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STUNNING DIVING DESTINATIONS

BAROS, MALDIVES

Underwater: Baros has its own house reef, close enough to the shore that snorkellers can swim to it. In addition, there are 30 dive sites within an hour of Baros, all with spectacular reefs and vibrant marine creatures. And the 'Diving by Design' programme ensures that each diving experience is tailored to the individual's needs.
Above water: Elegant villas sit on stilts in the water or along the island's white-sand beach. Both food and atmosphere are important here, with sunset trips on a traditional dhoni to a sandbank where guests can dine privately under the night sky.
Best time to go: Underwater visibility is not as clear in the summer months when masses of plankton float here, but this in turn attracts whale sharks and manta rays.
Baros: North Malé Atoll, Maldives (00 960 664 26 72; 

 

VAMIZI ISLAND, MOZAMBIQUE

 Underwater: The reefscape here includes mountains, valleys, plateau and cliffs. And hidden underwater, not far from the shoreline, lies Neptune's Arm - an island just 8 metres below the surface. Its canyons attract reef shark, snappers, potato bass and a myriad of tropical fish.

Above water: This exclusive retreat off the coast of Africa has just 13 colonial-style villas. Judging by the private sun decks, relaxing under the African sun must come high on the list of priorities. Other activities include treks into Mozambique's jungle, home to samango monkeys and over 112 species of tropical birds.
Best time to go: June - August. Rainfall is low and temperature is pleasant.

Lizard Island, Australia


Underwater: Some of Australia's most fascinating marine life lives just off of Lizard Island. Home to the world-famous Cod Hole dive site, divers are likely to meet the curious Potato Cod, swim beside green sea turtles and among giant clownfish. There are several types of coral cays and continental islands to explore.

Above water: Forty simple but very stylish suites make up this glamorous resort, but it's the 24 beautiful beaches that guests spend most of their time on. A spa, library, tennis court and gym are also available for use. Osprey's daily changing menu places emphasis on Modern Australian, and the bar serves a choice of Australian wines and beer.

Best time to go:
December to March is the hottest and wettest time of year.

Cocoa Island, Maldives

Underwater: With two private house reefs, and the famous Guriadhoo Channel right on its doorstep, Cocoa Island is one of the world's best diving resorts. Wild sea grapes, hibiscus and palms grow wildly along the fringes of the island, and the lagoon is rich with sealife such as ray and baby sharks.

Above water: The rooms at this COMO Shambhala retreat are inspired by local dhoni boats, reached via planked walkways stretching out into the lagoon. And unlike many resorts north of Malé, Cocoa Island sees only a small amount of local sea traffic pass by. Cocoa Island has links with Project AWARE which brings resort staff and guests together to help clean the beaches and reefs that make the island such a beautiful place to visit.

Best time to go: May-October. Mantas congregate around 'Sand Dune', a small rock covered in Wrasse and Damselfish.

Turtle Inn, Belize

Underwater: The Caribbean's largest barrier reef lies just offshore from Turtle Inn, and a number of tiny islands have their own reefs and underwater ecosystems. Although Turtle Inn will take guests to the Blue Hole, most trips are closer, to the inner atolls or to the Belize Barrier Reef. Diving with the whale sharks here is arguably the best experience, but you'll also find shoals of jack fish, turtle, dolphin and manta ray.
Above water: Turtle Inn is owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola who has done a fantastic job with this luxurious resort. Thatched-roofed cottages are individually designed with Mayan and Balinese influences; each sits directly on the beach. Unfortunately, the beaches aren't as white as the brochure would have you believe. However, the swimming pool here is excellent.
Best time to go: The waters surrounding Turtle Inn teem with life year-round, but between April and June you can expect to see whale shark.

SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, OMAN

Underwater: The Musandam Peninsula is deemed a better diving destination than the Red Seabecause although the marine life isn't as rich in variety, you are unlikely to encounter other divers. There's no barrier reef so most diving takes place by and under the sheer cliffs that drop dramatically into the water. Expect to see colourful hard and soft corals, and eagle rays, whale sharks and sea turtles among the abundance of tropical fish.

Above water: Completely secluded by the Hajar Mountains, Six Senses Zighy Bay is the epitome of luxury: for starters, guests can paraglide into the resort. Eighty two villas sit on the 1.6km sandy beach; each with private pool and butler service.
Best time to go: You can dive in Oman year-round, but the summer months can be uncomfortable with temperatures climing to 50°C.

Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Underwater:
Sharm El Sheikh is a popular destination for beginners because of its clear waters - visibility averages around 30 metres. The best dive sites are a short boat ride away, but turtles have been spotted on the house reef, and there's plenty of fish to see. Hammerhead sharks are frequently spotted in the blue behind Jackson Reef, off Tiran, where the current is strong. And, further afield, Ras Mohammed national park provides the opportunity to spot sea turtles, eagle rays and dolphins.

Above water:
Four Seasons offers the best service in Sharm: pool staff are on hand to spritz guests with water and clean sunglasses. And while decor is dated, it is hard to fault the facilities. There are three swimming pools, a spa, gym and tennis courts.

Best time to go: The Red Sea is warm enough to dive comfortably year-round, but visibility is best during the summer.

 

Belize's Great Blue Hole: Inside Lighthouse Reef
Underwater Overtime
 

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