No two dives are ever the same. Some dives may involve strong currents and limited visibility, while others offer swimming-pool-like conditions. Some destinations are prone to wind and big waves, while others have seas as still as glass. What may be a perfect dive one day might present challenges the next. For beginner divers, choosing destinations with easy diving conditions - such as warm, calm water and exceptional visibility - can be a great way to refine your skills before diving into the deep end. But where to take the plunge? Whether you're newly certified or are an experienced diver seeking a stress-free diving holiday, read on to discover the world's best easy diving destinations.
The ABC Islands - Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao - lie in the Caribbean Sea, just off Venezuela. While all three islands lie outside the hurricane belt, and therefore boast the perfect conditions - tropical, calm, clear water - Bonaire stands a head above the rest when it comes to easy diving year-round. It's hailed as the 'Shore Diving Capital of the World,' with a whopping 86 dive sites dotted around the island, and thanks to its dedication to conservation, from banning spearfishing to cultivating corals, the island's reefs are flourishing.
Drift diving often gets boxed into the 'hard' category for diving - and for good reason. Diving in currents can be challenging, yet the thrill of being propelled over underwater wonderlands is simply unbeatable. And when it comes to ripping currents, Indonesia has some of the best drift dives in the world. While Komodo and Raja Ampat are best left for experienced divers, Wakatobi - specifically, Wakatobi Dive Resort - has the world's best easy diving conditions for currents. Located in southeastern Sulawesi in a UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve, Wakatobi Dive Resort's house reef is among the best in the world. The resort drops you off 500 metres north of the jetty and the current will carry you over the marine-packed coral reef before depositing you back at shore, where staff will be waiting to collect your gear.
For time-strapped Europeans seeking excellent diving without an epic journey, Gozo boasts the best diving in the Mediterranean. The Maltese archipelago is permanently draped in sun, and with clear seas and great visibility (we're talking around 30 metres) it can be dived year-round (although you'll want a thick wetsuit for the winter months). Most of the sites can be accessed from the shore and the landscape is incredibly varied, boasting reefs, walls, drop-offs, caves, tunnels, wrecks and even a blue hole.
Another contender from the Caribbean, Grenada has all the ingredients that make a world's best easy diving destination, with warm waters, great visibility and shallow sites. The majority of the diving takes place in the south-west corner of the island in Grand Anse Bay. As a Marine Protected Area, this bay boasts colourful coral gardens and a thriving fish population - keep your eyes peeled for frogfish and seahorses. Grenada also boasts a dozen diveable shipwrecks, many of which are below 20 metres, and the Underwater Sculpture Park, which, at 12 metres, can be enjoyed by beginners and advanced divers alike.
The Red Sea, Egypt
The Red Sea is world-renowned for its crystal-clear visibility, pristine reefs and colourful fish life. This narrow strait has sites for every diving interest, from thrilling drift dives through shark-infested waters to wrecks and walls. For those seeking relaxed underwater adventures, the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh's house reef stands-out for its blissfully easy diving conditions. Located just 20 minutes from Hurghada airport, the Oberoi sits on the edge of the Red Sea. Just a few fin kicks from the beach, it has a shallow house reef that runs the entire length of the resort, with pristine coral gardens and a huge variety of marine life, including barracuda, turtles, eagle rays, sharks and, if you're very lucky, dolphins. And, if you venture under the dock, you're virtually guaranteed to find seahorses.
Mafia Island, Tanzania
Mafia Island's easy diving conditions and varied underwater topography makes it a winner among beginner divers. This remote archipelago of islands rests at the southernmost point of Tanzania, offering unspoiled diving in excellent visibility. The sites around Mafia Island are sheltered from strong currents and most are below 30 metres, so it is a sport divers' paradise. The island is located in Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania's first, allowing the marine ecosystem to flourish. Expect to see turtles, rays, reef sharks and colourful reef fish darting among the corals, and - if you visit between November and April - you're almost guaranteed to see whale sharks, too.
The Maldives is regularly touted as having the best diving in the Indian Ocean. Divers can see everything from whale sharks and manta rays to huge schools of fish, turtles and sharks in crystal-clear visibility. While advanced divers can challenge themselves in the deep channels separating the atolls, beginner divers, and those seeing easy diving conditions, can take their pick of shallow sites across the archipelago.