The best diving and snorkeling spots
28 June 2019
Whether it’s free or as a sport, archaeological, or simply just for fun, diving is a fascinating activity for those who want to fully enjoy their holidays by the water. With the coastal fish, reef fauna, mysterious wrecks or large marine mammals, the opportunities to be amazed are endless. From the Mediterranean coves through the translucent lagoons of the Indian Ocean, to the shores of Africa, discover the most beautiful destinations with the family.
From the age of 10, your children can already undertake their first international PADI certificate, which allows them to experience with you the seas of the world. If you are travelling with toddlers, some luxury hotels have wonderful mini-clubs that offer a variety of fun activities for them: swimming pool, water sports, hiking, treasure hunts on the beach, painting, video games … Dive away with peace of mind as they enjoy an holiday.
- Dream islands
- The Middle East
1 – EUROPE
The largest of the Greek islands is undeniably one of the most beautiful diving spots in the Mediterranean. Its blue waters, with an average temperature of 24°c, from June to October and a visibility of more than 30m, are a peaceful haven to discover calamari, seahorses, lobsters, scorpionfish or stingrays that are found around the typical volcanic rocks of coastal lands in the region. One of the pleasures of diving in Crete is also to contemplate its thousand-year history by swimming between the columns, the walls and the old amphoras which constitute the countless archaeological sites swarming the seabed.
Visit the beautiful village of Elounda, and from the shore you can easily reach, the sunken city of Olous for an unforgettable snorkelling (diving with mask and tuba) day. To do this, we advise you to equip yourself at the nearby Blue Dolphin Diving Center. They work with local authorities and marine biologists and will provide you with all the tips and equipment to make this tour a success under optimal conditions. Itinerary.
Not far from these exceptional dive sites, near the small town of Agios Nikolaeos, the Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas ***** is, undoubtedly, the ideal pied-à-terre for your stay in Crete. With its superb facilities and services, the establishment ̶ which also has its own PADI diving club ̶ is particularly suitable for families. Villas with private pools, family rooms, high level nursery and COMPLEMENTARY kids-club, as well as a ton of activities for young and old, will surely give you an unforgettable stay.
Costa del Sol
If the coast of Andalusia is one of the most popular European destinations for tourists, few are the travellers are aware of its underwater riches. In the North of the Gibraltar Strait, the entire region is a natural funnel that brings together hundreds of species of fish and plants that are typical of the western Mediterranean.
In these calm waters, whose ideal temperatures oscillate between 21° and 25° from June to October, you will be able to observe crabs, anemones, gorgonians or lobsters off the inshore grounds, and further offshore, it is very common to come across dolphins and pilot whales.
To get into the water safely and professionally, we recommend you visit Estepona, where you will find the Estepona Dive Centre, a dive centre focused on teaching which offers PADI diving training courses, programs for children, snorkelling, but also more advanced courses. Itinerary.
To make the most of your peaceful stay on the Costa del Sol, consider booking a room at a special hotel. The Ikos Andalusia ***** is a beautiful all-inclusive Resort that offers everything you could want for a successful family vacation. Pools, private beaches, steam rooms, endless sports activities, Michelin starred restaurants, and more, it is a place of comfort and luxury with a thousand possibilities. The hotel has an exceptional baby-club, an amazing COMPLEMENTARY kids-club and a superb teens-club FREE OF CHARGE for teenagers to 17 years old.
2 – ASIA
The kingdom, with its countless islands and coves, is simply one of the most beautiful destinations in the world to discover the wonders of underwater life.
The two main dive areas are the Andaman Sea on the West Coast, and the Gulf of Thailand on the East Coast. In this country with a tropical climate, the average temperature is between 25°C and 32°C depending on the season, and the temperature of the water is around 29°C all year round! For a better visibility during your sea adventures, the best time is certainly between November and April, at the end of the monsoon season and during the dry season.
We advise you to go to the West Coast of the Phuket province, at Nai Yang beach, which is a perfect base camp for you to conquer the Andaman Sea. In a friendly atmosphere, the Paradise Diving Club will welcome you with great professionalism for exciting excursions. Itinerary.
