We take a look at the best coral reefs around the world, for sheer number of species as well as colour and quality of coral. If you love diving or snorkelling be inspired by our list below.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The largest coral reef on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Listed as a world heritage site in 1981, the marine park stretches 1800 miles along the Queensland coast and is the only living thing on earth visible from space. It has the world's largest collection of corals, coral sponges, molluscs, rays, dolphins, 1500 species of tropical fish, more than 200 types of bird, around 20 types of reptiles including sea turtles and giant clams over 120 years old. The reef is best visited in the dry months (June - October) when the weather is cool and the water much clearer.
To plan a holiday to the Great Barrier Reef visit the Australia section of our website.
The Palancar Reef, San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico
2. The Palancar Reef, San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico
Palancar is located off the southwest side of the island of Cozumel, part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park in Mexico. The site is more of a garden than a reef and very popular with scuba divers. The colours are mesmerising and exotic species include crabs, lobster, sting rays, barracuda, angel fish, nurse sharks, parrotfish, sea turtles and moray eels. It really is the Garden of Eden underwater, with March and August being the best months for diving.
To plan a holiday to the Palancar Reef visit the Mexico section of our website.
Moyo Island, Indonesia
3. Raja Ampats, Indonesia
Located in the West Papua province off the coast of New Guinea, the Raja Ampats reefs have a staggering amount of hard coral with 600 species of hard coral and 1200 varieties of fish. The reefs are in pristine condition and with little exploration you can still find corals in the same way they were formed. According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on earth. Part of the coral triangle, the Raja Ampat Islands are remote and relatively undisturbed by humans. Diving is ideal all year round.
To plan a holiday to Raja Ampats visit the Indonesia section of our website.
Beautiful corals, Fiji
4. Grand Central Station and Chimneys, Fiji
Also called the soft coral capital of the world, the Namina Marine Reserve has it all, from mangroves and grass sea beds, to vertical walls where sea fans, sponges and crinoids are dominant. It is home to more than 1000 invertebrates, 400 discovered corals and 445 marine plants that have been documented. The reserve is also a migratory place for cetaceans like bottlenose dolphins, minke whales, pilot whales, sperm whales and many endangered turtle species. The best time to dive in Fiji is during the dry season between May and October.
To plan a holiday to the Grand Central Station and Chimneys visit the Fiji section of our website.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
5. Belize Barrier Reef, Belize
The second largest barrier reef system in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef extends 185 miles off the coast of Belize. There are huge varieties of corals and marine life with over 300 different species of fish and 65 different species of coral, with new ones discovered every year. Larger marine species include turtles and manatees. The reef is most famous for the Great Blue Hole, at 124 metres deep it's a very popular dive site for nurse sharks, black tip sharks, groupers and hammerheads. The best time for diving is between April and June.
To plan a holiday to the Belize Barrier Reef visit the Belize section of our website.
Whale shark, Papua New Guinea
6. Magic Passage and Planet Rock, Papua New Guinea
Located in the coral triangle this area is a global epicentre of marine species diversity and is one of the top priorities for marine conservation. Sea turtles, whale sharks and mantas feed, breed and migrate in these rich and sheltered waters. The changing currents attract huge predators including barracuda and white tip reef sharks as well as sweetlips, trevallies, huge sea fans and colourful soft coral. Unfortunately the marine life is now at risk from unsustainable fishing, pollution and the effects of climate change. If you do plan to dive the best time is during the dry season from May to October.
To plan a tailor made holiday to the Magic Passage and Planet Rock visit the Papua New Guinea section of our website.
Dolphins, Andaman Sea
7. Andaman Sea reefs, India
The biodiversity of marine life in the Andaman Sea reefs is among the most varied in the world. Crocodiles, turtles and dugongs (sea cows) are just some examples of the wildlife in the region. Two sections of the sea reefs around the Andaman Islands are protected as marine national parks where scuba diving and snorkelling are popular. Cinque Island and Corbyn's Beach are Andaman hot spots with 200 coral species and more than 500 fish species recorded. The reefs and islands are also important feeding and breeding grounds for endangered turtles. The best months for diving are between October and May.
To plan a holiday to the Andaman Sea reefs visit the India section of our website.
Turtle in the Seychelles
8. Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles
The world's second largest coral atoll is in the Aldabra group of islands in the Indian ocean that form part of the Seychelles. Uninhabited and extremely isolated, Aldabra is virtually untouched by humans and has been designated a world heritage site. The distinctive island fauna includes the Aldabra giant tortoise, giant land crabs, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, barracuda and turtles. The best times to dive are March to April and September to October.
To plan a holiday to the Aldabra Atoll visit the Seychelles section of our website.
9. Diving the SS Yongala, Queensland, Australia
Located in the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the SS Yongala is said to be the best dive and wreck site in the world. Home to flying manta rays, eagle rays, jacks, wrasse, barracuda, turtles, bull sharks, octopuses and sea snakes. The boat sank during a cyclone in 1911, with the loss of everyone onboard, creating one of Australia's most intriguing maritime mysteries and she lay undiscovered for more than half a century. Diving is ideal all year round, with conditions varying slightly between summer and winter.
To plan a tailor made holiday to dive on the SS Yongala visit the Australia section on our website.
El Nido, Philippines
10. Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
Hundreds of species of coral and fish live among this World Heritage site in the Sulu Sea, including sea turtles, sharks and manta rays. Diving at Tubbataha is extremely popular because of the unique and fragile underwater ecosystem. However, conservation is a huge issue at Tubbataha because of the recent decline in the world's coral species. Diving here is only possible between March and June because conditions are too rough during the rest of the year.
If you're planning a tailor made holiday to the Tubbataha Reef visit the Philippines section on our website.