Want to know which coral reefs to dive or snorkel on your next getaway? We've gathered some of the world's top picks here for you to consider. Also included are tips on the best time of year to enjoy these astoundingly beautiful marine habitats.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
There are many reasons to visit the Great Barrier Reef. First off, it's one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and the only living organism that can be seen from outer space. Additionally, this is the world's largest reef, and the largest single collection of corals in the world.
The Reef is home to many fascinating aquatic species, including an array of coral sponges, mollusks, rays, dolphins, 1,500 varieties of tropical fish, more than 200 bird species, 20 different reptiles, and sea turtles - some of which are over 120 years old. The weather is most pleasant here between June and October.
2. Palancar Reef, Cozumel, Mexico
Nestled along the coastline of Cozumel in the Caribbean Sea lies another thriving reef, Palancar. In addition to the stunning colors and shapes of the reef, this particular place attracts visitors who want a glimpse of the sea creatures living here.
This is an excellent place to catch sight of crabs, lobster, stingray, barracuda, angel fish, nurse sharks, parrot fish, sea turtles, moray eels and more. Palancer is known as the Garden of Eden of the Sea for its bountiful marine life. March and August are the best months to plan a diving trip here.
3. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Sitting along the coast of New Guinea lies one of the most remote, undisturbed coral reefs left on earth. It's also home to the world's most diverse collection of marine life. Raja Ampat boasts a staggering 600 species of hard coral reefs, 2,000 species of fish, and many other types of aquatic life.
The tricky part is scheduling a trip in Indonesia's violent weather patterns. The water temperatures stay above 80F year round, but sometimes the water is murky. Schedule your trip with a guide willing to change locations to find the best diving conditions.
4. Jeju Island, South Korea
Diving the intriguing Jeju Island reefs may not always be possible if the South Korean government goes ahead with plans to destroy the reefs and build a naval base. Created by the volcanic activity which produced the lush island of Korea, Jeju Island thrives with soft corals.
At a comfortable 68F all year, the water temperature is always suitable for diving and snorkeling here. However, you'll get the best visibility between April-May and again in September-October. The best way to get here is via Korean Air into Jeju International Airport.
We asked our scuba community on Facebook what there #1 dive spot is.
You can read all the comments and suggestions by clicking on the image.
5. Andaman Sea Reefs, India
Another of the plant's most diverse marine ecosystems, Andaman Sea Reefs are one of India's most phenomenal natural wonders. It's especially important serving as a feeding and breeding area for the endangered sea turtles who call it home. In addition to the fabulous turtles, visitors also get to know the crocodiles, sea cows (Dugongs), more than 200 species of coral, and over 500 varieties of fish.
The best time to plan a diving trip in Andamans is between October and May when the weather is mild and enjoyable. The monsoons make visibility here less than optimal between June and September. Check out these liveaboard dive packages in the Andaman Islands.
Do you know another reef that should be on this list? Tell us about it!
Would you like to go dive one of the locations mentioned above? Feel free to contact us. We have multiple partners that offer dive packages and scuba lessons.
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What is your favorite scuba dive destination? Let us know in the comments below
Rutger Thole is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.