bottom. It has a maximum depth of 28m/92ft, while the top of the wreck is at just 6m/20ft, making it a nice snorkeling opportunity too.

The Hilma Hooker shipwreck has a colorful history; The captain and crew were arrested in 1984 for trying to smuggle drugs on the ship, and owners of the boat never came forward to claim it afterwards. The Hilma Hooker was in quite poor shape and so the decision was made to let her sink to create a new dive site.

The Hilma Hooker wreck can be dived year-round and it is home to parrotfish, angelfish, yellow snapper, and shrimp. If you are lucky you might also spot barracuda and tarpon, too. Divers of all levels are welcome to dive here and some penetration is possible but the majority of diving is done around the outside of the wreck.

Did you know that barracuda is one of the fastest marine animals? Check out some others here: 8 of the Fastest Marine Animals

Become a certified wreck diver

Some of the best dive sites in the world are sunken shipwrecks, and although it is possible to explore these wrecks from the outside with just Open Water or an Advanced certification (depending on depths and conditions), being able to safely navigate and plan a shipwreck dive, and perhaps explore the inside of a wreck is an exciting new specialty to gain. 

The SSI Wreck Diving specialty will give you all the knowledge and skills that you need to safely conduct non-penetration dives around wrecks and artificial reefs, up to a depth of 30m/98ft. The Extended Range Wreck Diving program provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to plan and conduct wreck penetration dives within the daylight zone, to depths shallower than 40m/131ft.

There is so much to learn about wreck diving. Visit your local SSI dive center to sign up, or check out the SSI website to get started online today.