The Best Beginner Diving Destinations 2024

By Julius
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Beach along island in the Maldives

Are you looking for the best beginner diving destinations to visit in 2024?

If you are a newly certified diver, it is important to dive more to practice your skills and explore the underwater world.

Picking dive spots with easy in-water conditions makes this much more fun and there are great places to dive for beginners in the world.

In this post, we will look at the best dive spots for new scuba divers and answer the following questions:

  • What are the best beginner diving destinations?
  • How to choose the best diving destination for beginners?
  • What are the best conditions for beginner divers?

Best Beginner Diving Destinations 2024

There are countless great diving destinations in the world and you can spend a lifetime exploring them.

These are the best beginner dive locations with easy dive sites for new Open Water Divers and anyone else:

  1. Red Sea, Egypt
  2. Bonaire & Curacao
  3. Koh Tao & Similan Islands, Thailand
  4. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
  5. Roatán & Utila, Honduras
  6. The British Virgin Islands
  7. Krk, Croatia
  8. Central Atolls, Maldives

Red Sea, Egypt

Underwater reef
The Red Sea in Egypt features diverse marine life and beautiful coral reefs.

The Red Sea in Egypt is one of the best beginner diving destinations in the world for its beautiful coral reefs, easy dive spots, and a plethora of dive centers available.

The Red Sea is a must for any scuba diver and with hundreds of dive spots to choose from, it offers interesting experiences for beginners and experienced divers alike.

While most liveaboard trips in Egypt require more experience and at least 30-50 dives, shore diving and day excursions in a zodiac are great for beginner divers.

Hurghada is the most frequented with a big international airport, many dive spots to choose from, and staying here is very affordable. A week in an all-inclusive resort here can be found for less than $350 and diving starts at around $30 per dive.

However, if you want the best diving Egypt has to offer, you are better off traveling farther South or North where there are fewer people and better reefs.

Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab in the North are great options and you can visit the world-famous blue hole in Dahab while you’re there.

In the South, El Quseir and Marsa Alam offer some of the best reef diving in the world and are worth the trip to get there.

Diving Facts for beginners Egypt

Diving SeasonYear-round
Best time to diveMay – November
What to seeSharks, dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, turtles. Many shipwrecks.
Water Temperature18-28°C (65-82°F)
Best forVariety of dive spots, lots to see, very affordable
Diving facts for beginners in Egypt.

Bonaire & Curacao

Beach bar in Curacao
Typical diving beach on Curacao.

Bonaire and Curacao are among the best beginner diving destinations in the world and feature super warm water, very easy shore diving opportunities, and a stunning underwater world.

They are part of the ABC islands (together with Aruba) and form the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean.

While it is possible to book guided diving, and recommended for beginner divers, both are known for “unlimited shore diving” at any point along the shore wherever and whenever you like.

You rent a pickup truck and scuba tanks and just drive around the island. If you see a dive spot you like, you just jump into the water and dive. How cool is that?

Diving season on either island is year-round on both Bonaire, as well as Curacao, and water temperatures are between 28-30°C (82-85°F). It does get a few degrees colder in winter, however, you can leave your 7mm wetsuit or drysuit at home.

You’ll find beautiful, intact coral reefs, schools of fish, turtles, and dolphins here and the visibility is always superb.

Turtle swimming with fish underwater
Make sure to visit Turtle Beach in Curacao!

Oh, and don’t forget your underwater camera because you will need it!

I suggest you get a dive guide for Bonaire or Curacao before traveling so you find the best dive spots with detailed maps and suggestions.

Diving Facts for beginners Bonaire & Curacao

Diving SeasonYear-round
Best time to diveAnytime
What to seeTurtles, schools of fish, intact reefs
Water Temperature28-30°C (82°F -85°F)
Best forEasy shore diving & getting in as many dives as possible
Diving facts for beginners Bonaire & Curacao

Koh Tao & Similan Islands, Thailand

Boote am Strand in Thailand
A typical beach in Thailand.

Thailand is a phenomenal diving destination in general and great for beginner divers looking for their first dive trip.

Not only is the water super nice and warm, meaning you can get by with a rashguard and shorty, but you can also encounter many marine animals when diving in Thailand.

Manta rays, whale sharks, critters, and large schools of fish are frequent visitors here and diving is generally easy at most dive sites.

