The Top 25 Dive Centres and Resorts Nominated by DIVE Readers
During the annual DIVE Travel Awards, the Top 25 dive centres and resorts, as nominated by DIVE Magazine's readers get sent through to a final vote from which the Top 10 will be decided. Here's a short preview of each...
Aldora Divers • Aquarius Diving Club • Atlantic Scuba • Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort & Spa • Camel Dive Club • Ceningan Divers • Coraya Dive Resort • Critters @ Lembeh Resort • Dressel Divers • Elite Diving • Gangga Island Resort & Spa • Go West Diving, • Manta Dive Gili T • Meridian Adventure Dive Resort • Ocean Encounters • Papua Explorers Dive Resort • Papua Paradise Eco Resort • Sam's Tours • Siladen Resort & Spa • The Dive Bus • The Wave Diving Center • Uepi Island Resort, • Underworld Tulum • Wakatobi • Walindi Plantation Resort
Aldora Divers Cozumel, Mexico
Aldora Divers prides itself on using higher-capacity tanks than other local operators in Cozumel, claiming an average of 70 minutes dive time for its guests. Groups sizes are limited to a maximum of six when possible, and an average of four. A fleet of eight boats ensures that there is plenty of cover should one develop a fault. Aldora divers has its own accommodation at Villa Aldora, which is reserved for the exclusive use of customers. Aldora also offers a 'Special Operations' service, whereby guests get to dive at 'a multitude of newly identified and pristine sites near the north end of the island.'
MUST SEE: Santa Rosa Wall is one of the most popular dive sites, with plenty of swim-throughs and caves and is a great place for divers of all levels to enjoy a drift dive among huge barrel sponges, with turtles and eagle rays commonly spotted. More experienced divers will find their thrills at Barracuda Reef, where strong currents entice blacktip reef sharks and hammerheads to visit. plus - of course - barracuda. For an extra-special encounter, female bull sharks gather at Playa Del Carmen between late October and March each year.
Aquarius Diving Club Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Aquarius has a number of outlets around the Egyptian Red Sea, with the main centre based in Sharm. Along with daily boat trips and a full range of PADI courses up to Instructor level, Aquarius also offers 7-night liveaboard adventures and also 'mini-safaris', where divers can enjoy an overnight stop in Tiran, Ras Mohamed or at the wreck of the Thistlegorm - making the most of early morning or late afternoon dives without interruption, and night dives, where permissible. Freediving lessons, snorkel tours and other watersports activities are also available
MUST SEE: Thistlegorm at night one of the greatest shipwrecks known to divers, the Thistlegorm is an extraordinary dive during the day, but at night the ship takes on a haunting and eerie aspect that needs to be seen to be understood. Plus, of course, a whole new ship full of critters that you rarely see during the day.
Atlantic Scuba Cornwall, UK
Atlantic Scuba Dive Centre is a 5-star SDI dive centre based at Mabe, near Falmouth in Cornwall. Along with dive training and excursions, Atlantic Scuba is also involved in a variety of underwater initiatives, such as maritime archaeology, hunting for undiscovered wrecks, and ghost gear removal, and has featured on BBC television. A full range of SDI courses is available, as well as TDI and PADI programmes, Atlantic's tailor-made BSAC qualifications, and Nautical Archaeology Societies Courses. Atlantic operates regular dive trips aboard ‘Stingray’, the centre's RHIB, and ‘Moonshadow’, an MCA coded Lochin 33 hard boat. Year-round diving is available to suit all levels of diver, from shallow shore and wreck diving to deeper, more technical experiences.
MUST SEE: The Manacles is a huge reef between 6m and 44m of depth which has something of just about everything for almost everyone. As many as 50 ships have come to grief on the reef's pinnacles, with the Mohegan, Spyridion Vagliano, Lady Dalhousie & HMS Primrose being notable favourites. Elsewhere, the 1914 wreck of the Hera is popular with local divers, well sheltered and covered in marine life, as is Kat's Wall, just 25m long and 25m deep, but surprisingly well populated.
Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort & Spa Indonesia
The luxury eco-resort of Bunaken Oasis is built on a steep hillside overlooking the mangroves on Liang Beach in Bunaken Marine National Park. As the park is a protected environment, the resort uses its own desalination facility to produce drinkable fresh water and avoid the need for plastic bottles, while wastewater is processed through a water treatment plant. Bunaken Oasis offers 12 large, traditionally-built villas, including one family villa with two bedrooms, and a villa close to the central Long House for those who may have difficulty walking. The resort's infinity pool, with sun-loungers and cocktail bar, gives guests the chance to chill in between dives, and a full-service restaurant serves Indonesian and international cuisine. Guest amenities also include an air-conditioned library, a fully-equipped classroom in the dive centre with 4K flat-screen TV, and a spacious camera room with an abundance of charging points. Divers can wind down with a massage from one of the spa's fully trained therapists.
MUST SEE: Mike’s Point is one of the most popular dive sites around Bunaken with steep walls covered with huge gorgonian fans and bushes of black coral. The walls form a natural amphitheatre and the current can be strong, so it is usually dived as a drift. Eagle rays and whitetip reef sharks are commonly spotted, along with turtles and the occasional silvertip.
Camel Dive Club Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt
Operating since 1986, Camel Dive Club is one of Sharm El Sheikh's oldest and best-known dive centres, a PADI 5-Star Instructor Development Centre and resort. Located a short walk from the jetty in downtown Na'ama Bay, Camel Dive Club is comprised of the dive centre, Camel Hotel and the legendary Camel Bar. Daily diving excursions are available to the world-famous Strait of Tiran, Ras Mohammed and the wrecks of the Dunraven and Thistlegorm. Most of the daily diving and snorkelling is by boat from the nearby Na'ama Bay jetty, with wreck adventures departing from Travco marina. Camel Dive Club has its own dedicated pool for dive training, which progresses into Na'ama Bay, with its flat sandy bottom, coral pinnacles, seagrass and a host of critters. Unwind at the end of the day at the Camel Bar rooftop bar and restaurant, overlooking the main street of Sharm El Sheikh's central area.
MUST SEE: Jackson Reef, with its lush coral gardens at either end and a vertical wall in between, is one of the highlights of any dive trip to Sharm. Turtles, stonefish and a host of blue-spotted rays make their homes here, and there's always a chance of something bigger passing by. On a calm day, heading around the back of the reef gives divers an opportunity to meet the scalloped hammerheads that often school there.
Ceningan Divers Indonesia
Ceningan Divers is an award-winning eco-oriented PADI 5 Star Dive Resort based on Nusa Ceningan, the smallest island of the trio that contains Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida, just off the south-eastern coast of Bali. The dive resort is located 'off the beaten track', around 500m away from the iconic yellow bridge that joins Ceningan to Lembongan. The world-class dive sites of Blue Corner, Mangrove and Toyapakeh are just a short distance away, with easy access to Penida's north shore. The famous Crystal Bay, home of the molas, and the resident population of manta rays that inhabit Penida's southern coastline are within easy reach. A Green Fins Operator and member of the International Ecotourism Society, diving in the area is conducted in small groups, and PADI courses are available in Bahasa Indonesia, English, French, German, Italian, Romansch, and Spanish.
MUST SEE: Manta Point is a cleaning station on the south side of neighbouring Nusa Penida, and the location of a cleaning station for the islands' resident population of manta rays. Sightings are very common, sometimes just a solitary animal, sometimes over 20 circling the cleaning station while waiting their turn.
Coraya Dive Resort Marsa Alam, Egypt
Based in the Egyptian mainland resort of Marsa Alam, Coraya Divers is an award-winning SSI Diamond dive centre, offering a full range of SSI programs up to Dive Master level. Freediving courses are also available. Located in Coraya Bay, the sheltered house reef offers divers of all experience levels the chance to experience some great Red Sea diving, but without the strong currents and big waves that often occur at offshore reefs. A house reef ferry boat shuttles divers between different parts of the reef at no extra charge, with pods of dolphins regularly spotted in the bay, plus the occasional manta ray and manatee. Daily dive trips are run to the likes of Abu Dabbab, where manatees and turtles are frequently encountered grazing on the seagrass. More experienced divers have the chance to visit the world-famous Elphinstone reef, usually the preserve of liveaboards. Coraya Divers also has a newer resort located in the nearby Brayka Bay
MUST SEE: Elphinstone Reef is one of the best dive sites in the world, home to hammerheads, thresher sharks and oceanic whitetips at various points during the year, but strong currents and sea conditions make it suitable only for more experienced divers. Closer to home, the Coraya Bay House Reef provides almost everything that a diver could want, without having to worry about lengthy boat trips.
