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The top 5 must see coral reef
A coral reef is a diver's delight

– Stephan Kerkhofs

Divers get to experience beauty unlike anything we will ever see on land.

Coral reefs only add to the incredible natural beauty that exists beneath the water, and they are often the most sought out diving spots.

With so many coral reefs the world over, it’s often difficult to even know where to begin.

While we definitely don’t want to count any coral reef out, these top 5 are definitely the ones you do not want to miss.

The Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef on the planet. It includes both inner and outer reefs along with stunning coral and exotic fish; the likes of which you will not see anywhere else.

Here’s more about Scuba Diving In Australia

Make sure to plan your trip during the dry months to ensure that the weather is nice and the water is nice and clear.  You’ll see a more diverse collection of coral than you’ve ever seen along with amazing marine life.

Coral reef in Australia

The Great Barrier Reef clam gardens in Australia – Credit: Pete Niesen

The Palancar Reef

Located in San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico, the Palancar Reef is often described as a garden of sorts.  The incredible vibrant colors of the coral look like nothing short of a flower garden, and you begin to wonder where such lush colors came from.

Palancar Reef is so beautiful, in fact, that many divers refer to it as the “underwater Garden of Eden.”

Here’s more about Diving In Cozumel

If you’re looking for something that outdoes all others and will completely take your breath away (just be careful, you don’t want to run out of air), the coral, lobsters, barracudas, and stingrays of Palancar Reef are calling to you.

Coral reef in Mexico

Colorful coral reef in Mexico – Credit: Leonardo Gonzalez

Raja Ampat

Many will tell you that a coral reef is only as good as its numbers. If this is true, then Raja Ampat should definitely be topping the charts. This reef in Indonesia has a staggering 600 different species of hard coral for your viewing pleasure, along with over 1200 different varieties of fish!

Here’s why Diving In Indonesia is CNN’s favorite.

Raja Ampat is really unique in that its reefs are in immaculate condition. Somehow this has remained a relatively unexplored spot, despite its beauty. This is good news for you; you’ll not only get to see untouched coral reefs, but you won’t have crowds or wait times to deal with either.

Coral reef in Raja Ampat Indonesia

A school of Golden Sweepers among the corals of Raja Ampat – Credit: Ethan Daniels

Grand Central Station and Chimneys

Located in Fiji, this particular coral reef is actually known as the “soft coral capital of the world;” that’s a pretty serious title to be carrying.

Carefully and beautifully preserved by the Namina Marine Reserve, Grand Central Station and Chimneys boasts over 1,000 different types of invertebrates, 400 corals, and over 400 marine plants; and these only include the ones that have been documented.

Here’s more about Diving In Fiji: The Soft Coral Capital

Diving here will be like dessert for your eyes with everything from mangroves to sea grass beds.  There are also incredible walls covered in sea fans, sea sponges, and crinoids.

As if that’s not incredible enough, you’ll also see plenty of bottlenose and spinner dolphins as well as various turtle species and whales.

Coral reef in Fiji

A pinkish soft coral in Fiji – Credit: littlesam

Belize Barrier Reef

Ranked number two in terms of size, the Belize Barrier Reef offers an incredible assortment of corals, plants, sea creatures, and fish.

Amazingly, this coral reef actually has over 300 documented species of fish and 65 different types of coral.

Coral reef in Belize

Gorgonians cover a shallow reef in Belize – Credit: Ethan Daniels

If you’ve had the opportunity to dive in other coral reefs, you’ll find that the coral here is even more exquisite. The shape and size of the coral combined with the presence of turtles and manatees makes the Belize Barrier Reef a totally unique experience.

Witch coral reef is the most beautiful you’ve ever seen? Tell us where you’ve been!