The 5 Best Reefs to Explore Around the Globe, According to Professional Divers

World Reef Day is here. Celebrate with a dive.

June 1 marks World Reef Day, a celebration started by the sunscreen company Raw Elements to draw "awareness and activation to effect positive change for our world's reefs." While there is plenty you can do from home to support the effort, PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) wants you to know there are also plenty of places you can go to explore the world's reefs in real life as well.

"There is incredible reef diving all across the world — from Indonesia and the Philippines to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to the Caribbean and tropical waters off the shores of the United States," Kristin Valette Wirth, chief brand and membership officer of PADI Worldwide, tells Travel + Leisure. "If you enjoy traveling to explore new places, discover unfamiliar sites, and immerse yourself in new parts of the world, then scuba diving is definitely for you."

Coral reef in the Red Sea
Reto Moser/Courtesy of PADI

Valette Wirth adds, with 70% of the world covered in water, "diving delivers a fully immersive experience of a destination both above and below the surface. Scuba diving provides travelers a chance to seek adventure in parts of nature they might not normally see, encounter incredible marine life, and meet new people with a shared passion from around the world."

If you need to narrow down your list of epic places to dive amongst the reefs, Valette Wirth and her team at PADI provided five favorites everyone should see once in their lifetime.

Underwater images of coral reef and marine life in the Bligh Waters
Markus Roth/Courtesy of Tourism Fiji

Tavarua Island

Best known for: Located in Fiji, this island is known for its beautiful coral reefs that surround the uniquely heart-shaped island.

Koh Samui

Best known for: The coral reefs, located to the south of Koh Phangan on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand, are colorful and packed with a diverse range of marine life which ranges from mighty whale sharks and majestic manta rays to exquisite nudibranch and macro-critters.

The reefs ar Marsa Alam in Egypt
Courtesy of Sibylle Malinke Alam

Marsa Alam

Best known for: Being a magical scuba diving destination located on the Red Sea in southern Egypt. Its healthy reef runs along the shore from Port Ghalib south, providing shelter to fish of every color.


Best known for: Being the home of the longest unbroken barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the world's second-largest barrier reef.

Great Barrier Reef

Aerial view of boat and Sinker Reef at the Great Barrier Reef
Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

Best known for: Having hidden dive sites despite being one of the most popular dive locations on earth. PADI even has a list of the top 10 hidden dive sites found within Queensland's Great Barrier Reef you need to know about.

Need even more resources? Check PADI's 16 Holiday Tips to Help Coral Reefs then head to PADI to find a diving class near you so you can start checking these epic reefs off your travel bucket list.

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