There are a number of books currently available claiming to show the "top" or "best" dive sites of the world and one gets the impression that this publisher has thrown together whatever was available from the 6 contributors in order to add something on a similar theme. Sadly, if this is the best they can deliver with such an all-encompassing title, they simply should not have bothered.
Of course, any personal selection claiming "the best of" will always be subjective. My list will be different from yours and neither of us is either right or wrong - it is simply a matter of personal choice coupled with our personal diving experiences. That said, the title of this book really is making a very big claim and not for the first time with this particular parent publisher, the content of the book fails to live up to the promise of that title.
The Best Dive Sites of the World is a hard-back coffee table book slightly larger than the well-established format we expect to see from this publisher. 50 dive-sites have been chosen from the Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Each section commences with an introduction and each specific dive site with an artistic impression of the entire site followed by a written description supported by page after page of excellent photography. Sadly, however, the overall standard of artwork has seriously declined since they were first seen and some images look as though they might have been drawn by schoolchildren.
Otherwise, there is no doubt that this is a very beautiful book containing some really stunning photography. When it comes to the "Best" Dive Sites of the World, however, this is not a book to make you reach for the telephone and call your travel operator - because they are simply not here.
The book commences with a General Introduction which likens the earth to a tennis ball filled with water - with the ball being the land and the water being the sea. Yes, I know, I am also still trying to work that one out! This is then followed by page after page of close ups and wide-angle shots of reefs, many different species of fish, plenty of Soft Corals, Gorgonians - and yet more Soft Corals and yet more Gorgonians - and then there are even more Soft Corals and... You get the idea.
I would have thought that at least one shipwreck - even if it had to be the Thistlegorm, would have been included in any divers selection of best dive sites - but not in this book. Not one! Furthermore, not only are some of the world's outstanding reefs missing from this book, countries such as Fiji and Hawaii are excluded altogether and Malta does not even appear on their own map of the Mediterranean.
In conclusion, therefore, a change of title is much needed - something like "Good Dive Sites for Gorgonians and Soft Corals" or even "Good Sites for Colour Photography (Underwater - Still Life)" would have scored better for being an honest title. What I cannot accept is the inference that for any dive site - anywhere in the world, to qualify as one of the "Best," that site must have an abundance of Gorgonians and Corals - especially colourful Soft Corals, which is clearly the criteria for this book. Readers can only study so many photographs with a very similar theme before boredom sets in.
Two stars retained for the photography and overall presentation of the product, 3 stars lost for artwork, repetition and misleading title.
This review relates to the English language version of the same book.