We were particularly excited for this week's episode of Blue Planet 2, which took us underwater to explore the most diverse marine ecosystems: coral reefs. Despite covering less than one percent of the Earth's surface, these submarine cities support a staggering 25 percent of all marine species. And once again, the chaps at Blue Planet didn't disappoint, showing some of the reefs more eclectic residents, including a terrifying pre-historic bobbit worm reminiscent of Stranger Things (more on that later), a grouper and octopus hunting together and a turtle spa, as well as a host of other fascinating marine life. But as the episode ended we felt rather restless; the TV is not enough to satiate us, we need to see these glorious ecosystems in the flesh. So if you're a bit like us and fancy an Attenborough adventure, read on for our favourite coral reefs.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
In case you haven't guessed, we have a rather large soft spot for Raja Ampat. Some might even call us obsessed. But hear us out. It has a staggering three quarters of the world's coral varieties that glitter and gleam in a marvellous display of colour - even the fish know they're special as they dance and shimmer over the reefs. Set sail on the The Arenui to explore the most remote dive spots, or if you prefer to spend your surface intervals on land, Misool Eco Resort is one of the most beautifully isolated places we have ever been.
Tufi, Papua New Guinea
Tufi: the final frontier. An hour's flight from Port Moresby, the dramatic jungle clad fjords of Tufi are about as remote as you can get. Base yourself in Tufi Dive Resort, the only resort in the area, and relish in having entire unexplored reefs to yourself that feature fascinating coral brommies rising 600 metres from the deep. Out of the water, hike along jungle clad ridges, listen to the chit chatter of exotic creatures whilst canoeing and visit local villages.
Southern Red Sea, Egypt
The Red Sea is home to over 400 species of coral, and perched on the edge is Arabian oasis Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh. Housing its own PADI centre, guests can dive, or snorkel, straight from the beach in the superb house reef. Dive sites range from 12 - 30 metres with hard corals to the north and a huge coral garden in the south, inhabited by a huge array of marine life from sea turtles and sea horses to eagle rays.
In case you didn't know, Fiji is soft coral capital of the world. And you can access the very best of these technicolour cities from Qamea Resort & Spa, which happens to have 15 world-class sites within close reach. The resort also organises trips to further flung famous sites including White Wall, Rainbow Reef and Yellow Wall - did we mention how colourful it is? In case you're coral-ed out, there's also plenty of marine life to keep you preoccupied, from huge shoals of barracuda and tuna to sharks.
Remember seeing the multicoloured peacock mantis shrimp scuttling about? Well, that was actually filmed at Lembeh Resort, as well as the nightmarish, but equally enthralling Bobbit worm. Set out from the resort's shores in search of the unusual macro creatures residing in the nutrient rich volcanic sands including ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, nudibranchs and mimic octopus. Twin it with a stay at Siladen Dive Resort and get your coral fix diving in Bunaken National Park (where there are over 390 different species of coral).
Pemba Island, Tanzania
Wonderfully remote, Fundu Lagoon is a stylish African beach lodge boasting a two-mile palm fringed beach against turquoise warm waters. But it's the diving that makes it special. Pemba Island is home to some of the healthiest reefs in Tanzania and is ideally suited to every diver, whether you're an intermediate (or snorkeller) that prefers to marvel at the shallow coral gardens or you're a deep dweller that relishes in the plethora of coral encrusted walls.