Think about the last time that you were truly awe-struck during a diving trip. Chances are, it involved a living, moving, and utterly vibrant coral reef that was teeming with activity.
The best coral reefs will make even the most experienced diver completely spellbound. Decked out in fluttering fans, neon fish and blooming foliage, a beautiful reef is arguably one of the most stunning sights in the world.
So where do you go when you want a trip that will take your breath away? You start with these world-famous destinations where the colors, critters and incredible beauty seemingly go on for miles.
The name says it all in the Coral Triangle – a wide region in the Pacific Ocean that’s home to roughly 600 species of corals and 2,000 kinds of reef-attracted fish.
There’s plenty of sites off of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, but to see the best of the best, hop on a liveaboard to access Raja Ampat.
Here, you’ll enjoy a hefty tutorial on different coral species as more than ¾ of the globe’s different coral varieties can be found in the surrounding clear blue waters.
When it comes to bright colors that stand out in the crowd, the Maldives is hard to beat. Comprising of 16 main atolls, this destination has countless “thilas” (or underwater islands) that rise from the sea floor.
These thilas are covered in bright red fans, anemones and day-glow fish in all hues and colors. For a sensation of being surrounded by foliage, plan a trip to the Malhoss Blue Caves, which are dripping with soft blue and almost translucent corals.
You can’t have a list of best coral destinations without including the largest reef in the world – The Great Barrier Reef. Listed as a world heritage site, the GBR encompasses about 2,900 individual reefs and 900 different islands, so divers will find more than enough terrain to explore.
If you need a central home base, head to Heron Island, which is surrounded by more than 20 dive sites that are renowned for both hard and soft corals that are teeming with local sea life. At this destination, most of the sites are also remarkably close to shore, which makes it easily accessible for divers and snorkelers alike.
Belize is home to the second largest reef in the world – a 170-mile long coral reef that is bordered by a collection of atolls. The ensuing terrain resembles an underwater garden, with 10’ ft. tall purple sea fans, massive basket sponges, and local critters of all sizes from small crabs to giant groupers.
New visitors might want to start their exploration with a visit to Long Caye and Half Moon Caye, where visibility continually extends past 100 ft. or more, and vibrant corals in shades of red, green and yellow can be admired.
Virtually every major coastline is close to a brilliant coral site that dive guides in-the-know can access. From the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys to the islands off of the Philippines, there are plenty of colorful worlds to explore.
Keep that awe-struck feeling continuous, and ensure your next dive trip includes a reef visit or two to ensure that every excursion is a brilliant technicolor adventure.
Want to learn about traveling to coral dive spots? Check out our website to contact us. If you live in the Dallas area, swing by our shop in Carrollton, and we’ll be happy to chat with you about scuba!