DTA 2021 | Top 5 Dive Centres and Resorts With Two Weeks Left to Vote
With just two weeks to go before voting closes in our 2021 DIVE Travel Awards, 536 individual dive centres and resorts have been nominated for the position as 'Best in the World' for 2021. For many operators, however, 'Best in Region' would be just as good – maybe even better – than 'Best in World', because both scuba diving and the demands of the immensely diverse scuba diving community vary greatly across the globe. Some operators in popular scuba diving locations will have a constant turnover of customers throughout the year, whereas others will dive with the same few dive clubs perhaps once or twice a month, but it doesn't make the services that each provides any less worthy of an award than the other.
We've collected a lot more regional data in this year's Travel Awards, and so here's a breakdown of the Top 5 dive centres and resorts in ten different regions - Indonesia; Egypt; the Philippines; Malaysia; Maldives; Mexico; Fiji, Solomons & PNG; the Caribbean; Thailand; and the UK and Ireland. With two more weeks to go, there's still time for the Top 5s to change, even if moving into the Top 10 placings might not be on the cards this year.
Voting in the 2021 DIVE Travel Awards has now closed. Stay tuned for the announcement of the winners later in November.
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Top 5: Indonesia
Indonesia as a country for scuba diving has something of an advantage. It has the third-longest coastline in the world and, unlike Norway (no. 2) and Canada (no.1), Indonesia's is all tropical, and rather a lot of it is surrounded by luxurious coral reefs and a staggering mass of biodiversity. Some voters have suggested we break Indonesia down into individual regions, but nobody else would get a look-in if we did! Credit where credit is due, however, the Top Five dive centres and resorts are at the head of a very, very long list.
Papua Explorers Dive Resort, Raja Ampat
Siladen Resort & Spa, North Sulawesi (Bunaken)
Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat
Blue Corner Dive, Nusa Penida
Pure Dive Resort, Nusa Penida
Top 5: Egypt
Egypt has been top of the European scuba diving destinations list for several decades now, with its easily accessible and relatively inexpensive resorts, coupled with spectacular diving that caters to all divers from novice to serious deep tech. The naturally clear waters of the Red Sea coupled with near-permanent sunshine gives the already colourful reefs an extra level of vibrance with the possibility of big stuff passing by. Topside, Egypt has all but perfected the art of resort-based tourism and its scuba diving operators have a well-established history of quality service, with two of its Top Five dive centres currently sitting on the Top Ten list overall.
Elite Diving, Sharm El Sheikh
Scuba Seekers, Dahab
Penguin Divers Club, Dahab
Camel Dive Club, Sharm El Sheikh
Red Sea Diving Safari, Marsa Shagra
Top 5: Philippines
The Philippines ranks sixth overall in terms of the longest coastline in the world, separated from Indonesia in the list by Russia and Greenland, not particularly renowned as scuba diving destinations! Forming the northern border of the Coral Triangle, the Philippines is made up of around 7,600 islands, with the favourite scuba diving locations quite easily accessible and home to both the vast array of biodiversity that the Coral Triangle represents, but also a spectacular collection of Second World War wrecks.
Atmosphere Dauin, Philippines
Amun Ini, Bohol, Philippines
Asia Divers Puerto Galera
Magic Island Resort, Philippines
Top 5: Malaysia
Also situated in the Coral Triangle, Malaysia is a must-dive location for any diver who is a fan of the Asia-Pacific region. Most travellers will recognise the names of Sipadan and Mabul, the former an island home to spectacular coral reefs and big fish, the latter one of the best muck-diving sites in the world. While scuba diving tourism has long been established, some of the other locations – such as Tioman and Perhentian – are less well known, but definitely on the rise as top diving destinations.
