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Scuba diving is one of our favorite things to do on vacation. Ever since we got PADI Open Water certified in Thailand, we’ve made it our mission to scuba dive in every single country we visit. We love that it allows you to explore the underwater world and experience amazing marine life. You wouldn’t think it but diving is also one of the most adventurous and thrilling activities.

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there is a dive site for you somewhere in the world. But with so many options, how do you choose where to go? We have many dive locations on our scuba diving bucket list and wanted to share our top picks with you.

To help you plan your next diving adventure, we have compiled a list of some of the best scuba diving areas in the world. These destinations offer stunning scenery, diverse ecosystems, and unforgettable experiences for divers of all levels.

Here are some of the best scuba diving areas in the world.

Table of Contents

Best Scuba Diving in the World

We love hitting you with travel inspo to help you build your travel bucket list. We love adventure travel and really what’s more thrilling than swimming with sharks and massive whales below the sea? Let’s dive in (pun intended) to all the best scuba diving sites in the world.

scuba diving

1. Australia

Water temperature: 22-29℃ (72-84 ℉)

Underwater visibility: 40-50+ meters (130-160+ ft)

Best dive season: August to December

What you’ll see: large coral reef with over 1,500 different fish species

We have to start with the most famous spot to start our list. Some of the best scuba diving areas in the world are located on The Great Barrier Reef. Located in the northeastern corner of Australia, off the coast of Queensland, lies the largest coral reef in the world. No matter what type of traveler you are, visiting Australia should be on your bucket list.

One of the biggest reasons to travel to Australia is scuba diving The Great Barrier Reef. It stretches an impressive 2,300 km (1,430 miles) and is made up of about 2,900 reefs and 900 islands. You can expect a flourishing ecosystem with more than 1,500 different species of fish, turtles, sharks, rays, whales, and dolphins.

Scuba diving is great here no matter what time of year you visit. The best diving season at The Great Barrier Reef is between August and December. This is when the water is warmest and clearest making for optimal diving conditions. You can expect The Great Barrier Reef’s water temperatures to be a comfortable 22-29℃ (72-84 ℉). The underwater visibility here is between 40-50+ meters (130-160+ ft).

Top Australia Scuba Diving Tours

Taking a full day diving or snorkeling tour from Cairns to explore the reef makes for the perfect day. We love this scuba diving tour because you can choose to snorkel or dive (whether you’re scuba certified or want an introductory dive). This is great if you’re traveling with non divers who’d rather snorkel. This dive tour is great for families offering a slide, glass bottom boats, and an enclosed ocean pool.

2. Egypt

Water temperature: 20-30℃ (68-86℉)

Underwater visibility: 20-40 meters (65-130 ft)

Best dive season: June to December

What you’ll see: Stunning coral gardens, a diverse population of marine life, and amazing shipwrecks.

Egypt’s Red Sea is one of the best and most unique dive spots in the world. You can expect stunning clear water with beautiful coral reefs and a whole lot of marine life. Diving in this area is great year round with whale shark season being between June and September. Roughly 85% of the Red Sea coast is part of a protected marine park system ensuring that the reefs are safe.

There are over 2100 species of fish found in the Red Sea, which makes this one of the most epic dive spots.

You can expect the Red Sea temperatures to be between 20-30℃ (68-86℉). The tropical waters of the Red Sea have an ocean clarity of between 20-40 meters (65-130 ft). This makes for perfect drive conditions allowing you to see all the underwater world has to offer. And it has A LOT to offer!

If you’re looking for a great place to do wreck dives, look into the Red Sea! Scuba diving in Egypt has something to offer divers of every level. This is the place for you whether you’re an advanced diver looking for a challenging drift dive, wanting to explore an underwater cave or shipwreck – or a new diver looking for a shallow reef dive. You’ll also see lots of large marine life like dolphins, whales, turtles, sharks, and rays.

Top Egypt Scuba Diving Tours

There are a lot of great scuba diving tours in the Red Sea available for both beginner and advanced divers. Scuba diving here is affordable and delivers some of the best conditions you’ll experience. After exploring what’s under the surface of the Red Sea, it’s worth looking at it from above. Taking a cruise on the Red Sea is one of the best things you’ll do when traveling Egypt.

We’re committed to ecotourism and therefore love a good ethical animal encounter. In Egypt’s Red Sea, you can swim with wild dolphins. This is an animal interaction we can get behind!

3. Mexico

Water temperature: West coast: 15-26℃ (60-80℉) | East coast 25-28℃ (78-82℉)

Underwater visibility: West coast: 10-30 meters (30-10 ft) | East coast: 20-40 meters (65-130 ft)

Best dive season: West coast: November to May | East coast: June to December

What you’ll see: Stunning coral gardens, a diverse population of marine life, and amazing shipwrecks.