You can travel by boat along the coast for a half-day trip to the small island of Koh Waeo, which offers an impressive variety of reef fish and colourful coral gardens. Further North, the Similan Islands are ranked in the top 10 most beautiful diving spots in the world and offer breath-taking underwater views. Shipwrecks are also numerous in the region.
In order to relax under the best possible conditions, The Slate ***** hotel, located 100m from the diving club, is undoubtedly the best option. Surrounded by silver-blue palm trees and gently rocked by birdsong, this little corner of paradise offers design, refinement and incredible luxury. With its private beach, art gallery, cooking school, amazing restaurants, and multitude of kids’ activities, The Slate is a dream come true for the whole family.
The pearl of Indonesia is a must-see destination for those wishing to immerse themselves in one of the most beautiful cultures of Asia. With its impressive volcanoes, rice terraces, impenetrable forests and tasty cuisine, the island is sure to offer you an unforgettable stay.
The destination is also perfect for those who want to indulge in diving or snorkelling. Between May and November, you can enjoy the best conditions, with a visibility in the water of 20m to 50m, and a temperature between 25° and 28°C. The island is particularly famous for its Manta rays and « Mola Mola », the beautiful moonfish.
Bali offers great spots for snorkelling and especially on the East Coast between Padang Bai (the Blue Lagoon) and the village of Amed, a peaceful town known for its beautiful black sand beaches. This whole coast is a divers’ paradise and it is extremely easy to rent equipment. With corals, colourful fish, old shipwrecks, discover the joys of a dream snorkelling with your children.
The North-western tip is probably the most naturally preserved. Head towards the village of Pemuretan, which is a model of eco-tourism, since the local authorities have been involved in the protection of the coral reef for thirty years. The Bali Diving Academy is the perfect club to reach the Menjangan Island Marine Park. Its turquoise waters are full of fish, turtles and colourful corals. Itinerary.
What better way to live your Balinese adventures in peace with your children, than to book a family villa? The Villa Sungai ***** is an exceptional place, a haven among the rice fields, where everything is made to make you feel at home. In a Zen-like space where tradition and modernity meet, a personalized and exclusive service is offered, an infinity pool of 18m, a music room, tailored spa treatments, and culinary creations by 4 talented chefs. Your kids will enjoy a custom-made program with body treatment, game rooms, dance classes, crafts, and more. A paradise, on the island of the gods.
3 – dream islands
With more than 1190 islands and small islands nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are the embodiment of diving spots. Its different atolls are coral belts containing cavities sheltering an extremely rich sedentary underwater fauna: clownfish, surgeons, triggerfish, groupers, moray eels…
With water at a temperature between 26°c and 32°c all year long, as well as a visibility between 20m and 40m, it is a real pleasure to explore these areas full of life. The archipelago is particularly suitable for snorkelling trips, with the depth of the water often being between 10 and 20m.
North Male Atoll is a popular area for its many iconic sites. We advise you to go to the Euro-Divers centre on the island of Eriyadu, which has the best reputation, and allows you to visit around forty beautiful spots. Among them, the Furana Thila, which is a reef serving as a « cleaning station » with majestic Manta rays; the Banana Reef, which rises almost to the surface (2m deep), and houses soldierfish and splendid Napoleon fish; or the shipwreck of the Victory, which sits at 35m depth, and allows you to observe batfish (small flat multi-coloured fish) and barracudas as well as many nudibranchs (brightly coloured marine molluscs). Itinerary.
For a relaxing holiday in the Maldives, the best option is to book a hotel stay. Look no further, at the tip of North Male on Olhahali Island, unfolds one of the finest establishments in the Maldives: LUX North Male Atoll *****.
This « island-resort » offers its little guests and their parents luxurious family villas on the beach or on stilts, equipped with swimming pools and a private lagoon. Hosted by childhood and entertainment professionals, its incredible PLAY Mini Club welcomes children from 3 to 11 years old, FREE OF CHARGE. And with catamaran or luxury speedboat rides, private yacht mini-cruises, and even seaplane photographic trips, everything is available for the tribe to enjoy an unforgettable vacation.