Many scuba divers learn to dive in Thailand because it’s super affordable and the conditions could not be better.

There is a reason why Ban’s Diving Resort in Koh Tao is often named the dive center with the most diving certifications in the world, and they claim to have taught over 250,000 students since 1993.

Besides a stunning underwater world, Thailand offers a plethora of things to do above the surface like sightseeing, amazing food and exciting trips into rain forests, and more.

Known for being one of THE budget travel destinations in the world, diving and travel here starts at super low prices.

Diving season in Thailand is between October and May during the dry season. It’s also the best time to visit the Similan Islands on a first-time liveaboard cruise.

Make sure to check out all our current liveaboard deals to see if you find a nice discount on an upcoming cruise!

Check out this Thailand Dive Guide to get some inspiration.

Diving Facts for beginners Thailand

Diving SeasonNovember – April
Best time to diveDecember – March
What to seeManta rays, whale sharks, an abundance of macro life
Water Temperature28-30°C (82-87°F)
Best forWarm water, plenty of fish, super cheap
Diving facts for beginners Thailand.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Scuba diver in the Cenotes
The Cenotes are the most famous diving spot in Mexico.

Mexico is one of the best diving destinations for beginners and the list of things to see is sheer endless.

Snorkeling with whale sharks, diving with manta rays, cave diving the Cenotes, or exploring coral reefs between Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel are a must for every scuba diver.

The best way to explore scuba diving in Mexico for beginners is to start with some shore diving along Playa del Carmen before taking a trip inland to the Cenotes. Cozumel is great but with a lot of drift diving it might be too much for a first-time dive trip.

Here, even beginners can dive in the world-famous caverns, while experienced divers can explore the actual caves.

Yes, there are also the islands of Guadalupe and Soccorro, which are among the best liveaboard diving destinations in the world.

However, these are definitely not suited for beginners and will have to wait until you have more experience.

Humpback whale jumping out of the water.
Diving in Soccorro is not for beginners but should definitely be on your bucket list!

While scuba diving will be one of the must-dos on your bucket list, Mexico is also an amazing travel destination on land. From ancient cultures to just merging with the locals, there is so much to do.

Mexico is easy to get to by plane from anywhere in the world, and especially divers from the USA will find cheap and frequent flights from any major airport.

Check out this Mexico Dive Guide to get some inspiration. (old but gold)

Diving facts for beginners Mexico

Diving SeasonYear-round
Best time to diveAnytime
What to seeWhale sharks, sharks, cenotes caverns
Water Temperature21-30°C (69-87°F)
Best forLots of things to do, warm water, cenotes diving
Diving facts for beginners Mexico.

Scuba diving trip packing list

Roatán & Utila, Honduras

Port in Roatan
Ports like these can be found in Roatan.

The islands of Roatan and Utila in Honduras are often considered some of the best dive spots in the world and are definitely among the best diving destinations for beginner scuba divers.

With diverse marine life, warm water, easy in-water conditions, and being very affordable, what’s not to like about diving in Roatán and Utila?

Scuba diving in Honduras is very cheap, considering it is part of the second-largest reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system. Package prices start at less than $40 per dive and you can get even better group discounts.

Both islands are home to colorful corals, turtles, tropical fish, sharks, and larger pelagics. If you are lucky, you might even encounter a whale shark!

The reefs around Roatán are protected by the Roatan Marine Park which ensures the underwater world here is in great condition and remains so.

Shark underwater in Honduras
A shark from our last dive in Roatan.

Roatán’s neighbor Utila attracts more budget-conscious travelers and backpackers and can therefore be more crowded at times. However, it has fewer dive shops to choose from.

There is really no best time to dive here and you can expect great scuba diving conditions year-round.

Fun diving usually starts from boats, however, the boat rides are short and they are super easy even for beginner divers.

Check out this Honduras Dive Guide to get some inspiration.

Diving Facts for beginners Roatán & Utila

Diving SeasonYear-round
Best time to diveAnytime
What to seeSharks, coral reefs, turtles, tropical fish
Water Temperature28-30°C (82-87°F)
Best forLarge biodiversity, super affordable, intact reefs
Diving facts for beginners Roatán & Utila

The British Virgin Islands

Tortola in the British Virgin Islands
Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

The British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean are a very popular destination for beginner scuba divers, especially from the US.

Many dive sites are no deeper than 25m / 80ft which makes them perfect for newly certified Open Water Divers.

