Situated at the point where the Red Sea flows into the Indian Ocean, the small, stable country of Djibouti offers divers an incredibly diverse range of marine life. The relative absence of tourism is a large part of its appeal, ensuring the pristine dive sites remain unspoilt.
Encounters with Whale Sharks
From mid October to February plankton ‘blooms’ develop in an enclosed bay near Djibouti town called the Goubet al Kharab (the Devil's Cauldron). Although Whale Sharks can be seen throughout the year, encounters are especially common from October to February.
These plankton-rich waters attract many of the great pelagic species into the area surrounding Djibouti. Recent research has recognised the particular importance of the bay in the development of juvenile Whale Sharks, which stay within the safe confines of Djibouti’s coast line.
Regaldive have individual departures and full boat charters offered over this period that are timed to maximise the likelihood of diving and snorkelling with these gentle giants.
Whales, Sharks and Dolphins
The rich feeding grounds that make up Djibouti’s coastal waters attract a range of different species. Alongside Whale Sharks, divers can encounter Manta Rays, Beaked and Pilot Whales. Most species of Dolphin are represented in numbers off Djibouti’s coast, and are often seen ‘running’ the bow wave of your boat. Where there are Dolphins there are invariably Sharks. Grey and Nurse Sharks are the most commonly encountered species, whilst both Tiger and Blue Sharks have occasionally been seen.
Spectacular Corals and Reefs of the Seven Brothers
Djibouti itself is a dry, mountainous country, shaped by volcanic activity. The fascinating, arid landscape contrasts sharply with the incredible bio-diversity of the waters off Djibouti.
There are over 200 recorded species of coral, some of which are endemic to the region. The lack of any rivers, combined with the volcanic base to many reefs, has prompted extremely healthy coral growth. Extensive reefs cover much of Djibouti’s coastline. Marine species that are regularly seen off Djibouti are largely similar to those found in the northern Red Sea. However, it is the sheer abundance of life that is so impressive, with dense shoals of fish being a feature of most dives. Large schools of Barracuda, Jacks and Snapper are often seen feeding off the reef and add excitement to many dives.
Outside of the main whaleshark season, MY Deli offers the chance to dive these spectacular reefs.
Please note that liveaboard itineraries can change without notice. The itinerary will depend on several factors including, but not limited to, weather, diving ability of guests & the number of other boats already present at the various dive sites. All dive sites visited are subject to weather conditions and are at the discretion of your dive guides and vessel captain.
Flights are with Ethiopian Airlines. You may travel earlier or later if you wish to explore Djibouti on land in greater depth.
Although Air France have a route to Djibouti, they do not allow UK tour operators access to trade air fares, so we are not able to offer this service.
A connection on FlyDubai is available from Dubai to Djibouti, schedule may require extra nights' stay.
Flight duration: Approx. 12 hours incl. flight change.
Departure tax: $20 is levied on all passengers (Does not apply if travelling on Ethiopian Airlines)
Passengers travelling to Djibouti must have six months valid on their passport from date of return to the UK. It is recommended that passengers keep hold of their boarding cards for all sectors of their flight into Djibouti, as officials may wish to make copies of them to issue visas.
An entry visa is required for Djibouti. The FCO advise that visas on arrival are issued at the discretion of the Djibouti immigration authorities and aren’t guaranteed; you should get a visa before travel. The current cost is $90.
Protection against Malaria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid are strongly recommended. Contact your travel clinic or GP for the latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria and check the latest requirements for yellow fever. If you are flying via Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, but not stopping over, you do NOT require the yellow fever certificate.
Vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure. For the most up to date advice please consult your travel clinic.
Further information regarding vaccinations for travel to this country can be found at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk and from your local healthcare provider.
Whale Sharks - Thank you
"Hello all at Regal,
Just a few words to say thank you for my Djibouti Holiday in November 2010.
All travel arrangements went well and the boat was friendly and as comfortable as could be taking into account there was no aircon (I slept on deck which was great).
The whale sharks were amazing and as I have waited 30 odd years to see them, to fulfil a dream is just incredible.
I attach a few pictures of proof and again say thank you.
BSAC National Instructor etc etc etc
never to be beaten!
"My review is coloured by a set of positive circumstances unlikely to be repeated, however, irrespective of that I have no hesitation in recommending this trip for whaleshark enthusiasts.
Had the ambition to swim with them for years (am only a snorkeller) fulfilled every day bar 1 when we sailed to the other end of the inlet.
Deli is not luxury vessel but more than adequate and crew and food brilliant. Due to a cancellation my son and I had the boat to ourselves and we seem to have had the Midas touch on whatever we did but the trip was well organised and I would be surprised if anyone would be disappointed if they decided to go!!!."
Ian Wood - East Sussex | 01 July 2015
Djibouti Town and MY Deli
"In October 2013 I spent two weeks in the Republic of Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. For the first week I stayed in the capital city, Djibouti Town or as it is otherwise known, Djibouti City. Djibouti Town is a dive location like none I had experienced before. A strong military presence was everywhere with low flying helicopters and mirage jets checking to see if we had spotted any whale sharks, very high air temperatures and with the sea 31 to 33 degrees Celsius, I sometimes dived deeper just to cool off!
I dived there with Dolphin Excursions, the only PADI Gold Palm accredited dive centre in Djibouti and a very friendly dive centre as well. Every day I was collected from my hotel by my dive “mentors” Sarah Gray or Sonja Karjalainen or dive centre manager Dan Drahozal and then using a local skiff, we dived local sites such as Canyon, Moucha North, Ras Eiro, Sunken Buoy, White Sands or my favourite: the wreck of Orchard Reefer. I’ve been privileged to dive some excellent wrecks in my time, undoubtedly the wreck of Orchard Reefer is one of the best to explore and photograph. This Liberty Ship lies on its side in about 33 metres of water near Moucha Island, 9 kilometres from Djibouti Town. Just over 100 metres long, the top of the vessel is 8 to 9 metres from the surface. Orchard Reefer was abandoned by its crew in November 1974 after fire in its engine room. The Bay of Tadjoura is current free making this a pretty safe wreck to dive. Penetration is tempting but with narrow staircases and plenty of potential entanglements, that’s not a good idea.
Dolphin Excursions had the perfect blend of efficiency and friendliness. And I don’t think I have ever been spoilt quite so much as I was by Sarah and Sonja. I responded by getting lazier and lazier. For example our last two dives together were once again on Orchard Reefer. Another perfect day - no hint of even a small cloud. The sea was flat calm. I surfaced from the first dive and could not be bothered to climb aboard our skiff. So I floated around next to our skiff while Sarah and Sonja changed my tank on my BCD and then handed everything down to me including sandwiches and water to revive me! I don’t think they could have pampered me more.
Next up was seven nights aboard MY Deli a twin mast motor yacht. Our voyage took us from Djibouti Town to the Gulf of Tadjoura where from mid October to February, juvenile whale sharks can be seen. These whale sharks are attracted by plankton ‘blooms’ and our Regaldive group was lucky enough to enjoy several snorkelling encounters with them.
Djibouti sits between the African and the Arabian tectonic plates and it’s possible to dive the crack between the two tectonic plates at a dive site imaginatively called The Crack. I let my buddy Graham Illing do that – why risk both of us! Other dive sites we visited were Deli, Ras Eiro, Shark Island, The Dome, Point Ras Korali, Red Virgin, Star Point, Vicente’s Dive, named after our skipper, Yellow Marker Buoy, and bizarrely Stoney Cove. The latter named unsurprisingly by a group of British divers after the well-known site in Stoney Stanton, UK."
Malcolm Nobbs - | 02 July 2015