Top Scuba Diving Destinations for Novice Divers

Top Scuba Diving Destinations for Novice Divers

SCUBA diving is a very unique adventure sport. Most people never get a chance to see the nature-dominated world that exists below the surface of the world’s seas. Those that do venture into the water are rewarded with an experience that includes colorful wildlife and marine landscapes that are unlike anything on land. SCUBA diving can be intimidating. Dive companies require some sort of certification before they take divers to most dive sites. Luckily, learning to dive is not as tough as you might think, especially if you choose the right destination. Clear, shallow and warm waters can help lessen the learning curve and make it easy for novices to get their feet (or fins) wet.

Here are some of the best places in the world to learn the art of SCUBA diving.

Bonaire

Bonaire

Photo: aa7ae / Flickr

Bonaire, an island in the Netherlands Antilles, is a great place to start your diving career. This island, known for its beaches and eco-tourism, also features amazing coral reefs that are easily within reach of the shore. Some locations have reefs that are within a few meters of the beach. This makes it easy to learn to dive without even having to get into a boat and travel out to deeper water. Also, Bonaire’s reefs have been well-protected, so you won’t need an eagle eye to see the colorful aquatic plants and animals that call the coral beds of these shallow, warm waters home.

US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands

Photo: snorkelingdives.com / Flickr

This destination is convenient for US-based divers because they can travel without a passport. The shallow waters feature an array of diving options, with wreck dives and reef exploration on the menu. In fact, those who want their early dive experiences to include some wonderful and unique aqua-scapes will be delighted by the diving off of the islands of Saint Thomas and Saint John. Coral reefs, rock tubes, caves, and even a number of wrecks sitting in less than 100 feet of water will surely delight novices, who can get SCUBA experience while exploring the types of dive sites that are usually off-limits to beginners.

Sabah, Malaysia

Sabah, Malaysia

Photo: fudj / Flickr

Some of the world’s best diving can be found in the waters off of the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. In a sense, diving in Sabah is jumping in at the deep end: many dive operators, who focus on the islands off of the main shores of Sabah, specialize in large sea creature encounters, with sea turtles and hammerhead sharks on the underwater sightseeing menu. But there are also plenty of coral beds and other colorful features like sea fans. Best of all: Malaysia is one of the cheapest places to find a world-class diving experience, so novices can get certified and learn the basics without having to spend too much money and can quickly progress to more interesting dive experiences.

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Photo: thespis377 / Flickr

The Keys are a great place to learn the basics of underwater sightseeing. The waters are warm and generally very, very clear. A number of shipwrecks sit in relatively shallow water, so this is the ideal destination for novices who want to visit a wreck early in their diving career. The wildlife is varied on the Keys, with eels and rays, as well as octopus, stonefish and starfish giving divers plenty to see during their underwater excursions.

Red Sea

Red Sea

Photo: Derek Keats / Flickr

The Red Sea is not necessarily a well-known diving destination. However, it offers wonderful conditions, especially for novice divers. The waters are perpetually warm and quite clear, with visibility usually at well over 100 feet. In-the-know European have been coming to this destination for years, drawn by great diving and cheap prices. Some interesting ship and plane wrecks are found here, and the Red Sea is also a good place to learn to dive with large marine animals like sharks, sea turtles and whales.

Maui

Maui

Photo: snorkelingdives.com / Flickr

Maui has warm waters and great underwater visibility. Bays make it possible to swim in almost-always ideal conditions, while coral reefs, teeming with colorful fish, make it easy to find a great diving experience every time you slip on your fins and enter the water. Places like the Molokini Crater, meanwhile, offer a unique setting for inexperienced divers, who will delight at being able to explore the sides of the crater.

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About Josh Lew

Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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