The 2019 dive year is well underway and there are some great new dive destinations to discover. Offering everything from fast-paced atoll diving and whale shark aggregations to hidden gems with no crowds, there is something for every diver. Here are our 4 unmissable dive destinations just waiting to be explored.
Australia liveaboard diving may be well-known but it has far more to offer than the Great Barrier Reef alone. Whilst the remote areas of the Great Barrier Reef offer world-class diving, take a look at scuba diving Western Australia. It is home to some of the best Australian dive sites and few people are aware they exist.
Rowley Shoals is the hidden gem of Western Australia scuba diving. Made up of 3 pristine coral atolls, the shoals have a short dive season and only around 200 people have the privilege of diving there each year. The atolls are remote, offering exciting drift dives, where you’ll be pulled along walls awash with life and pushed into peaceful lagoons. There are few other divers there and you can experience one of the best wall dives in the world at Northern Wall. This steep drop off plunges to 80 meters depth and is covered in life.
September to December is the best time to visit Rowley Shoals and it can only be accessed by liveaboard. The Odyssey liveaboard is one of the more popular choices and early booking is advised given the short dive season.
The Ningaloo Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to Ningaloo Reef – famed for its numerous whale sharks. Another Western Australia highlight, this fringing coral reef stretches along the beautiful coast and is a great place for warm water diving and swimming with whale sharks. Hundreds of these spotty giants gather at Ningaloo each March to June, attracted by plankton blooms and coral spawning. Dive Ningaloo Reef and you can swim alongside the sharks and see a number of the 500 species of fish found there. The reef also hosts plenty of mantas, dolphins and turtles, plus thousands of humpback whales from July to November each year.
The Shore Thing catamaran is a great choice for intimate dive safaris exploring the best dive sites of Ningaloo whilst you sail the turquoise waters.
If you’re looking for paradise, look no further. French Polynesia is an idyllic dive destination, with white-sand beaches, untouched atolls and an abundance of sharks. It is one of the most sought-after dive destinations thanks to its remote location and abundance of marine life, without any diving crowds.
The Tuamotu archipelago has fast-paced drift dives at Rangiroa and Fakarava atolls; two of the main dive destinations of French Polynesia. You’ll want to be comfortable with currents as the waters reach speeds of up to 4 knots of Fakarava Atoll. Dive there and you’ll drift past a ‘wall of sharks’ where hundreds of grey reef, blacktip and whitetip sharks hang out. You can enjoy the coral-covered walls and numerous fish before ending up in the lagoon.
There are plenty of other drift dives to explore, and seasonal marine life highlights such as manta rays, humpback whales, eagle rays, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, and reefs full of fish.
It is best to visit French Polynesia as an experienced diver to make the most of the deep dives but there are safaris suitable for all. The French Polynesia Master offers diving throughout the Tuamotu Archipelago.
French Polynesia ©Aaron Wong
If Western Australia is too far to travel for whale sharks, you can dive closer to home with numerous whale sharks at Djibouti. You might not know this destination yet but it is fast gaining a great reputation, thanks to its flourishing coral reefs and whale sharks. Whilst Egypt’s Red Sea is busy with divers, Djibouti is far from the crowds and offer coral reef diving with almost no-one in sight.
Bordered by both the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, the marine life at Djibouti is diverse and the coral reefs are busy with life. You can swim with large numbers of juvenile whale sharks at Goubet Al Kharab, plus dive with dolphins, nurse sharks, manta rays and more. Be sure to keep your eyes open for pilot whales passing by as you sail the ocean.
You can scuba dive Djibouti all year, though peak whale shark season is September to October and February. The diving is suitable for everyone and there are just a handful of liveaboards to choose from. The Deli, an elegant Turkish schooner, offers safaris throughout whale shark season for just 12 divers at a time.
If you’re an experienced and adventurous diver looking for something different, Antarctica could be for you. It is one of the most remote and pristine wilderness areas in the world, offering a vast array of marine life and the chance to experience a surprising variety of dives.
Antarctica isn’t a destination for the faint-hearted; you need to be an experienced cold water and dry suit diver, but the rewards are huge. You can dive iconic destinations such as the Falkland Islands, South Shetland Islands, Sandwich Islands and South Georgia. It is remote diving at its finest, offering by the Plancius and Ortelius liveaboards.
Peak dive season runs from November to March. A visit in December or January gives you the chance to watch young penguins and seals being raised, whilst February or March offers the most whales.
Antarctica scuba diving ©Adobe Stock
This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com