Great, we already have our Open Water Diver certification. Finally! We have completed about 10 to 20 dives in our local diving area and we are looking forward to our first international diving trip. We don't have much experience, we've been always dived with our trusted guide, we have not dived with currents and we are crazy about knowing the best diving destinations, to dive with sharks, manta rays or in coral reefs. Where do we start? What would be the ideal destination for my first dive trip?
Following you'll will see the destinations that are suitable for Open Water Divers and beginners by having easy diving conditions, without great depths or extreme currents.
Red Sea Northern Routes
The northern routes of the Red Sea are ideal to begin international diving trips. The diving sites on these routes are excellent, with an ideal mix of shipwrecks, coral reefs and tropical feish. Being able to dive into a historic wrecks like the Thistlegorm or diving in the Ras Mohammed reef with its coral walls full of typical Red Sea fauna such as clownfish, lionfish or humphead wrasse is a delight when we have so little diving experience. They are also pretty easy routes, with little current, short navigations and warm water at 25ºC... what else can you ask for?
You can find liveaboard deals on the northern routes of the Red Sea from for less than USD 700 per person with full board, and go back home with 20 more dives being much more solid diver.
In Jardines de La Reina, probably the most famous diving destination in Cuba, you'll have the opportunity to dive in a shallow reef, sheltered by strong currents and with a very special feature: diving with sharks. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why many ocean lovers decide to take the step and obtain the Open Water Diver certification, and in Cuba you can fulfil that dream of seeing yourself surrounded by coral reefs in extraordinary health and silky sharks, grey sharks o lemon sharks in addition to huge groupers, eagle rays or turtles. If we add 40 to 50 meters of visibility to that, we will have a perfect mix to highlight Cuba as a dreamed diving destination for beginners and also for advanced ones, of course.
There is not a great infrastructure of liveaboards in Cuba, although it is growing, and in Jardines de la Reina there is only one diving center. But there are several boats that go into Jardines and you can find deals from USD 1,800 per person up to USD 3,500 with around 22 dives in a 7-night trip. Our recommendation regarding liveaboards in Cuba would de both the Avalon II and the Jardines Aggressor I.
Maldives is one of those diving destinations that is always on all divers bucket list, before and after obtaining the Open Water Diver certification. Manta rays, whale sharks and paradise coral sand beaches are three images that come to mind to all divers when we think of Maldives. If we add diving with grey sharks or black tip sharks, night dives with nurse sharks, turtles or endless coral reefs, the decision to make your first international diving trip to the Maldives becomes quite easy.
Maldives has many different diving routes. Most are easy, especially the central routes, which takes place on thilas or submarine mountains with weak current (although there are some drift dives and may have stronger current). The most recommended option for diving in the Maldives is by liveaboard. It is true that there are some very prominent resorts, with good diving, but if we want to get the most of diving in the Maldives, liveaboards are the best option. If we are talking about a honeymoon, a couple trip or do not want to do many dives, resorts as exclusive as the Kuredu resort is an excellent option.
Bahamas is a very popular diving destination among divers of America for its easy access and the quality of its waters, full of nutrients thanks to the mixture of cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean with the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and the depths that it has in some areas. Its more than 700 islands and 2,400 coral cays have a lot to offer, from glittering beaches to shallow reefs, wrecks, drift diving and even Blue Holes. For what concerns us in this article, diving for beginners, Bahamas is a more than adequate destination, especially if you like sharks.
As you can understand after watching the video, diving with sharks is the main reason why hundreds of divers visit Bahamas every year and where you'll find areas where interaction with sharks is assured and diving conditions are great, with little depth and without strong currents. In places as famous as Tiger Beach you will have dives with tiger sharks, bull sharks, hammerheads, lemon sharks, silky sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks among others. The best way to dive in the Bahamas is undoubtedly through liveaboards where a minimum of dives is not required and just having the Open Water Certification (and wanting to face sharks) will be enough.
