With water covering almost three-quarters of the earth's surface, diving holidays provide the perfect way to explore some of this unseen other world. No matter where you go or whether you are planning your first dive or your one hundredth, you can be sure of seeing something new, surprising and captivatingly beautiful. Whether you want to drift over a coral reef in warm tropical waters, explore shipwrecks and kelp forests in temperate seas, or plunge into the freezing depths of glacial fjords, adventure and excitement awaits. With few activities combining relaxation with exercise as effectively as diving, every underwater excursion is sure to rejuvenate both mind and body.
Red Sea holidays offer some of the best diving for both beginner and experienced divers. Popular dives include Marsa Abu Galawa, where divers might spot both white tip reef sharks and giant moray eels. El Fanus is the place for bottlenose dolphins, while the marine protectorate of El Giftun has a wonderful sandy reef surrounded by a coral garden, which is home to a bewitching variety of marine life.
If swimming through an underwater sculpture park or seizing the chance to see whale sharks in their own territory appeals, the clear Caribbean waters of Cancun could be the diving destination for you. December to April is Cancun's high season but the whale sharks arrive in Isla Mujeres between June and September, and the glassy caves of Cenote Dos Ojos are popular all year round.
Well-suited to divers of all levels from complete beginners to seasoned adventurers, Malta's warm seas offer easily accessible reefs, caves and wrecks. The Blue Hole, on Gozo's west coast, is one of the most popular dive sites, both for the astounding colour of its waters and for its vivid orange, silver and yellow Mediterranean parrot fish. Meanwhile, Ċirkewwa is a wonderful reef dive, where fortunate divers may spot a scorpion fish or even a trigger fish.
No matter what time of year you want to travel, Thailand promises some of the best diving holidays in the world. The Andaman Sea is best enjoyed between October and April, while May to September is the perfect time to explore the Gulf of Thailand. Coral reefs shelter crustaceans, seahorses, ghost pipefish and all manner of other small marine inhabitants, while larger, open-water species, including leopard sharks and manta rays, swim around spectacular open seamounts.
Between May and November, the Indian monsoon current carries vast quantities of plankton into the tropical waters of the Maldives. Following the plankton are predators of all sizes, from small fish to enormous manta rays and even the occasional whale shark. It is the gathering of the manta rays that many divers anticipate most eagerly but no one should miss the chance to witness the underwater feeding stations in Hanifaru Bay, where striped cleaner wrasses hoover up parasites from the skin of the rays.
The coral triangle of Indonesia is home to a quarter of the world's fish species. Bali is the place for sunfish and manta rays, Lombok has coral gardens and underwater pinnacles haunted by hammerhead sharks, while turtles make their way through the crystalline waters of Bunaken in North Sulawesi. For those wanting a little of everything, Central Sulawesi has reefs, caves, wrecks, rocky walls and marine life to match it all.
Australia's dive sites are as magnificent as its coastline. The Great Barrier Reef is its number one dive destination, offering everything from the enormous potato cod near Lizard Island, shark-feeding frenzies in North Horn and the beauty and tranquillity of the perfectly-named Heart Reef. Off the country's opposite coast lies Ningaloo Reef, which, between March and September, is home to congregations of whale sharks.
Norway's rich marine biodiversity, multiple shipwrecks and underwater scenery that encompasses kelp forests, coral reefs, vertical drops and pristine sandy sea beds draws visitors from around the world. Top dive sites include Saltstraumen, where wolf fish and gloriously-coloured anemones live among the kelp forest that sways to the pull of one of the world's strongest tidal currents. Alternatively, explore Skarberget, renowned for its huge shoals of herring and hunting orcas.
With a dive season stretching from March to November, Cyprus has warm, calm and clear blue seas for around three-quarters of the year. There are shipwrecks aplenty, including the MS Zenobia, which now provides hidey-holes for grouper, tuna and barracuda. On the western coast, Devil's Head has caves, tunnels and the occasional visiting turtle. At a depth of only 10 metres, Green Bay in Portaras is perfect for training dives and is also home to the popular "Fish Rock", a marine feeding station.
With more than 700 miles of coastline that span two oceans and encompass both temperate waters and tropical ones, diving holidays in South Africa are never short of variety. Experience the famous Sardine Run along the coast between Port Elizabeth and Port St Johns or travel to Gansbaii for cage diving with great white sharks. Provided you are ready for a variety of water temperatures and some strong currents, South Africa will easily surpass your wildest expectations.
Well we're glad you've asked, as we've got a lot of sports breaks to suit every age and ability.
If you don't want to take such a deep dive, then consider a watersports trip. We've researched the best places to go kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. Surfing holidays can also be great fun, so we've pulled together a list of where the waves are at.