What’s your New Year SCUBA resolution? Night dive amongst vivid phosphorescent plankton, finally get face to face with the gracious Whale Shark? Whatever it may be, I know divers carpe diem – so don’t wait to seize that day.
If you’re wondering where you can go that’s in season for a perfect sub-surface holiday after 2016 rings in – look up some of my top choices below on the Dive Report Animal Calendar and get your fins on:
Micronesia is seen in the dive community as a world class destination - made up of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean and in season year-round.
Known for superb visibility in all of its islands, Micronesia offers something for everybody – whether you’re just starting out or a fully-fledged SCUBA monkey.
In season until mid-May - you can find whale sharks and mantas in the waters surrounding the Similans, most often dived from the mainland section of Thailand known as Khao Lak. The Similan National Park – although well known as a top South-East Asia diving destination, is not only off season but also closed completely between the months of June and September, give or take a few weeks.
The British Virgin Islands
60 islands and islets that are mostly within a few miles of each other and spread out amongst shallow waters - the locals have a saying ‘’you need a shovel to dive below 30 meters’’ and it’s not far from the truth.
Shipwrecks of British Navy vessels are common sights in the islands. The most visited being the RMS Rhone, which has now become a national marine park – offering clear waters and comfortable depths for beginner divers. Since diving in the islands is predominantly wreck and reef based, it is the haven for beginner divers since it is relatively one of the safest diving environment in the world.
An archipelago made up of more than 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean and, relatively new to the SCUBA diving community meaning that the coral has not had a chance to be damaged by human hands and fins. If you’re looking for a laid back holiday for your New Year’s Diving expedition, the Maldives, although teeming with marine life, has that take-it-easy air to it.
The Cayman Islands are made up of three main islands – Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. You can visit the top of an underwater mountain known as the Cayman Trench which edges on 6,400 metres deep. The sides of the mountain offer anything from a slow gradient to vertical drop-offs just a few hundred meters off shore.
The north wall of Grand Cayman Island is more than 1,800 meters high (or low) and is a draw for divers looking to make the acquaintance of spotted eagle rays and sea turtles which have been drawn in by the multitude of plankton.
St Vincent & The Grenadines
St Vincent and the Grenadines is an archipelago of 32 islands. These include Mustique, Bequia and Petit St Vincent – showing off endless stretches of white sand edging crystal waters. Shore diving is a great option in this area as a series of coral heads that contain numerous lobsters and other critters are minutes from the coastline.
Costa Rica is relatively new on the scuba divers compass which means that although relatively unsoiled, most dive sites are concentrated in only two areas - Flamingo-Coco and the Osa Peninsula.
Many dives in the area are better for more advanced divers because of strong surges and rough surface conditions – especial as these are non-anchored guides. If you’re a fan of drift and deep dives and love adrenaline pumping underwater adventure – this is for you.
The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 that is very rich in marine biodiversity with a span of Coral Reef that covers almost 40,000 square kilometres. I recommend the heart stopping sites lining the Tubbataha Reefs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering plentiful marine biodiversity such as turtles, sharks, manta rays and if you’re lucky, whale sharks.
Isolated in the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Islands are some of the most remote and least visited areas of the world, which give them excellent prospects for SCUBA junkies.
The 300 Andaman Islands are the summits of a submerged mountain range, letting you experience vast walls, shallow gradients and plummeting depths in a single dive.
Mexico presents SCUBA divers with two different coastlines and two totally different types of diving. This season I recommend a trip along the Riviera Maya and Costa Maya sites where the Yucutan Peninsula meets the Caribbean Sea, drawing in diverse marine life from both stretches of coastline, with the possibility of Whale Sharks.
This was my top ten for the New Year SCUBA getaway – what are you waiting for?
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