It takes a lot of practice and education to become certified in SCUBA diving, but once you do, you will have access to some of the most unique and diverse landscapes in the world. Australia is known around the world for its famous Great Barrier Reef and it is traditionally one of the most popular diving destinations in the world.

For many, diving becomes the only way to spend holidays and with the unparalleled experience diving offers, it isn’t hard to understand why. Here is a list of the top five diving destinations around the world (outside of Australia), where you can swim through shipwrecks, ogle at ocean life and relax in resort diving hotspots.

Great Blue Hole

Located in the Lighthouse Reef System of Belize is the famed Blue Hole. It lies approximately 60 miles off the coast of Belize City and it’s one of the most astounding sites to be found anywhere on earth. The Blue Hole is an almost perfectly circular limestone sinkhole in the center of Lighthouse Reef that is almost .4km across. The hole is 145m deep and it’s this extreme depth that gives the space its dark blue tinge.

While the Blue Hole isn’t known for its biology, in the first drop-off to 24m you will see reefs, large sponges, coral formations and maybe even a shark or two. Beyond this depth, Blue Hole may seem contrastingly sterile, but you will see some of the most stunning and massive examples of stalactites known in the world. Almost all the divers who visit Belize are keen to add this splendid dive site to their list of conquests, and if you consider yourself a diving junkie, maybe you should add it to your list too!

Rangiroa, Polynesia

Just an hour flight from Tahiti, Rangiroa means “long sky” and when you view the atoll from above, you’ll understand how it got its name. Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Southern Hemisphere and it is a diver’s Mecca. Dip into the waters for a visual feast found only in the richest and most beautiful lagoon in the world.

Every direction you turn, you’ll see another wonder. Marvel at the massive schools of Technicolor fish. There are caves crammed with crowds of Red Snapper, boatloads of barracudas and dozens upon dozens of Napoleon fish. You’ll swim slowly by sea turtles, and turn on a dime with dolphins. Keep your eyes peeled for sharks as well—if you travel between November and February, you’ll likely see hammerhead sharks!

Maldives

The Maldives are the perfect location for a resort diving experience. Often first recognized for their natural tropical beauty, they are also home to some of the best dive spots in the world. While the reef itself is not especially unique, the wide varieties of species you’ll be surrounded by are. The reefs around the Maldives are home to parrot fish, sweet lips, colourful sponges and quite a few invertebrate species too. Other local species that live on the soft coral provide nutrients to the large schools of fish that feed in the reefs. Barracudas are lurking in these waters as well, so keep your eyes peeled for them hiding among the crystal clear waters of the Maldives.

Bismarck Sea

If you are into diving for the diversity of life that you can explore underwater, then the Bismarck Sea, in Papua New Guinea is the spot for you. Known as the “fertile triangle” of the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, this is the part of the world where marine biodiversity is at its highest on the planet. Whether you prefer shore diving or diving on the offshore seamounts, the Bismarck Sea has something to offer you. Beyond the big creatures you will see, you can also find sponge crabs, dwarf scorpion fish and even pygmy seahorses. More than 800 marine species have been identified in these waters, and who knows…perhaps you’ll add to that tally during your diving trip to the Bismarck Sea.

Bikini Atoll

Shipwrecks abound in the Bikini Atoll, making it heaven for divers who love exploring the underwater wrecks. Diving here is expedition adventure diving at its most unsullied. Halfway between Australia and Honolulu, the Marshall Islands have some of the “newest” diving sites on the planet. Barely explored, the Bikini Atoll is most famously known as the test site for the atomic bomb in the 1950s, but it is also the resting place for many warships. Because the island itself is uninhabitable due to radiation, the Bikini Lagoon has become an unofficial marine reserve. Here you will find spectacular fish life, and a very long waiting list to dive in the waters. Expeditions to Bikini Atoll are strictly regulated, only experienced divers are allowed, and trips are limited. But, the experiences waiting for you in the Bikini Lagoon makes it one of the most memorable dive destinations on the planet.

You’ll find a great adventure waiting for you on every diving expedition and if you can make it to the top 5 diving destinations around the world, you are sure to come back with amazing memories and stories to tell. Be sure you protect your holiday and your health with adventure sports travel insurance from Cover-More Australia Travel Insurance. With travel insurance in your back pocket, on your next diving adventure you can focus on seeing something new instead of worrying about the “what ifs.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user Malcolm Browne.