Things are really starting to slow down now here on the Island of Rhodes. We had our first real rain, not bad considering it’s the 2nd week of November! That’s not to say we are not diving, if you fancy a little winter dip, contact Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll let you know what options you have.
But if you’re not so lucky to be visiting or living on the Rhodes (did we say it’s known as the Island of the sun!) and blizzards, ice storms, and freezing temperatures are more your reality, there are places around the world where the water is warm.
In particular, the Deep South of the Maldives and the Red Sea in Egypt offer fantastic shark diving, while Myanmar and Chuuk Lagoon should be on your list of tropical getaways of choice.
But, if you don’t do warm and cosy and like the cold-water diving, December is the best month to jump into the waters off the coast of Norway.
Read on to learn more about the top 5 scuba diving destinations for the 12th month of the year.
If sharks are your thing? Then December is the best month for diving in the far southern atolls of the Maldives. Diving these remote islands, you’ll see pelagic species making their way through channels and around pinnacles. You can drift dive with Silkies, Hammerheads, Tiger sharks, Whale sharks and Mantas.
Plus, you will get to dive coral reefs in the far south that are often compared to those of 25 years ago due to a lack of tourism pressure.
The atolls of the Maldives act as cleaning stations for the bigger fish, with mantas frequently seen over the reef waiting for cleaner wrasse to come. Hammerheads and whale sharks are also found in the Maldives but these are more likely to be spotted just out from the atoll in deeper waters. There are smaller pelagics around as well. Tuna and eagle rays can be seen on many of the reefs looking for food.
December is the start of the north-eastern monsoon season, which offers the best visibility and plankton-rich currents draw in various marine life. Be warned, however, that currents can be the strongest during this monsoon season.
Due to the remote nature of the Maldivian Deep South, liveaboards are the best option for this area. Most boats travel to Vaavu, Meemu, Thaa and Laamu Atolls, while a few touch Huvadhu and Addu Atolls. You’ll love the fact that these are some of the least-dived scuba diving destinations in the Maldives and you will often have sites to yourself.
Possibly the best wreck diving destination in the entire world, Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon in the Federated States of Micronesia is at its peak in December. Chuuk Lagoon is relatively easy to dive, as the surrounding reef protects the lagoon from strong currents. Some wrecks lie in deeper waters making Chuuk Lagoon a perfect playground for technical divers when seeking out some of the deeper wrecks.
During World War II, more than 200 aircraft and 60 ships were sunk during an allied attack on the Japanese naval base. Today, this represents a Japanese memorial but is open to scuba divers with more than 50 dive sites to respectfully explore.
December is within the peak months of October to April. During this season, you can expect dry conditions and warm water temperatures. You’ll only need a 3mm wetsuit. However, you can dive all round and Marine life and wreck conditions change very little from month to month.
While you’ll find dive resorts scattered around check out PADI travel here for more info. Traveling by liveaboard is highly recommended for divers wishing to visit all the best wrecks in a single week
Remember that December is peak season, so book your trip to Chuuk Lagoon as early as possible. There are limited operators and plenty of divers with it on their wish lists!
3. Red Sea, Egypt
Although the water and weather have turned cooler in the Northern Hemisphere during the month of December, it’s a great month for shark action in the Egyptian Red Sea. Side note* Oceanic Whitetips and Hammerheads love the cooler temperatures, so keep an eye out into the blue
Along with the shark spotting, you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of what the Red Sea has to offer including wrecks and reefs, which don’t change much over the season.
Dive sites in Egypt are as variable as the marine life which is found here. You’ll see sheer walls, shallow reefs, deep wrecks, pinnacles, and open ocean drifts. There is diving for every level, but many Egyptian liveaboards require a minimum number of logged dives and the Enriched Air Nitrox Specialty Diver certification.
As an added bonus, winter is the best time for sightseeing above the water. So, if you’d like to combine your trip with an excursion to the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor, or Alexandria, this may be the best option for you.
Egypt does have a well-equipped scuba diving infrastructure (unlike Sudan), but diving by liveaboard is still recommended. By staying on the dive boat, you’ll have access to more remote scuba diving destinations – which means fewer divers underwater, and you’ll get to spend more time exploring them.
One of Asia’s newest liveaboard destinations, Myanmar offers a glimpse of unspoiled reefs and a chance to feel like an explorer. There’s already a variety of discovered sites, and more are being added each season. Most of the mapped sites are spread throughout the Mergui Archipelago, a chain of 800 islands off the southwest coast. To the west of these islands lie a series of open ocean dive sites that boast larger marine life. Because of the distance between the islands, the coast, and the remoteness of this destination, divers who wish to explore must do so by liveaboard. Intrepid explorers will not be disappointed by the sense of adventure combined with reefs that are bursting with colour and teeming with life.
By far the most popular scuba diving destinations in Myanmar are the Burma Banks and the Mergui Archipelago, a chain of 800 islands off the southwest coast. Here you’ll find schools of devil rays, nurse sharks and the occasional whale shark, as well as a bunch of small stuff and critters like frogfish, lobsters, crabs and colourful shrimp – a joy for macro underwater photographers!
The best time to dive in Myanmar is from November to April. Often, this is the only time to dive in Myanmar as liveaboards don’t travel the route in the offseason. In December, the water is very calm and visibility can reach 92 feet (30 meters). In addition, plankton blooms can pop up, increasing the chance of seeing manta rays, whale sharks and other megafauna.
Because Myanmar hasn’t yet developed a consistent and reliable tourism infrastructure, liveaboards are the only practical way to dive in this country. Most boats depart from nearby parts of Thailand and trips last approximately 7 to 10 days.
Although it’s part of the Northern Hemisphere, which is freezing over in December, Norway offers noteworthy winter experiences to divers. From October to February each year, pods of orcas patrol the Norwegian coastline and boats full of marine enthusiasts attempt to snorkel with them.
In particular, December is ideal for seeing both orcas and humpbacks, plus the Northern Lights). These massive whales follow the herring track along the Kaldfjord, a sheltered area outside of Tromso. After Christmas, the marine giants will move out into the open sea, making them a tad harder to find.
The long Norwegian coastline, with its thousands of islands, deep fjords, wrecks and abundant marine life, offers some of the best cold-water diving in the entire world. From any diver’s standards, drift diving in Norway is off the charts. There isn’t much you can do to compete with the sheer exhilaration of “flying” over the sea floor borne only by the current. Saltstraumen, about 10 kilometers/six miles from the town of Bodø, Norway, boasts some of the world’s strongest tidal currents.
Keep in mind that this trip is best completed by liveaboard. You’re going to want all the time you can get on the water in order to find the orca pod or humpback whales and have your turn in the water with these intelligent animals. Surprisingly, the main activity is snorkeling rather than diving. This is because the bubbles from divers’ tanks tend to scare the animals away. Finally, you’ll need a dry suit and dry suit training
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Very nice experience! Clear instructions, great atmosphere.
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