Critters@Lembeh Resort Indonesia
Lembeh Resort is set in a secluded location on the Island of Lembeh, accessible only by boat from the mainland. First opened in 2002 with three guest cottages, today the resort is home to one cliff-side villa, 13 luxury cottages and six garden rooms. A swimming pool, spa, ocean deck and cocktail bar provide opportunities to relax at the end of a busy day of critter-diving. The accommodation is offered on a full-board basis and the central restaurant offers a wide range of foreign and domestic cuisine.
The dive centre, Critters@Lembeh, is located directly on the seafront and lays claim to be home to Lembeh's first and only dedicated full-time photography centre, with a full-time photo-professional on site. Five purpose-built dive boats staffed by experienced local guides with a maximum guest-to-guide ratio of 4:1. Full-time marine biologists are in residence to help with the post-dive critter identification.
MUST SEE: Hairball with its Ambon scorpionfish, Nudi Falls with pygmy seahorses (and nudibranchs, obviously) and the ever-popular California Dreaming – there's little that's not worth a 'must-see' in the Lembeh Strait. For those divers feeling a bit overloaded by critters, there's always the Mawali, a 75m-long Japanese Second World War wreck, now overgrown with coral and... critters!
Dressel Divers Cozumel, Mexico
Dressel Divers has several outposts in different locations in Mexico, including Cozumel. As a PADI Career Development Centre, courses up to instructor level are available, along with the increasingly popular PADI TecRec and Sidemount programmes. Cozumel is renowned for crystal clear water and an exceptional array of marine life, including a gathering of whale sharks between June and September each year around Isla Mujeres and Holbox, with whale shark snorkelling tours available during the season. Trips to Riviera Maya to dive the wreck of the Mama Viña are available on most days, as are excursions to dive the Yucatan cenotes.
MUST SEE: Cenote diving is a highlight Mexican dive trips for the simple fact that they exist in few other places - eerie, yet beautiful, diving in a landscape that's as much underground as it is underwater. Bull Shark diving in Playa del Carmen is an experience many divers won't want to miss, and will certainly never forget.
Elite Diving Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt
Elite Diving (with Divers United) is a small, family-run business owned and operated by Alun and Moyra Evans, who founded Elite Diving in 2005 and took ownership of Divers United in 2008. Based in Hadaba, the hill-top town above Na'ama Bay, Elite Diving is a 5-Star PADI Resort Centre offering a 'personal touch' to dive holidays in the Egyptian resort. Daily boat-diving trips to Tiran, Ras Mohammed and the local dive sites around Sharm are available, as are journeys to the wrecks of the Dunraven and legendary Thistlegorm. A broad range of PADI and BSAC training programs is available, where confined water training dives are conducted in the shallow but vibrant waters of Shark's Bay, rather than a swimming pool. Elite offers a number of options for accommodation through a selection of four- and five-star hotels to meet the needs and budget of the travelling diver. Package deals are available. Elite's motto is: 'No problem, it’s your dive holiday, just relax and enjoy'.
MUST SEE: Shark and Yolanda Reef is situated in the national park of Ras Mohammed at the tip of the Sinai peninsula. Upwellings against the pinnacles drive nutrient-rich waters to the surface, giving rise to some of the most vibrant coral gardens in Sharm, and the 800m sheer column of Shark reef is teeming with life, and huge schools of barracuda and snappers later in the year. The famous toilets dropped by the Yolanda, which wrecked there in 1980 are a great photo opportunity but never sit on them - lionfish and morays lurk in the U-bends!
