Today was particularly hard. It all started when the alarm went off while it was still dark outside and got progressively worse as we gingerly stuck one toe out from under the duvet and it felt like we'd been transported overnight to Antarctica. Then there was the seemingly endless cycle of temperature control management as we took to the chilly streets dressed as multi-layered Michelin men before shedding more layers than an onion in the toasty office. Suffice to say we're so over this weather, and with 2018 just around the corner we're dreaming of next year's holiday hotspots. Emphasis on hot. Whether you're looking to dip a toe in the water or you're a best of both worlds diver, read on for our favourite diving holidays for the new year.
Getting to Western Australia is about to get a whole lot easier thanks to the introduction of direct flights from London to Perth by Qantas. The flights launch in March 2018, which is coincidentally when whale sharks arrive in Ningaloo Reef. Located a short flight north of Perth, Ningaloo Reef is also home to manta rays, turtles and humpback whales (between June and November) - all best accessed from the shores of Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef. Fancy a sojourn across the entire northern coastline? True North offers sailing adventures from Perth up to Dampier exploring the very best of Australia's wild western shores.
Malta and Gozo
In case you didn't get the memo, Valletta, Malta's Capital, is set to become 2018's European Capital of Culture. Which is a rather marvellous excuse to visit this Mediterranean gem. Spend a few days wandering the butterscotch-coloured streets of this 16th Century city before taking a boat over to Gozo for some of the best wreck diving in Europe. There is a plethora of fantastic wrecks at different depths, as well as the blue hole, all in superb visibility and deliciously warm seas (and yes, it really is only three hours from London).
2018 is the year we say goodbye to teary meltdowns and squabbling over scrabble as family holidays go underwater (there's no arguing under water, after all). And we reckon that Grenada has some of the best diving in the West Indies. Perfect for learners and more experienced divers, there are shallow reefs, colourful gardens, a great dive centre and the world's first underwater dive sculpture park and artificial reef. The night and flouro-diving (using UV torches and adapted mask to make the reef glow brightly at night) are also exceptional.
We've always raved about the marvels of Oman, from the dazzling souqs of Muscat to the unspoilt, marine-rich diving surrounding the Daymaniyat Islands; the spectacular, rugged landscapes of Musandam (try paragliding from them at Six Senses Zighy Bay) to stargazing in the desert on a private dive safari. And now we have a new gem to add to the mix: Salalah. Located in the south, expect palm-fringed white beaches, turquoise waters and superb diving - from nudibranch to moray eels, turtles and even kelp forests (during the summer months). In fact, our Head of Diving, Louisa, swam with her all-time favourite marine animals, dolphins, while there last week (ask her about it).
When we say Fiji, dreams of paradise spring to mind. And don't worry, none of that's going to change. What we're excited about is the string of luxurious new hotels opening in 2018, including Six Senses Fiji (one of our favourite brands. Ever) on Malolo Island and Nihiwatu, a gorgeous whole-island resort that featured in the first edition of Dive In Style. Oh, and lest we forget, Fiji is also the soft coral capital of the world (read: technicolour diving at its finest).
We love the Azores. On land the attraction is stunning (and largely unspoilt) volcanic scenery, but the real draw is beneath the waves because this is - without question - Europe's best diving, even if that is just on a geographical technicality. Divers can see mantas, mobulas and more at the stunning offshore banks - featuring a fascinating topography and superb visibility - and blue sharks and makos out in the blue. Spend a few days in the recently opened White Exclusive Suites and Villas (ask us for more details) before island hopping to experience the best of the archipelago.