Whether you are an experienced diver looking for a new adventure or a newbie looking to dip your toe into snorkeling, we’ve put together a list of the top ten best diving sites in the world to inspire your wanderlust.
The Blue Hole, Belize
Belize is home to one of the most popular diving sites in the world – The Blue Hole. The mysterious dive site was created by a massive sinkhole, 300m in diameter and over 125m deep. The sinkhole is the second-largest barrier reef in the world, boasting crystal clear waters and plenty of opportunities to spot schools of tropical fish and even reef sharks. There have even been sightings of bull sharks and hammerheads in The Blue Hole and in 2019 scientists and Virgin founder Richard Branson went on an expedition to see what lies at the bottom. The results were broadcast on the Discovery Channel.
Malaysia is often overlooked for diving, but it shouldn’t be. Sipadan is home to one of the best diving sites in the world, but it lacks the popularity and the throngs of tourists you would see in Indonesia. The dive locations are home to an abundance of life, from turtles, sharks, coral reefs, tropical fish and intricate cave systems. You cannot stay on the island as it is protected but can stay nearby at Semporna Town or the islands of Mabul and Kapalai. You will also require a permit from the Malaysian government to dive here as the area is currently protected. The location has been ranked regularly as one of the best diving sites for underwater life and is a good value option for anyone wishing to gain their PADI certificate.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the most famous reef in the world. Situated off the east coast of Australia it is so big it can be seen from space. It is a perfect spot to learn to dive and offers dives for all levels and abilities. Expect to see coral reefs, schools of tropical fish and even a variety of sharks! Unfortunately, climate change is having an impact on the reef and in the past three decades alone it has lost over half its coral.
The Red Sea, Egypt
Egypt’s Red Sea should really be known more for its stunning turquoise waters and vibrant reefs. It is a diver’s paradise, with warm water temperatures all year round and excellent diving facilities across the Red Sea. The most popular resorts to visit include Sharm El Sheik, where you can explore underwater corals and tropical fish, as well as shipwrecks at Sha’ab Abu Nuhas.
The Gili Islands, Indonesia
Indonesia’s Gili Islands have grown in popularity. Bali was once a favourite with divers, but the crowds of tourists and high prices have encouraged lesser-known islands to become a popular alternative. The Gili Islands are surrounded by a preserved reef that hasn’t been damaged by overfishing or mass tourism. There are scores of corals and tropical fish, but they are most known for being home to Green and Hawksbill turtles and there are plenty of places where you will be able to swim with them.
Fiji is known around the world for being the home of soft coral. The reefs here are some of the best in the world, boasting blue starfish, amazing displays of coral you won’t see anywhere else and plenty of tropical fish. Diving here is suitable for any age and skill level. The most popular spot to dive on the island is the Great Astrolabe Reef, Kadavu, which is the third-largest barrier reef in the world.
La Paz, Mexico
La Paz has often been referred to as the ‘world’s aquarium’ and it’s easy to see why! Get up close and personal and swim with whale sharks, sea lions, giant manta rays and hammerhead sharks, all in one destination. Explore El Bajo, the underwater mountain and marvel at the many species of fish that call this place home. If you are passionate about observing marine life in their natural habitat then La Paz is a must for your bucket list.
Chuuk Lagoon, Federated States of Micronesia
The Chuuk island in the Federated States of Micronesia is incredibly hard to reach, but if you are interested in wreck diving, it is the best destination in the world and is well worth the challenge of getting here. The diving sites here are a history buff’s paradise as the island is home to more than 60 wrecks from world war two off its shores. You can spend your time exploring the marine life that now calls these wrecks home, exploring the wrecks of a submarine, a destroyer, an aircraft supply ship and a bomber aeroplane. It’s important to remember that you are not only diving into history but also the last resting place of many of the Japanese sailors, unfortunately, some wrecks still hold their remains. This diving experience is not for the faint-hearted.
Tubbataha National Park, The Philippines
The Tubbataha National Park in The Philippines is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers an abundance of wildlife from reef fish, manta rays to turtles and snappers. If you venture out to the sheer walls you might even be lucky enough to see barracudas and even hammerhead sharks. The area has been impacted by pollution, but The Philippines are set to create a buffer zone to protect the reef and are cracking down on littering to hopefully preserve the reef for future generations.
Bay Islands, Honduras
Honduras is not considered a popular destination for tourism or diving, but its prime spot in the Caribbean offers plenty of opportunities to spot underwater wildlife from whale sharks to tropical fish, turtles and more. This is the perfect budget destination to try out diving, get your PADI certificate and relax and unwind in the Caribbean sun. Honduras offers some of the cheapest diving options in the world and is often overlooked for Mexico or Belize. So, if you are looking for low-cost prices and a quieter vibe, then this is the destination for you.
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