As we (at least those of us based in Europe) are slowly stepping into the cold of winter and dusting off our winter clothing, here at Original Diving, we've compiled our list of some top short-haul winter diving destinations. Here's a selection of places you can get to for a short break where the snow won't be falling and the waters remain unfrozen. Enjoy!

Gozo

A small limestone island in the Mediterranean, with a lovely subtropical climate, Gozo is ideal for those seeking a few extra degrees in winter. You aren't guaranteed good weather by any means but it will be a lot better than northern Europe and even at its coldest you can still brave the seas in a (thick) wetsuit. And it's only a 3h flight from the UK.

Beside the caves, swim-throughs and the world famous Blue Hole, Gozo offers fantastic wrecks and, in our opinion, some of the best diving in the Mediterranean.

The Azores

Composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, this Portuguese archipelago is a special place that is still largely unknown.

The Azores are famous for being a serious marine life hotspot. In the summer months, there are virtually guaranteed mantas and blue sharks at the offshore banks. While you won't be able to dive these in winter, the local diving is very good too. Add in all manner of whales and dolphins topside, even in winter, and you can see the appeal.

As with anywhere in Europe, the weather is unpredictable in the winter, and from November to March you will have to fly indirect, but this is still somewhere to consider as a short haul winter diving destination.

Elsewhere in Europe you could consider the Canary Islands, Cyprus, Sardinia, Sicily…the list goes on. But if you want guaranteed sunshine and excellent diving then you need to look just slightly further afield…

Egypt

OK, so the political situation in Cairo and some other parts of the country continues to be a worry for many, but the Red Sea coast has remained calm (Neill took his family there recently). If you are based in Northern Europe, Egypt remains a winner for short haul winter diving.

The diving is excellent whether you head to Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada or on a liveaboard perhaps to the Deep South. Go now and it isn't nearly as crowded as it normally is and there are some good deals to be had. We remain big fans of this place.

Oman

Oman is still relatively unknown as a tourist destination, and even less so for diving, but it has huge variety of excellent and unexplored dive sites. The landscapes above and below the waves are stunning and one of the best things is that you will nearly always be the only people exploring the diving and the deserts.

Whether you choose a luxury hotel or a private camping dive safari around the country, Oman is a winner as a short haul winter diving destination.

If you want to find out more, email us or call us on +44 207 978 0505 or 1-800 652 1972.