Diving into paradise: the world's top 6 scuba destinations 

Man scuba diving with fish and coral around him.

The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and holds over 1.3 billion cubic km of water. Over 99% of the area can be inhabited by life, along with astonishing geological features, like the world’s largest mountain range and deepest canyon. Take a dive into our list of the top spots to explore the world below the surface:

1. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia 

If paradise was a place on Earth, it would probably look like the Raja Ampat Islands. This archipelago is home to over 75% of known coral species making it the ‘Amazon of the Oceans’. Beyond colorful coral, there are around 2,500 species of tropical fish – from wobbegong sharks and manta rays to pygmy seahorses – that call the waters of Raja Ampat home.

Most dive sites here are best accessed by boat due to their remote location, so be ready for a bit of a sailing adventure! Staying on a liveaboard boat is a must if diving is your #1 priority on vacay in this part of the world. Check out the luxurious Dewi Nusantara, where you can fall asleep on the sea after a day of exploring the underwater beauty and wake up the next day to do it all over again.

A Beautiful lagoon is surrounded by limestone islands in Raja Ampat, West Papua ,Indonesia

2. Red Sea, Egypt

Dreaming of crystal clear warm waters, an impressive array of coral reefs, a variety of marine life and top-class wreck dives? Then the Red Sea is for you. This diving hotspot is renowned for its colorful corals, schools of barracuda and angelfish and even playful dolphin pods.

There are plenty of shore dive sites available, but a boat will get you to the more pristine, off-the-beaten-track options. You can dive most of the coast from Marsa Alam north to Ras Mohammed and on to Dahab. For a mix of luxury and adventure in the Marsa Alam area, check out the Red Sea Aggressor fleet for a liveaboard option. If you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, the Red C Villas in Dahah offers a blend of comfort and convenience to nearby dive sites (while being co-owned by local dive shop owners who are happy to answer any and all your questions).

A scuba diver under water

3. Great Blue Hole, Belize

This is the bucket list dive site and one of the most famous sinkholes in the world. While the Great Blue Hole isn’t bursting with colorful marine life like some of the other sites, diving into the seemingly bottomless, deep blue hole is an experience that’s in a league of its own. You’ll take in stalactite formations and if you’re lucky, a few Caribbean reef sharks.

A boat is a must for this open-ocean dive. For a great liveaboard experience, the Belize Aggressor III comes highly recommended. If you prefer a well-rounded approach, the Turtle Inn, by Francis Ford Coppola, is an experience of its own that’s not too far from the local dive centers.

overhead view of the Great Blue Hole in Belize

4. Sipadan Island, Malaysia

Sipadan Island is a protected gem that limits the number of divers per day but is beyond worth the effort. Picture dense schools of barracuda, green and hawksbill turtles, reef sharks and maybe even a hammerhead. The coral scene is rich with an abundance of gorgonians, sea whips and brightly colored tropical fish flitting around the reef. 

Boat diving is mandatory here since accommodations have been moved off the island to protect the ecosystem. As for where to spend your nights, how about a rustic dive resort? The Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort is the spot, situated on a sandbank and offering a unique over-water experience.

Green sea turtle swimming over the reef in Pulau Sipadan

5. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Step into the world of Darwin and come face to face with the unique wildlife both above and below the surface. When you’re not mesmerized by the playful sea lions on the surface or the enormous whale sharks diving into the depths with you, you’ll be marveling at the marine iguanas, the only sea-going lizards in the world. Diving here is mostly done by liveaboard to cover the spread-out archipelago, although day trips are possible. The Galapagos Sky Liveaboard comes with glowing recommendations for its comfort and top-rated diving packages.

Scuba diving with a whale shark from the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

6.  Yogala, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The SS Yongala, located off the shores of Ayr, is one of the best wreck dives on the planet. The ship sank in 1911 and the wreck is now an artificial reef, teeming with life as part of the Great Barrier Reef. Expect to see giant groupers, manta rays, sea snakes and colorful coral gardens to start. 

You’ll need to take a boat out to this dive site, but you can dry off and enjoy the beach by staying at the Coral Sea Resort in Airlie Beach. While it’s a bit further from Ayr, it offers more upscale amenities with stunning sea views and it’s a great land base for exploring the wider region of the Great Barrier Reef.

Vibrant coral reef with hundreds of glass fish at the SS Yongala ship wreck, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Take the plunge with Faye

From the vibrant, teeming reefs of Raja Ampat to the eerie allure of the Great Blue Hole, these destinations are underwater playgrounds waiting to be explored. 

Just like your BCD (buoyancy control device) helps keep you safe underwater, travel insurance can keep your journey smooth on the surface. With Faye, scuba adventures up to 131 feet (and many other sports and activities) are covered in our base plans. And for those looking to push the limits, we offer Adventure and Extreme Sports coverage.

These accommodations and websites are suggestions and Faye is in no way associated with them. This post is meant to give you ideas and inspiration on how to make the most of a scuba diving vacation.

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