If you haven't yet taken the giant stride into the underwater world but are looking to take the plunge on your next dream holiday, you may be wondering which are the world's best places to get scuba certified. When it comes to taking your first underwater breaths, there are a few factors to consider, and the dive conditions at some destinations will be better suited to earning your first certification than others. The world's best places to get scuba certified will not only give you the opportunity to see some cool creatures and critters, but they should also be able to provide dive sites with relaxed conditions and sheltered areas away from crazy currents. Warm water and good visibility also make life easier for your first course, so here are a few of the world's top dive destinations that offer excellent conditions for those looking to learn to dive...

Turtle swimming in clear water over a coral reef


Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is perhaps the most famous dive destination, and it's also one of the world's best places to get scuba certified. Great visibility, gentle currents and a wonderful array of marine life are the order of the day on the GBR, and it's one of the world's most popular places to earn the coveted Open Water certification. Getting scuba certified will involve a little book work too, and if you sign up for the course before travelling, you can while away the hours on the long flight by burying your nose in the online study materials.

Lizard Island, in the tropical far north of Queensland, is a great option for getting certified on the Great Barrier Reef. The quiet island, fringed by beautiful corals, has excellent access to gentle dive sites and is also close to some of the GBR's better-known sites that you can enjoy after your course, including the Cod Hole and the Ribbon Reefs. The island also boasts stunning snorkelling, and its solitary luxury resort offers a peaceful environment to study in (just in case you fell asleep on the flight...).

Coral Garden with lot of tropical Fish on Red Sea


Only a short flight from northern Europe and blessed with some of the most consistently clear water around, the Red Sea is another of the world's best places to get scuba certified. The dive sites in and around Hurghada include some that are best left to the more experienced divers, but they also include many that are ideal for learning to dive. One of the reasons Hurghada is great for learning to dive is that it has many dive sites close to shore, and a resort with a house reef, yards from your doorstep, can make the whole experience even more relaxing.

The house reef option is particularly relaxing for the first two of the four dives you will have to complete to get certified. At the beginning of the first dive, it's natural to feel a little apprehensive, and being able to take your time without feeling rushed by a boatful of other, more experienced divers will help you relax and enjoy your dive to the fullest.

Picture shows a Drone view on sharks at the Bahamas with a dive boat

The Bahamas

With its myriad white-sand beaches, calm seas, and toothy marine life, the Bahamas also lays claim to being one of the world's best places to get scuba certified. With great visibility throughout the year, it offers superb beginner diving, with the added bonus that there are also plenty of friendly sharks waiting to greet you below the waves.

Andros, the Abacos and the Exumas are particularly good for beginner divers, as in addition to the superb visibility, there are fewer divers about than in some destinations, and you may end up with the instructor all to yourselves. The clear Caribbean water will help you stay relaxed and will allow you to spot the sharks from farther away. Caribbean reef sharks and even a great hammerhead could be spotted during your course dives, and a visit from either will make your course especially memorable and give you bragging rites at the bar later that evening.

Two spotted Eagle Rays following each other or hunting on coral reef of Maldives.

The Maldives

The Maldives is made up of a chain of 26 atolls that stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north, across the Equator, to Addu Atoll in the south. The collection of atolls is home to myriad coral islands, and together they provide several shallow, sheltered lagoons that are perfect for your first dives. The lagoons are often a few footsteps from your doorstep, and many of them are visited by turtles, reef sharks and eagle rays. You can expect to see a whole host of colourful reef fish on every dive, and may even be graced with the presence of a whale shark or manta ray!

There are stunning lagoons next to luxurious resorts throughout the Maldivian archipelago, but for beginners, maybe the northern or central atolls will be best. That way, you can save the Deep South and its myriad shark species for your next trip. But you can still see some huge fish, and if you are planning a trip between May and November, making a beeline for Baa Atoll will allow you to snorkel with hundreds of manta rays in between your course dives. While closer to Malé, the private island of Lankanfushi can offer a relaxed course in a peaceful and calm lagoon setting, with a dive site called Manta Point close by offering a great spot for a first post-certification dive.

Scuba diver over a colourful coral garden in  Indonesia


Indonesia is a long-term favourite destination among divers of all levels of experience. Not only is it blessed with superb marine life, thanks in part to its location in the Coral Triangle, but its myriad destinations ensure there's great diving for all skill levels. For beginners, Bali is hard to beat, while destinations like Komodo and Raja Ampat might be best left for your next trip due to the trickier conditions and swirling currents.

For beginner divers, the beauty of Bali is that you have plenty of gentle dive sites to explore on your first few dives. Tulamben and Padang Bai in particular offer great diving, no matter what your level of experience is. The water temperature is usually a little higher here compared to Bali's southern sites, and the currents are much less imposing. Tulamben offers the chance to dive a WWII wreck from the shore and explore gentle coral gardens, while Padang Bai will have you making dives from small boats on nice and protected shallow dive sites in the company of turtles, octopus and brightly coloured clownfish.

pygmy seahorse blending into a bright red coral in the Philippines


The Philippines may not quite have as many islands as the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, but it boasts an equally impressive array of diverse diving destinations. But if you are looking for the world's best places to get scuba certified, the remote reefs of Tubbataha and the deep wrecks of Coron may be best left to your next Philippine odyssey. For gentler conditions, more conducive to learning to dive, Malapascua and Dauin will be better choices.

Malapascua is a small island off the northern tip of Cebu and is surrounded by shallow dive sites that are blanketed by colourful corals and give shelter to a plethora of funky critters, like seahorses, frogfish and mandarinfish. Colourful angelfish and butterflyfish are ubiquitous on Malapascua dive sites, and once you finish your Open Water course, you could also start your Advanced Course with an early morning dive alongside thresher sharks on one of the island's deeper sites.

Not too far from the southern tip of Cebu is another diver's paradise: Dauin. A short ferry ride from southern Cebu brings you to the city of Dumaguete on the neighbouring island of Negros. The town of Dauin, south of the city, offers great diving for all levels, with many of the dive sites being shore dives. The gentle shore dives feature healthy coral reefs and colourful reef fishes for beginner divers, while the more experienced can hunt down cryptic critters on the same sites. And you can celebrate your certification with a trip to the deeper waters around Apo Island to see how many turtles you can spot...