Top Diving Destinations for 2024

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11 Dec 2023, Phil North

Diving, diving holidays

Not sure when to plan your diving trip for 2024? Our ultimate diving calendar showcases a top diving experience for every month next year. Use this guide for the best chance of superb diving conditions, encounters with sought-after marine species, and access to seasonal diving sites in world-class destinations.

January: Experience Maldives Magic

Grey reef shark in the Maldives

The Maldives is excellent all year round, but January sees the start of the best diving months. Liveaboards are regularly heading out towards sensational sites in the Southern atolls, including Manta Point, Cocoa Thila, The Victory Wreck and Banana Reef. On these action-packed itineraries, you have the chance to see impressive pelagic fauna, such as grey and whitetip reef sharks, turtles, eagle and manta rays, and whale sharks.

You also get the best diving conditions in the Central Maldives, with water temperatures in the high 20s centigrade and clear views of the fantastic marine life, rock pinnacles, caves, canyons and thriving coral reefs.

The flat sea in January makes whale sharks easier to spot from a boat when they're swimming near the surface, maximising your opportunities for diving or snorkelling encounters. In the South Ari Atoll, Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa and Boutique Beach are excellent resorts offering amazing dive safaris and boat diving trips to the famous thilas. 

February: Bucket-list Diving at Raja Ampat

Wayag Islands in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

If you’re keen to visit the world-famous Raja Ampat, then February is an excellent time to go. The archipelago’s 200 dive sites are best explored by liveaboard and February is right in the middle of the peak liveaboard season (December to April). Raja Ampat’s stunning seascapes are teeming with marine life, from healthy coral reefs to colourful critters and large pelagics. 

In February the weather is usually favourable, with low rainfall and warm sea and air temperatures. This makes liveaboard journeys more comfortable, as seas are calmer, and good underwater visibility lets you enjoy the spectacular marine biodiversity, colourful corals and sea fans, and volcanic underwater landscapes to the full. 

March: Wrecks at Chuuk Lagoon in the Central Pacific

Wreck in Truk Lagoon

Known as ‘Truk Lagoon’ in the diving community, this is arguably the best wreck diving destination in the world with over 60 sunken WWII Japanese ships to discover. Although you can dive here any month of the year, the best diving conditions occur in the dry season (November to April), when on a rainless day visibility in the lagoon can reach up to 40 metres. 

March is a good choice because the favourable conditions tend to provide the most rewarding and enjoyable wreck diving experience.

April: Big Fish in the Southern Red Sea

Oceanic white-tip shark in Egypt

The Southern Red Sea is a paradise for divers. Not only are the dive sites less crowded than in the north, but a thrilling range of ‘big fish’ species await you. With fewer divers here, the diving experience remains pristine. If you travel in spring you should strike a good balance between sea and land conditions, with relatively calm seas, plenty of sunshine and pleasantly hot air temperatures (averaging 31°C).

Marsa Alam, the well-established gateway to the Southern Red Sea, is now easily accessible again via direct flights from the UK. If you prefer resort-based diving, we recommend Wadi Sabarah, in Port Ghalib, which is ideally located for boat trips to popular dive sites, like Dolphin House, and has an on-site Emperor Divers dive centre. In the evenings, you can enjoy captivating marine biology presentations.  

Liveaboards give you access to the most remote and sought-after dive sites, such as Elba Reef, St. John's Reef, the Brothers, Daedalus and Fury Shoals. Depending on your chosen itinerary, you may encounter hammerhead or oceanic whitetip sharks, bumphead parrot fish, tuna, turtles, dolphins, or various rays. You can also explore sunken ships, marine parks and coral-encrusted walls.

May: Shore Diving in Bonaire

Shore diving in Bonaire

Bonaire, in the Caribbean, is yet another destination which offers exceptional diving all year round. Easy shore diving is the real draw here, but this destination also features pristine reefs, a protected marine park, fascinating shipwrecks, and abundant marine life - it’s no wonder divers love this place. Although there’s really no bad time to dive in Bonaire, we’ve recommended May because it’s such great value for money. In May you can enjoy amazing diving and consistent sunshine but with fewer crowds and at cheaper rates. 

The multi-award-winning Buddy Dive Resort is one of Regaldive’s most popular hotels, with welcoming staff and oceanfront apartments and studios. Check out their special offers to save even more money!

June: Explore the Indonesian Archipelago

Green sea turtle in Indonesia

This is a fantastic time to visit many of Indonesia’s diving hotspots, such as Kalimantan, Raja Ampat, and Alor, but Bunaken is a particular favourite of ours. In June, you can enjoy ideal weather conditions and excellent visibility of the volcanic topography and healthy reefs fringing Bunaken Island, not to mention turtles galore! 

The Bunaken National Marine Park is loved by underwater photographers and is an exceptional location for wall and drift diving, with steep coral walls and sightings ranging from barracuda, jacks, Napoleon wrasse, reef sharks and sea snakes. 

For a really fun trip, why not combine Bunaken with the Lembeh Strait or Banka? The Lembeh Strait is one of the world’s best muck diving destinations, while Bangka has stunning pinnacles, healthy coral reefs, exciting drift dives and fascinating marine life.

