Dreaming of getting your dive ticket? We’ve narrowed down the top spots to get certified – from the Caribbean to the Maldives, and everywhere in between.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
The diving: Indonesia boasts an aquatic Babylon – the waters around Gili Trawangan (part of Lombok) are home to more than 3500 marine species, like reef sharks, turtles, pygmy seahorses and corals.
Why learn here: competition between mostly European-run dive operators (like Manta Dive and Blue Marlin), keeps course fees in check on this buzzy little island, which is also great for snorkelling.
When to go: Gili Trawangan diving is year-round, though many travellers avoid the November to April rainy season.
New South Wales, Australia
The diving: Julian Rocks is one of Australia’s best dive sites. Like a mini Galapagos, the mixing of tropical currents and cooler waters around this volcanic bluff attracts a bounty of marine life.
Why learn here: the water just gets colder south of Byron, and this hip surf town is more accessible to budget travellers than the Great Barrier Reef.
When to go: diving is year-round, with summer drawing leopard sharks and manta rays. Cooler winter waters lure endangered grey nurse sharks, and humpback whales can be sighted from May to September.
Red Sea, Egypt
The diving: with stunning coral habitats literally steps from the beach, relaxed Dahab offers some terrific shore diving and, for advanced divers, there’s also a blue hole.
Why learn here: off-limits for years due to security risks, this less chaotic alternative to Egypt’s main dive centre Sharm el-Sheikh is finally making a comeback. The Red Sea is ideal for beginners.
When to go: diving is year-round, but most travellers find it more comfortable to avoid the blistering heat from May to September.