The 10 Best Coral Reefs Around The World

Our 10 best coral reefs around the world list will give you snorkeling holiday ideas when in doubt about where to travel next time for vibrant underwater life. Are you ready for this journey? Sit back while we guide you to the top diving and snorkeling spots on the planet!

Round-the-world Trip To The Best Coral Reefs


Tuvalu is a small coral island in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Australia, the second smallest independent state of the world. Its capital, Funafuti, is a very small coral reef, being only 400 m wide at the widest and 20 m at the smallest point. Funafuti is a remote destination and could be a little bit boring for tourists that seek cultural adventures, but a paradise for nature lovers!

Funafuti Pacific Ocean

With first-class underwater life, Funafuti has taken a well-deserved place on the best coral reefs top list. Snorkel in the 11-mile long (17 km) turquoise lagoon, explore shipwrecks and enjoy the laid-back island lifestyle in this dreamy location!

Related post: Winter sun destinations for snorkeling

Bikini Atoll

This remote paradise became famous for nuclear bomb tests carried out in the area between 1946 and 1958. The US dropped altogether 23 bombs on it and the island was officially declared a nuclear wasteland. But in spite of the impact that these bombs left on nature, Bikini Atoll is still one of the best coral reefs in the world.

Bikinin Atoll best coral reefs
Bikini Atoll

The abundance of underwater life with big shoals of fish and enormous coral formations surprised marine biologists too. A fun fact is that the swimsuit “Bikini” got the name of this island in 1946. The first modern bikini was presented in France by Louis Reard who named it “Bikini” because he said this swimsuit will cause a big explosion on the market as the nuclear bombs caused on the Bikini Atoll. And he was so right!

Tubbataha Reef

The Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines is a natural park in the Sulu Sea. The park consists of the North and the South Reefs and is separated by a deep 8 km wide channel. Tubbataha Reef is a World Heritage site thanks to the very high density of species and became one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. These pristine reefs are part of the Coral Triangle.

Fish on Tubbataha Reef
Tubbataha Reef

A big population of manta rays, sea turtles, lionfish, sharks, barracudas, morays, parrotfish, and Napoleon wrasses live here. The species in the region feature 75 % of the world’s coral species and 40% of the world’s fish species giving Tubbataha Reef a leading position on the best coral reefs top list.

Manta Ray
Manta Ray


The Maldives (officially the Republic of Maldives) consists of a double chain of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean and features the best coral reefs in the world. Altogether the Maldives consists of 1192 coral islands with a total area of more than 90.000 square kilometers! It is the lowest country in the world, the average ground level is only 1,5 m. Therefore the islands are strongly affected by sea level rise. The government tries to take serious actions, for example, announced becoming a carbon-neutral country by 2019.

Beautiful Maldives
Maldives aerial view

Turtle, reef shark, and rays sightings are guaranteed all over the Maldives. On top of this, you might spot manta rays and whale sharks too! The Maldivian waters are home to more than 1100 tropical fish species, dolphins, 145 crab species, 48 shrimp species, and 5 species of sea turtles. Circa 200 types of hard and soft corals can be found around the atolls. An interesting fact is, that 5 sponge species here displayed anti-tumor properties.

Whale Shark
Whale Shark in the Maldives

In spite of the dramatic coral bleaching in The Maldives that affected the corals several times over the past years, corals show signs of a speedy recovery. Maldives snorkeling resorts still welcome a big number of visitors that return year after year to enjoy the underwater beauty. To see what the corals look like after these bleaching events check out our Biyadhoo Resort review with recently taken Maldives underwater photos!

Great Blue Hole – Belize

The Great Hole in Belize is a 124 m deep circular submarine sinkhole. It was discovered by Jacques Cousteau. He said the Belize Great Blue Hole is one of the best coral reefs of the world and one of the 10 best dive sites on the planet. In 2012 the Discovery Channel ranked the Great Blue Hole as Nr 1 on the list of “The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth”.

best coral reefs Belize
Blue Hole Belize

Attractive marine life settled down on the hole’s ring creating rich coral reefs and providing a feeding ground for a wide variety of fish. But not only in Belize do you have a chance to discover this unique circular underwater formation, make sure to visit also the Blue Hole in Egypt!


Tikehau is part of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. The atoll is located 340 km northeast of Tahiti in the Tuamotu Islands. Tikehau Atoll’s oval-shaped lagoon is 27 km long and 19 km wide. The whole lagoon area is as big as Western Europe and surrounded by pristine coral reefs.

Tikehau - French Polynesia

Jacques Cousteau said that Tikehau has the highest fish concentration in French Polynesia. Eagle rays, barracudas, tunas, different shark species, turtles, and dolphins entertain divers and snorkelers who take the long yet rewarding journey to French Polynesia.

Aitutaki Island

Aitutaki is a triangular island that belongs to the Cook Islands in the Central-Southern Pacific Ocean. This small island is a hard-to-reach location meaning it is not too touristy yet and gives a guarantee for vibrant marine life.

Aitutaki-Island Cook-Islands coral reef

It is a real paradise on earth for ocean-minded travelers and a top destination for honeymooners! The shallow lagoon provides a feeding ground for turtles and rays. The barrier reef system that runs around the island is home to several coral and fish species.

Caroline Island

The Caroline Island is an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, in Micronesia (also known as Millennium or Beccisa Island). It is a crescent-shaped atoll, consisting of 39 islets surrounding a narrow lagoon. The Kiribati government established a wildlife sanctuary in a 12-nautical mile zone. They banned fishing in order to preserve the beauty that makes Caroline Island one of the richest and best coral reefs in the world.

Millennium coral reef
Caroline Island – Source: Wikimedia

The area is home to one of the world’s largest coconut crab populations. Moreover, it is an important breeding site for seabirds. Like the Maldives, Caroline Island is also facing problems due to rising sea levels. According to studies, it can be totally underwater by 2025.

Aldabra – Seychelles

Aldabra is the world’s second-largest coral atoll after Kirimati atoll in the Indian Ocean being part of Seychelles. It is an Unesco Marine World Heritage Site and part of the Indian Ocean South East Asia turtle network. Thanks to its isolated location, the island is uninhabited and untouched by humans.

Aldabra island Seychelles
Aldabra – Seychelles – Source: Wikimedia

There is no question why Aldabra is on the best coral reefs list! The world’s largest Giant Tortoises population lives in this beautiful place with over 152.000 giant tortoises! Sir David Attenborough called Aldabra one of the wonders of the world. Moreover, often is it described as the crown jewel of the Indian Ocean.


Rangiroa, the endless lagoon! This elliptic shape atoll in French Polynesia is about 355 km northwest of Tahiti. It consists of 415 islets and sandbars. Rangiroa form of a complete system of the best coral reefs that seems to be like a pearl necklace on the water. Rangiora is famous for the pearl oysters that produce black pearls. These cultured pearls have a wide range of natural colours from white to dark grey. Pearl farming is the main activity for many families in French Polynesia. The biggest pearl farm, the Gauguin’s Pearl farm on Rangiora provides a livelihood for many inhabitants. In the farm’s school, the people can learn the pearling techniques and they have a research center too.

Rangiroa aerial view

Rangiora is a popular destination for underwater lovers because of its diverse marine fauna. The most popular spots are the Blue Lagoon with its shallow water and the Tiputa Pass. The Blue Lagoon is nice for snorkeling while The Tiputa Pass is a diving site famous for observing sharks gather in the deep.

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Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!