Gangga Island Resort & Spa Indonesia
The small island of Gangga is located just of the coast of Manado in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, approximately 70 minutes by road and 20 minutes by boat from Sam Ratulangi Airport. Gangga Island Resort & Spa contains 30 furnished and air-conditioned bungalows with high ceilings and spacious verandas overlooking the beach, all set at the base of a jungle-covered hill with a white sand beach. Gangga Island's location allows divers to visit Bangka Island, Bunaken National Marine Park and Lembeh Strait, allowing for a diverse range of dive sites from sheer walls and coral reefs to black-sand muck diving. Two restaurants, the 'Coconut Bar', a large salt-water pool, traditional spa and personal service complete the experience. Five fully-equipped wooden dive boats, kitted out especially for photographers, ferry the divers between sites.
MUST SEE: Mandarinfish are among the most favourite of diver sightings, and Lihaga Island is particularly well known for its large resident population. In the early evening, the males pop out of their holes to woo the females with their spectacular dances, after which the swim up together to mate. Gangga Island's own house reef is also very well regarded, especially for night dives.
Go West Diving Westpunt, Curaçao
Go West Diving is located at Playa Kalki towards the western end of the island of Curaçao, a full-service dive centre with accommodation close by. The self-catering All West Apartments are equipped with storage lockers, rinse tanks and an air-filling station, meaning guests can wake up, paddle onto the house reef of Neptune's Garden, enjoy a quiet dive and spend the surface interval sunning themselves on the white sand beach, without having to move any distance from their accommodation. Boat dives are available to several locations, including Mushroom Forest, one of Curaçao's best dive spots, or simply enjoy the dive centre's own house reef at Alice in Wonderland. Vehicle rental to explore the island and other shore diving sites is also available.
MUST SEE: Watamula is the most northerly dive spot on Curaçao, home to a spectacular and extensive hard and soft coral garden. Turtles are regular visitors as are large Caribbean stingrays and, every now and then, something larger passes by.
Manta Dive Gili Trawangan Indonesia
Manta Dive is located directly opposite the boat terminal on the beachfront of Gili Trawangan, a 2-3 hour fast boat ride from Bali. It is the only Diamond rated Dive Center and Instructor Training Facility in the region with instructors qualified to teach both PADI and SSI dive courses. Manta Dive also caters to the technical diving community, with a range of TDI programmes available on an island that is almost perfectly suited to technical diving. The dive centre comprises a pool and air-conditioned classrooms for training, a spacious area for preparation and relaxing, and three traditional outrigger dive boats to ferry divers to the nearby dive sites. The on-site Manta Café provides plenty of options for food between dives and the beach-front Chappie's bar is a great late-afternoon and evening hangout. Behind the dive centre is a small resort with a pool, 12 well-appointed double rooms and eight traditional wooden 'Lumbung' bungalows. A selection of nearby alternative accommodation options is also available through the dive centre.
MUST SEE: Gili T's diving sometimes gets a bad reputation, but Simon's Reef is sure to dispel all of those myths. Simon's is a deep water site dropping to around 30m, with large seamounts with a sandy bottom in between and offers a variety of corals not seen on some of the other sites. There is plenty of fish life in and among the overhangs and outcrops, whitetip and blacktip reefs sharks are often seen patrolling, along with turtles and blue spotted rays. The dive ends in a pinnacle covered with fish life. Deep Turbo offers a similar experience.
Meridian Adventure Dive Resort Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Meridian Adventure Dive Resort is a PADI 5-star resort located in Waisai, the capital of the Raja Ampat Regency, on the island of Waigeo. One of the most biodiverse locations in the world, there's often more to see on a single reef in Raja Ampat than there is during an entire dive holiday in other locations. Meridian is an eco-conscious dive resort which has its own air-conditioned resort rooms, or guests can enjoy a more cultural, local experience through the centre's Homestay Dive Adventures. Purpose-built dive boats are on hand to transfer small groups of divers between sites. Meridian's Marina - the only one in Raja Ampat - provides a local hub for yachts and their owners.
MUST SEE: The Disco Clam is something of a unique member of the mollusc family, continuously flashing a bioluminescent display for reasons only the clam itself understands. There's plenty to see in Raja Ampat in general, but sometimes little critters like this make all the difference.
