Travel and Leisure — May 23, 2014 at 5:00 am

World’s Best Wreck Dives

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Adventure divers and thrill seekers find more than a bubbling escapade when searching wrecks below. Divers take a swim through history to explore historical ships, antique model planes, or ancient treasures—some of which were once prominent wrecks in various cultures. Wreck diving is a passion amidst many, and because of the original tragedy of the wrecks, divers get to explore exotic waters and discover the beauty that exists in the deep blue.

SMS Markgraf, Scapa Flow, Scotland
The Scapa Flow is famous for the German navy vessels scurrying away from fear of being captured. Today, divers explore the last seven of 78 ships located in Scapa Flow, including the Markgrof, a 26,000 ton battle ship. Divers swim through the torpedo room right to the stern. This site requires several dives to explore all the sites.

Thistlegorm, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
This is one of the world’s most famous and popular wreck dives. This was once a British Merchant Navy ship, which was sunk by German bombers in World War II. The 400-foot ship contained motorbikes and was struck from the side, igniting ammunition, which caused the ship to rip backward, similar to lifting a pop tab.

Captain Keith Tibbetts, Cayman Islands
This intentional sunken wreck dive occurred in September 1996 for use as an artificial reef. The wreck is actually a 100-foot Russian vessel. The visibility is often stellar and is home to plenty of sea life thanks to the bow’s sandy region, which leads to a local coral reef.

Zenobia, Larnaca Bay, Cyprus
A 10-minute boat ride from Lanaca Harbor is Zenobia, one of the world’s best, and most favorite, wreck dives, behind Thistlegorm. This 10,000 ton ferry sank in 1980, while on its maiden voyage, due to a computer system glitch. The ship sank in 130-foot waters carrying more than 120 vehicles, where divers can explore trucks , cars and the ship. Sea life, including barracuda grouper, can be found here.

SS President Coolidge, Vanuatu
This ship wreck dive is an aquatic paradise. The ship was built in 1931, which was converted from luxury liner to World War II troop ship. The 600-foot ship provides much room for discovery from bow to stern. It is noted that to explore the best of the ship, this would require approximately 10 dives. What makes this dive unique is that divers explore army gear such as jeeps, tanks, vehicles, tires and more.

Umbria, Wingate Reef, Sudan
This 1912 German freighter darted off the coast of Sudan to avoid being captured from the British. The Umbria is a 400-foot ship, and at the time of sinking held luxurious cargos such as fiat cars, aircraft bombers, and lifeboats. The massive propeller is a marine life sanctuary and the fiats are held near the engine room.

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