6 Winter Sun Diving Destinations

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Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith from The A-Team said it best with his immortal words, “there’s always a plan B”, which is what some divers may be looking for right now as the season of frosty mornings and over indulgence really sets in!

Although there are cold water hotspots across Europe that shatter the myth that only good diving is found in tropical water, some divers simply prefer a bit of winter sunshine and a warm breeze as they get out of the water. Here is a list of 6 winter sun diving destinations that tick the balmy boxes:

 

CANARY ISLANDS

Winter Sun Diving - Canary Islands

Year-round sun, warm, clear water and dramatic underwater volcanic seascapes draw divers to the Canary Islands. Sometimes called “The Fortunate Islands” due to the subtropical climate and sandy beaches, the islands of this Spanish archipelago lie at the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwest coast of Africa. The Canaries, as they’re also known, were an important port-of-call for Spanish galleons taking advantage of the trade winds on their way to the Americas.

The seven largest islands – Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro – are premier European tourist destinations and attract more than 12 million visitors a year. Those who come can pick their spot and choose from bustling cities with great nightlife or sleepy little villages where stress just rolls away.

Click here for Featured Dive Sites and Dive Summary

 

MALTESE ISLANDS

Winter Sun Diving - Maltese Islands

On a map of the Mediterranean Sea, if you let your eye fall to the center – just South of Italy’s heel and to the west of the Mediterranean’s heart – you’ll find an enchanting archipelago comprising Malta, Gozo and Comino, along with the smaller, uninhabited islands of Cominotto, Filfla and St.Paul. The administrative capital for all the islands, Valletta, is on Malta itself under the watchful gaze of impressive fortifications commissioned by the Knights of St. John in 1524.

Malta’s geographic position was beneficial for both trading and military purposes for centuries. More recently, however, the Maltese Islands are noted more for their scuba diving than for their long and checkered past. The clear blue Mediterranean sea offers some unique diving experiences with reefs, caves and wrecks to explore.

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*Editor’s Note: In March 2017 the iconic Azure Window, also known as the Dwejra Window, collapsed in Malta. Losing the Azure Window was hard, but there’s still 50+ incredible dive sites to explore.

 

MOZAMBIQUE

Winter Sun Diving - Mozambique

Mention Mozambique and most scuba divers immediately think megafauna. Whale sharks and manta rays prowl the plankton rich water year round and humpback whales pass by on their way through the Mozambique Channel from the Antarctic. Mozambique, located on Africa’s southeast coast, has more than 2000 kilometres/1250 miles of coastline bathed by the southerly flowing Aghulhas Current. To the north, the Quirimbas Archipelago is home to the recently designated Primeiras and Segundas Marine Protected Area (MPA).

The largest MPA on the African continent, it protects rich coral reefs and mangrove forests and is an important nursery for myriad reef fish and five of the ocean’s seven marine turtles among other notable denizens. To the south, the Maputo Protection Area spans the coast from Ponta de Ouro to the Maputo River providing a haven for nesting marine turtles and conserving the offshore reef ecosystems. Off Praia do Tofo, Inhambane, whale shark alley (a plankton rich current fed corridor) attracts whale sharks all year round. Sightings are almost guaranteed. This alone will put Mozambique on many scuba divers’ bucket lists.

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OMAN

Winter Sun Diving - Oman

With vast deserts and rich history, the Sultanate of Oman is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. Until the 1970s, the country was almost completely closed to outside visitors but since it opened its doors, the scuba diving world is richer because of it. Oman’s coastline is relatively untouched and there is great diving near the capital of Muscat.

You can also head to Oman’s northernmost region of Musandam, which juts into the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. This rugged, remote land has nutrient rich waters that support a massive amount of diversity and abundance of marine life. Far to the south, the area around Salalah has a pristine coastline with seemingly endless bays and beaches. Here kelp forests appear during the summer, made possible by cool upwelling during the monsoon, and then slowly die back in late September. This makes it uniquely possible to dive in kelp and on coral reefs at the same sites for a short time.

The best diving here is from October through May when the seas calm and the water warms up. Perhaps it’s time to take a scuba diving holiday to Oman before the secret gets out.

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JORDAN

Winter Sun Diving - Jordan

From majestic ruins of bygone civilizations to bustling urban centers, Jordan inspires with breathtaking sights and plenty to do. This desert land features dramatic red sands, towering cliffs, vast plains of volcanic basalt and hills rich with olive trees. In addition, Jordan has a well-earned reputation for excellent cuisine, a wide range of places to stay (from five star hotels to Bedouin-style camps) and for making visitors feel welcome.

But for divers, Jordan’s southernmost tip, where the Red Sea’s tropical waters bathe some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world, has to be the main attraction. While the total coastline is only about 27 kilometres/17 miles long, there are plenty of dive sites to choose from, many of them located within Aqaba Marine Park. Some of these sites are accessible from shore on the fringing coral reef that drops steeply down to depths beyond recreational diving limits. Here divers enjoy a wide variety of soft and hard coral and myriad reef fish, and some of the best diving in the world.

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Cape Verde

Winter Sun Diving - Cape-verde

570 kilometers off the west coast of Africa, the Cape Verde islands are a scattered mix of spectacular diving, incredible marine encounters and beautiful lunar landscapes! The volcanic origins of the islands are the perfect environment for luxuriant tropical vegetation, hinting towards how the islands got their name – verde meaning green. Beneath the surface, the environment is just as dramatic and famed by the legend Jacques Cousteau, “like the garden of Eden of the African coasts bathed from the Atlantic.”

There is no rainy season in Cape Verde, allowing diving all year round. Due to Its geographical position and benefitting from various currents, the waters are an exciting mix of tropical and Mediterranean marine life. During the winter (January-March) humpback and occasionally sperm whales visit the islands on their annual migrations, whilst mantas, morays, turtles, and a wide variety of sharks are year round attractions.

The underwater world of Cape Verde can satisfy the needs of new divers just as much as it can the more demanding divers. With caves, deep walls and wrecks, a trip to Cape Verde is ideal for winter sun diving.

Find a local dive centre in Cape Verde here.

For travel advice to any of these countries, you can find more information on the GOV.UK website.

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