Whether you’re looking for the perfect destination for your first ever dive, or you’re considering where to go on your next scuba tour, we all have our own quirks and preferences when it comes to experiential holidays. Some guests seek complete isolation and the tranquil calm of still waters untouched by any other divers, while others crave the social side and the magic of sharing their scuba experience with others. Whatever the perfect trip looks like for you and your guests, knowing the best places to go is a great starting point – and this article seeks to do just that: uncovering some of the top scuba diving spots around the world.
Why is location so important when it comes to scuba diving?
The beauty of scuba diving is that no two viewpoints are the same. You could witness a spectacle in a completely different way to your diving buddy, even if you’re both looking at the same thing from a few metres apart. This is because everything about the underwater world is constantly changing from all angles – affording every diver their own unique experience quite unlike that of the others around them.
Similarly, location works in much the same way – with every sea, ocean, and waterway offerings its own charms and quirks depending on where and when you choose to dive.
This article explores various destinations around the world, looking at how location plays such a huge part in not only the wildlife and scenery on the show but how that wildlife interacts and lives in its underwater world. Without further ado, let’s begin our whistle-stop tour of the world underwater.
Stop One – Europe
It makes sense to start close to home with an exploration of the best stopping points for those looking for a short scuba diving break, or something a little more local to trial before jumping in at the deep end with exotic oceans and private islands. The beauty of a European scuba trip is that the changing seasons mean the water is always different, and so the sights you can expect to see will differ depending on when and where you visit.
Our first location in Italy, home of pizza, pasta, fine wine, and the Mediterranean Sea. There are some spots in Italy which are packed full of tourists, but many of these hotspots are located close to little-known coves and warm bays which offer a plethora of wildlife and atmospheric scenery that brings to life everything you could want from a scuba diving experience. Our top spots in Italy include Sorrento, Sardinia, and St Lucia – each offering both beginner and more experienced sites which range from natural phenomena to shipwrecks.
Moving on to Croatia, the miles worth of coastline added to the abundance of islands and coves makes this a real bucket list spot for scuba divers of all abilities. The colourful reefs and caverns which fill the coastlines of Croatia make scuba diving as much of a mysterious adventure as a sightseeing exercise, with the Bisevo Grotto one of the world’s greatest sites from a scuba point of view. Again, Croatia is home to both natural sites and manmade shipwrecks under the water, with our top recommendations for scuba sites including Dubrovnik, Susak, and Pag.
And then we have Malta, the last destination on our list for European scuba diving – and the home of incredible wrecks and natural rock formations which bring together the most spectacular sights. Malta is a lesser-known spot in terms of tourist traffic, and so the complete experience of a Malta scuba diving trip is also likely to be more tranquil and relaxing; presenting guests with the seclusion and peace that they are looking for from their holiday.
Stop Two – Oceania
Backing out into the world’s largest ocean, these points of focus around Australia and Fiji provide the widest assortment of underwater wildlife and scenic coral formations; ranging from the iconic Great Barrier Reef to the Disney inspired the hunt for Nemo and Dory in the waters around Sydney. Australia tops the Oceania list as the home of the Great Barrier Reef – a real bucket list added to this list which presents tropical and sub-tropical waters which are just waiting to be explored. Australia is not only home to great scuba sites, but it is also ideal for those looking to learn and get stuck into scuba diving as a new sport, with a plethora of diving schools and instructor available around the expansive coastline.
Fiji was recently featured as part of the world’s toughest race as shown through a documented program narrated by Bear Grylls. As such, the islands have received a spotlight focus on its crystal blue waters and incredible on-land scenery – but one thing the race didn’t touch on was the underwater extravaganza going on beneath the contestants’ paddleboards. Fiji is packed full of underwater adventure; home to 390 different coral species and over 1200 species of fish – that we know of! Add to that a range of underwater turtles that you may come across, and the warmth of the gorgeous blue waters, and you’ve got yourself a destination made for vacation.
And then we come to Papua New Guinea – an amazing ecosystem underwater that sits below more than 600 volcanic islands covered with jungles and volcanoes, and itself features everything from shipwrecks to coral reefs, turtles and other underwater wildlife, millions of fish and a huge array of ever-changing sights. With options available for beginner and experienced scuba divers, Papua New Guinea is especially popular with those visiting as part of a broader holiday experience with their family.
