31 July 2018
The third International Year of the Reef in 2018 aims to strengthen global awareness about coral reefs and their associated ecosystems and in doing so to further conservation efforts. To mark the occasion, we’ve drawn up a guide to our favourite diving destinations, where you can explore the incredible underwater world for yourself.
This tropical destination is about much more than relaxing on an idyllic island in a first-class resort. Made up of more than 1,000 islands, it’s also a very fine destination for diving, with an immense variety of marine life that sets it apart from the rest.
The caves, caverns, overhangs and soft corals that dot the Maldivian region of the Indian Ocean are a magnet for marine species, including Napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, snappers, fusiliers, jacks and sweetlips, while venturing further out will increase your chances of seeing manta rays and whale sharks.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest coral reef system off the coast of north-east Australia is made up of more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300km. Rich in colour, marine life and corals, it has a wide range of dive sites suitable for all abilities, from shallow spots around the islands that are perfect for first-timers to the outer reefs, which are deeper and are better suited to those with experience.
The Bight Reef, Turks and Caicos
The Turks and Caicos Islands are home to one of the longest barrier reefs in the world. At over 200km in length, it protects the north shore of Providenciales island and provides an ideal spot from which to observe humpback whales.
With underwater visibility extending 30m below the surface, the coral reefs, sea mounts and sea walls that surround the islands are perfect for encountering schools of tropical fish, sea turtles and eagle rays. The Coral Gardens area of the reef just a short walk down the beach from the Sands at Grace Bay resort is the perfect place for snorkelling.
Belize Barrier Reef, Belize
Known more for the Great Blue Hole – a giant marine sinkhole first explored by Jacques Cousteau – than the coral reef itself, the Belize Barrier Reef is a world-class destination for recreational scuba-divers, offering the opportunity to dive in crystal-clear waters and see a variety of tropical fish and colourful coral formations.
It is possible to dive into the hole itself, although it requires a certain level of experience and responsibility. This otherworldly experience isn’t a typical reef dive, but you’ll get to marvel at limestone formations and stalactites hanging from the cavern ceiling, and maybe even enjoy the company of hammerhead and bull sharks. For those looking for something a little more eccentric, you can skydive into the Great Big Hole on a tour that leaves from the mainland.
Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
A protected national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reef is in the middle of the Sulu Sea – an incredibly remote location. This means that it’s only reachable by boat in the short season of March to June, when the park is officially open. But the weather is reliably clear and calm at this time, giving you a great opportunity to dive safely and see over 1,000 species of marine animals, including 350 different types of coral along with more than 650 fish, cetacean and turtle species.
If you would like to book or find out more about one of these fantastic diving experiences, contact your Travel Counsellor.