9 of the best scuba diving locations for beginners

New to the scene? These nine destinations in Asia Pacific are perfect for you

Fancy a dive with a school of jacks in Bali?

So you took the plunge and got certified? Go you! It’s natural to find yourself completely and totally addicted to the sport post-Open Water, but know that dive destinations are very different from one another. Some are best for experienced divers only, while others are known for their slow currents and easy diving. Here’s a rundown of the latter for all you newbies wondering where to go next.

Tioman, Malaysia

This little island in Malaysia is pretty much chock-full of Open Water divers on the weekends. Countless dive centres (especially those in Singapore) arrange trips here to certify their students, so if you’re living in Singapore or Malaysia, this is one of your safest choices.

Bintan, Indonesia

Some may find Tioman a little too crowded. If you’re one of those guys, consider Bintan in Indonesia instead. It’s a short ferry ride away from Singapore (approximately 60 minutes), and even though the visibility may not be that swell, you’d be surprised what you can find in Bintan’s waters – from a shipwreck to various marine creatures ranging from batfish to octopus and shrimp.

Biorock – the name of a dive site and an ongoing coral reef restoration project – in Pemuteran is another place worth exploring in Bali

Bali, Indonesia

As a new diver, you probably won’t know where to begin in Bali. You could go to Tulamben, where the famous USS Liberty Wreck is, or you could visit Menjangan for its easy wall dives. There’s also Amed, which is great for shore diving and critter hunting. So many options, so little time.

Gili, Indonesia

With the exception of a few sites (such as Shark Point), most of the spots around the three Gili Islands are easy peasy. Plus, if you’re planning to do more than just dive, it’s absolutely lovely topside with white-sand beaches and plenty of nightlife joints to check out.

Aow Leuk is one of Koh Tao’s shallow dive sites

Koh Tao, Thailand

You may have heard about the closure of certain dive sites in Thailand, but rest assured Koh Tao isn’t affected and is still open for business. The shallow, relatively calm dive sites surrounding the island are perfect for anyone who isn’t exactly confident in the water yet.

Cebu, Philippines

Cebu is excellent for beginners, particularly Mactan since it’s sheltered by nearby islands. Currents are almost non-existent, and you can look out for animals like stingrays and turtles with ease.

Nha Trang, Vietnam

In town for some pho and downtime at the beach? Why not give scuba diving a go? The underwater scene isn’t too shabby, with residents like cuttlefish and octopus hanging around. Be mindful of who you dive with though – there have been reports of some unethical and unsafe dive practices here. If you need recommendations, Rainbow Divers and Sailing Club Divers are good contenders.

Tallow Beach in Byron Bay

Byron Bay, Australia

Want to get used to colder waters? This is it. Heaps of Open Water students get their training done in Julian Rocks, but wander around the depths of the popular Byron Bay and you just might encounter a bunch of shark species, from wobbegongs to leopard sharks.

Lakshadweep, India

Situated off the coast of Kerala, these islands feature lagoons and coves that are very suitable for scuba rookies. Unlike several locations on this list, visibility is usually superb and chances of seeing large pelagics like manta rays and reef sharks are high.

Co-founder and editor of GoodVis, Sam has been obsessed with scuba diving since 2011. When she's not doing research on lesser-known dive destinations, ogling at new scuba gear, or taking pictures of fish underwater, she's either writing or stuffing her face with awesome food (or doing both simultaneously).