Ocean Encounters, Curaçao
Ocean Encounters main offices and marina are located at Lions Dive & Beach Resort, just a short drive away from the capital of Willemstad. Ocean Encounters offers both PADI and SSI courses in several different languages, and a flexible range of dive packages, with accommodation available at alternative hotels and guest houses if preferred. Diving is a mixture of shore and boat, or experienced divers can rent tanks and explore the island independently. Ocean Encounters run regular 'Weekly Highlights', including night dives from the boat, trips to the Blue Room at Mushroom Forest, or enjoy a fluorescent night dive.
MUST SEE: Klein Curaçao is a tiny island off the east of Curaçao and home to one of the most pristine reefs in the Caribbean. Famous for its population of turtles and lush reefs, large rays, schooling fish and sometimes sharks are spotted around the island.
Papua Explorers Dive Resort Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Papua Explorers Resort on the northwest tip of the Bird’s Head Peninsula of West Papua. Most of Raja Ampat's most famous dive sites are located within a 10-30 minute boat ride. Situated on the shores of the Dampier Strait, where strong currents bring nutrient-rich water to Raja Ampat's reefs, big critter encounters are a regular occurrence. The resort is constructed using traditional Papuan methods and local, natural materials, with bungalows and the main restaurant built on stilts over the water. Papua Explorers has its own liveaboard, the Coralia, which also features in this year's Top 25s.
MUST SEE: Cape Kri - one of the deepest and most famous Raja Ampat dive sites, Cape Kri holds the record for the greatest number of fish species observed on a single site, when marine biologist Gerald R Allen spotted 283 species in a single dive.
Papua Paradise Eco Resort Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Papua Paradise Resort lies along the pristine shoreline of the uninhabited island of Birie, Raja Ampat. The island is teeming with exotic birdlife, lush jungle foliage, and a spectacular array of fauna, while the reefs in the surrounding area offer world-class diving. Featuring simple, but comfortable bungalows built in a traditional Indonesian style, the remote resort is a long way from the nearest civilisation. Papua Paradise also features the only luxury spa in Raja Ampat - Spa in Paradise - for relaxing after a busy day of diving. The resort is tailor-made for divers and rich in Indonesia's wide diversity of coral and critters. Dugongs frequent the area along with manta rays, various different species of sharks and schooling pelagic fish. Above water, hiking through the rainforest offers visitors a chance to find Papua's colourful birds of paradise.
MUST SEE: Birie Island, the location of Papua Paradise, is surrounded by large fields of seagrass, and one of the best places in Indonesia for spotting the solitary dugong. Anywhere in Raja Ampat is great for diving, and although sightings of these wonderful creatures can never be guaranteed, there's no better place to start than Papus Paradise's very own house reef.
Sam's Tours Koror, Palau
Located in Malakal, Sam’s Tours is located right on the water with magnificent views of the Rock Islands. An award-winning PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center, Sam’s Tours has developed its own range of 'Unique Dive Expeditions', based around years of research in the area. Following the monthly lunar cycle, the Unique Dive Expedition takes a maximum of seven divers to witness the mass spawning events that take place during the full and new moon. As huge aggregations of fish gather to breed, the local predators wait for their opportunity to strike. The scenes may be familiar with viewers of certain television series, with whom Sam's Tours has worked
MUST SEE: The Full Moon Snapper Spawning event featured in the BBC's famous Blue Planet II series. Hundreds of thousands of snappers gather to mate and as they break from the reef to do so, opportunistic sharks pick them off in numbers.
Siladen Resort & Spa Indonesia
Winner of the 2018 DIVE Travel Awards, Siladen Resort & Spa is a boutique dive resort located on Pulau Siladen in the heart of the Bunaken National Marine Park, North Sulawesi. The resort opened in 2003 as an eco-friendly dive resort, with an emphasis on protecting the Marine Park and the local environment. The secluded accommodations offer all amenities, with open-air showers and sunbeds overlooking the calm seas. Siladen Resort & Spa is a 5 Star PADI Resort with over 50 dive and snorkel sites within easy reach. The Bunaken National Park covers a total area of over 890 square Kilometers, hosts 390 different species of corals, is a centre of marine global biodiversity and ranks among the top diving destinations worldwide. The Park is known for its rich macro life and is mostly characterized by wall dives rich in hard and soft corals. Away from the park, Siladen also organizes muck/critter diving in Manado Bay or soft coral dives in the slopes of Bangka Island. A wreck is also available for diving close by. The traditional style wooden boats are spacious and have all the necessary safety facilities, particularly for photographers.