Scuba Junkie Sipadan (& Mabul)
B&J Dive Resort, Tioman Island
Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
Turtle Bay Divers, Perhentian Island
Bubbles Dive Centre, Perhentian Island
Top 5: Maldives
The Maldives is a nation almost perfectly suited to scuba diving. There is no island on which the ocean is more than a few minutes' walk, so it really is a case of rolling out of the guest cabin and onto the reef. Pristine white sand beaches surrounded by turquoise blue water and beautiful reefs. Almost all of the 100 resorts will have a dive centre.
Big Blue Divers @ Rasdhoo
Four Seasons Laanda Giravaru
Mirihi Island Resort
Top 5: Mexico
Whatever diving, you want, Mexico has. Coral reefs? Big Stuff? Really big stuff? Caves? It's all there, from easy novice shallow reef diving to exhilarating, high-energy Pacific immersions; schools of brightly coloured tropical reef fish to manta rays, whale sharks and great whites. And then there are the cenotes, an alien realm of subterranean diving that demands high-level technical experience to make the most of, but much of which can be thoroughly enjoyed with an entry-level certification.
Dive Ninja Expeditions, Cabo San Lucas
Aldora Divers, Cozumel
Dressel Divers, Cozumel
Cortez Expeditions, La Paz
Scuba Club Cozumel
Top 5: Fiji & Solomons & PNG
Remote, pristine and full of both nature and history, the islands that make up these different nations represent some of the final frontiers of scuba diving. We've grouped them together here for that reason, but each of the listed dive centres and resorts has featured regularly in our Travel Awards over the years. The distance involved in travelling makes them some of the least accessible reefs to European travellers, but the immeasurable benefit is the much lighter human footprint in the region – and divers are not intimidated by distance.
Volivoli Beach Resort/Ra Divers, Fiji
Uepi Island Dive Resort, Solomon Islands
Walindi Plantation Resort, PNG
Lissenung Island Resort, PNG
Tufi Dive Resort, PNG
Top 5: Caribbean
The Caribbean is comprised of more than 700 islands and cays, with as broad a diversity of climate, geography, peoples and cultures above the surface as there is life below it. From the spectacularly beautiful coral reefs of Bonaire and Curaçao to the south, or the long island chain of the Bahamas to the north – probably the only nation in the world where you can dive regularly with tiger sharks and also pigs (although not at the same time, obviously) – and everything in between, Caribbean dive centres and resorts are somewhat under-represented in our Travel Awards. If there's one other thing Caribbean nations are famous for, though, it's being very chilled, which might explain why!
Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire
Little Cayman Beach Resort
The Dive Bus, Curaçao
Anthony’s Key, Honduras
Captain Don’s Habitat, Bonaire
Top 5: Thailand
Thailand's proximity to the Coral Triangle means that much of its diving is absolutely stunning. The Similan Islands in particular is an outstanding destination, although it needs a liveaboard to truly experience its best and more remote extent, while closer to shore, the iconic Phuket, Phi Phi and Koh Lanta provide excellent diving and vibrant nightlife. In the Gulf of Thailand to the east, Koh Tao is an immensley popular destination; a chilled-out backpacker island with some quality diving, hence the presence of four of its dive centres in our Thai Top 5.
Big Blue Diving Koh Tao
Scuba Shack, Koh Tao
Asia Divers Resort , Koh Tao
Ban’s Dive Resort Koh Tao
Blue Label Diving, Phuket
Top 5: UK & Ireland
We very much like our tropical warm-water diving, but that doesn't mean DIVE's staff have forgotten about the UK and Ireland! From the popular wrecks and reefs of Cornwall, the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast, the Farne Island's seals, Scotland's historical Scapa Flow and the pelagic possibilities and deep wrecks of County Donegal, these islands are home to some outstanding diving – but without the legions of sun-seeking tourists that tropical destinations have to put up with. It might be a bit cooler below the surface, but it's also a lot quieter, there is much to see, and so here are the five dive centres currently topping the leaderboard of local scuba diving establishments.
Atlantic Scuba, Cornwall UK
Divemaster Scuba, Nottingham
South Coast Divers, Portsmouth
Scuba Dive West, Galway, Ireland
Scuba Quest, Chepstow, UK