Itching to get your wetsuit back on but don't want to fly halfway across the world? Fear not, as there is some incredible diving just a hop, skip and a jump from the UK, meaning you can have breakfast in Blighty and be sipping on cocktails after an epic dive by dinner (and we're not talking about diving in a freezing quarry washed down with a lukewarm tea, either). Whether you're looking for a short haul winter sun getaway (and to be honest, who isn't?) or considering how to use your holiday days over the course of the year, discover the top seven short-haul diving holidays for 2020...
On the Hotlist: Diving in Egypt
The spotlight is back on Egypt this year with a series of incredible events. For starters, Sharm El Sheikh is back open for business, meaning beautiful diving in Ras Mohamed National Park as well as day trip opportunities to world-renowned wrecks such as the SS Thistlegorm and SS Dunraven. On another waterway, Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile hits the cinemas this October and you can follow in her footsteps aboard the Steam Ship Sudan (the inspiration behind her famous book) before decamping to the coast for a spot of shore diving; a pretty cool combo, if you ask us.
Best Time to Dive in Egypt: March to May and September to November
Diving the Seasons in Iceland
Picture this: you've descended into the freshwater-filled fissure that separates North America and Europe and not only have you ticked off being in two places at once but as you look up, the water is so clear that you can see the northern lights dancing overhead. Return in the summer and the fissure becomes cloaked in bright green trolls' hair, while looking beyond Silfra there are some incredible secret spots to dive across Iceland, from bubbling geothermal springs to the incredible marine life concealed in the open ocean; Iceland is undoubtedly the land of fire, ice and fantastic diving.
Best Time to Dive in Iceland: Year-round! Although for warmer weather dive between July and August.
Variety is the Spice of Life: Diving in Oman
Despite being an easy breezy seven-and-a-half-hour flight from the UK, Oman feels like another world. The diving is fantastically varied, from the plankton-soup waters surrounding the Daymaniyat islands and consequent festival of fish-life (and even the occasional whale shark... or four) to diving the rugged limestone fjords and caves of the northern Musandam peninsula, and diving the kelp forests of the south to Salalah's turquoise waters which are more reminiscent of the Maldives.
Best Time to Dive in Oman: October to March
Jurassic Diving in the Azores
A small chain of volcanic islands scattered across the mid-Atlantic Ocean, the Azores acts as a pitstop for all manner of migrating marine animals - so much so that the chaps at Nat Geo regularly film there. During the summer months, divers can spend surface intervals spotting whales breaching in the distance before diving the incredible local sites or, if the seas are calm enough to head to the offshore sites, blue sharks, mako sharks and mobulas are on the agenda. For a sneak peek of some of the incredible diving on offer, read our blog on the best dive sites in the Azores.
Best Time to Dive in The Azores: July to September
Off-the-Beaten Track in Sudan
This September the Arabian Aggressor will launch its inaugural voyage across the vast expanse of sea that borders Sudan. Having flown under the radar for years, the remote waters remain wonderfully unexplored in comparison to its northernly Red Sea neighbours. The liveaboard will operate northern and southern itineraries, and aside from being able to explore the reefs, walls and wrecks in blissful solitude, divers will also get to tick off hammerheads, bumphead wrasse and huge schools of jacks and wrasse; head out in November and snorkel with several whale sharks at a time as the Aggressor will also pull up anchor in Djibouti.
Best Time to Dive in Sudan: January to June and September to December
A Long Weekend (or More) Diving in Gozo
Whether you want to learn to dive or already have a logbook containing several hundred dives, Gozo's marine splendours are guaranteed to please the whole spectrum - snorkellers included. Most of the dive sites are accessible from the shore, and with caves, caverns, wrecks and a Blue Hole to explore, there is more than enough to keep you underwater for the entire trip; be it a long weekend, a week or longer. Check out our blog on the best dive sites in Gozo.
Best Time to Dive in Gozo: July to October
Swim with Orcas and Humpback Whales in Norway
A once-in-a-lifetime trip worthy of Attenborough himself, snorkel alongside orcas and humpback whales as they hunt in the remote fjords of Northern Norway. Heading out on the rustic fishing boat M/S Sula, snorkellers will chase bait balls of herring as they are plundered by these giant predators. Freediving alongside orcas while humpback whales sing below you is a truly extraordinary experience, but don't just take our word for it, take a gander at Original Diver Neill's epic video snorkelling with orcas in Norway here.
Best Time to Snorkel with Orcas in Norway: November to February.
Want to book your next adventure? Get in touch with our team to book your next short-haul diving holiday.