This year DIVE readers nominated more than 750 dive centres around the world as their personal favourite. From Norway to New Zealand, from the Cook Islands to Northern Ireland, dive centres in every corner of the planet have loyal followers. We have sifted through the data and here are the most popular dive centres in ten different regions – Indonesia; Egypt; the Philippines; Malaysia; Maldives; Mexico; Fiji, Solomon Islands & Papua New Guinea; the Caribbean; Thailand; and the UK and Ireland.
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Top 5: Indonesia
Indonesia has the third-longest coastline in the world and, no doubt, the most dive centres on the planet. This year 108 were nominated in our awards – that is 14 per cent of the global total of 763 centres that were entered, and they accounted for nearly half of those that received the most votes (12 out of the Top 25). A tough category to get into the Top 5.
- Papua Explorers Dive Resort, Raja Ampat
- Siladen Resort & Spa, Bunaken, North Sulawesi
- Scuba Junkie, Komodo
- Pure Dive Resort, Nusa Penida
- Ceningan Divers, Nusa Ceningan
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. In fact, Elite Diving in Sharm El Sheikh was voted the most popular dive centre of the year across the world and Scuba Seekers in Dahab also made the Top 10
- Elite Diving, Sharm El Sheikh
- Scuba Seekers, Dahab
- Camel Dive Club, Sharm El Sheikh
- Penguin Divers Club, Dahab
- Sharks Bay Umbi, Sharm El Sheikh
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
- Evolution Diving, Malapascua
- Atlantis Dumaguete
- French Kiss Divers, Malapascua
- Amun Ini, Bohol, 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
- Kapalai Dive Resort, Sipadan
- 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 resort islands will have a dive centre.
- Mirihi Island Resort
- Big Blue Divers, Rasdhoo
- Four Seasons, Laanda Giravaru
- Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa
- Baros Maldives
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, Solomon Islands & 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!
- Southern Cross Club, Little Cayman
- Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire
- Reef Oasis, Grand Bahama & Dominican Republic
- Little Cayman Beach Resort, Little Cayman
- Sunset House, Grand Cayman
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 immensely popular destination; a chilled-out backpacker island with some quality diving, hence the presence of four of its dive centres in the Travel Awards this year.
- Lanta Divers, Koh Lanta
- Big Blue Diving, Koh Tao
- Sea Bees, Koh Lak
- Sail Rock Divers, Koh Phangan
- Andaman Dive Adventures, Koh Lanta
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 that topped the leaderboard of local scuba diving establishments.
- Divemaster Scuba, Nottingham
- Scuba Quest, Chepstow, UK
- Scuba Dive West, Galway, Ireland
- Atlantic Scuba, Cornwall UK
- Ocean Adventures, St Neots, Cambridgeshire