In this blog, part of a series by Dive in Style author Tim Simond, he presents his top five destinations where people can experience world-class diving at the same time as staying in some of the world's most stylish hotels.
'So just what is the best place you've been?' and, 'where is the best diving?' are the questions fired at me on endless occasions. I try to explain that there is simply no best, especially when it comes to diving, or indeed hotels, as it all depends what you are looking for. For this blog I have done my best to decide where I would go if I had just five more trips left in me.
Having now visited some 100 countries, I can hopefully claim to have some degree of objectivity, but the question is if I could revisit just five locations, which would they be? There are choices where the hotel takes precedence and others where the diving does and I will look at these in later blogs, but for now here are my absolute top five, a combination of both, all of which are covered in far more detail in the latest edition of Dive In Style.
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
I cannot really add much to Neill's blog, nor what I say in the book, but that this has been a favourite of mine for well over 10 years, even before I dreamt up Dive in Style.
Amazingly it just gets better and better and has simply the best dive operation I know of run by the same team for the past 15 years, so yes, they really know these waters better than anyone else.
Add to that the incredible range of stylish accommodation for all budgets, backed up by the timeless Six Senses dining, spa, service and attention to detail and please someone tell me how it gets any better? In fact writing about it reminds me I need to return.
A new find and a very spoiling one. Expensive, but with only 10 rooms, if you want one of the ultimate private experiences, this is it.
Everything here is totally laid back and you are constantly warmed by the incredible friendliness of the Fijians, the world's nicest people - it is simply not possible to feel unhappy with them around.
This private island is private in every sense of the word and that includes both the reefs and the diving and if there are four of you in the water, that's considered a bit of a crush. The reefs are perfect and un-dived, the sea life extravagant and exotic and all just five minutes from the dock.
Really out there in the middle of nowhere in 'tents' that totally destroy and undermine the meaning of the word, and this on top of some of the world's best diving all backed up by the incomparable Aman service; indeed this has to be considered an anomaly in the Aman portfolio, but thankfully it is so.
And if you really want to spoil yourself, add on a five-day cruise to the islands of Komodo with their 11ft 'Dragons' on the Aman's new boat, Amanikan, and whether you dive or not, you will have the holiday of a lifetime.
Lizard Island, Australia
Just one word - coral. If you want to see how all the world's reefs must once have looked, you have to dive or snorkel Ribbon Reef 10. Simply startling and literally breathtaking. Add in the amazing resort with some of the best dining you can imagine, the best diving/snorkelling lunch on the planet and some of the largest fish you will ever see, and the message is simple: just go.
Vamizi Island, Mozambique
Another new one and home to the dive of my life, Neptune's Arm. Again, really in the middle of nowhere with just a dozen rooms, and if Robinson Crusoe could fantasise about the perfect hotel, this would be it. Amazing beach, vast cool open rooms, total peace surrounded by and immersed in nature and getting better every year, now with the addition of its latest beach bar opening up the other side of the island. Time to return. Here's a thought if you are looking for the ultimate round the world dive trip? I challenge you to find one better than these five destinations. What a trip that would be!