The 11 Best Nitrox Diving Destinations
Whether you’re already a Nitrox diver or not, you’ve likely heard the benefits. Extended bottom time and reducing the need to “push” near air no decompression limits are two of the big ones. If staying down longer and getting back in the water sooner sounds like a great idea, Nitrox diving is for you.
Keep in mind that diving on Nitrox means you’re using a higher level of oxygen and a lower level of nitrogen in your tank. Because of this difference, it’s essential to gain the proper certification before diving with Nitrox. Sign up for the PADI Enriched Air Diver course to learn all about using this gas mix while scuba diving.
Once you’ve gained the proper certification, you’ll quickly enjoy the benefits of scuba diving on Nitrox. You’ll also have the chance to explore new destinations that are only practical with the use of Nitrox. Read on to discover the 11 best Nitrox diving destinations in the world.
Imagine waking up to turquoise waters, diving all day with manta rays and whale sharks, then enjoying a gourmet meal on your own private sandbank. Sounds like paradise, right? That’s the Maldives, and it’s every bit as good as it sounds. This scuba diving paradise has been attracting visitors for years, and thanks to decreased regulations, the country has become even more welcoming in the last decade. However, dives that average 50 feet/16 meters or more combined with several dives per day make these islands an ideal Nitrox diving destination.
Recommended Resort: Amilla Fushi Resort
Recommended Liveaboard: Scubaspa Yang
2. The Deep South, Egypt
An off-the-beaten path alternative to the northern section of the Red Sea, Egypt’s St. Johns, Daedalus, Brothers, Fury Shoals and Elphinstone are epic diving destinations. On the whole, these shark-filled sites are suitable for advanced divers and only reachable by liveaboard. Many operators require a minimum of 30 dives logged for liveaboard patrons, and because the dive profiles tend to be deeper and prolonged, Nitrox is recommended. Diving in the Deep South is year-round, but September to November and April to June are considered the best months.
Recommended Liveaboard: MY Amelia
3. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
342 miles off the west coast of Costa Rica lies Cocos Island. Famous for its scalloped hammerhead shark encounters, you’ll need a liveaboard to take you to this amazing diving destination. Heavy current also attracts other pelagics, such as mobula rays, manta rays and the occasional whale shark. Because of the number of dives per day and the advanced dive profiles, Nitrox is heavily recommended for this trip. The best time to go is from June to December.
Recommended Liveaboard: Argo
4. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Who doesn’t have the Galapagos Islands on their bucket list? Famous among divers and non-divers, this destination offers incredible scuba diving and dramatic scenery. View blue-footed boobies, penguins and marine iguanas above the water, then dive with hammerheads, rays and whale sharks under the waves. The best time to visit the Galapagos is from June to December. Furthermore, most divers will want to take a liveaboard trip in the Galapagos in order to visit the famed Wolf and Darwin Islands. If you intend to make multiple dives at either of those destinations, you’ll definitely want to use Nitrox for your enjoyment.
Recommended Liveaboard: Majestic Explorer
5. Socorro Islands, Mexico
Also known as the Revillagigedo Archipelago, Socorro Islands are one of the best liveaboard diving destinations in the world. The currents surrounding these lonely islands attract manta rays, humpback whales and hammerhead sharks. Recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this destination is definitely worth the 24 hour sail from the mainland. The best time to dive Socorro is from November to May. Furthermore, the fact that you are miles from shore, diving multiple times per day and diving to more than 50 feet/15 meters on several dives makes Nitrox a natural choice for the Revillagigedo Archipelago.
Recommended Liveaboard: Vortex
6. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Home to over 17,000 islands, Indonesia offers some of the best liveaboard diving in the world. Raja Ampat, in particular, is a fan favorite. Well known for its colorful corals, this part of Indonesia is perfect for divers who love clear blue water filled with pelagics, tropical fish and weird critters. October to April constitutes diving season in Raja Ampat, but many dive operators function year round. The 200+ dive sites here can be accessed by dive resorts or from a liveaboard. In addition, most of these resorts and boats offer Nitrox filling facilities.
Recommended Liveaboard: Ilike
7. Tubbataha Reef Natural Park, Philippines
An amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reef Natural Park is home to 600 species of fish, 300 species of coral, 11 species of shark and 13 whale and dolphin species. It’s located 150 kilometres/93 miles southeast of Puerto Princesa in the Philippines and is therefore only reachable by liveaboard. There are so many pristine dive sites here that you’ll want to get as much bottom time as possible during your week trip. Consequently, the use of Nitrox is highly recommended. The only time you can visit Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is from mid-March to mid-June.
Recommended Liveaboards: MV Solitude One
A rare scuba diving destination in that it offers a little bit of everything, Palau is wild and beautiful. Wrecks, sheer walls, high-speed drifts and blue holes all add up to one gorgeous diving destination. Under the surface, you’ll see lots of sharks as well as any number of tropical fish. To get the most out of any diving trip to the area, you’ll want to book a liveaboard, and you’ll want to ensure you’re using Nitrox on all your dives. The best time to visit Palau is from November to June.
Recommended Liveaboard: Ocean Hunter III
9. Malpelo Island, Colombia
A lonely rock in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Malpelo Island is located 310 miles from the Colombian mainland. It might look like a barren place, but at depth, scuba divers can swim with 200 to 300 hammerhead sharks and hundreds of silky sharks. Whale sharks, eagle rays, tuna, sailfish and sometimes whales visit this underwater ridge, too. The only way to reach Malpelo is by liveaboard, and diving is possible year-round. However, to see the most hammerhead sharks, schedule your trip between January and May. In addition, Nitrox is included in all of the liveaboards traveling to the island at the time of publication. With the deep dive profiles and extended dives, using Nitrox is a no brainer.
Recommended Liveaboard: Ferox
10. Tofo, Mozambique
If you love marine megafauna, you’ll love diving in Tofo, Mozambique. The plankton rich waters attract whale sharks, manta rays and even humpback whales throughout the year. Divers who have completed the Enriched Air Diver course will want to take full advantage of the Nitrox offered in Mozambique. Because of the area’s landscape, most of the dive sites reach 100 feet, so Nitrox will help you maximize your bottom time. November to April is considered high season in Tofo, Mozambique.
Recommended Dive Resort: Liquid Dive Adventures
11. Turks & Caicos
Until recently, Turks & Caicos was thought of as the little sister to the Bahamas, but more recently, it has become a thriving destination of its own. Divers who come to the islands can spot turtles, dolphins, reef sharks and even hammerheads or tiger sharks. Many of the dive sites in Turks & Caicos are walls that drop to hundreds if not thousands of meters. Nitrox will certainly help you explore these walls to the fullest. Just be careful about the depth limits for the particular mix you are using. The best time to dive in the Turks & Caicos is from November to May although the diving is excellent year-round.
Recommended Liveaboard: Turks & Caicos Explorer II
Are you ready to put your Nitrox certification to good use? Get into contact with one of the PADI Travel representatives and book your trip today!