Retirement is a chapter of life like no other. For the first time in a long and hard-working adulthood, you have the freedom to explore new passions without the constraints of education, employment or family ties. So once you’ve handed in your notice and walked out the door, it’s time to find some new hobbies to fill the time. You might be looking to try something new, or return to an interest that you never got to fully explore earlier in life. For the adventurous among you, it could be time to try an exciting sport like scuba diving.
Under the sea is a brand new frontier, concealing hidden thrills, dramatic landscapes and wild marine species beneath its surface. But for the most interesting diving spots, you’ll want to go a little further afield — and to that end, we’ve researched and collated some of the best destinations around the globe to retire in for a great scuba diving experience.
A small nation in the eastern-Caribbean sea, Dominica is also known as the “Nature Island” of the tropics. Renowned for its excellent diving conditions, the country boasts warm water temperatures and high levels of marine visibility. The varied topography of Dominica makes it a dynamic environment to explore, with hot springs and geysers dotted around its volcanic terrain, heating the sea and creating a diverse ecosystem of coral reefs. Some of the best diving spots include Point Break, Toucari Cave and Rina’s Hole. The local waters are also home to over 20 species of whales, including a famous pod of rare sperm whales that reside along the coast year-round.
Thanks to its favourable climate and impressive natural scenery — boasting national parks, lakes and dramatic hiking spots like Victoria Falls — Dominica is home to a lively community of expats. But how did they get there? The answer lies in the country’s unique residency application process via the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) scheme. As the experts at CS Global Partners explain, the program grants benefactors the right to live and work on the island. Residence is gained via real estate investment in the country’s luxury hotels and spas, or “a substantial contribution to the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF), a government fund that supports socio-economic initiatives in Dominica”. If you’re looking to relocate, this could be the convenient way in — and once you’re there, you’ve got plenty to explore deep below the sea.
The Australian Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef, and one of the seven wonders of the natural world. As a result, the iconic world heritage site off the coast of Queensland attracts many visitors and diving fanatics to explore its marine park. The reef is a highly biodiverse ecosystem, home to 9,000 estimated species to discover, from dolphins and sharks to a colourful and prolific assortment of fish. Tours to see the nesting turtles are especially popular, and there are various volunteering projects to participate in to help preserve the important marine habitats along the coast.
Australia has long been a popular retirement destination, particularly among English-speaking countries. If you can manage the lengthy flight times to visit your friends and family, the world-class quality of life you could achieve is unparalleled, especially if you’re a diving enthusiast. Most international retirees without family connections will need to pursue the retirement visa pathway from the Australian government to become a permanent resident,. You’d then need to seek approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board to purchase property. But once you’re a certified Aussie, the land down under has plenty to offer your golden years.
Just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is Cozumel, a small resort island known for its stunning white beaches and deep blue waters. Lush reefs line the shore and stretch deep into the sea, forming mountainous walls of coral bustling with life. Eagle rays, lobsters and nurse sharks will be joining you on your scuba-diving adventures in these parts, darting between the explorable caves and out into the warm waters. Other native wildlife like the appropriately named splendid toadfish and stark black coral draw inquisitive divers from all over, especially those interested in marine photography — who flock to the idyllic coast of Cozumel to shoot in its crystal-clear waters.
Thankfully, relocation to any Mexican territory is a fairly straightforward process — so you can access exotic island life without any arduous admin or long waiting lists. Temporary resident visas can be obtained from Mexican consulates so long as you can provide proof of adequate funds. SmartAsset explains that there is “an average cost to retire in Mexico of $30,000 a year”, and so many people “can retire comfortably by meeting the average retirement savings numbers”. These temporary permits allow for up to four years of stay, and you can then transition to permanent residency to remain and enjoy all that Mexico has to offer — namely its culture, weather, and indeed, breathtaking diving opportunities.