Top 10 Diving Destinations for an Exciting Vacation Because BKK is too Yesterday

With all the training and equipment required to dive, it definitely appears to be quite an extreme and daunting sport. However, in reality, once you get past your initial fear of diving and fully immerse yourself in the depths of the big blue ocean, diving is bound to explode into a full-blown passion.

Each diver has their own preference when they pick they favourite diving spot — whether it’s for the coral reefs, marine life, shipwrecks or even caves. Every island has different things to offer for each individual and here are our top 10 diving destinations and what each island has to offer!

Beautiful marine life
Image credit: Flickr | prilfish

1. Palau (Republic of Palau)

Offering one of the best sea-wall diving conditions in the world, Palau is a 100-mile long archipelago located at the Southeast of the Philippines and attracts nearly 41,000 divers each year.

Palau, Milky Way

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With exciting drop-offs, rich marine life and natural caves, the island offers a wholesome diving experience. However the one thing that draws divers to this country island is the opportunity for them to experience swimming with sharks, up close and personal. Blessed with crystal clear waters and great visibility, Palau promises a remarkable diving experience.

Diving with sharks in Palau

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Popular dive sites: Blue Wall Corner, Peleliu Express, Ulong Channel, Blue Holes
Highlights: Sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, sea turtles, dolphins, jellyfish, spectacular sponges and corals
Best time to dive: March to April
Go-to dive centre: Fish ‘n Fins Dive Centre
Average price: S$228 (2 dives per day per person)

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2. Australia

Home to the largest coral reef in the world, thousands of divers make their diving pilgrimage to Australia every year.

The Great Barrier Reef Australia

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While The Great Barrier Reef is the largest diving site in the world, blessed with exotic marine life like great white sharks, corals and other big pelagic species, another underrated dive site in Australia is the ship wreckage in Yongala in Queensland.

Yongala in Queensland, Australia

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Popular dive sites: Holmes Reef, Osprey Reef, Navy Pier, Blizzard Ridge
Highlights: Tiger sharks, bull sharks, octopuses, rays, sea snakes, sea turtles
Best time to dive: March to April
Go-to dive centre: Scuba Rangers
Average price: S$60 per dive

3. French Polynesia

The pristine warm waters of French Polynesia offers diverse dive profiles for novices and enthusiasts alike, from shallow lagoons to sheer vertical drops and high-energy passes. Out of the 118 islands, around 18 of them have proper dive centres for you to engage in some world-class sites for diving.

Enjoy an experience of a lifetime as you feed the blacktip sharks, swim alongside Napoleon wrasses, touch stingrays, ride the strong currents, and go hunting for the famous black pearls.

Sting rays in French Polynesia

Image credit: Flickr | Mike Johnston

Napoleon fish in French Polynesia

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Popular dive sites: Moorea, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Manihi
Highlights: Hammerhead sharks, grey sharks, bottlenose dolphins, rays, barracudas
Best time to dive: February to November, with September being best time for sharks
Go-to dive centre: TopDive
Average price: S$150 (2 dives per day per person)

4. Galapagos Islands

This legendary dive destination is also a protected marine reserve and is said to offer the ultimate diving experience. Known to have inspired Charles Darwin with his evolutionary research, this group of islands is native to some of the most exquisite and exotic sea creatures.

Apart from the opportunity to encounter whale sharks, dolphins, rays and hammerheads, you also get to dive with penguins, sea lions and marine iguanas.

Penguins in Galapagos

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Sea Lion in Galapagos

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Popular dive sites: Darwin Island, Cabo Marshall, Wolf Island, Cousin’s Rock
Highlights: Penguins, whale sharks, sea lions, turtles, hammerhead sharks
Best time to dive: June to November
Go-to dive centre: SHARKSFRIENDS
Average price: S$200 (2 dives per day per person)

5. Fiji Islands

Known as the Soft Coral Capital of the world, the Fiji Islands offer one of the best diving experiences for expert divers. According to the pros, the crystal clear waters of the islands provide the best conditions for underwater photography and videography.

Soft corals in Fiji Islands

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Hammerhead shark in Fiji Islands

Image credit: Flickr | Josh Hallett

The abundant marine life, colourful corals, warm clear waters, natural caves, caverns and tunnels, make diving in Fiji a mind-blowing experience for divers.

Popular dive sites: Great White Wall, Robinson Crusoe Island, Split Rock, Noel’s Wall
Highlights: Sharks (grey reef and hammerheads), barracudas, rays, dogtooth tuna, turtles, corals
Best time to dive: June to October, April to May
Go-to dive centre: Beqa Adventure Divers, Dolphinbay Diver’s Retreat
Average price: S$180 (2 dives per day per person)

6. Cayman Islands

Dramatic drop-offs, wicked boroughs, ancient wrecks, beautiful reefs and an enviable and diverse marine life – are the reasons why divers come pouring into the Caribbean from all over the world.

