Scuba diving is now one of the most popular recreational water sports in the world and it’s not hard to understand why. It doesn’t matter how many times you dive, you can never be sure what you’ll find. Or when you’ll find it. There is no one single world underwater, there are many; ever-changing, ever-moving but always teeming with the unexpected.  
One day, you’ll come across miles of glorious, multi-coloured coral, stretching out under the sea like sweets in a candy shop, the next, a jungle of glittering stalagmites soaring majestically up from the seabed. 
You’ll explore a dark and cosy cave and see the enormous, shining eyes of a creature so bizarre it could be an alien visitor, then a mandarinfish will dart past or a hammerhead shark glide by, giving you the evil eye. See sunken shipwrecks, giant manta rays, schools of tiny pipefish, or a pod of dolphins, smiling at you as they race off.  
The deeper you dive, the more you submerge yourself into a different world. The stressful, fast-paced surface world is left behind, to be replaced by the peace and serenity of utter silence. Time seems endless, the beauty is endless. And, of course, the other beauty of diving is that you only need two skills to do it. Swimming. And breathing. 

 

The 5 best dive sites  

Naturally, divers have different criteria when choosing the best dive sites, so we’ve ranked our 5 must-dive destinations according to the beauty, marine life, visibility and overall dive experience..

Maldives
Home to a diverse range of fish and stunning reefs that dazzle the eyes, the most effective way to make the most of diving this tropical paradise  is to charter a dedicated live-aboard boat. Take the boat to the Vaavu Atoll and discover rock pinnacles and overhangs, watched over by reef sharks and bedecked with jewel-hued sponges. At Lhaviyani Atoll, be on the lookout for clownfish, parrotfish, turtles, eagle rays and mantas.

Indonesia
This archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has something for every diver. Bali is home to the most photographed (and possibly most accessible) wreck in the world— a U.S. Liberty-class ship lying just 25 yards off Tulamben’s rock-ribbed shore. Eastern Indonesia’s Raja Ampat has hundreds of sites with teeming, vibrant reefs where schools of fish are so thick you won’t be able to see  your hands, let alone other divers.  Look out for nudibranchs and unearthly creatures in Lembeh and if it’s big fish you’re after, you’ll love Komodo’s famed manta trains.  

Surin and Similan Islands, Thailand
Close to the border between Thai and Burmese waters you’ll find this string of islands in the Andaman Sea, offering a vast choice of little-visited dive sites. At Koh Bon, the range of pinnacles ascends from the ocean depths and across the top of the colourful coral covered peaks there’s a good chance of sighting Napoleon wrasse, hunting trevallies and manta rays, whilst in the deeper areas you can look for sleeping leopard sharks and blotched fantail rays. Richelieu Rock is a similarly rich site, renowned amongst divers for the multitudinous life inhabiting its coral-covered slopes.

Cozumel, Mexico
With the 600-mile long Maya Reef stretching from Cozumel to Central America, and boasting an abundance of colourful fish and breathtaking coral, it’s easy to see why Cozumel is a diver’s paradise. Known for its incredible visibility (divers can expect up to 100 feet of visibility), there are plenty of dives both for the beginner and advanced diver, but do be aware that the current can be especially strong in some spots and diving experience is highly recommended for these.

The Yongala, Australia
One of the world’s great wreck dives, the SS Yongala sank during a cyclone in 1911 and lies off the coast of Queensland within the beautiful World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, about 90 km southeast of Townsville. Mostly untouched due to its remote location, the Yongala is full of life like manta rays, sea snakes, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, clouds of fish and a spectacular variety of corals covering the wreck.
“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.” Jacques Cousteau

 

The 5 best tips

These days, scuba is accessible for everyone wanting to discover spellbindingly beautiful marine life and there are more exceptional diving destinations than ever. If you’re thinking of exploring life under the ocean wave on your next holiday, then do consider the following pointers:  

1. Never, ever dive alone.
We can’t stress this enough. No matter how confident or experienced you are, never dive alone - it’s unwise and unsafe. You can dive hundreds of times and nothing will go wrong, but remember Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will - especially when you’re alone.  Anyway, it’s much more enjoyable to dive with a buddy and share the experience.

2. If you feel unwell, don’t dive.  
If you're tired, unwell or just feeling under the weather, don't dive under any circumstances. Fatigue, illness and injury all increase your risk of decompression illness (DCI).

3. Pick a destination that suits you.
Every dive destination offers a different experience, so be sure to research locations to find the one that’s best for your likes and dislikes. If you prefer warm weather and warmer waters for example, make sure you stay away from the dives that require dry suits.

4. Bring an underwater camera.  
You’ll see so many incredible things underwater that you’ll want to capture and remember them for the rest of your life. You may find yourself swimming with sea turtles or swirling in a school of colourful fish. Plus, if you’re diving with friends, you can take turns taking photos of each other.  

5. Explore different dive spots.
Whilst those beautiful tropical reef dives never grow stale, don’t close yourself off to oceans of adventure in other locations.Try a wreck dive where you can explore a sunken World War II corsair or search for buried treasure in a pirate ship lost under the waves. Wreck dives are also a great way to learn about the history of the area you’re diving in.  
 

The best way to go

For a dream diving holiday, it makes sense that the best way to head to your chosen dive sites is by sea. Charter a private, live-aboard boat take to the ocean in style. You can choose from a timeless wooden sailing yacht, an elegant catamaran, a magnificent schooner or any of the beautifully equipped vessels.
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Diving