Top Ten Places to Learn to Dive in the Coral Triangle

The Coral Triangle is one of the most biodiverse underwater regions on the planet, encompassing 2.3 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines to Timor and the Solomon Islands. If you are looking to learn to dive and want to make the most of your first few underwater breaths in an area that's bursting with marine life, the Coral Triangle has got a whole lot of everything when it comes to the underwater world. Home to 76% of the world's coral species, learning to dive here means getting to grips with the basics, while surrounded by the most incredible marine life. Once you are ready to dive into deeper waters, you’ll be able to explore multicoloured marine cities - coral reefs that burst with a vibrant display of life. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for the best places to learn to dive? We have got you covered - here are our top ten picks for the best places to learn to dive in the Coral Triangle...
1. Raja Ampat, Indonesia


It's hard to find a diving destination that has it all - colourful coral, magnificent marine life and amazing macro sights - but Raja Ampat may just be the single exception to that rule. The Indonesian archipelago has a great concentration of land-based resorts and some exceptional house reefs. You'll be in safe hands learning the basics with expert dive teams on hand and once you have mastered the essentials, it's easy to access incredible corals on your first few deeper dives.

2. Bali, Indonesia


Undoubtedly one of the best known of the Indonesian islands, Bali might draw the crowds but it's authentic character and charm is still very much intact. Bali has a lot going for it, both on land and below the waves, and it is fab for beginner divers - from its shallow dive sites, perfect for honing your new scuba skills, to the incredible array of marine life to see, including turtles and mola mola (ocean sunfish). Do we even need to mention the underwater sculpture parks? It's the ideal spot for learning to dive in the Coral Triangle.

3. Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea


Home to some of the best diving that Papua New Guinea has to offer, Kimbe Bay is located on the north coast of the island of New Britain. The area is a world-renowned scuba-hotspot, home to some of the most pristine coral reefs on the planet and the Walindi Plantation Resort, which is the perfect base for diving newbies. The resort offers incredible access to a large number of dive sites, including shallow dive sites which are perfect for novice divers. Great visibility and a lack of other divers, combined with an excellent dive team make Kimbe Bay the ideal place for learning to dive in the Coral Triangle.

4. Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea


Located at the extreme eastern end of Papua New Guinea, Milne Bay is home to world-class diving that all levels can enjoy - from beginners to advanced scuba divers. The area is home to a beautiful house reef and a few incredible dive sites which are easily accessible, including Deacons Reef. Incredible visibility and a lack of other divers make this dive site perfect for new divers who are keen to see an array of marine life.

5. Bunaken NP, North Sulawesi


Anyone looking for a serene Indonesian escape with some incredible diving - look no further than Bunaken, North Sulawesi. Just off the northern tip of Sulawesi in Bunaken National Marine Park, the waters surrounding Bunaken Island are some of the most biodiverse in the world, with an incredible array of macro marine life and stunning reef walls. If you are new to diving, the conditions here are perfect for learning the scuba basics and the dive teams on the island are second to none. Once you have the basics down, the wall diving here cannot be missed.

6. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi


The Lembeh Strait needs no introduction - known as the muck diving capital of the world, the majority of the diving here is done on black sand (or 'muck' as it's known). One of the most extraordinary marine environments, muck diving is special because of the critters that call the area home. In one morning of diving you could see a mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, an array of frogfish species, weedy scorpionfish and pygmy seahorse (to name just a few). This area is ideal for novice divers - you'll be able to learn some scuba skills before ticking off one of the world's best muck diving sites on your first deep dive. It's not all muck diving - the area is also home to some beautiful, healthy coral reefs so beginner divers get the best of both worlds when learning to dive here.

7. Wakatobi, Sulawesi


Sulawesi is near the top of most diver's bucket lists and Wakatobi is the perfect base for diving in this incredible area. In terms of location, it's hard to get more exotic than Wakatobi. Hanging off the southern tip of Sulawesi, dipped in the Banda Sea, the area is home to some incredible marine life. Beginners are in safe hands here - the dive team is excellent and the conditions are ideal for learning the basics of diving. The area also happens to have one of the best house reefs in the world - not a bad place to take your first underwater breaths.

8. Bohol, Philippines


You'll find the island of Bohol in the Cebu region of the Philippines. The world under the waves here is teeming with life and there are plenty of things to do on land, including visiting the iconic Chocolate Hills. Those who are new to diving should head to Amun Ini - located on the south-east coast of the island, the resort is the perfect place for anyone looking to learn to dive. Nestled in the jungle with an excellent house reef, novice divers will be well taken care of by the expert dive team. Get the hang of the basics in the shallows, before heading into (slightly) deeper waters to explore the corals. The house reef is ideal for anyone looking to get into the scuba diving world.

9. Dumaguete, Philippines


One of the best muck diving spots in the world, Dumaguete is home to all manner of weird and wonderful critters. Located in the southern Visayas, along the southern coast if Negro Island, the waters are teeming with life of the macro kind. For those looking to learn to dive, look no further than Atmosphere Resort. The resort's expert dive team are ready and waiting for beginner divers who will be learning the diving basics in the resort pool, before heading out into open water. Your first few dives will be in some of the best waters in the world, with access to muck diving as well as stunning coral walls and sloping reefs.

10. Malapascua, Philippines


It might not be the most luxurious destination, but when it comes to diving, Malapascua is the place to be. A scuba diver's paradise this place is famous for thresher shark encounters, A marine experience that is normally impossible, given thresher's tendency to live in deep waters off continental shelves, seeing them close to the surface is a rare privilege. Stay at Ocean Vida - it's got a great set-up for solo travellers and as far as the Philippines goes, it's not that difficult to get to from the UK (we are talking about two flights and a transfer). Partnered with one of the best dive centres in the country, Sea Explorers, beginner divers are in safe hands and the conditions are perfect for learning to dive - great visibility, interesting marine life and wrecks to dive around. If you fancy going the extra mile, sign up for the Advanced PADI diving course - you'll get to see thresher sharks at Monad shoal!

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Louisa is our 'Top Ten Places to Learn to Dive in the Coral Triangle' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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