Mexico is a scuba divers’ paradise with a large coastline spanning both the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean as well as the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea. The eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula sits along the beautiful Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. This creates some of the best scuba diving conditions we’ve ever experienced. Seriously, we couldn’t get enough of diving in Mexico!

The east side of Mexico features the popular tourist destinations of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, and Tulum. They sit in the Yucatan Peninsula along the Mesoamerican Reef and offer unique diving opportunities for every skill set.

Some of the most famous dive sites in Mexico include:

Playa del Carmen is known for diving with female bull sharks who come to this area to have their young. But the real star of the show is the island of Cozumel Mexico. This island is world renowned for having some of the best scuba diving in the world.

On the west coast of Mexico, you have the Pacific Ocean which is full of marine life and diversity. You can expect water temperatures to sit between 20-30℃ (68-86℉) depending on the time of year. The water clarity on the west coast is between 10 and 30 meters (30-100 ft). The best time of year to dive in these Pacific waters is between November and May when the water is warmer and you have the most marine life activity.

One of the best dive sites on Mexico’s west coast is the national marine park of Cabo Pulmo where you can really gain an appreciation of marine preservation efforts. This reef has been completely restored from a once dying reef to fully thriving complete with rays, sharks, turtles, and whales.

  • If you want to swim with sea lions, La Paz (the capital of Baja California Sur) is the place to do it. This is also a great area for whale shark encounters
  • Socorro Island is a remote island off the west coast that’s a haven for large marine life like hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, and dolphins.

4. The Galapagos

Water temperature: 12-26℃ (55-79℉)

Underwater visibility: 9-100 meters (30-100 ft) Best visibility in July – August

Best dive season: June – September

What you’ll see:

December – May: manta rays, hammerhead sharks, turtles, dolphins

July – November: whale sharks, sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas

Off the coast of Ecuador, you will find one of the most unique places on Earth: The Galapagos Islands. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this archipelago is home to many unique species, both on land and in the water. Scuba diving in the Galapagos is bound to impress even the most seasoned divers with its unique marine biodiversity.

whale shark

In the scuba diving world, the best seasons are recognized as whale shark season and manta ray season.

  • Whale shark season, from July to November, brings cooler water that also attracts hammerhead, silky, and Galapagos sharks as well as dolphins. The best dive spot to see whale sharks is Darwin IslandWolf Island is famous for its shark action everything from whale sharks to hammerheads. 
  • Manta Ray season, December to May, brings warmer clearer waters that bring many different rays including mobula, spotted eagle, golden, cow-nosed, and marble rays. One of the best dive spots to see these rays is Gordon Rocks. You will see a high concentration of these rays as well as hammerhead sharks, white tip reef sharks, and turtles. Cabo Marshall is another great dive spot for manta rays, hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, and dolphins.

The north and east islands are known for warmer, clearer waters while the south and west are murkier and cooler. 

5. Belize

Water temperature: 26-29℃ (79-84℉)

Underwater visibility: 15-40 meters (50-130 ft)

Best: April – June

Worst: February – April

Best dive season: November – April

What you’ll see: sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins

Belize is one of the most underrated travel destinations. It also has some of the world’s best scuba diving. The Belize Barrier Reef is a large reef system that extends along the full length of the country. Here you will find a lot of great places to dive with colourful corals and plenty of tropical fish. Stretching 300 kms (190 miles) this part of the Mesoamerican reef has lots to be explored.

Along with many reef dives, Belize is most well known for the stunning and world famous Great Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is a sinkhole that spans 300 meters (1000 ft) wide and 124 meters (407 feet deep). This bucket list scuba dive site is best visited by advanced divers who can descend to deeper depths where they’ll explore the stalactites and stalagmites in the area. This is also a great place to see sharks as reef sharks, giant hammerheads, and bull sharks all frequent these waters.

Shark Ray Alley near Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker is another great place to see nurse sharks and rays. You will have great scuba diving here all year round with peak diving season being between November to May. Whale shark season is between April and June.

scuba diving with turtle

The tropical water in Belize is a beautiful 26-29℃ (79-84℉) making it a comfortable temperature. Depending on where you go and what time of year you’re diving, you will usually enjoy 15-40 meters (50-130 ft) of underwater clarity. 