MUST SEE: Located inside the crescent of Bunaken Island, Lekuan is described as the 'signature' dive of Bunaken Marine Park. Stretching for several kilometres, Lekuan is made up of four different dive sites, Lekuan I, II and III, and Pygmy. Encounters with green and hawksbill turtles are almost guaranteed, often more than ten in a single dive. Tuna, Napoleon wrasse, eagle rays and reef sharks often spotted cruising along the coral and sponge encrusted wall, and plenty of macro species can be found in the nooks. Currents can be strong, but there is usually a place to shelter if necessary.
The Dive Bus Marie Pampoen, Curaçao
The Dive Bus is located directly opposite Pierbaai Beach in Marie Pampoen, Curaçao. Owner-operators Mark and Suzy Pinnell set up their first 'dive hut' right on the beach in 2005, and have never looked back. They don't take themselves too seriously (as evidenced by the video), but they take their diving very seriously indeed. Now located in a larger establishment across the road from the beach, the 100% Project Aware dive centre is at the forefront of Curaçao's scuba diving community. Divers are picked up from their hotel in the morning with the Dive Buses (they have two now), which is loaded with gear and packed with snacks before driving through Curaçao's spectacular scenery. There are a number of hotels close to the Dive Bus dive centre and the island capital of Willemstad is a short ride away. The team has recently introduced a 'drive and dive' package, where divers who prefer their own company can dive independently, with the Dive Bus providing vehicle rental and daily tanks as required. where to find us.
MUST SEE: Not so much a case of 'must-see' as it is 'will see', Pierbaai house reef and the Car Pile are the reasons why the Dive Bus is located where it is. A gently-sloping sandy bottomed reef leads to a steep drop-off filled with coral and a fantastic array of marine life. A little way to the east is a small plateau with another drop-off at 30m, where somebody dropped a barge load of vintage automobiles but missed the open sea. Look out into the blue for huge tarpon and the occasional eagle ray. Other great sites include Tugboat, Directors' Bay and one of the Caribbean's top wrecks, the Superior Producer.
The Wave Diving Center, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
The Wave was founded in 1992, originally based in the Hilton hotel, but now has a large centre at Terrazina beach close to Sharm el Maya, the main harbour of Sharm El Sheikh, not far from the Old Market. The Wave is a PADI dive centre but also offers a range of watersports, with an 'above and below the water' package available with five days of diving, a parasailing experience, banana ride and a quad bike ride including Bedouin tea.
MUST SEE: Ras Umm Sid is a popular local dive site just around the corner from Travco harbour. A steep wall leads into a corner plateau filled with small coral pinnacles and sandy patches where all of the usual Red Sea suspects can be found. The gorgonian fan forest is one of the largest to be found, and there's always a chance of something bigger passing by over the far edges of the corner.
Uepi Island Resort Solomon Islands
Uepi Island Resort is located on a small tropical island perched on the edge of the longest lagoon in the world. Six bungalows, two units and two guest rooms offer clean and comfortable accommodation with a twenty-six bed maximum capacity. all the rooms are spaced throughout the resort's tropical gardens for privacy. Most of the dive sites are only a few minutes away from the dive centre, dived either from the shore or just a short boat ride away. The Solomon Islands remains one of the last scuba diving wildernesses, with incredible biodiversity in terms of both the reefs and the critters that inhabit them. The topography varies from the shallow and sheltered coral gardens of the lagoon to vertical drop-offs in an area known as The Slot, stretching 2,000m to the seafloor and where passing pelagic species can be spotted. Uepi island resort is an SSI dive centre and offers the full range of training programmes up to divemaster level.
MUST SEE: Uepi Point and its near vertical reef corner is coated profusely with corals - especially gorgonian fans and colourful spiky soft corals. At 30m a coral peninsula juts out into the deep blue, providing the stage for a spectacular procession of pelagics which turn to hunting and feeding at certain points during the tide, creating a lot of exciting underwater action. Giant trevally, mackerel, wahoo, rainbow runner, big-eye jacks, dogtooth & smaller tuna, sharks, barracuda and others cruise relentlessly back and forth waiting for inattentive smaller fish to become their next meal. The explosive sounds and sights of a large number of fish all taking evasive action at the same time fill the water. Families of garden eels, arrays of colourful gobies and a diverse collection of invertebrate life inhabit the sand patches of the shallows.