Between Reunion island in the West and Rodrigues Island in the East, the young Mauritian republic is one of the most prosperous islands of the Indian Ocean. Rich in Creole, African, English, French, Indian or Arab heritage, this beautiful island is a particularly popular area for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts.
Half an hour from the capital Port-Louis, on the West coast, Flic en Flac is a charming fishing village whose narrow pass attracts divers (from 35m to 45m) looking for canyons, arches and underwater caves, home to beautiful black corals, gorgonians, jacks and scorpion fish.
Further north, Grand Bay is famous for its shipwrecks, such as the Silver Star, the Emily, the Waterlily or the Stella Maru. And angelfish, batfish, fish-stones, school of lutjans or even surgeon fish feast in their meanders and are pleasing for the eyes.
For an optimal discovery, we invite you to go to the Dive Passion Mauritius dive centre, which is an ideal starting point to discover the most extraordinary area of the island: Belle-Mare. The underwater landscapes along the beaches are sublime, with a lagoon that is perfect for a easy going of snorkelling lessons or just quiet snorkelling, and areas for slightly more experienced divers, such as the Passe, where you can especially come across gorgonians, groupers and even black tip sharks, swimming around corals and multi-coloured nudibranchs. Itinerary.
A stone’s throw from the dive centre, a dream base for holidays in Mauritius: LUX Belle Mare *****.
This magical place combining nature, charm and modernity has the largest pool on the island (2000m²!) and has everything for young and old to stay in extraordinary conditions. The property has a kids-club that welcomes, children ages 3 to 11 FREE OF CHARGE, a dream teens-club, and offers a gym, spa, golf course and other relaxing activities to its privileged guests. Awesome!
4 – the middle east
The country has beautiful coastlines, especially those of the Turkish Riviera and those of the Aegean Sea. Land of passage and history, the seabed is full of archaeological remains and shipwrecks of all sizes.
Particularity: the water is clearer than in the rest of the Mediterranean, and the currents are quite low, making it a preferred destination for beginners. The ideal time to jump into the water is between April and November, with an average temperature of 24°C.
To add with unforgettable dive moments to your holiday, we advise you to go to the peninsula of Datca, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. It is in the Marmaris region, between cliffs and the blue sea, that you will find the Aquaholic Dive Centre, a very complete dive centre, which offers courses for all levels and organizes trips in the beautiful bay of Hisarönü. Itinerary.
Its calm and warm waters, as well as long sunny days make it an especially distinguished spot for the initiation of snorkelling. You will come across groupers, bream, parrot fish, and even turtles.
The best way to stay in this region, is to head to the D-Maris Bay *****, a sublime property with attention to detail, purity, elegance and comfort, and bordered by five beaches, each with their own atmosphere. Children are royalty at the brand-new kids-club where they can practice an impressive number of activities. Mountain biking, boat trips, wakeboarding, paddle, tennis lessons at the « Goran Ivanisevic Tennis School », the whole family will have fun in complete freedom.
The United Arab Emirates
While the Emirates are known worldwide for their impressive economic boom and beautiful shopping centres, there are also many opportunities for diving and sea excursions. The waters of the Persian Gulf are particularly suitable for beginners.
In Abu Dhabi, the Mahara Diving Center, near Al Mina Port, offers a full range of PADI courses and certifications for all levels. The discovery dive program is accessible to children from the age of 10. Itinerary.
It is possible to observe barracudas, spotted eagle rays, stingrays, and many other species that cross along the coast, and especially embarking to contemplate the dozens of shipwrecks that swarm the bottoms of the region like those of the Zaineb and the MV Ludwig. The dive centre also offers day trips to the beautiful Musandam area, where you will encounter a multitude of reef fish swimming amongst yellow and pink corals, manta rays, turtles, and even sharks.
For a luxurious and comfortable stay in the Emirates, we suggest you booking at Saadiyat Rotana Resort And Villas *****, a real paradise for the whole family. The sumptuous rooms, suites and villas by the sea, as well as the services at the forefront will delight the young and the old. The property has an upscale kids-club, which is really a small hotel within the hotel, and offers a daily activities program, board games, supervised outings in the resort’s numerous facilities, or in nearby water parks.
