Thanks to the white-sand beaches and bath-warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a firm favourite when it comes to the world’s best scuba diving holiday destinations. Underwater, you’ll find whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and moray eels. As well as the big names, you’ll spot a lot of smaller rainbow-patterned fish vying for your attention, from cobalt-blue snappers to canary-yellow angelfish. The best bit? Thanks to the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, visibility as far as 50 metres is standard in these parts. Diving first-timer? Most resorts in the Maldives have a scuba diving facility, and there are a number of trips that take you to the top diving spots around the island.
Best place to stay: Kuredu Island Resort & Spa has its own house reef, as well as 50 dive sites within boating distance.
Whether you’re looking to brush up your skills on a diving course or get the perfect underwater shipwreck shot, diving holidays in Malta come up trumps. You’ll have over 100 dive sites to choose from, with a range of depths from shallow waters to deep tunnels 50 metres under – making it suitable for beginners, advanced and technical divers. Even better, its caves, reefs and shipwrecks are all in easy reaching distance from the shore or by boat, thanks to great transport links around the island. Wondering which is the best spot? Paradise Bay is a small sandy cove lapped by clear waters. It’s home to goat fish and giant sea snails.
Best place to stay: Hotel Mellieha Bay have pre-bookable packages, and offer a five-star PADI diving centre offering professional instruction.
Free diving in the Dominican Republic comes with the chance of spotting humpback whales, as well as mangrove forests and brag-worthy shipwrecks. And, thanks to its warm waters and good visibility, it’s a year-round destination for keen divers. Most dive operators plan excursions around customers, along with plenty of sites suitable for beginners – the south is a particular favourite thanks to its calm waters. Don’t forget, Caribbean diving holidays also come with the added benefit of sugar-soft beaches, colourful Colonial towns and jerk chicken by the BBQ load.
Best place to stay: TUI SENSATORI Resort Punta Cana offers up scuba diving lessons in the pool.
Egypt’s Red Sea is filled with over 1,200 species of tropical fish, from stingrays and puffer fish to green turtles and spinner fish – that totals 10% of the world’s fish species. That’s not all, though. There’s also 200 types of soft and hard coral for you to capture on camera. Alternatively, swim among 19th and 20th-century shipwrecks near Sharm el Sheikh, or make Hurghada your base and head to Giannis D wreck. Here, you’ll find dolphins, reef sharks and parrotfish among others.
Best place to stay: Marsa Alam comes with plenty of kaleidoscopic reefs.
The underwater village of Pavlopetri, in the Peloponnese region of Greece, covers an area that’s roughly the size of six football fields, and comes complete with roads, houses, temples and gardens. Even drinking cups and looms for weaving have been discovered at the site. It’s thought the town was abandoned in 1100 BC, shortly after an earthquake brought its foundations into a state of disrepair. You’ll find it just off Pounda beach, near Viglafia. You’ll also find underwater statues in Cancun, a sunken ferry in Cyprus, a former drug running ship which was scuttled in Bonaire, a minesweeper ship near Cozumel, and the practically intact Thistlegorm freighter in the Red Sea.
The TUI SENSIMAR Alaya will come with all the trimmings of a chic, adults-only retreat – including swim-up rooms, à la carte dining and five pools.
The TUI MAGIC LIFE Kalawy is just the ticket for action-packed holidays – with four pools, lots of activities and a coral reef on the doorstep.
The ROBINSON Club Maldives blends its trademark high-octane activities with the relaxing atmosphere of a tranquil island getaway.
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