The spectacular Coral Triangle is the underwater equivalent of the Amazon rainforest and is the epicenter of marine biodiversity. Encompassing the seas of six different countries, it contains countless marine life species and offers unrivaled diving, island hopping, and snorkeling opportunities. Looking for an adventure? Here is our round-up of the 20 best diving spots in the Coral Triangle to explore.
The Coral Triangle is an area in the Asia-Pacific region that encompasses the seas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. It covers 6 million square kilometers of ocean and hosts:
It is the richest center of marine life on Earth, supports the livelihoods of more than 120 million people, and contains some of the best diving spots on Earth.
The Coral Triangle is under threat from overfishing, unsustainable tourism, urbanization, and climate change. Coral Triangle Day is a huge celebration of the Coral Triangle and highlights the ocean conservation message of “shared waters, shared solutions.”
It includes events such as beach clean-ups, sustainable seafood dinners, exhibitions, markets and beach celebrations, and is held every year on 9th June.
With over 1500 fish species and more than 500 species of vibrant corals, Raja Ampat features regularly as one of the best diving spots in the world. As well as offering breathtaking reefs and thrilling current dives, diving in Raja Ampat often involves encounters with numerous manta rays.
When to go: November to April for peak manta season.
Hop over to the Komodo National Park and you will be visiting one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. There you will discover panoramic island views, a rare pink sand beach, Komodo dragons and pristine reefs with ripping currents.
You can also swim with huge sunfish when you go diving in Komodo.
When to go: August for Mola mola encounters.
If you are looking for the chance to swim with whale sharks, look no further than Cenderawasih Bay. Famed for its friendly whale sharks, it is one of the lesser-known yet best diving spots in Raja Ampat.
When to go: July to September.
Fans of weird and wonderful critters will not want to miss diving in Lembeh. Known as the ‘muck diving capital of the world’, Lembeh Strait has more than 30 black sand dive sites to explore. All of which are busy with prized macro life.
When to go: July and August for peak critter season.
Wakatobi National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve covering 1.39 million hectares, has some of the healthiest reefs and best diving spots in Indonesia – without any crowds. This luxurious destination has numerous sea turtles, fantastic house reefs and seagrass beds close to shore, making it perfect for divers and snorkelers alike.
When to go: All year.
The aptly named Forgotten Islands offer some of Indonesia’s most remote diving. There you will find untouched reefs, hundreds of fish and coral species, visiting whale sharks, mantas and crocodiles. It is one of the best places for far-flung liveaboard adventures.
When to go: June to November.
Sipadan and Mabul are not easy to get to but they are worth it! Formed by an extinct volcanic cone, Sipadan is famed for having thriving reefs, plus countless swirling barracudas at Barracuda Point - one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
These islands also host numerous green sea turtles every year.
When to go: August for mating green sea turtles.
The crystal-clear azure waters and white sand beaches of the Perhentian Islands are a real highlight of diving in Peninsular Malaysia. A popular option for families, snorkelers and divers, there are nesting green and hawksbill turtles, WWII wrecks and gorgeous coral reefs to explore.
When to go: March to October.
“The Jewel of the Borneo Banks” has numerous atoll dive sites and waters that plummet down to 2000 meters, making it an ideal destination for experienced divers. With just one resort and a dive season that runs from March to August only, diving in Layang Layang is perfect for exploring the Coral Triangle in peace.
When to go: March to August only.
Scuba diving at a UNESCO World Heritage Site seems like a dream but it is possible at Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. One of the best dive spots in the world, this sought-after reef has huge schools of fish and is visited by around 13 different whale species and numerous sharks.
With a short dive season, you will need to book early to be one of the lucky divers who go there!
When to go: March to June only.
With around 40 dive sites, plus access to diving in Coron and Apo Reef, there is plenty to keep divers entertained at Anilao. Experience one of the best diving spots in the Philippines for wreck fans and dive beautiful atoll-like lagoons all day long.
When to go: December to March for Coron’s dry season. April and May for mantas at Apo Reef and calm seas.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, visit Malapascua’s Monad Shoal and go pre-dawn diving with elusive thresher sharks. Malapascua is renowned for its thresher shark encounters and it is the only place in the world where you can reliably dive with these sharks. What a perfect start to any diving day.
When to go: November to April.
Moalboal is famed for its sardine run and is one of the Philippines' best dive spots for pelagic fans. The huge bait balls at Moalboal attract divers from around the world, drawn to the swirling masses of fish and fast-paced pelagic action.
When to go: November to May.
Nicknamed the ‘Iron Bottom Sound’, the Florida Islands have around 1000 wrecks, including over 600 aircraft. Many of the wrecks are suitable for recreational divers and there are also shallow wrecks ideal for snorkelers, plus thrilling deep tech wreck dives.
This destination is an unmissable highlight of diving the Eastern Solomon Islands.
When to go: You can dive the Solomon Islands all year, even during the rainy season (November to April).
The Russell Islands in the Central Province have something for every diver.
There are abundant wrecks at the famous White Sand Beach. You can glide between the walls of a crevasse that cuts through an island or go diving through a crystal-clear halocline. All this, plus pelagic action and picturesque hard coral gardens, make the Russell islands one of the best diving spots to explore.
When to go: All year.
The longest saltwater lagoon in the world, Marovo Lagoon is a spectacular natural phenomenon and contains hundreds of small rainforest-draped islands and dive sites.
There are colorful coral drop-offs, macro dives, wrecks, current dives and abundant marine life, including sharks, mantas, turtles and enormous sea fans. All of which is framed by water visibility over 30 meters.
When to go: All year.
A land of sleeping volcanoes and thick tropical jungles, Papua New Guinea is way off the tourist trail and offers more than 20,000 square miles of pristine coral reefs.
Kimbe Bay, ranked as one of the best dive spots in the world by National Geographic, is incredibly biodiverse, with coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, seamounts and more. It is one of the most remarkable places to go diving in Oceania.
When to go: May to November.
Cruise to Fathers Reef and you can explore underwater lava landscapes in the shadow of still-smoking Mount Ulawun. As well as having striking dive landscapes, ocean currents there attract numerous pelagics to the spectacular walls, seamounts, and ridges of this popular destination.
When to go: May to November.
Milne Bay’s rich black sands are where muck diving first began. Try it and get addicted to searching for the tiny creatures that live in the sands! If you are not a fan of muck diving, you can go drift diving, wreck diving, wall diving and reef diving instead whilst you are there.
When to go: January to April.
Tufi’s rainforest-covered fjords are breathtaking and host over 25 pristine offshore reefs. Many of the reefs and seamounts have never been dived by anyone other than visitors to the small village of Tufi.
With numerous critters and untouched reefs, it is simply one of the best diving spots just waiting to be discovered.
When to go: October and November for peak dive conditions at the outer reefs.