The world is big and the glorious challenge us travellers have is how to explore as much of it as possible with the limited holiday days you have each year. That's why we have created our list of the world's best island-hopping itineraries for the time poor, adventure-seeking dive addicts.

Underwater photo of a tiger shark close to the white sand bottom in clear blue waters

The Bahamas

Begin your Caribbean sun-soaked island hopping in Nassau, the vibrant capital of New Providence, Bahamas. Beyond its beautiful hotels and urban charm, Nassau offers a thrilling dive experience - the Shark Adventure Dive. Picture yourself surrounded by 30 sharks, an awe-inspiring encounter that not only thrills but also instils a deep appreciation these marine wonders.

Next, leave the big city behind and head to the quieter island of Andros, just a short 20-minute flight away. It's nestled alongside the impressive 190-mile-long Andros Barrier Reef (the world's third-largest reef), and whether you're into fishing or diving, this destination has it all-from coral gardens and reefs to caves, caverns and mysterious blue holes.

End your Bahamas tour in Bimini, an island in the west. With warm clear waters and a current from the Gulf Stream, Bimini is home to large pelagic animals, and you'll have the chance to swim with great hammerhead sharks in waters as shallow as 8m - that means a much longer bottom time. Keep a look out for pods of dolphins, bull and reef sharks.

A group of gliding spotted rays swimming in clear blue water

French Polynesia

For unparalleled remoteness, head to French Polynesia, a scattered archipelago adorned with volcanic islands and atolls in the South Pacific. With its picture-perfect islands and turquoise waters, it's no wonder it's been a favourite among artists such as Gauguin and has made it onto our list of world's best island-hopping destinations.

Explore Rangiroa, the second-largest atoll globally, that anchors the Tuamotu archipelago and encounter some hammerheads in the waters from November to February. Then escape the crowds and head to Fakarava Island, the second-largest atoll in French Polynesia, which is renowned for its UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status and diverse marine ecosystem-a true undersea Garden of Eden featuring vibrant corals, drift dives, and mesmerising encounters with pelagic wonders like parrotfish, turtles, eagle rays, tuna, groupers, hammerhead sharks, lemon sharks, whitetip sharks, blacktip sharks, grey reef sharks, damselfish, surgeonfish, and fusiliers.

Finally, hop over to Tikehau, once hailed by French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau as the world's richest lagoon for fish life. Enjoy exhilarating drift dives through Tuheiva Pass, teeming with manta rays and hammerheads-an underwater spectacle that epitomises the unmatched beauty of French Polynesia's remote diving havens.

Aeriel shot of tourquise waters with wahle sharks close to the surface and small traditional boats in the Philippines.

The Philippines

The Philippines has something for everyone and with an island-hopping holiday it's the perfect location to see a diverse range of environments and marine life. Whether you're into the big or you prefer the small, the Philippines offers one of the best island-hopping itineraries.

Witness the majestic thresher sharks in Malapascua the only place in the world where you can reliably dive with them. Be sure to head into the water early as these unique animals prefer the morning light for their swims.

Head to the southern Visayas for world class muck diving on Dauin and Dumaguete and spot the weird wonderful critters that lurk the silty bottoms. Get your camera ready as you come across the unusuals thriving in this volcanic environment- from various frogfish to flamboyant cuttlefish and ornate ghostpipe fish. It's not a case of trying to spot a frogfish it's a case of spotting as many colours as possible.

Enjoy the ivory-white beaches of Bohol with its laid-back ambience and electrifying marine life, including barracuda and turtles. Hunt out the elusive dugong around Coron Island's wrecks. Palawan's allure extends beyond diving, offering opportunities for hiking through biodiverse forests, exploring Puerto Princesa's longest navigable underground river, and marvelling at the aquamarine lagoons of El Nido.

An early morning on the Metemwe beach on Zanzibar with a Dhow and a Ngalawa fishingboat in the glow of the first sunlight


Looking for some land and sea action? Head to Tanzania for the best of both, plus icing-sugar soft beaches where your footprints will be the only ones.

Begin in Mafia, a tranquil archipelago off the coast of southern Tanzania, which is virtually untouched by tourism. Mafia Island Marine Park covers 317 square miles and boasts diverse coral reefs, sea-grass beds, mangrove systems and intertidal flats. It's home to five turtle species, the endangered dugong, seahorses, 48 coral genera, and 400 fish species, and provides an exclusive diving and snorkelling experience. Recognised as Tanzania's first marine park, Mafia Island's excellent reef condition and high biodiversity make it a haven for underwater enthusiasts, especially during whale shark season from October to February.

When you're looking for an injection of culture, the Island of Zanzibar offers some riches with the House of Wonders. Built by the Sultan of Zanzibar in the 19th century, it's now a quirky museum dedicated to the history and culture of the whole Swahili coast. The best dives are located in the northern tip of Zanzibar and divers can be sure to encounter migrating sperm whales, some reaching up to 45ft in length.

Finally, to Pemba, the real spice island where the streets smell of drying cloves during the twice-yearly harvest. With konyagi (ask your local Concierge) clear waters, the reefs here come alive with over 320 species of vibrant corals. Take in the picturesque Emerald Lagoon and drift dive along a wall in Mapanduzi, in the south of the island, to see schools of hammerheads and barracudas.

A ship lies at anchor in a peaceful tropical lagoon in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.


For the best island-hopping itinerary in terms of diversity, look no further than Indonesia. Begin in Bali, the gateway to many diving adventures. Here, you can encounter mola molas and manta rays in Nusa Penida (off the coast), while Manggis and Padang Bai (off the east coast) are home to frogfish, seahorses, wobbegong sharks, white-tipped reef sharks, and a vibrant array of nudibranchs.

An hour's flight east of Bali is Komodo, home to some of the best drift diving in the archipelago. Allow yourself to be swept along past soft corals, colourful sponges and gorgonian fans before being 'Komodo shot gunned' over a kaleidescopic hard coral garden. Look out for the mimic octopus, rhinopias and stare in awe as mantas and hammerheads glide past you. Throw in a land excursion to visit the infamous dragons and Komodo will leave you slack jawed at the marvellous diversity of nature.

Finally, head to the King of the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat, a marine biodiversity hub spanning 2.3 million square miles in the Pacific Ocean. It's often likened to an 'underwater Amazon,' harbouring nearly 600 coral species and a staggering 2,000 reef fish species. Raja Ampat, situated on the western edge of New Guinea, is a gem within this triangle, renowned for its soft and hard corals. The marine park is remote, meaning it's a haven for diverse marine life, from vibrant reef fish, manta rays, and sharks to the elusive blue-ringed octopus and pygmy seahorses. Cape Kri, a 'record breaker' dive site, stands out with the highest species count on a single dive globally, offering encounters with critters like shrimps and pygmy seahorses, as well as passing turtles, rays and sharks.