Learning to dive is an exciting time that opens up a doorway to thrilling worldwide adventures. Are you ready for your first dive trip ? Get inspired with our top dive destinations for new divers ! Whether you’re looking for a classic sunshine getaway, affordable easy diving or an adventurous destination far from any crowds, we’ve got something for you. Read on to find out more.
Ningaloo Coast, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef often tops the list of destinations for new divers, but the Ningaloo Coast is equally as impressive. Offering pristine reefs, abundant marine megafauna and few dive crowds, it is Australia’s hidden gem.
The Ningaloo Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Western Australia, is home to Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, Ningaloo Reef. Stretching along the coast, this special reef is perfect for warm water diving and offers exceptional marine life encounters.
As well as hosting hundreds of whale sharks from March to June each year, the reef is part of a migratory route for dolphins, dugong and mantas. Tens of thousands of humpback whales visit from July to November and the Ningaloo Coast’s beaches are also an important breeding area for loggerhead, green and hawksbill sea turtles.
If you love colourful fish life, easy diving and clear blue waters, diving in Egypt is perfect for you. Egypt’s reefs are swathed in vibrant soft corals, and wherever you dive you’ll be surrounded by schools of gorgeous Red Sea fish and passing blue-spotted stingrays. It’s like diving in an aquarium.
Sharm el Sheikh offers easy shore diving at numerous house reefs along the coast, plus day boat diving at Ras Mohammed National Park, the Straits of Tiran and the Thistlegorm wreck. It’s a popular place to try different dive types, upskill with a short dive course and explore some of the most beautiful reefs in the world.
For a quieter dive destination, pack your bags and visit Marsa Alam. This resort town might be small but it is renowned for its sandy beaches and excellent reef diving. It also has one of the most famous dive sites in the Red Sea, Abu Dabbab Beach. Go there for the chance to swim with dugongs and resident green sea turtles.
South Andaman Sea, Thailand
Thailand is a world-class dive destination that promises year-round diving, easy dive conditions and a seemingly endless list of marine life large and small. It is one of the most popular destinations to get your dive certification and try affordable liveaboard diving.
There is plenty of excellent scuba diving in Thailand for new divers, especially in the South Andaman Sea. The jungle-clad cliffs and white sand beaches of the Phi Phi Islands are a veritable playground for divers, with healthy reefs and limestone walls covered in corals. Look closely for the numerous critters and seahorses that live there.
The Similan and Surin Islands off Khao Lak are very popular and offer easy diving along gently sloping sandbanks and hard coral reefs. Liveaboard trips to these special islands often include diving at nearby Richelieu Rock. This wild and impressive dive spot is better-suited to advanced divers but just snorkelling there is well worth it.
Koh Lanta has some of Thailand’s best diving, with pretty coral gardens, plentiful fish and sharks. There are numerous dive sites on Koh Lanta’s doorstep, with Koh Haa offering amazing visibility and calm waters ideal for new or nervous divers.
Tiger Beach, The Bahamas… thrilling dives for new divers !
Declared a shark sanctuary in 2011, the Bahamas is a top destination for shark fans. It is a mecca for shark diving and is home to beautiful white sand landscapes above and below the waterline.
Tiger Beach is the place to go if you want to dive with numerous tiger sharks. At just 6-8m deep, the diving there is shallow, and there are minimal currents. You simply kneel on the sand and watch the huge sharks glide by.
You will also likely see lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, Atlantic Spotted dolphins and possibly hammerheads and bull sharks whilst you’re there.
October to January are the best months to visit for numerous sharks.
Wakatobi is a world-famous conservation destination where you’ll find undisturbed reefs and seagrass meadows bustling with life. It is a classic Indonesia diving destination offering a touch of luxury and the chance to truly escape daily life.
There is a wealth of diving opportunities at Wakatobi, including easy shore dives at some of the most pristine house reefs you’ll ever find. Sitting in the Coral Triangle, Wakatobi’s reefs host hundreds of different fish species, as well as huge corals and sponges, prized critters and sea turtles.
Simply walk off the soft beaches and enjoy. You can also go day boat and liveaboard diving at this enchanting destination.
Sri Lanka, a lesser-known destination
Are you ready for an adventure? Go diving in Sri Lanka ! This lesser-known destination is off the radar for most divers but offers a wealth of diving opportunities, including plenty for new divers.
The area off the Trincomalee coast in the Eastern Province has around 20 different dive sites for all experience levels and boasts some of Sri Lanka’s best diving. With sites as shallow as 5m, the diving is suitable for new divers, and there is an array of coral reefs to explore. The sheltered dive sites and fascinating macro life are perfect for relaxed dives.
Sri Lanka’s Southern Province is a land of sleepy villages and endless sandy coastline with Buddhist temples, spectacular coral reefs and wrecks. There are wonderful shore dives for beginners and the Great Basses for advanced divers.
Jardines de la Reina, Cuba
The Jardines de la Reina, or ‘Gardens of the Queen’, is the jewel in Cuba’s diving crown and offers exceptional Caribbean diving. The name alone is enough to make any diver want to visit this unspoilt marine reserve.
With over 700 fish species, several different shark species and mangroves hosting resident manatees, the Jardines de la Reina are a paradise for divers. Visitor numbers are strictly limited, meaning you can enjoy the dive sites without worrying about crowds, and the dive conditions are easy.
Visit from December to April for the warmest waters and be sure to try night diving while you’re there.
The Maldives, also for new divers !
Maldives diving is rightly known for thrilling drift dives, pelagic encounters and deep channels, but this tropical paradise destination also has plenty for beginners. Stay at a resort and enjoy house reef diving, hop on a day boat or join a liveaboard safari with minimum logged dives. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
With numerous remote atolls and endless turquoise waters, the Maldives has an array of diving options. Highlights for new divers include swimming with hundreds of mantas at world-famous Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll and gentle drift diving at North Ari Atoll.
Peaceful Laamu Atoll has numerous critters and is a perfect place to try underwater photography, whilst Meemu Atoll offers current-free diving and the chance to swim with schooling mobula rays.
Made up of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, the Seychelles is synonymous with soft white sands, cloud forests and UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is a perfect place to combine island hopping, sailing, scuba diving and water sports.
Head underwater and you’ll discover impressive granite landscapes and waters busy with life. The Inner Islands are ideal for new divers and have shallow dive sites with abundant fish, octopi, moray eels, critters and sharks.
If you visit Mahé during October or November you can also swim with whale sharks.
For an adventure with a difference, go scuba diving in Japan. Made up of thousands of islands and a coastline that stretches over 20,000 miles, Japan offers everything from ice diving to coral reefs.
Shikoku attracts divers from around the world and has great year-round diving for beginners. It is a nature lover’s paradise, with sub-tropical waters teeming with temperate and tropical fish. There are numerous islands strewn along the coast, shallow shore dives and no crowds. In between diving, explore the natural whirlpools, mountains, waterfalls and breath-taking scenery the area is known for.
The Izu Ocean Park on the Izu Peninsula is one of Japan’s best dive spots. This gorgeous dive destination has diverse underwater landscapes, including lava flows, coral reefs, drop-offs and sandy flats. It’s a great place to drift along in the shallows and admire the colourful fish on the reefs.
If you love manta rays, don’t miss Manta Ray Scrumble at Ishigaki Island. This special dive site has one of the highest rates of encounters with manta rays in the world. The mantas swim at depths of just 5 to 10m, making it an easy dive or snorkel. Just be mindful of when you choose to dive, as the currents can be calm or strong.
Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article for www.zesea.com
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