Postcard-Perfect Diving Conditions In Curaçao Photo Courtesy of Playa Kalki, Alice in Wonderland and Curaçao Tourist Board
From Queensland, Australia to Cancun, oceans of warm, crystal clear water are practically begging you to jump in. Whether you’re a beginner or going for your PADI certification, these are 10 ideal spots to make a splash, no matter where you are in the world.
BermudaMost dive organizers here do morning trips that cover one wreck and one reef, allowing you to spy colorful fish, eels and stingray in between. Boat rides to dive sites tend to top out at 30 minutes. Some organizers, such as Dive Bermuda (on Fairmont Southampton’s beach), will do night dives if you have four or more people. Where to StayOn Bermuda’s south shore, the Fairmont Southampton has nearly 600 rooms and it shuttles to its private beach every 10 to 15 minutes. It’s a short walk from Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, where you can climb 185 steps to the top of the 117-foot structure and be rewarded with unforgettable ocean views. Those looking for an intimate resort experience will find it at Newstead Belmont Hills, which has 75 rooms and suites. Top amenities include a ferry to Hamilton, a beach shuttle and golf at Belmont Hills Golf Course. The hotel shows its light-hearted side with a monthly movie screenings by the pool and karaoke and jazz nights.
Cancun is home to the globe’s second-largest barrier reef and offers fantastic scuba diving. You’ll see stingrays, moray eels, angelfish, turtles and dolphins in stunning Caribbean waters. In addition, Museo Subacuático de Arte’s 400 lichen-covered underwater statues (including cars, dogs and people) are especially photogenic.
Curaçao Just off Venezuela, this constituent country of the Netherlands has postcard-perfect diving. There are good options for beginners, too, like the Tugboat wreck that’s just 16 feet down and Airplane Wreck that can be seen on a shore dive. Where to Stay
You can go snorkeling right off the beach at 82-room Kontiki Beach Resort, which has thatched-roof bungalows divided into four units. Take a dip in one of the saltwater pools, walk into town for a bite to eat or just laze on your room’s veranda.
Queensland, AustraliaA roundup like this would be incomplete without the Great Barrier Reef. Off the coast of Queensland, this is the longest living thing on earth. The natural wonder is made up of nearly 3,000 individual reefs and 600 islands and runs 1,400 miles. Dive here and you’ll see an incredible variety of marine life, including six species of sea turtles. Where to StayBook early if you want to stay at popular Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, a spot which sits on an island at the southern tip of the reef, north of Fraser Island. A room booking includes breakfast and dinner, a glass-bottom boat and snorkel tour and treks around the island.
OahuIt’s no secret that Hawaii is great for all things aquatic, but one of the coolest dives is on Oahu. You’ll find the wrecks of ships YO-257 and the San Pedro(they’re about 120 feet apart) and, off Waikiki, sit the remains of the Sea Tiger. Particularly fun is when the Atlantis Submarine is underwater and divers can wave to passengers. Dive here and you’ll likely see puffer and frogfish, green sea turtles and eagle rays.
Dolphins At The Kahala Hotel,Photo Courtesy of The Kahala Hotel and Resort
Where to Stay
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Kahala Hotel and Resort has 306 rooms and 32 suites. The big draw is the 26,000-square-foot lagoon, home to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Meet them as part of the hotel’s Dolphin Quest program ahead of a surfing class or scuba diving course, which is included in the room rate.
Carmel, CaliforniaEarn your open water certification in Carmel at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Because the park allows just 15 groups to dive each day, the reefs and aquatic life are protected. As you float through kelp fronds, look for crabs, snails, lingcod and bright nudibranch alongside colorful schools of fish. Bonuses are the harbor seals that laze happily in the sun. Where to Stay
Charming boutique hotel Cypress Inn is right in the center of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a 10-minute drive from the reserve. The hotel, which opened in 1929, is owned by Doris Day, and memorabilia featuring her likeness is everywhere. Cypress Inn is entirely dog friendly, so your pooch is welcome throughout, though pups can’t be left unattended.
Mombasa, KenyaThe Indian Ocean is warm year-round, which makes diving off the coast of Mombasa a treat. One great place to go for an underwater outing is off Watamu, 65 miles north of the city. Aqua Ventures trains members of the British Armed Forces, so you know they’re serious about safety. When you go out with them, expect to spot coral reef, giant sea turtles, vibrant schools of fish and eel. Where to Stay
If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of whales from the beach at Hemingways Watamu. The team here is warm and especially helpful to families with young children. It’s easy to organize activities, from snorkeling and diving to a trip to see the lush, 13th-century Gedi Ruins. Complimentary afternoon tea is a delight and a nice break from all of the adventures.
Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar Made up of 800 islands in the Andaman Sea, the Mergui Archipelago is a favorite of especially intrepid divers. When you want to feel like you have an entire ocean to yourself and have an urge to explore fairly uncharted territory, this is the place to come. Accessible from Bangkok, Phuket and Yangon, the area provides beautiful coral on top of plenty of shark, manta ray and red lionfish sightings. Where to Stay
The only resort (and lone man-made structure) on Macleod Island, Myanmar Andaman Resort is a 22-cottage eco-lodge. There are trekking trails, guided tours that focus on the flora and fauna, kayaking and snorkeling trips, and, of course, scuba excursions. The PADI-certified guides come from Thailand.
One&Only Ocean Club Bahamas, Photo Courtesy of One&Only Resorts
Tiger Beach, BahamasFor a cage-free dive near tiger sharks, this is the place. Because the blunt-nosed predators hunt at night, it’s relatively safe to dive during the day at the Bahamian spot. Here, you’ll not only get to be up close and personal with tiger sharks that range from 12 to 14 feet long, but you’ll also be near a host of other sharks, including the lemon, hammerhead and nurse varieties. Where to Stay
Recognize the One&Only Ocean Club Bahamas? Filming for the James Bond flick Casino Royale and television seriesScandal both took place here. The hospitality jewel offers 105 rooms and suites, but service is so smooth, you’ll feel like you’re a Hollywood star. Separate family and adults-only pools keep everyone happy, and if that’s not enough, mosey over to Atlantis Paradise Island, which has a water park (including a ride filled with sharks) and 40 places to eat and drink.
There are great dive spots all over Bali, but what makes the fishing village of Tulamben popular is its shipwreck. During World War II, U.S. Army transport ship Liberty was sunk by a Japanese torpedo. You can reach the wreck by swimming, seeing as how its highest point is just 16 feet from the ocean’s surface. You’ll see whale and blacktip reef sharks and, if you’re lucky, ocean sunfish (also known as Mola mola), the world’s heaviest bony fish. Where to StayIf you want to meet other divers, reserve a room at Liberty Dive Resort. If it’s been a while since your last dive, or even if you’re getting your feet wet for the first time, you can do a practice course in one of the hotel’s pools. The property has certified dive masters on staff who live by a safety-first mantra. The place is quiet and expansive, with well-tended grounds and plenty of areas to soak up the sun. It’s also walking distance to tiny Tulamben, where you’ll find a few spots to eat.