Where Are the World’s Best Scuba and Diving Spots?

Sea turtles are a common sight on dives in the Philippines
Sea turtles are a common sight on dives in the Philippines | © RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Tamara Hinson
Contributor5 November 2021

Narrowing down a list of the world’s best scuba and diving sites wasn’t easy, but we’ve rustled up a list of the locations which should be on your radar. From Bora Bora to Tenerife, you can now explore the world by sailboat or island-hop your way around the best scuba spots with ease.

Seek out the world’s best diving spots by renting a yacht with SamBoat. Alternatively, spend longer when you charter a vessel with Dream Yacht Charter.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Natural Feature
Woman snorkelling in a turquoise lagoon in French Polynesia, with a stingray not far from her
© Andrea Izzotti / Alamy Stock Photo
What’s not to love about a place where Day-Glo coral and swarms of neon fish come as standard? The waters surrounding this volcanic island are famous for marine life diversity. Our favourite dive sites include Tupitipiti, which has numerous shark and turtle-filled underwater caves. If you’re keen to spot larger species such as Napoleon Wrasse and trigger sharks, this is where to come.

Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Natural Feature
Diverse coral covered seabed of shallow waters in Coral sea around Great Barrier reef, Australia
© Taras Vyshnya / Alamy Stock Photo
A paradise for both snorkellers and scuba divers, the best way to explore the area’s dive sites is by basing yourself on one of the islands, such as Hamilton, or chartering a yacht. Top snorkelling sites include the Hangover coral wall, which you’ll find just off Airlie Beach, and Hardy Reef, which is a staple of guided scuba diving and snorkelling tours in the Whitsundays. Look out for the enormous groupers, turtles and angelfish.

Gordon’s Rock, the Galapagos

Natural Feature
Diver swimming inside the Gordon Rocks Crater in Galapagos
© Amar and Isabelle Guillen - Guillen Photo LLC / Alamy Stock Photo
A dive site to the north of Santa Cruz island, Gordon’s Rock is a brilliant scuba diving site, although it’s best suited to intermediate and advanced divers. It’s also known as the washing machine due to its choppy conditions. Up for the challenge? It’s worth it – you’ll see a varied range of species, including reef fish, stingrays, giant sea turtles, rays, stingrays, eagle rays, green morays, Galapagos eels and barracudas.

Tenerife, the Canary Islands

Natural Feature
Scuba Diving in Tenerife, Canary Islands
© Shaun Yeo / Alamy Stock Photo
Tenerife is an easily accessible diving destination with sites for all abilities, year-round warm water and a spectacular backdrop. Our top spots include Palmar Wall, on the southern coast, for the impressive moray eels and bull rays. Elsewhere, wreck divers will love the El Condesito – a rusting hulk of a freighter that sank 40 years ago. For a spot of snorkelling, you can’t go wrong with Punta de Teno, off Tenerife’s tip where cute octopuses hide among the rocks.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Natural Feature
Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) swimming over coral reef with soft coral in Misool, West Papua, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
© Jane Gould / Alamy Stock Photo
This might not be one of the most accessible dive sites, but it tops most scuba divers’ bucket lists. A whopping 76 per cent of the world’s coral species live on this archipelago, with four large islands and hundreds of tinier ones. Each offers a different diving experience, whether you’re keen to spot dugongs or dogtooth tuna or admire the area’s beautiful wobbegong sharks. It’s also a brilliant year-round option – water temperature fluctuates less here than at other Indonesian dive destinations.

Palawan, the Philippines

Natural Feature
Tourist and tour guide swimming with a whale shark ( Rhincodon typus ) in Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Philippines
© Duncan Murrell / Alamy Stock Photo
Here, you’ll find some of the healthiest coral reefs in Asia, along with a wide range of species, from tiger and whitetip sharks to blue-spotted ribbontail rays and yellowtail snappers. Just off the island’s northern tip, Coron Bay is famous for its shipwrecks, including several Japanese. Unesco-listed Tubbataha Reef Natural Park is another brilliant option for snorkellers and divers best explored on a liveaboard boat or as a part of a sailing holiday.

Manta Reef, Mozambique

Natural Feature
Two manta rays swimming in Mozambique
© Fiona Ayerst / Alamy Stock Photo
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this area is famous for its mantas. Dive or snorkel near the manta cleaning stations – locations where mantas and other species come to get their skin, gills, and teeth spruced up by parasitic crustaceans – and you’ll spot groups of up to 10 groomed at any one time. Its other USP is the topography – you’ll find everything from overhangs and coral walls to caves, swim-throughs and drop-offs. Most divers and snorkellers base themselves in nearby Guinjata Bay.

Dahab, Egypt

Architectural Landmark
Red Sea, Egypt – A woman snorkeling underwater at a coral reef named the Blue Hole near Dahab
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo
This is one of Egypt’s best scuba diving destinations. The name refers to the small, laidback town where most divers base themselves, home to a mixture of Bedouins and expats. The best time to dive is during June, July and August – you’ll enjoy warmer warmers and will stand the best chance of spotting larger species such as sharks and dolphins. Our favourite spot has to be Ras Abu Galum, famous for its sprawling coral gardens.

Explore top diving spots by booking a yacht with SamBoat. Alternatively, charter a vessel with Dream Yacht Charter.

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