In Thailand we can have excellent diving experiences, both through liveaboard and from land, although it is true that the best dive sites are in the Andaman Sea, quite remote and only accessible via liveaboard. Joining these boats we can find routes that go into the north of Andaman Sea, visiting top world dive sites such as the Similan Islands where you can see sharks as interesting as the leopard sharks, black and white tip sharks, huge moray eels, turtles, titan triggerfish and sometimes (if you are lucky) manta rays and whale sharks.
Many of these routes also include dives in the famous Richelieu Rock that although it is more recommended for advanced divers, it is worth it. This giant pinnacle attracts the biggest ocean creatures like whale sharks but also some of the smallest ones like pipe fish or sea horses. The mix of macro and pelagic diving is extraordinary and even if the whale shark does not show up I assure you that it will have been worth it. It is a reef full of life, with huge balls of fish and predators trying to feed on it.
Diving from shore in Koh Tao could be a good option both for the wildlife that you can find (from sharks to turtles and many tropical fish) and for the ease of its diving, being a very common place to get the Open Water Diver certification by divers from around the world. On this small island you can find a lot of dive spots for beginners, some only 12 meters deep and with much to see as Twins or Aow Leuk, where barracudas, turtles or jacks gather in beautiful reefs full of corals and sponges.
Although it is true that Komodo has some dives where the current is strong, it has many easy dive spots, without great depths, suitable for Open Water Divers who will end the cruise with an extraordinary training. The options of liveaboards in Komodo are many, with different routes between them.
Why is Komodo a great diving destination for Open Water divers? In addition to what you will learn, because you will definitely fall in love with diving. Komodo is a summary of one of the most complete diving destinations in the world: Indonesia. In Komodo you will find huge pelagic creatures like the manta rays of "Manta Alley", that in groups of up to 15 come to this spot. You will also dive with grey sharks, white tips and black tip sharks in extraordinary and endless coral gardens, lots of jacks waiting to venture in the fish balls, sea snakes, huge gorgonians and an impressive collection of macro diving: toad fish, orangutan crabs, flamboyant cuttlefish... It is impossible not to leave with an open mouth after each one of the more than 20 dives that are carried out in just one week.
As we always commented, the best option for accommodation while diving in practically everywhere in the world is in liveaboards, but in Komodo there are also good diving options from the coast, with also very interesting dives. On PADI website you can find a selection of hotels and dive resorts to go diving in the Komodo National Park.
The Philippines is a diving destinations with the best options for divers, mainly from the resort and, except for the Tubbataha National Park and Malapascua, the rest of the country is suitable for beginners. The Philippines is located in the middle of the Coral Triangle and is home to one of the richest biodiversity's in the entire planet, with 20,000 different marine species! Areas such as Apo island, Coron (ideal for those who want to dive in wrecks of World War II), Negros, Puerto Galera or Anilao (an extraordinary paradise for lovers of macro diving) are ideal for both learning to dive and destination to start a career as a tireless diver.
In Mexico, both in the Yucatan Peninsula and on the island of Cozumel, we can find more than 100 reasons to learn to dive or to make a first international diving trip. In Yucatan we have two opposite worlds but very rich ones. On the one hand Playa del Carmen, with the second largest reef barrier in the world and full of turtles, gorgonians, corals, sharks (sometimes whale sharks and bull sharks), parrotfish or barracudas. On the other hand, you can dive in the Cenotes, a series of underwater caves where the backlighting is more important than the fauna, its extraordinary visibility, the haloclines and the sensation of being in an unique world. Although not all cenotes are suitable for Open Water Divers, there are many that require just little experience.
Cozumel is also a spectacular diving destination, both for Open and Advanced Divers. This small island of less than 50 km long, where you can dive in perfect conditions about 300 days a year, has some really interesting dives. From diving with bull sharks to reefs decorated with beautiful gorgonians, sea whips, butterfly fish, parrot fish or damsels to drift diving with something more current where pelagic fish like barracudas, eagle rays, turtles or nurse sharks show up.