When it comes to top scuba diving spots, most of us probably think of some tropical ocean destination where we can find colorful fish or a long-sunk wreck to explore. Usually, we think of places in the Caribbean or perhaps Central America. But we’ve mentioned before the amazing opportunities that freshwater diving presents. There are plenty of lakes around the world that offer just about as much incredible diving experiences as the world’s oceans. But what about river systems? Below are some of the best rivers in the world for diving.
The Verzasca river is 19 miles long and is one of the greatest freshwater diving destinations on the planet thanks to its crystal-clear waters. Two of the dive spots that are must-visits are the Roman Bridge and the Amslerbecken. The Roman Bridge is only in water that’s a little over twenty feet deep, so it’s a great beginner site and even makes for some great snorkeling. The Amslerbecken tends to get a little busy with locals in the summer months. Regardless of where on the Verzasca you dive, you’ll want a dry suit, as water temps hover around 50 degrees, year-round.
The Crystal River is only 7 miles long, but it’s fed by more than 30 freshwater springs, which keep the water at around 72 degrees all year and—as the name suggests—crystal clear. The big draw for diving this river are the manatees that call the waterways home. While scuba diving isn’t allowed with the manatees, you can snorkel. The winter months make for the best chance to swim with the manatees. You can scuba dive the river’s natural springs and caverns, and there are plenty of dive centers and tour operators to get you on the right track.
When most people think of the Niagara River, they likely think of the famous falls that have provided so many photo opportunities over the years. But the river itself provides some great diving opportunities. However, the river moves pretty fast, so your best bet is to dive in and just let the current take you. Water temperatures are between 40 and 50 degrees year-round, so make sure you wear the proper gear. And as for the falls, don’t worry about going over—you’ll be out of the water long before you get to them.
The Rio Negro in Brazil feeds into the Amazon, and it’s one of the world’s ten largest rivers at 1,400 miles long. Make no mistake about it—diving the Rio Negro is a serious adventure. Getting deep into the jungle is one thing, but once you’re there, you’ll have to deal with the water itself. As the name implies, the water is dark, and visibility is usually less than 10 feet. But when you do happen to catch sight of the wildlife, it’s pretty amazing. You’ll see catfish larger than you, and the amazing pink dolphins that call the river home. Just make sure you go with a reputable dive operator if you visit this region.