Pretty coral reefs, plenty of fish, and warm water temperatures add to the overall pleasant experience for new scuba divers.

And even if you aren’t a diver, there is plenty to do which makes this a favorite travel destination for families where some members might not (yet) be divers.

Even if you are new to diving, and just received your scuba certification, the British Virgin Islands feature some beginner-friendly wreck diving spots.

The RMS Rhone is the most popular one and you will have no problems finding a dive center or dive guide to take you there.

Not only are these wrecks a lot of fun to dive at, but they will also make you feel more comfortable in the water and prepare you for future wreck dives.

Divers exploring underwater plane wreck
Wreck diving and warm water temperatures. What’s not to like?

Try out the West of St. Croix and the RMS Rhone for some starting dive spots!

You can visit the islands year-round and the water stays between 25-28˚C (78-83˚F).

Check out this British Virgin Islands Dive Guide to get some inspiration.

There are also great liveaboard deals that you should browse before your upcoming cruise!

Diving facts for beginners British Virgin Islands

Diving SeasonYear-round
Best time to diveAnytime
What to seeWrecks, reef life
Water Temperature25-28˚C (78-83˚F)
Best forBeginner wreck diving, lots of things to do
Diving facts for beginners British Virgin Islands

Krk, Croatia

City of Dubrovnik in Croatia
Dubrovnik in Crotia is not far from Krk island.

The first European destination on this list, the island of Krk in Croatia is one of the best beginner dive locations and offers super easy shore diving, as well as exciting wrecks for first-time wreck divers.

The Croatian Adriatic Sea is also among the best diving destinations in Europe so go check it out when you get the chance!

What makes this destination stand out from others is the diversity of dive sites and the ease of diving here.

Pick a dive center that offers shore and boat excursions and they will help you make the best of your trip.

The first day is usually spent warming up at a shallow, easy house reef before embarking on boat dives with a dive guide or as a buddy team.

Scuba divers enter wreck
You’ll find dozens of wrecks in Croatia.

Croatia is world-famous for its wreck diving and a great destination for your wreck diving course.

In addition, beautiful underwater walls, drop-offs, and caverns offer something for less experienced divers within the depth limits of their certifications.

Oh, and the food is equally as good as the scuba diving.

The best time to visit is between May and October when the water temperatures are nice and you’ll find the most fish underwater.

Diving facts for beginners Krk, Croatia

Diving SeasonApril – December
Best time to diveMay – November
What to seeWrecks, underwater walls, drop-offs, caverns
Water Temperature15-24˚C (65-75˚F)
Best forWreck diving, easy shore diving
Diving facts for beginners Krk, Croatia

Central Atolls, Maldives

Whale shark at surface
Whale sharks are a common sight in the Maldives.

The Maldives are not only great for beginner divers but overall one of the best diving destinations in the world.

Arguably every diver wants to scuba dive in the Maldives at least once in their life and there are hundreds of dive spots around.

Sharks, dolphins, Manta rays, whale sharks, you name it, you will find it here.

Besides the amazing marine life, you will love the white sand beaches and just relaxing under the palm trees.

Diving in the Maldives is perfect for beginners as most islands feature easy shore diving at their house reefs, and liveaboard diving here is also very beginner-friendly.

It is true that you will encounter some rather fast currents at many dive sites here, however, they will be marked accordingly so you know if it is suitable for your level of experience. Or take a drift diving specialty course…

Split into different atolls (North, Center, South, Deep South, Far North )diving in the Maldives is very diverse and you should do some research before going to make sure you get the kind of diving you want!

Both the Ari and Male Atolls in the center are great for diving with larger pelagics such as whale sharks, manta rays, and hammerhead sharks. They are very easy to get to from the capital Male.

The atolls in the South get far fewer visitors and are quieter. However, you’ll encounter stronger currents which might make them unsuitable for inexperienced divers.

The Deep South is often considered one of the best diving destinations in the world and you’ll find countless sharks and other larger marine animals. The best way to travel here is by doing a liveaboard cruise.

The Northern atolls are known for beautiful underwater topography and are less frequented than the rest. The reefs here are even more intact than in other parts of the country.

Maldives Beach Resort
Picturesque sandy beaches and crystal clear waters can be found in the Maldives.

Water temperatures range between 26-30°C (80-86°F) year-round, but the best time to see manta rays and whale sharks is usually August – November.

