1. The Yongala, Australia

Claiming the title of the best wreck dive in the world, is the Yongala. Full of marine life you may see manta rays, sea snakes, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, clouds of fish and beautiful coral.

The Yongala sank off the coast of Queensland during a cyclone in 1911, killing 122 people, a racehorse called Moonshine and a red Lincolnshire bull. She had no telegraph facilities and so could not be warned of the weather ahead. In 1981 the Yongala was given official protection under the Historic Shipwrecks Act: divers are not allowed into the wreck. The ship is 90 km southeast of Townsville, 10 km away from Cape Bowling Green. 109 meters long, the bow points north and the ship lists to starboard. Compare prices of Yongala diving trips.

Turtle on the Yongala shipwreck
Turtle on the Yongala. Photo credit: Tim Nicholson

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2. Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea

Classic wreck diving on the Thistlegorm. A British vessel, it was attacked from the air and sunk in 1941 whilst carrying a cargo of war supplies: rifles, motor bikes, train carriages, trucks. A big wreck – 131 metres long – you’ll want to do this more than once to explore fully. Currents can be strong, and in different directions at the surface and at the wreck.

The Thistlegorm is in the Strait of Gobal, north of Ras Mohammed near Sharm El-Sheikh. Check prices to dive the Thistlegorm.

Motorbikes on the Thistlegorm shipwreck
Motorbikes on the Thistlegorm. Photo credit: Tim Nicholson

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3. USAT Liberty, Bali, Indonesia

The Liberty sits on a black sand slope, almost parallel to the beach and is only 30 m offshore. She lies between 9 and 30 m of water and is totally encrusted in fabulously coloured anemones, gorgonians and corals. The wreck is 120 m long and is pretty broken up so you can’t enter it, but you can still see the guns, toilets, boilers, anchor chain and such like. There is some confusion as to the history of the Liberty. Many people refer it as the Liberty Glo, but this is a different ship which sank off the coast of Holland. The difficulties probably arise as the ship had several designations during her life. The US Navy Museums site, tells us that she was originally the USS Liberty (1918), then the SS Liberty and finally the USAT (United States Army Transport) Liberty. On 11 January 1942 she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-166.

Wreck of the USS Liberty Glo
Looking out from the wreck of the Liberty Glo. Photo credit: Pb1791, CC-BY-SA-3.0

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4. President Coolidge, Vanuatu

Originally a large, luxury, liner, the President Coolidge became a troop carrier during the war. She sank after hitting mines. The wreck now lies on its side between 17 and 70 m, bow to stern. The President Coolidge is fully protected by law and both it and the surrounding seabed has been designated a Marine Reserve. The wreck is huge and needs several dives to do it justice.

President Coolidge wreck
Evacuating the SS President Coolidge, October 1942, Espiritu Santo.

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5. The Zenobia, Cyprus

This roll-on roll-off ferry was launched in 1979 but sank just a few months later on her maiden voyage. No lives were lost. She lies on her side, outside Lanarka harbour. The dive starts at 16 m with a maximum depth of 42 m. The ferry was transporting more than 120 vehicles, which are still down there. Another large wreck, with plenty of sea life, demanding several dives. An excellent dive site no matter how experienced you are.

Zenobia shipwreck
Photo credit: dModer101, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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6. San Francisco Maru, Truk Lagoon, Micronesia

Magnificent wreck with cargo of Zero fighter planes in one of her holds and heaps of artifacts. How much to dive Truk Lagoon?.

Read more about diving Truk Lagoon and the San Francisco Maru

7. USS Saratoga, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

An American aircraft carrier which after the second World War became surplus to requirements. She became part of Operation Crossroads – a series of nuclear weapon tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll in the summer of 1946. The wreck of the Saratoga lies between 12 and 50 m. She is upright and in good condition with abundant sea life. Compare prices of a Bikini Atoll trip.

USS Saratoga
Crossroads Baker nuclear weapons test, 26 July 1946. The Saratoga, to the left of the picture, is being lifted out of the water. She sank later that day.

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8. Fujikawa Maru, Truk Lagoon (Chuuk Lagoon)

Picture perfect shipwreck – awash with coral and sea life. Each of the five holds offer exciting finds, however the highlight is maybe the massive engine room which occupies the midships area, taking up 3 floors. Also features a cargo of Zero fighter planes in one of her holds. Check the prices to dive Truk Lagoon

Fujikawa Maru
Gas Mask on Fujikawa Maru

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9. Hilma Hooker, Bonaire

Lies on the sandy bottom of a beautifully reefed slope, near Kralendijk. Big wreck with sponges, pristine coral, terrific sea fans and loads of fish. A dive with something for everyone.

In 1984 customs officials discovered almost 12 tons of marijuana on the Hilma Hooker. The captain and crew were arrested and the ship moored at the pier. However, she was in a very poor state of repair and the authorities were worried that she might sink, causing a shipping hazard. Dive operators started campaigning for the ship to be scuttled as a dive site. The ship was moved to between two reefs, over 30 m of water. Whether by design or accidently, she began to list and a few days later sank.

by actor212 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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10. HMS Hermes, Sri Lanka

During the second world war, the Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS Hermes was sunk off Ceylon’s (Sri Lanka’s) East Coast. She was the world’s first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 1924, The Hermes served briefly with the Atlantic Fleet before spending the bulk of her career assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet and the China Station. Most of the survivors were rescued by a nearby hospital ship although 307 souls were lost. The ship lies in 53 m of water in clear warm water on its port side and is intact. Teeming with fish life.

HMS Hermes sinking
HMS Hermes, The Royal Navy aircraft carrier, sinking after Japanese air attack in 1942.

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