Favourite resorts amongst Regaldivers are Siladen Resort & Spa and Murex Manado, both offering daily dives to the Bunaken marine park, while Dive into Lembeh and White Sands Beach Resort are popular options in Lembeh.

July: Ocean Giants in the Azores

Mobula ray in the Azores

There's only a short window in the year when you can enjoy the fabulous diving opportunities in the Azores. Due to the archipelago’s position in the mid-Atlantic, the core diving season runs from June to mid-September, when sea conditions allow. July to October is also the best time for marine encounters with seasonal visitors. 

The diving experience offers plenty, especially for divers with a little more experience - from encountering playful dolphins to diving with large whale sharks. If you’re lucky, you may also hear the calls of humpback and sperm whales while diving. One of the best dive sites is Princess Alice Bank, an underwater sea mount which is famous for encounters with mobula rays, makos and blue sharks during the summer months. For experienced divers, the Formigas islets are highly recommended. The marine reserve offers amazing visibility, big fish action and fascinating underwater caves. This is often combined with the stunning site of Dollabarat, a beautiful submerged mountain which attracts rays and sharks. 

August: Galapagos Whale Shark Encounters

Whale shark and diver in the Galapagos

A Galapagos liveaboard adventure is perfect for summer or autumn. One of the best reasons to visit in August is the presence of numerous, huge, and often pregnant whale sharks at Wolf and Darwin. Between July and October, nutrient-rich currents attract whale sharks and other plankton feeders, such as migratory melon-headed and humpback whales. Your thrilling encounters could also include rays, dolphins, mola mola, hammerhead sharks and Galapagos specialities such as fur seals and penguins!

Whale shark and diver in the Galapagos

Image by Jenny Waack

If September works better for you, you can join our exclusive, expert-led Galapagos Whale Shark Expedition with renowned whale shark researcher Sofía Green Iturralde (departs 23 Sep 2024).

September: Maldives Manta Ray Extravaganza

Aerial of manta rays in Hanifaru Bay, the Maldives

Hanifaru Bay’s annual manta ray aggregation peaks around the September full moon. It's the largest known gathering of reef manta rays on the planet and this phenomenon occurs when plankton-rich waters from the Indian Ocean are drawn into the reef (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve). The ethereal manta rays arrive in vast numbers, gliding gracefully through the water as a plankton feeding frenzy ensues. 

Marine media specialist and conservationist, Danny Copeland, leads an exclusive group tour in the northern atolls of the Maldives, where, along with the manta rays, you could encounter whale sharks, reef sharks, turtles, and Napolean wrasse. 

11 Sep 2024: Maldives Manta Ray Extravaganza 

October: Wrecks and Reefs in the North Red Sea

Abu Nuhas wreck in Egypt

The North Red Sea is known for spectacular reefs and famous wrecks, especially near popular Sharm El-Sheikh. You can dive here any time, but for the best all-around experience, choose spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November). You’ll have plenty of sunshine and good diving conditions but avoid the peak temperatures of Egyptian summer. 

Shark and Yolanda Reef, in the Ras Mohammed National Park, is one of the top 10 dives in the world. Beginning at Anemone City, currents take you on an exciting drift dive to Shark Reef’s sheer drop-off, from where you’re immersed in a ‘fish soup’ as you pass as you pass Yolanda Reef’s impressive pinnacles, before discovering a sunken Greek merchant ship. SS Thistlegorm - a 128-metre British cargo ship which was sunk in a German air attack during World War Two - is another world-leading dive site, found in the Strait of Gubal.

November: Spectacular Sightings in Socorro 

Manta ray and diver in Socorro, Mexico

November marks the start of Socorro’s diving season in Mexico, which runs through to June. Liveaboards will be visiting the exhilarating Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro), which are known for sightings of large pelagic life and endemic tropical fish. 

The most famous residents are friendly giant Pacific manta rays, with wingspans as wide as 7 metres! However, these waters are also frequented by dolphins, humpback whales, 7 species of shark, and predatory fish such as wahoo and Yellowfin tuna.  

December: Christmas in the Coral Triangle  

Coral reef in the Philippines

The Philippines is the perfect destination for December, with thriving coral reefs and some of the richest marine biodiversity on the planet. December to April is the dry season, so you can expect warm weather, low rainfall, calm waters and good visibility. 

At Malapascua, you can experience daily encounters with intriguing thresher sharks. Evolution Dive Resort is a fantastic base from which to explore some of the best diving the Philippines has to offer. From its beachfront location in Malapascua, you can reach Monad Shoal’s Shark Point, The Tapilon wreck, and an enthralling mix of big fish, swim-throughs, and great macro sites.

Other places of interest are Moalboal, which attracts mesmerising sardine baitballs, the WWII wrecks of Coron Bay, and Dauin which is one of the best spots in the world for macro and muck diving. And that’s just the start!

To find out more about any of our diving holidays, contact our friendly Regaldive Team. You can also use our trip search to browse all our liveaboard departures or resorts that we feature and browse our latest special offers.