6. Indonesia

Water temperature: 24-30℃ (75-86℉) (lower in Nusa Penida/Lembe Strait)

Underwater visibility: 10-50+ meters (30-150+ ft)

Best: April – June

Worst: February – April

Best dive season: April – October

What you’ll see: 3000+ species of fish, 600+ species of coral, manta rays whale sharks, mola mola, hammerhead sharks, turtles dolphins, octopus

The archipelago of Indonesia sits in the Pacific and Indian Ocean near the equator and is home to some epic scuba diving. Indonesia is comprised of more than 17,000 islands and has a stellar location in the Coral Triangle. This is an area with the highest marine biodiversity in the world and includes Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands.

The tropical waters in Indonesia are a balmy 24-30℃ (75-86℉). Depending on the season, you will enjoy water clarity of 10-50+ meters (30-150+ ft). While there is never a bad time to dive in Indonesia, the best dive season is between April and October. You can expect active marine life and warm, clear waters between these months.

The beautiful tourist island of Bali is what first comes to mind when you think of scuba diving in Indonesia. We absolutely loved diving in Bali and did our first wreck dive in Tulamben. This was a core memory for us as we explored a slice of history below the sea. There are lots of places to do reef dives, wall dives, muck dives, and wreck dives around the island.

Nusa Penida is one of the most popular islands near Bali and is a great place to dive. You can scuba dive with manta rays all year round with the best scuba diving season being between November and May when the water is calmest. Or you could snorkel with the manta rays instead.

Komodo Island is another popular island for a diverse range of dive conditions.

Raja Ampat is one of the most amazing scuba diving spots in Indonesia, if not the world. This archipelago consists of about 1,500 islands and has a reputation in the diving world for being one of the most biodiverse areas with stunning pristine reefs. You can expect to see thriving corals, sponges, and sea fans as well as many tropical fish, sharks, whale sharks, dolphins, and manta rays. 

7. Thailand

Water temperature: 26-30℃ (79-86℉)

Underwater visibility: 10-50+ meters (30-150+ ft)

Best dive season: Andaman Sea: November – May | Gulf of Thailand: May – October

What you’ll see: 2000 species of fish, 500 species of coral, sharks, whale sharks, manta rays, leopard sharks, reef sharks, turtles, dolphins, barracuda

Thailand is a backpacking hotspot that receives a ton of tourism each year. Many different types of travelers visit every year to relax on their islands. It’s a top destination for diving and is one of the best spots to get scuba diving certified in the world. Thailand is a special area for diving as you have the opportunity to explore two different bodies of water.

On the west coast, you have The Andaman Sea. On the east coast, you have the Gulf of Thailand. Both offer so much to see making scuba diving in Thailand one of the best places in the world. You will see everything from whale sharks and manta rays to seahorses and thriving coral reefs.

Water temperature in Thailand is warm year round sitting between 26-30℃ (79-86℉). There were even times we had to run into the water because the water in the shallows was so warm it would burn our feet. We dove both in a shortie and in our bathing suits and were completely comfortable in both.

The best time to dive in the Andaman Sea is between October and April. Each coast has something to offer for different divers. The Andaman Sea has some of the best underwater visibility at 15-40 meters (50-130 ft). This is the place to go if you want lots of aquatic encounters and to see some of the best ocean clarity in the world.

One of the top dive sites in the Andaman Sea is the Similan Islands. This group of 9 islands is famous for its abundant marine life and stunning coral reefs. 

You can plan to see whale sharks, manta rays, sharks, and turtles. Richelieu Rock is one of the most popular places to dive in Thailand and the world. Here you will find a beautiful reef full of soft corals, anemones, and sponges. This attracts schools of fish, barracudas, manta rays, and whale sharks.

underwater sculpture, scuba diving

The Gulf of Thailand’s peak diving season is between May and September. The water clarity isn’t quite as good being between 5-30 meters (16-98 ft). This coast is a great place to go for wreck dives and reef dives.

This is also where you will find the small island of Koh Tao, the diving capital of Thailand. This island is one of the cheapest places to get scuba certified in the world. We got our PADI Open Water certification on this island and highly recommend it. The cost is between 10,000-15,000 THB ($383-575 CAD/$280-430 USD) and can include accommodation.

You can expect to see sharks, rays, turtles, moray eels as well as many tropical fish here. Off the coast of Koh Tao, you will find the HTMS Sattakut, a US Navy landing craft that was sunk to create an artificial reef. This wreck lies 18-30 meters (59-98 ft) attracting advanced divers.

Thanks for stopping by!

The ocean covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface leaving a whole lot to be explored. Scuba diving is one of the most rewarding hobbies and is an absolute must for travelers looking to experience all this world has to offer. 

Exploring the best scuba diving areas in the world will have you traveling to many different corners of Earth. From colourful corals to large whale sharks, the underwater world has so much to offer.  Exploring below the sea in different corners of the world is an absolute must for serious travelers.

Happy diving, scuba friends! 

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