The ocean is just one gigantic blue playground with over 4,000 current dive sites. We're sure that you'd love to tick off every destination, but just in case you don't have that much time on your fins, we've compiled a list of the world's best diving. From sharks to shrimp, reefs to walls, wrecks to cenotes, we've gathered the crème de la crème of dive sites to share with you.

Read to be inspired? Read on for the World's best scuba diving sites.

underwater photo of a colourful coral reef with tropical fish

Best coral diving – Raja Ampat

Let's begin with the king of kaleidoscopic coral: Raja Ampat. Located in the middle of the Coral Triangle and spanning a whopping 2.3 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, Raja Ampat is the global epicentre of marine biodiversity. These reefs are teeming with life and bursting with colour. Boasting nearly 600 species of coral (75% of the world's coral species) and over 1,400 types of reef fish, it's easy to see how this marine area came to be nicknamed the 'underwater Amazon'. Brilliantly hued soft corals, vibrant hard corals, sponges and tunicates come together to create the world's most colourful and inviting home for species like sea stars, crustaceans, nudibranchs, giant clams, urchins and many more. Weaving among the electrifying infrastructure you'll find tropical reef fish, such as rainbow runners, parrot fish, bicolour angelfish and many more (over 1,400 more, in fact). It's no wonder that Raja Ampat is often tipped as being the world's best diving destination.

Best enjoyed: October - May.

underwater photo of thousands of sardines

Best sardine run – Magdalena Bay, Mexico

Between October and November, a magical event happens in the swirling currents off Magdalena Bay, on Mexico's west coast. These nutrient-rich waters play host to one of the ocean's most glittering events: the sardine run. This colossal bait ball is not only mesmerising to witness itself but also attracts the world's fastest fish - the stripped merlin - to gather and hunt. Snorkelling and free diving is the best way to encounter this phenomenon and swimmers are often rewarded with sightings of sea lions, dolphins and humpback whales which are also on the move at this time of year.

Best enjoyed: October - November.

Underwater photo of a group of hammerhead sharks and a coral reef

Best shark variety – The Galapagos Islands

Discover the 'living laboratory' that inspired the work of Charles Darwin: the Galapagos Island. It's hands down the best destination to vertically suspend with almost 30 species of sharks, and it won't be a case of only seeing one lone shark, either; you'll be able to swim with up to 100 at a time. Scalloped hammerheads, whale sharks, horn sharks, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, tiger sharks, Port Jackson sharks, and Galapagos sharks roam these waters, favouring the northern island of Darwin and Wolf.

Best enjoyed: June - October.

Photo of a cenotes in Mexico with sunlight coming in and lush vegetation around it

Best cenotes – Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Mayan people used to think that cenotes were portals to the underworlds. When you see the crystalline waters in these caves - which are formed when soft limescale collapses - you can understand why. One of our favourites is El Pit, whose waters are so clear that you can see the entire cave from the surface. Diving in the morning allows shards of light to pierce this cave, lighting it up with the eerie beauty of an underworld adorned with stalagmites and stalactites.

Best enjoyed: May - September.

underwater photo of a mask from a wreck in Micronesia

Best wrecks – Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia

Easily the world's best wreck dive, Chuuk Lagoon (previously Truk) is famous among the wreck-heads and history buffs and nowhere else can you find as many wrecks in such clear waters. In February 1944, during Operation Hailstone, the US Navy sunk 13 Japanese warships, two submarine tenders, 32 merchant ships and 270 aircraft. This underwater museum lies 1,118 miles northeast of New Guinea, in the state of Micronesia, and offers some of the world's best wreck diving. With a variety of vessels and memorabilia scattered around the waters here (from 5m to 60m deep), this is a diver's playground. Explore cockpits and engine rooms, and spot gas masks, tanks and shells that were carried on the surface over half a century ago. Alongside the haunting history, the marine life that swims among the old sake bottles are vibrant and colourful. From turtles to rays and sharks, this WWII wreck is a lot more alive than a classroom history lesson.

Best enjoyed: December - April.

Best manta ray diving – Maldives

If you want to practice underwater ballet with the best, then head to the Maldives to swim with the manta rays in Baa Atoll, Hanifaru Island. Manta rays - known for their majestic movements - are one of the most memorable swimming partners in the diving world. Head to Hanifaru Bay between June and November as the tides and currents turns this small bay into a dense plankton soup attracting hundreds of these graceful flying creatures.

Best enjoyed: June - November.

Underwater photo of a whale shark swimming close to the surface with fish swimming below it

Best whale shark diving – Tanzania

Allowing yourself to be dwarfed by the world's largest fish is on most divers' bucket lists. The best time to see groups of these gentle giants? From October to February in the waters around Mafia Island, off the eastern coast of Tanzania. As a lesser-known destination, Mafia Island retains its authentic charm meaning that when you slip below the surface to swim with these migrating beauties, you'll be in relative peace.

Best enjoyed: October - February.

close up underwater photo of a flamboyant cuttlefish sitting on black silt

Best muck diving – The Philippines

The magic dwells in the muck. The volcanic landscapes surrounding Dauin and Dumaguete, in the southern Philippines, provide photographer enthusiasts and weird creature seekers with a huge selection of critters and some of the world's rarest species, from the velvet ghost pipefish to the mimic octopus. The chocolatey fine silt that defines this marine environment is dominated by these weird masters of disguise, but don't worry - you'll quickly begin to spot the flamboyant cuttlefish and plethora of multi-coloured nudibranchs hiding among the pristine corals too. You can't possible move more than three meters before stopping to examine a new creature and, if in doubt, just watch the sand closely and notice how it begins to come to life.

Best enjoyed: December - April.

Sunset photo of the islands of Komodo taken from a high view point

Best drift diving – The Cauldron, Komodo

This is more of a speedy dive and best enjoyed when you just go with the flow. Dives here begin with no current on the reef slope of Gili Lawa (about 100m north of the channel), before you gently descend to the sandy bottom, which is around 20m deep. Allow the current to carry you, picking up rapidly and taking you towards the 'cauldron', a bowl-shaped hollow 30m deep and 40m wide. Latch on with a rope to enjoy the colourful sights of sponges and gorgonian fans and look into the bowl to watch sharks, traveally and mantas appear, undisturbed by the currents. It's then an abrupt exit as the current shotguns you into the picturesque hard coral gardens.

Best enjoyed: April - November.

underwater photo of a diver exploring a coral covered wall in Fiji

Best wall diving – The Great White Wall, Fiji

French oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau, named Fiji the 'soft coral capital of the world' and as you gaze at the Great White Wall, adorned with soft corals that look like a dusting of snow, you may find yourself wondering if there's any point diving anywhere else again. This mesmerising environment is the result of a very rare phenomenon that pushes large amounts of nutrient-rich water through the narrow shallow passage of the Somosomo Strait, between Fiji's Taveuni Island and Vanua Island. This feeds the corals and allows them to expand and grow. Extending over 30m, the colourful façade on this wall attracts an array of marine life, just as bucket-list worthy as the great wall of China (more so, in our opinion).

Best enjoyed: year-round.