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Since the invention of the aqualung by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1943, scuba diving has become a popular activity practiced the world over. There are now a number of training programs to qualify as a diver – PADI, NAUI and CMAS – after which divers can rent equipment, request air fills, and dive without any higher supervision (though it’s always advised to go with a “buddy”).
The explosion of dive schools over the past decades has led to a range of specialist types of diving, and experts can now partake in anything from altitude, night, cave, or even ice diving.
If you’re interested in taking some time out to qualify as a diver, or are an experienced diver looking for a fresh challenge, why not take a swim through our pick of the best dive sites around:
Vinales is a great base for two of the most unspoilt diving spots in the world: Maria la Gorda and Cayo Levisa. Many experts consider Maria la Gorda’s black corals to be quite spectacular, teeming with marine life such as barracudas and red snappers. Cayo Levisa is a dreamy mangrove-island on a 3km long coral-reef.
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Legendary sites like The Blue Hole and The Canyon attract adrenaline divers year after year, while easy shore access makes Dahab a great spot for divers of all levels. Its deep waters and super visibility mean the chance to see not only large numbers of reef species but also the occasional pelagic and even the odd shark.
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Bali offers divers warm tropical waters, marine landscaped coral reefs, wreck diving and abundant tropical fish and mammals. There are plenty of dive sites all around the compact island - three of the top spots being Menjangan Island, Tulamben and the island of Nusa Penida, each with crystal waters and the opportunity to dive with dolphins.
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Boracay – a Pilipino national marine preserve - is one of the most popular diving areas in Southeast Asia. It’s a great dive holiday location simply because it combines a wide range of dive activities with one of the best beaches in the world plus the numerous good quality resorts, restaurants, bars and nightlife.
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Koh Tao, Thailand
A small tropical island covered in jungle, surrounded by many quiet, palm tree covered beaches, Koh Tao offers the chance to forget about the outside world while enjoying some incredible snorkelling and scuba diving. The place to go if you’re a fan of corals, turtles and general relaxation!
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Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is a marine park made up of a number of islands in the bay of Kota Kinabalu. The waters here offer divers a first glimpse of Borneo’s profuse array of corals and underwater creatures. Its calm water is ideal for macro and close up photography, with a World War II Japanese freighter wreck nearby for the adventurous.
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To scuba divers of all levels, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef represent some of the finest and most exotic diving in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is a massive chain of coral reefs running the coast of north eastern Australia….and beyond this structure of living organisms lies the cleanest body of water on the globe.
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Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
One of a string of great dive sites along the Great Mayan Reef, Playa Del Carmen offers corals and clear tropical waters galore. The reef is only 100m from the beach, and there are also a range of cave dives for the more advanced diver. Not a bad place to stay if you enjoy a good night out after a hard day’s diving.
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Grand Bay, Mauritius
Diving can be an incredible experience in the Indian Ocean around Mauritius, with brilliant multicoloured reefs and profuse aquatic life. A fringing coral reef around the island offers divers encounters with barracudas, sharks, turtles and eagle rays. Mauritius has something for everyone with a selection of shallow dive spots and various walls, caverns and shipwreck dive spots.
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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a classic Caribbean dive destination and attracts diving amateurs from all over the world. The most recognized diving area is in the Southern region, Punta Cana. With a number of underwater parks protecting the environment and multiple wrecks there’s still the excitement of the original "El Dorado" for treasure hunters.
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