From Alaska to the Amazon Rainforest, Costa Rica to the Serengeti, the world's topside treasures are regularly touted for their extraordinary biodiversity. Yet despite covering a whopping 70% of the planet, the ocean rarely gets a shoutout. In fact, 80% of the world's life is found in the ocean, ranging from the Coral Triangle - the world's most biodiverse marine region - to a dazzlingly diverse array of marine environments across the Seven Seas. So, if like us, you're Team Ocean, read on to discover the most biodiverse dive destinations in the world.
Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle - otherwise known as the Underwater Amazon - Indonesia embraces a 'more is more' attitude. Comprising some 18,000 islands and islets, Indonesia is home to 76% of the world's coral species and 37% of the world's reef fish species. Six of the seven species of sea turtle can also be found here among megafauna like whale sharks, manta rays, mola mola, hammerheads, reef sharks and many other prized critters.
Within all this biodiversity, there are a few stand-out diving destinations. Located in the epicentre of the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat is the most biodiverse dive destination in Indonesia. Raja's rich waters - fuelled by healthy currents - play host to manta rays, around 1,500 species of fish, over 500 coral species and 700 species of mollusc.
Neighbouring Raja Ampat, Komodo is best known for its Komodo dragons, but dip below the waves and equally mythical marine environments await. From finding tiny critters in the muck sites to seeing mantas, huge schools of fish and sharks galore, discover the best dive sites in Komodo.
In Sulawesi, dive Bunaken Marine Park, the Lembeh Strait - a muck diving heaven - and Wakatobi National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with some of the healthiest reefs we've come across. Last but not least, the Alor archipelago is home to a whopping 50 world-class dive sites. While Alor is best known for spectacular coral and muck diving, there are opportunities to see scalloped hammerheads and the occasional blue whale.
Papua New Guinea
When you hear Papua New Guinea, thoughts of mystical jungle lands might first spring to mind, but this 600-strong collection of islands offers more than 20,000 square miles of coral reefs and a plethora of exhilaratingly biodiverse diving destinations.
For starters, Milne Bay is the original home of muck diving, with a variety of black sand sites teeming with bizarre macro life, as well as coral encrusted World War II wrecks to explore. From Tufi, divers can explore a vast underwater network of fjords. One of the most scenic areas of Papua New Guinea, the fjords are within an hour's journey of Tufi Dive Resort.
Another firm favourite among our diving experts, Kimbe Bay offers vibrant reefs and easy conditions, with the opportunity to see pilot whales, dolphins, orcas and even sperm whales. Below the surface, sponges and corals create an underwater city for schools of barracuda, reef sharks and hammerheads.
The 'Soft Coral Capital of the World,' Fiji's biodiversity is as bright as its reefs - all best explored on an island-hopping sojourn. From Vanua Levu, discover 1,000 species of invertebrate, 400 species of coral and 58 species of shark. Whales also migrate through the area, so keep your eyes peeled!
Next up, Taveuni features the aptly named Rainbow Reef and Somosomo Strait. Don't miss the Great White Wall, where layers of white soft corals decorate a plummeting wall - if you imagine what snow would look like underwater…this is it!
On the main island, you'll find Beqa Lagoon. Here, divers can get up close and personal with up to eight species of shark in one dive, including bull sharks, tiger sharks, nurse sharks, silvertip sharks and more!
South of the main island, Kadavu is home to the fourth largest barrier reef in the world: The Great Astrolabe Reef. In contrast to the rest of Fiji, this reef is dominated by hard corals with fields of Acropora (staghorn) and Turbinaria (lettuce) corals, sharks and mantas.
The Red Sea, Egypt
Located in the northernmost part of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea is rimmed by an extensive fringing reef system featuring over 300 species of hard coral. While the northern Red Sea is famous for its wrecks, the southern part is characterized by soft coral gardens. Divers will also see hammerhead and oceanic white tip sharks, mantas and whale sharks; particularly if joining a liveaboard to Brother, Daedalus and Elphinstone.
The bonus of the Red Sea is that it can be combined with Egypt's topside splendours, like the ruins in Luxor and Cairo and the world-famous pyramids.