Travel and Leisure — September 9, 2014 at 5:00 am

World’s Most Unbelievable Coral Reef Destinations

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Soft_Light / iStock / thinkstock.com

Soft_Light / iStock / thinkstock.com

Coral reefs are majestic and beautiful no matter the destination. However, there are certain splendid reefs located around the globe that capture the goggles, fins and oxygen tank of the noblest divers. To experience the best of the undersea world, be sure to put these unbelievable coral reef destinations on your scuba diving bucket list.

Mayan Riviera, Caribbean
This ancient coral reef is the second largest reef in the world, behind the well-known Great Barrier Reef. The reef stretches 197 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent to the Belize and Honduras coastlines. With over 100 species of hard coral and 600 species of fish, the warm waters invite divers to explore an exquisite and diverse marine culture.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Although some divers claim the reef is not the most spectacular coral site on earth (due to human footprint damaging the reef) it is still a must-visit reef. The reef is the largest coral reef in the world and is even visible from space. Keep a lookout for dolphins, sea turtles and the occasional shark.

Red Sea Coral Reef, Red Sea
This reef stretches over 1,200 miles and homes over 1,100 species of fish. This underwater wonder rests adjacent to the Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Egypt and Eritrea coastlines. The reef is resilient and maintains its vibrant colors amidst the surrounding dry and hot landscapes.

Belize Barrier Reef, Belize
Down under the ocean shoreline, divers “taste the rainbow” through the regulator. Hypnotic colors sparkle in the sunshine and homes 65 species of coral reef and 300 species of fish and invertebrates. Divers and snorkelers may swim amidst whale sharks, dolphins, manatees and seabirds diving for food.

Andaman Sea Reefs, India
This reef’s biodiversity runs “wild” on the east banks of the Indian Ocean, including crocodiles, dugongs and sea turtles. The reef contains more than 200 coral species and 500 fish species. The reef is beautiful, but only for the bold and daring diver who is not afraid of crocs.

Raja Ampats, Indonesia
This diving hotspot is known as one of the most beautiful reefs in the world. Reef biologists have discovered approximately 600 hard coral species and over 1,200 fish species. The marine life mixed with the colorful reefs concoct an aquatic cocktail that only the human eye can demonstrate its powerful beauty. Rare species such as the pygmy seahorse and walking sharks are visible here.

Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles
This Seychelles’ reef sits on a pedestal as one of the meccas of coral reef diving. The reef contains the largest number of coral atolls and over 150,000 tortoises. Divers encounter manta rays and birds feasting on prey. Although tough to reach the reef, the select few divers who explore this area know there is plenty of ocean floor waiting to be discovered.

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