5 – AFRIca
This sublime country is world famous for its safaris and incredible terrestrial biodiversity. With more than 500km of coastline, Kenya also offers huge opportunities for sea excursions and diving.
The best time to indulge is between November and the end of March, with water at a temperature of 28° C on average, and optimal visibility.
The coral reefs of the marine parks off Mombasa are teeming with fish and all kinds of living things, as is Diani Beach, which is considered one of the most beautiful areas in the world for nautical activities.
Not far from the Diani Chale National Marine Reserve is the Ocean Tribe Diving Centre, a 5-star PADI dive centre, offering courses for all levels, and outings to discover the most beautiful reefs of the coast. Note that dolphins and turtles are present almost all year round in Kenya, and very beautiful shipwrecks also swarm the seabed, like that of the MV Dania, an 80 meter long ship that sits right next to Bamburi beach. Itinerary.
For relaxing holidays and exceptional discoveries, we suggest you staying at Kinondo Kwetu ****, an oasis of serenity south of Diani Beach. Bordered by the sacred forest of Kaya Kinondo, and featuring beautiful family cottages, the estate offers countless opportunities for family activities. Board or beach games, crafts, hiking, massages and yoga sessions facing the ocean, tasty food and exchanges with local people, you will experience unforgettable moments there.
The largest country in southern Africa is the territory of all things vast. With more than 200 wildlife reserves and parks, lush gardens and beautiful beaches, as well as mountains and gigantic waterfalls, savannah and vineyards as far as the eye can see, the country is a must-see nature destination in Africa.
It also has more than 3 000 km of coastline bordered by the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and offers an enormous diversity of marine sites and species. Whether the temperature of the water is highest between December and March, between 25 and 28°, keep in mind that diving is possible all year round in South Africa.
For instance between June and July, the Sardine Run occurs, where millions of sardines swim along the coast of South Africa and go back to Mozambique. This is an incredible sight because the huge silver waves are beset by predators coming from everywhere: dolphins, sharks, whales, sea lions or gulls have indeed come together for a huge feast. The country is obviously famous for its cage-diving, in order to meet the Lord of the Seas: the great white shark, particularly at Gansbaai, 150km from Cape Town.
It is precisely in the capital that we invite you, particularly at the Ocean Experiences – Dive & Tour Centre, awarded 5 stars on TripAdvisor, to safely begin your sea excursions. Courses, PADI patents, underwater safaris, and all types of diving is possible, and you will benefit from the best support. The centre offers, for example, the opportunity to walk along the Atlantic coast of Cape Town and to meet the colonies of sea lions in Partridge Point, an area closed to fishing that offers a great wealth of marine species, including dolphins, penguins and moonfish. This outing is available to children from the age 10. In addition to beautiful reefs, the area also has many shipwrecks, and it is a real treat for the eyes to venture through this seabed. Itinerary.
To fully appreciate your stay in the region, do not hesitate to book at the More Quarters Hotel ****. This flowery and elegant address, nestled in the historic centre of the Cape – City Bowl, offers easy access to the ocean and proximity to the area’s most popular attractions. In addition to the beautiful connecting rooms and suites, the property offers accommodation for children from 0 to 5 years old. Equipment for babies and children, games and books, as well as an exemplary baby-sitting service, the More Quarters is truly a haven of peace for families looking for adventure but who also want great moments of relaxation at the tip of Africa.
- If the exploration of marine spaces is a magnificent way to sublimate your holidays, diving obviously requires a minimum of learning and observing some precautions. Before you storm the world’s most beautiful spots with your children, make sure the whole family reaches a satisfactory level, and that the appropriate courses and patents have been or are being followed.
As you have seen in this article, the quality dive centres allow you to fully enjoy your stay, while giving you the tools to practice scuba diving or snorkelling safely, in areas that are adapted to your level.
- As you know, getting a good travel insurance is an essential prerequisite to an exotic destination. In case of any incident, this can save you from having to pay a fortune in medical expenses. However, be careful when signing an insurance contract because « extreme » sports such as Bungee jumping, surfing and scuba diving are not always covered.
HAVE A NICE TRIP!
Jean-Philippe, 34 years old, musician and travel lover, from Brussels, Belgium