Stop Three – Asia
From the Maldives to Thailand and Indonesia, Asia is home to the kind of luxury surroundings that many resorts and destinations can only dream of. Whether you’re looking for one of the iconic ocean-top villas available in the Maldives, or you’re after some authentic flavours and tastes straight from the street food markets of Thailand, a scuba diving trip to Asia provides much more than just the vibrance of time spent underwater – with what you see beneath the surface just a small part of the broad experience on offer across these exotic destinations.
The Maldives tops the list in Asia with its unmatched luxury and the experience which allows guests to step off their own exclusive pontoon or deck into the untouched water around them. In a similar concept to that of our Adharia floating suites, the villas designed to sit atop the water of the Maldives island create seclusion and isolation which serves to elevate the guest experience further and really allow them to feel at one with the water-based nature around them.
Moving on to Indonesia, this is one of the most underrated but highly reviewed scuba spots in the world – with its lesser-known exotic grandeur making it particularly popular with those who do know about it. Indonesia boasts a hugely expansive coastline which only serves to widen the net of opportunity when it comes to spots to explore and adventure around, with the water packed full of life including 600 species of coral and up to 3000 species of fish. In Indonesia, we particularly like the Komodo Islands, Banda Island, Bali Island, and Raja Ampat.
Thailand is another destination known for its large tourist draw but yet not necessarily considered a top place for scuba diving – primarily because people don’t try it. For those who do, the experience is unforgettable. The dive sites that can be found around Thailand’s coast provide everything you could want whether you’re a beginner or a veteran diver; presenting drop-off which starts with shallow waters and range from corals to deep dive ocean adventures. Liveaboards are particularly popular in Thailand, giving guests a chance to design a complete trip where they live and breathe diving for anything from a day to a couple of nights onboard the dive boat.
And then we come to the Philippines. You may think that we say this too often, but this really is the dive spot of dreams – revelling in scuba diving diversity which ensures every kind of diver is able to partake and enjoy an experience which matches their desires and needs. The Philippines is a vast expanse boasting around 7000 islands and endless waterways and ocean expanses – all littered with wrecks, corals, fish and other much larger wildlife like sharks. A real adventure for beginners and those with more experience, with expert divers in the local area able to point you towards the ideal dive site for your ability and your needs.
Stop Four – Antarctica
For those considering somewhere a little colder and a little further off the beaten track, Antarctica offers a scuba diving experience quite unlike any other. Beneath the frozen surface of the Antarctica Peninsula, the colours that reflect from the blinding sun through the layer of ice bounce off every surface and create a wonderland of colour and vibrant life – despite the freezing temperatures. The marine life around Antarctica is incredible, with penguins and seals sharing the underwater space with fish and a range of surrounding spectacles and ice caps. Due to its relentless temperatures, Antarctica is not a suitable scuba diving spot for beginners, though for experienced divers there is a range of different sites which present and create different experiences depending on what it is you are hoping to see.
Stop Five – the Americas
From the warm waters of Hawaii to the magnificent life of Mexico, all the way down to the chill of the Galapagos, the Americas present a huge range of scuba diving opportunities which entice both beginners and experienced divers all through the year – every year. To start with Mexico, this is where you will find spectacles that are larger than life – literally – with humpback whales regularly gracing the give spots and shores of the Mexican coastline. Divers can also enjoy a completely different diving experience in a cage with a Great White Shark and can lose themselves in the grandeur of these magnanimous animals that replace the generic colourful reefs with something a little more jaw-dropping.
Thrills aren’t for everyone, so if you’re after something a little more vibrant then head to Hawaii where the waters are warm, and the colours come alive both on the surface and under the water. 25% of the life that’s found beneath the surface of Hawaii is exclusive to this area – meaning that you can only view much of Hawaii’s marine life from Hawaii itself. Some of the best spots in Hawaii include Big Island, Molokai, and Kauai.
Heading South to where the temperature drops and the culture changes, the Galapagos presents a scuba diving opportunity which surrounds some of the most unique and rare sights in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Galapagos is protected and so the site has become a renowned destination for those looking to enjoy scuba diving adventures in unharmed waters where underwater formations and incredible wildlife lives free and protected.
Heading off on a scuba diving adventure is in no way a completely relaxing experience – in fact, with so many health and safety requirements and training sessions needed, scuba diving is as much an education as an experience. But once you sink below the surface and allow yourself to become lost in your surroundings, the beauty of a world underwater becomes apparent and you can finally enjoy the peace of your own unique perspective of life under the sea.