Completing a dive site rating can be a tricky and very subject exercise.  Depending upon  who is providing the rating they may give a dive sit rating that is very high and someone else may rate the same site as average or even poor.  Giving a dive site rating is highly influenced by the experience of the individual diver.  If someone has only been diving in warm, tropical waters and then they go dive in Hawaii.  They may say the reef is “dead” because there are not any colorful soft corals to be seen. This would be an inaccurate description as the coral reefs around Hawaii are vibrant, but they are hard corals, not soft corals.  With the Dive Site Rating Matrix I have attempted to provide objective criteria to rate individual aspects of a dive.  For instance a dive may be awesome but if it is difficult to access then the overall rating of the dive would be lower compared to an awesome dive that is relatively easy to access.French Angelfish Close Up, Pomacanthus paru, Grand Cayman (Steven Smeltzer)

Please review the dive site rating matrix and rate your own favorite dive sites.

I would love your feedback and experience on how the rating matrix performs for the dive sites you are visiting.

You can go to the bottom of the table to scroll to the right and see additional rating categories.

RatingVisibilityAccessCurrentDepthHard/Soft CoralMarine Species VarietyPelagics / Mammals / Turtles / RaysSponges / PlantsWreck Dive
1<10 feetExtremely difficult; expert only; highly technicalStrong current, drift dive only and/or difficult entry / exit 120+ ft 36+ m (Technical Dive)What Coral? Or Dead, bleached,Limited variety; What Fish?No sightings, rare sightingsWhat sponges? Dead, diseasedScattered debris field / hard to distinquish
2>10 to 30 hazyDifficult; boat only; highly variableModerate to strong and/or strong surge; difficult entry and exit90 - 120 ft, 27 -37 mMinimal to moderate density fair health; noticeable damageSparse variety and density 1-3 sightings but may not be closeMinimal to higer density moderate health; noticeable damageScattered debris field but recognizable
3> 30 to 60+ typically hazyDifficult shore entry or boat only; and/or long distanceModerate current and/or moderate surge60 - 90 ft, 18-27 mSparse to moderate density; moderate to good healthSparse to medium variety; medium number/density 3- 5 sightings; 2 to 3 sightings close upSparse to Medium density moderately healthy spongesSomewhat scatter debris and large segments /limited navigation / highly technical
4> 60 to 100 clearEasy to moderately easy entry and exit; boat rideSmall or weak current only on portion of the dive30 - 60 ft, 9 - 18 mMedium to high density reasonably healthy Medium to high variety and medium number/density 5 to 7 sightings; 1 to 3 groups, 3 to 5 individuals closeMedium to high concentration, reasonably healthy spongesExplorable segments; good navigation; moderate to good condition
5> to infinity and beyondEasy entry and exit; boat or shore accessNo current 0 - 30 ft, 0 - 9 mHigh density; very healthyHigh variety and high number/density 10+ pelagics; 3+ sharks or any whale :-), multiple close upHigh concentrations and variety of sponges; very healthyHighly navigatible recent or ancient; great condition