You don’t have to be a certified scuba diver to enjoy the experience of scuba diving and the wonder of the underwater world but for those who are, there is a tremendous feeling of peace and tranquility that comes from exploring beneath the seas. Diving is an extremely sociable way of meeting others and opens up new destinations around the globe. So where are the best places for scuba diving?
Known for its full-moon parties, hedonistic nightlife and of course Buddhist temples, Thailand’s other attraction is its diving with 26 marine parks to choose from.
Thailand is an amazing destination to learn to scuba dive and although there are several dive spots in the country, the Similan Islands liveaboards offers the first step and experience of scuba diving with a PADI Discover Scuba Diving program. The program gets you ready for 2 dives supervised by an instructor and is perfect for those who haven’t dived before.
The maximum depth for dives in the country is 40 metres. As well as several dive spots in the Andaman Sea, a pick of the best sites are Shark Point, Hin Daeng and Hin Nok.
Expect to see: Barracuda, moray eels, ghost pipefish, turtles, leopard sharks, gorgonions. octopus, manta rays (March/April).
There are more ancient wonders in Egypt than just the Pyramids and the Sphinx. The Red Sea has its own civilisation of underwater reefs and coral gardens. Diving here is perfect all year round. Ras Mohamed National Park is Egypt’s first national park and one of the best dive sites in the Red Sea with many opportunities to see plenty of underwater life.
Take a night dive at Seven Pillars in Soma Bay or dive the small pinnacles at Pharoah’s Island and avoid the crowds.
Expect to see: Moray eels, Napoleon wrasse, batfish, lionfish, angelfish, butterfly fish and blue spotted rays.
What makes the Maldives so different from many other diving destinations is the abundance of marine life in its ever-changing drifts and currents. The Maldives has over a thousand islands and within the atoll lagoons you’ll find caves and caverns as well as soft corals to explore. Expect to see a hammerhead shark in Ari Atoll, or swim through the caves at Vaavu Atoll to see unicornfish and mantas.
Most of the dives here are drifts upon liveaboards with the most popular months between November to May although diving here is still excellent year-round. Plus you can’t get a more luxurious spot than the Maldives.
Expect to see: Yellow-fin tuna, Napoleon wrasse, snappers, parrotfish, sweetlips, jacks, manta rays, unicornfish, whale sharks.
Palau is known as the ultimate diving destination due to its excellent visibility throughout the whole year. This archipelago of over 200 islands in Micronesia is the meeting point of three major currents, resulting in an abundance of marine life and has everything for the perfect scuba dive.
You’ll find large schools of fish at Blue Corner and Peleliu Wall and plenty of wrecks to discover around Palau. Dive The Big Drop Off, one of the best wall dives in the world at 285 metres, or the Ulong Channel – one of the fave dives spots here. But you don’t even need to dive as Jellyfish Lake is a jellyfish lovers paradise and is accessible by just snorkelling.
Expect to see: Snappers, jacks, red-toothed triggerfish, chevron barracuda, hawksbill turtles, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins.
Great Barrier Reef
We can’t forget the Great Barrier Reef in Australia – one of the seven natural wonders of the world. This is the world’s largest coral reef and stretches over 2000 kilometres along the east coast of Oz with over 3000 individual reef systems. Not to mention the dazzling white sand islands of The Whitsundays to relax on afterwards and watch rays as they gently swim past.
The best sites are reached by boat and you can choose to just do a day’s diving or a liveaboard adventure. Popular dive sites are Ribbon Reefs, Heron Island and Osprey Reef which is famous for its shark feed.
Expect to see: Barracuda, white tip reef sharks, eagle rays, cuttlefish, sea snakes, nudibranchs, Dwarf Minke whales (June/July).
Explore the uninhabited islands and deserted beaches of Palau aboard a luxury live aboard. Enjoy the flexibility of diving whenever you choose on a 6 or 10 day trip. Sam's Tours is an award-winning scuba diving and eco-adventure company in Palau. Sam’s Tours
Similan islands in Thailand
The Similan Islands are a chain of 9 small islands in Thailand surrounded by some of the country’s richest waters. Liveaboards stop at the best dive sites here and allow you to enjoy several dives a day as you live and socialise with other divers. Khao Lak Explorer Dive Center
If you've never dived before, there are some beautiful spots in the world to learn, and they don't have to cost a fortune either.
Little Corn in Nicaragua
Just off the coast of Nicaragua is a small island called Little Corn protected by an barrier reef system with corals, sponges and plenty of marine life. There are 20 dive sites around the island and the water has a year-round temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Dive Little Corn
Utila in Honduras
One of The Bay Islands in Honduras, Utila is a small island just 11km long and 4km wide and is a mecca for those who want to learn to dive and party hard afterwards. You don’t have to commit to a course either and can just discover if scuba diving is for you without signing up for a certificate. Utila Dive Centre
Have we missed any great dive spots? Where's your favourite?