The Maldives are great for any beginner and while you won’t be able to see all of it on your first dive trip that’s also an advantage. This way, you will get to experience them in a completely different way the next time.

Check out this Maldives Travel Guide to get some inspiration.

Diving facts for beginners Maldives.

Diving SeasonYear-round
Best time to diveAugust – November
What to seeSharks, whale sharks, manta rays, tropical fish
Water Temperature26-30°C (80-86°F)
Best forPelagics and tropical fish
Diving facts for beginners Maldives.

How to choose a diving destination for beginners?

Beginner scuba divers should choose diving destinations that are within the limits of their certification and that feature easy in-water diving conditions. Shore diving and easy boat dives are the best ways to become more comfortable underwater and practice diving skills. Diving with a professional dive guide is recommended for newly-certified divers right after their Open Water Diver course.

Of course, whether you have 4 or 400 dives, you may pick whichever destination you want and dive there.

Even if you just got your Open Water Diver certification, you can totally join a liveaboard cruise to the Brothers Islands in the Red Sea (not recommended). Granted, they let you dive.

However, all the recommended destinations above have in common that you will have very beginner-friendly in-water conditions which will help you practice your skills after your course.

It is also a great confidence boost when you are able to dive 10-20 times in one week and quickly become a better diver.

Some things you should consider before choosing a diving destination for beginners are:

  • Do I have the minimum number of required dives for the location?
  • Are there other beginner divers diving with me?
  • Are the diving conditions similar to what I experienced during my Open Water Diver course?
  • Do I want to stay in a dive resort or rather a normal hotel?
  • Is it important to observe no-flight times before my departure?

What are the best conditions for beginner divers?

The best diving conditions for newly-certified scuba divers are similar to the ones they experienced during their scuba diving course. The best dive spots for beginners are no deeper than 20m/60ft, feature little to no currents, good visibility, and warm water temperatures. In addition, easy entry and exit to and from the water are recommended.

The best conditions for diving can be very subjective. However, it is recommended to take your Open Water Diver course as a reference.

If you got scuba certified in a murky quarry or freshwater lake, poor visibility might not be a big issue for you.

On the other hand, if you are used to seeing 30m / 100ft in clear, warm water, you might want to check up on the conditions beforehand.

Scuba divers in Silfra rift
Good visibility is a must for beginner divers.

Do you prefer warm or cold water? As a beginner, it is often best to dive in warm water conditions that don’t require thick suits or a coldwater diving setup.

Currents are often a hot topic and I generally advise against diving in strong currents as a new diver. There are plenty of alternatives without them.

Last but not least, be careful with booking a liveaboard right after getting certified.

Operators will often not allow beginner divers to join or take them to less popular spots instead of the highlights. It’s better to do one or two normal dive trips first and then enjoy a cruise when you have enough experience.

What to pack for your first dive trip as a beginner?

For your first dive trip as a beginner, you will only need an Open Water Diver certification, dive insurance, and an ABC set. A dive computer is another very useful item, but you can rent it like the rest of your scuba gear.

When you are just starting out with scuba diving, you don’t need much before you can go on your first dive trip.

You should get your own mask, snorkel, as well as scuba fins, and boots, though. These are all essential parts of your scuba gear and I wouldn’t recommend renting them.

Carry on with scuba gear

In addition, I highly recommend buying your own dive computer for beginners. Not only is it cheaper in the long run than renting one, but it also serves as a logbook for all your dives.

Last but not least, good dive insurance is required for any scuba diving activities. There are very affordable options out there which are much better than getting them from the dive resort at your destination.

Check out our scuba diving trip packing list article to make sure you don’t forget anything before traveling! You can also download it for free so you have it for your next dive trip.


These are our recommendations for the best diving destinations for beginners in 2024.

No matter where you go, your first dive trip will always be super special and exciting so enjoy it.

Make sure to download our scuba diving trip packing list before traveling, so you don’t forget anything important!

What was your first dive trip and where did you go? Share it with us in the comments!

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃



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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

©2024 Social Diving. All rights reserved. The content presented here is the exclusive property of Social Diving and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Social Diving.

Social Diving is your #1 online source for scuba diving, scuba travel, water sports, learning, and having fun in and under water. We have scuba online articles, review plenty of (scuba) gear, and regularly post travel guides around the world.


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