MNN Galleries

7 top American scuba diving destinations

By: Josh Lew on Sept. 19, 2012, 5:55 p.m.
sea turtle

Photo: noelweathers/Flickr

5 of 9

Barrier islands, North Carolina

The barrier islands of North Carolina are a playground for in-the-know travelers looking for a quiet beach destination. Unlike many major tropical destinations, these islands remain relatively uncrowded for most of the year. Like the best seaside destinations in the Caribbean, the barrier islands are rich in water-based attractions. This is a wreck-diver's paradise. Hundreds (more than 600 by some counts) of ships have disappeared off the islands over the past few centuries. The oldest wrecks date back to the 16th century, while a host of more recent wrecks from World War II are also on the menu. Highlights include a German U-boat, sunk during the WWII. Unlike the Caribbean destinations mentioned previously, the dives of the Barrier Islands are not ideal year-round. Wintertime dives are still possible, though a heavy wet suit is required. This is a great destination for people who want to combine diving with all the other nature-themed attractions the islands of North Carolina have to offer.