Underworld Tulum Mexico
Underworld Tulum was created to make the most of the cave and cavern diving in the area, considered by many to be the best in the world. The CCR-friendly dive centre is a primarily cave-centred operation but offers both technical and recreational dive training through several different agencies including TDI, BSAC, IANTD, RAID and PADI. Avid cave divers will want to experience some of the best, and longest, underwater cave systems in the world, but there's plenty for recreational divers to explore along the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, located just on the doorstep, and some of the easier cenotes. Underworld has six apartments available to rent (named after cave systems) will full, self-catering amenities.
MUST SEE: The cave systems of Quinta Roo are some of the best in the world. 'Complex, highly decorated and generally shallow with little flow', they make a great environment for both cave training and exploration by cave certified divers. Some cenotes are open to even entry-level divers (with limitations), and those who prefer reef diving are sure to find plenty to see at the likes of Tankah Bay.
Wakatobi Resort is located off the southeastern shore of Southeast Sulawesi, a remote and isolated resort, yet easily accessible via Wakatobi's private airstrip after a two-hour flight from Bali's Ngurah Rai International airport, and a short boat ride to the island. 15 beach-front bungalows, nine palm bungalows set back from the beach, and four private villas are available, all interconnected by well-tended pathways that meander through the tropical jungle. A central long-house contains a meeting area, classrooms, shop and the dive centre, and the nearby gourmet restaurant serves a fine array of international and local cuisine. A small bar situated at the end of Wakatobi's long jetty provides an excellent place to unwind and watch the sunset and stars. Three boat dives are scheduled each day, with a weekly night dive also available. Sea and surface temperatures vary little throughout the year and there has been very little in the way of coral bleaching around Wakatobi's reefs. Photographers are well catered for with a dedicated, constant-temperature dry camera room with benches and charging points, and there is much to see amongst the coral. Wakatobi is a resort dedicated to conservation through eco-tourism, and dedicates much of its resources to training and educating the local villagers, many of whom work at the resort.
MUST SEE: It's difficult to pick one reef in Wakatobi that's better than another, but Lorenzo's Delight is one place that every diver will enjoy. The dive site is named for Wakatobi's founder, Lorenz Mäder, who chose to build his resort after diving at this particular reef. Current is usually fairly mild although it can pick up from time to time, but the walls are filled with a wide variety of vibrant coral species, and there is plenty of stuff hiding in the many nooks and crannies of the reef.
Walindi Plantation Resort Papua New Guinea
Walindi Plantation Resort, established in 1983, is an intimate dive resort situated on the shores of Kimbe Bay on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Accommodation is available in twelve secluded bungalows constructed with local materials in a 'bure' style with thatched roofs, spread along the beachside of the resort and surrounded by rainforest gardens. Alternatively, eight smaller Plantation House rooms are available built into two blocks with four rooms each. Fringing dormant volcanoes create a dramatic backdrop to the waters of Kimbe Bay. Submerged reefs and seamounts play host to more than 900 species of fish and 400 species of pristine coral, which has grown over the years to some spectacular sizes. Dive sites in Kimbe Bay are a five - to 45-minute ride from the resort on three covered, specially designed day boats. Resident pods of dolphins are often spotted during the boat ride, and less frequently, passing orcas and migrating pilot whales. Two or three dives are scheduled each day and a full range of courses up to instructor level is available.
MUST SEE: Inglis Shoal is a seamount rising from the depths to around 11m, and is rich in marine life. Pelagic fish species are common and include dogtooth Tuna, barracuda and bigeye trevallies. Scalloped hammerheads and grey reef sharks also sometimes put in an appearance. Hundreds of species haunt the top of the reef; clown and redtooth triggerfish are extremely abundant and there are plenty of smaller fish on the reef, with dense schools of pinjalo lewisi - a type of snapper - forming dense clouds at the edge of the reef.
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