4 mins

The Wanderlust guide to diving and snorkelling

A whole new world awaits the traveller under the sea. Here's your guide to diving in and making the most of it...

Young couple discover the joys of diving (Shutterstock: see main credit below)

Diving and snorkelling immerses you into a floaty, contemplative world filled with mystery and colour – and often heaving with quirky marine life.

Snorkelling is an easy first step to take towards under-water diving. It is best enjoyed with at least one ‘buddy’, although it doesn’t have to be limited to just one other person – whole families can snorkel together. 

Once confident snorkellers, many people want to learn to dive. One popular way to become proficient is on a specialised learn-to-dive holiday. Wherever land meets sea, you will find a diving school, which can train you to a high level of competency. Organisations such as the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Scuba Schools International (SSI), and The British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) have training schools teaching diving fundamentals. 

A whole new world awaits. Dive in and discover it.

Damsel fish off Palau (Shutterstock.com)Damsel fish swimming in shallow water off Palau (Shutterstock)

Looking for inspiration?

In many parts of the world there's an underwater wonderland just off shore. All you have to do is grab a mask and dive in. To help you out, Paul Bloomfield reveals the 10 best places in the world to go snorkelling.

Keen to go a little deeper? Then you need to learn to dive. Our online community clubbed together to list the best places to do just that. Liz Edwards has also written a piece about why she thinks Dominica is the best place to earn your fins.

With your new found skills comes new found responsibilities. The ocean is one of the world's most fragile habitats. Lauren Arthur suggests her 6 tips on diving sustainably. And Toby Shergold explains how you can combine snorkelling and conservation in the Bay Islands in Honduras.

More information

10 of the best snorkelling destinations – Paul Bloomfield

The best places to learn to dive – Wanderlust community

Learn to dive and dry off in Dominica – Liz Edwards

6 tips on how to dive sustainably – Lauren Arthur

Snorkelling and conservation in the Bay Islands, Honduras – Toby Shergold

Diving the Great Barrier ReefDiving on the Great Barrier Reef (Shutterstock)

A whole world of options

When it comes to diving destinations, the world is your oyster. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is obviously an option: Monty Halls has put together a complete guide to diving there. And Ben Southall reveals 10 of its secrets. With the second longest barrier reef in the world, Belize is another firm favourite too.

Looking for somewhere even more exotic to go diving? Sarah Barrell recommends Islas del Rosario off the Colombian coast. Mark Stratton reckons you can't beat the Philippines – with 7,114 islands you're spoiled for choice. And how about South Africa? The Wanderlust team have listed the 5 top dive sites there.

More information

Complete guide to the Great Barrier Reef – Monty Halls

Great Barrier Reef: Top 10 secrets – Ben Southall

Discover little-visited Belize – Alex Robinson

Philippines in the sea: 12 watery adventures – Mark Stratton

Islas del Rosario: diving off Colombia's coast – Sarah Barrell

South Africa's top 5 diving locationsWanderlust Team

Swimming amongst the Great WhitesDiving amongst Great White sharks (Shutterstock)

Go on an underwater safari

When it comes to wildlife encounters, the world's oceans are right up there with the plains of Africa and the jungles of Borneo for excitement and variety. The Wanderlust team have put together a list of their favourite underwater wildlife encounters – from the Maldives and the Galapagos islands to the rather chilly East Antarctic Peninsula.

Need more specific suggestions? If you want to swim with turtles, Tim Ecott says you need to head to Sipadan in Malaysian Borneo. Jessica Kleiner prefers Turtle Town in Hawaii.

Whale sharks? Then you need to head to Western Australia says David McGonigal. Basking Sharks? Mark Carwardine suggests Scotland. Great White Sharks? Mark has advice on diving with those too.

William Gray, on the other hand, reckons you can't beat swimming with rays in Tenerife. While James Stewart recommends popping over to the Cayman Islands and checking out the wildlife both on and off shore.

More information

Top 5 underwater wildlife encountersWanderlust Team

Underwater safari: swim with turtles at Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia – Tim Ecott

Your guide to snorkelling Hawaii's famous Turtle Town – Jessica Kleiner

Underwater safari: snorkel with whale sharks in Western Australia – David McGonigal

Diving with basking sharks – Mark Carwardine

Great white expectations – Mark Carwardine

Catching rays in Tenerife – William Gray

Caymen Islands: Wildlife on and off shore – James Stewart

Cave diving (Shutterstock.com)Cave diving (Shutterstock)

Unusual dive experiences

Once you've had your fill of technicolour fish swimming in clear tropical waters, a number of more extreme and downright weird dive experiences await. Graihagh Jackson lists five of them, above tectonic plates, below three-metres of sea ice and along what could be the underwater remains of an ancient civilisation.

Monty Halls went in search of the world's greatest underwater mysteries and explains how you can too. Graeme Green dives Japan's Atlantis of the East. And we list the world's 5 coolest underwater hotels and weirdest underwater postboxes.

More information

Top 5 unusual places to dive – Graihagh Jackson

Monty Halls on great underwater mysteries – Peter Moore

Discover Japan's Atlantis of the East – Graeme Green

The world's 5 coolest underwater hotelsWanderlust Team

The world's weirdest underwater postboxesWanderlust Team

Woman diving in tropical waters (Shutterstock.com)Woman snorkelling in tropical waters (Shutterstock)

Capturing it all on film

With some of the most stunning dive sites in the world, chances are that at some point you’re going to try and capture the awesome world you’ll encounter under the sea.

There is more to underwater photography than keeping your camera dry. Steve Davey lists all the tricks, from under exposing your shots through to getting the white balance right in his top tips for underwater photography.

If it's inspiration you're after, make sure you check out the photos taken by our readers on their diving and snorkelling adventures.

More information

Underwater photography – Steve Davey

Readers' diving and snorkelling photos

Snorkelling near overwater villas (Shutterstock.com)Snorkelling near over-water villas (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Diving and Snorkelling Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by the Diving and Snorkelling Recommendations page as well, for a quick summary of the top dive spots around the world. And we’ve rounded up the latest travel news about diving and snorkelling too.

If you have a particular question about diving and snorkelling, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about diving and snorkelling. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Diving and snorkelling guideWanderlust Team

Diving and snorkelling recommendations Wanderlust Team

Latest news about snorkelling and diving

Forum posts about diving and snorkelling

Community content about diving and snorkelling

Snorkelling at sunrise (Shutterstock.com)Snorkelling at sunrise (Shutterstock)

Ready to go?

Here's a selection of  fantastic tours offered by our partners. From diving tours with a marine conservation component as well, to liveaboard, island-hopping boat adventures, there's something to suit every taste and budget.

More information

Our Trip Finder can help you find your next diving and snorkelling adventure

Main image: Couple diving (Shutterstock)

Related Articles