Barracuda in Cayman Islands

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Of the islands, the Grand Cayman is the most visited. The North Fall has a plunge deeper than 1800 metres and offers an amazing wall diving experience with sea turtles and spotted eagle rays. With a mix of wall, reef and wreck diving, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are abundant with marine life that lures divers of all skill levels.

Stingray City in Cayman Islands

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Popular dive sites: Babylon, Kittiwake, Wilderness Wall, Stingray City, Captain Keith Tibbetts
Highlights: Dramatic underwater topography, black corals, rays, colourful sponges, sea turtles, barracudas, tropical fish, seahorses
Best time to dive: November to May
Go-to dive centre: INDIGO Divers
Average price: S$325 (2 two-tank dives per person)

7. Indonesia

Home to more than 3,000 species of fish, this archipelago also lay within the ‘coral triangle’. Around 500 kinds of coral, including the rare Dendronephthya, adorn the reefs and makes Indonesia one of the most popular diving destinations in the world, not to mention affordable!

Dendronephthya coral in Indonesia

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With the longest coastline in the world, Indonesia offers a vast variety of dive sites. From coral walls, underwater volcanic mountains, deep trenches and shipwrecks, it’s no wonder that divers from all over the world flock to Indonesia.

Dugongs in Indonesia

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Popular dive sites: Raja Ampat, Togian Island, Bunaken Island, Bali Island, Komodo Island
Highlights: Whale sharks, sea turtles, the rare (almost extinct) dugongs, barracudas, saltwater crocodiles
Best time to dive: October to April
Go-to dive centre: AquaMarine Diving (Bali), Black Marlin Dive Centre (Togian)
Average price: S$127-500 (per dive per person)

8. The Maldives

Swimming with sea turtles The Maldives

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With pristine beaches and azure blue waters, this gem in the middle of the Indian Ocean is a popular destination for both honeymooners and diving enthusiasts. The tropical paradise houses around 26 atolls (ring-shaped reefs) that are home to vibrant marine life like reef sharks, exquisite sponges, tropical fish, rays, turtles and more!

Whale sharks in Maldives

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Popular dive sites: Vaavu Atoll, Lhaviyani Atoll, Ari Atoll, Gaafu Atoll, Baa Atoll
Highlights: Manta rays, sea turtles, whale sharks, hammerheads, Napoleon wrasses, black snapper, Maldivian grubfish
Best time to dive: December to April
Go-to dive centre: Euro-Divers Maldives
Average price: S$90 (per dive per person)

9. Egypt

The Red Sea has always held great fascination amongst divers. Egypt is a popular tourist attraction for its tombs, pyramids and temples, but the waters of this land is Egypt’s underrated attraction, unrivalled in beauty.

Red Sea, Elphinstone Reef, Egypt

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With calm, cool waters, infinite visibility, beautiful coves, sheltered reefs, coral gardens, pinnacles, towers and wrecks – the Red Sea is a coveted dive destination for divers.

Blue spotted ray

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Popular dive sites: Thistlegorm Wreck, Dahab Blue Hole, Abu Nuhas Reef, The Brothers
Highlights: Frogfish, moray eels, batfish, whale sharks, barracudas, blue spotted rays, butterfly fish, angelfish
Best time to dive: April to May, September to November
Go-to dive centre: Deep Blue Divers (Dahab),
Average price: S$65 (per dive per person)

10. Belize

And finally, no list of top diving destinations can be complete without a mention of the Belize Blue Hole.

The Blue Hole- Belize

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A perfect set-up for adventure and romance, the Blue Hole in Belize is a dive site on many divers’ bucket lists. Encounter marine dwellers like reef sharks, rays, sea turtles, and also the numerous species of colourful tropical fish and corals, along with some unbelievable stalactites and stalagmites.

Reef sharks in Belize

Image credit: Flickr | Greg Grimes

Popular dive sites: Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe Island, Ambergris Caye, Placencia
Highlights: Eagle rays, sting rays, reef sharks, nurse sharks, indigo hamlet, jacks, dog snappers
Best time to dive: March to December
Go-to dive centre: Belize Pro Dive Center
Average price: S$65 (single-tank dive per person)

Every dive site has something different to offer, for divers of any capability. Take a dive into the depths of the deep blue to experience some of the greatest mysteries of nature. And like they say – just keep swimming!

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