When it comes to amazing dive holidays, you don't always need to spend an eye-watering amount to have the time of your life. From the idyllic islands of Southeast Asia to the coral cays of the Caribbean, there are plenty of places around the planet that offer world-class diving without breaking the bank. Whether you're interested in muck diving in Indonesia, seeing thresher sharks in the Philippines or hunting for hammerheads in Belize, read on to discover the world's best budget-friendly dive destinations.

Underwater photo of clown fish inside a anemone

Bali, Indonesia

Once a stop on the swinging-60s Hippie Trail, Bali is world-renowned for its rich cultural heritage and spectacular natural wonders. While the hippie era may be long gone, Indonesia's 'Island of the Gods' continues to draw budget-minded travellers, luxury holidaymakers and everyone in between - and for good reason. This island boasts ancient temples, beautiful beaches, tumbling rice paddies, lush tropical forests and tropical waters teeming with marine life.

Bali's acclaim as one of the world's best budget-friendly dive destinations is a tribute to the proximity of world-class dive sites near the shore, with some not needing a boat at all. Divers, regardless of budget, are just a few fin kicks away from renowned sites like the WWII USAT Liberty wreck, Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida and Secret Bay, a critter-rich macro site near Menjangen Island.

thresher shark swimming in ocean underwater near boat

Malapascua, Philippines

Often cited among the world's best budget-friendly dive destinations, Malapascua is a remote island off the northern tip of Cebu in the Visayas region. While Malapascua lacks extravagant resorts, this laid-back island draws divers globally thanks to one exceptionally rare site: Monad Shoal. Arguably the Jewel in the Philippines' diving crown, Monad Shoal is regularly touted as the best place in the world for diving with thresher sharks. While the dive requires a pre-dawn departure, it's worth the early wakeup call as divers are virtually guaranteed to see these deep-dwelling predators venture to the shallow cleaning stations for a morning clean.

While the initial draw to Malapascua may be the threshers, there are a slew of epic local sites close to shore. Deep Rock and Bantigue, for example, are macro havens, with frogfish, nudis, pygmy seahorses and flamboyant cuttlefish hiding among the corals. There are also a few full-day trips to sites farther afield, which attract a fuel surcharge. For those looking to adventure offshore, day trips to Kalanggaman Island for coral-encrusted wall diving, Gato Island for whitetip reef sharks, and the hulking wreck of the Dona Marilyn are well worth the journey.

Underwater photo of dolphins swimming in Egypt with divers

Hurghada, Egypt

For Europeans, Egypt's close proximity, year-round sunshine and world-class diving have earned it a top spot as one of the world's best budget-friendly dive destinations.

A mere four-hour flight from London, Hurghada, has a diverse repetoire of sites suited for every level of diver. The hotels have excellent house reefs allowing for stress-free daily diving, while further afield, mingle with huge pods of curious dolphins at El Fanus, otherwise known as Dolphin Reef. Then there's the world-famous WWII Thistlegorm wreck, which still holds much of its wartime cargo. No matter where you dive, there's always the chance of seeing both reef and oceanic whitetip reef sharks, while whale sharks and manta rays can be spotted in spring.

Aerial view of Great Blue Hole Belize

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Sitting at the western edge of the Caribbean Sea, Belize's diving allure lies in the Belize Barrier Reef, a 185-mile-long section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System running parallel to the coastline. However, this bite-sized country's main claim to diving fame lies in the world-renowned Blue Hole.

Belize's diving can be split into three regions: the northern cayes, the central atolls and the southern islands. The centrally located Great Blue Hole is easily reached from the central atolls and the northern cayes. For those seeking the world's best budget-friendly dive destinations, a stay on Ambergris Caye ticks all the boxes. Referred to as 'Isla Bonita,' Ambergris Caye sits just below the Belize-Mexico border and is known for the turquoise seascapes that encircle the island. The laid-back island has a backpacker vibe, and with no paved roads, the main mode of transportation is by golf cart. Below the waves. divers can mingle with sharks and turtles in Hol Chan Marine Reserve to the south or embarkon longer journeys to Lighthouse Reef and the depths of the Great Blue Hole, where you may come face-to-face with a great hammerhead or two...