Best Scuba Diving in December

Emily C and Jacqui are here to help give you the inside track.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but in the southern hemisphere, it’s quite delightful. Swap your winter coat for a wetsuit and explore some sunny seascapes. When it comes to best scuba diving in December, the Red Sea is one of our favourite destinations. It’s the closest world-class diving spot to the UK, and has guaranteed sunshine and the promise of oceanic white tip sharks. Where to dive in Asia? The Maldives is a fantastic winter sun spot complete with luxurious private islands and incredible diving experiences, featuring sharks, manta rays and eagle rays; Micronesia’s wrecks thrive with life in the calm waters; and the Philippines moves into its dry season and offers more sights of the thresher sharks. And in the Caribbean? The sun still shines, the waters remain warm and turtles laze around ready to welcome you. And if you head to Bimini, in the Bahamas, you can enjoy a rare encounter with great hammerhead sharks as they cruise over the shallow sandy seabed. Read on to discover the best scuba diving in December.

Turtle resting on bright coral underwater

The Red Sea

The Red Sea promises heavy shark action during December. Oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks are often spotted, especially in locations like Elphinstone and Daedalus, while rays, turtles and reef fish drift among coral reefs.

When it comes to dive sites, the options are diverse, from sheer walls and shallow reefs to deep wrecks, pinnacles and open ocean drifts. Whether you're interested in exploring historical wrecks or vibrant coral gardens, the Red Sea offers something for every diver.

What's more, while diving in December you can expect good visibility - often exceeding 20m depending on the dive site - allowing you to enjoy clear views of vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. And thanks to the mild currents, the Red Sea is suitable for both beginners and advanced divers, as well as families.

The temperature hovers around 23 °C on land, and depending on your dive preferences, we recommend a long 5mm wetsuit.

Recommended by Rachel Gaw

above photo of a whale shark swimming in clear water with sun light piercing through the water surface


December means the beginning of the northeastern monsoon season in the Maldives. This time of year offers the best visibility and plankton-rich currents which draw in various marine life. Scuba diving in the south atolls promises pelagic encounters - think silkies, hammerheads and tiger sharks. And if you turn your head out into the blue, the channels in the south atolls also welcome manta and whale sharks.

The Baa Atoll is one of the best spots for diving with mantas. These gentle giants, as well as the occasional whale shark, gather in Hanifaru Bay on the eastern side for the atoll. Hanifaru's position makes it a veritable bowl of plankton, leading to a feeding frenzy for big pelagics - a true sight to behold for divers.

The northeastern monsoon season brings about better visibility underwater and, depending on the dive site, it can reach up to 40m. While the monsoon season may bring stronger currents, especially in certain areas, experienced divers can enjoy the thrill of drift diving. Temperature hover between 25 and 30°C - the perfect temperature to catch a little sun while relaxing on a sugar soft sand beach in between dives.

Recommended by Tom Barber

Close image of a small pink and white seahorse with its tail wrapped around some pink coral

The Caribbean

The Caribbean remains a sought-after destination in December, boasting an average of 350 days of sunshine and temperatures ranging from 29-32°C. While non-divers flock to the white sand beaches, divers can get up close and personal with tiger, lemon and hammerhead sharks.

So where is the best Caribbean diving in December? The Turks and Caicos beckon with crystal-clear, turquoise waters, offering diverse diving experiences from coral-covered reefs to captivating wreck sites. Wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element here with the change of encountering rays, turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales.

In the western chain of islands in the Bahamas, Bimini stands out, promising schools of hammerhead sharks in the clearest blue waters, complemented by the presence of bull sharks and nurse sharks. Meanwhile, Grenada features underwater sculpture gardens and a number of prime diving locations along the west and south coast. With warm waters for beginners, colourful coral gardens and thrilling drift dives for the experienced, Grenada caters to diverse preferences.

Bonaire, sitting pretty in the Caribbean Sea just 50 miles north of Venezuela, has over 100 dive sites and is renowned as the world's best place for fluoro diving. The dive site 'Something Special' lives up to its name. You can see everything from frogfish to eagle rays among the impressive brain corals, towering stag horn corals and vibrant purple sponges. And the place gets better at night when the nocturnal creatures (think lobsters, crabs and octopuses) come out. To experience a new kind of wonder, try fluo diving. Armed with a UV torch and a yellow-filtered mask, watch as the creatures and extensive coral formations take on a neon appearance. With calm conditions, good visibility reaching up to 20m, and easily accessible reefs along the fringing reef, Bonaire provides an ideal setting for divers of all skill levels.

Recommended by Rachel Gaw

underwater photo of a red star fish rest of the sandy seabed

Mafia Island

Mafia Island, off the east coast of Tanzania, promises laid-back luxury above the surface and encounters with whale sharks in the deep blue. The island's marine life flourishes, with diverse species amid vibrant coral reefs. And with over 50 genera of coral and 460 species of fish (with more being identified), it's no surprise that this staggeringly beautiful and varied marine environment earned its status as Tanzania's first marine park.

Scuba diving in December is ideal for aquatic animal lovers. Divers can encounter an abundance of tropical fish and even whale sharks, with December marking the onset of whale shark season, drawing divers to witness and interact with these majestic creatures as they migrate to the region. With azure skies to match the water and visibility ranging from 25-30m, it's hard to tear yourself away from this dreamy dive destination.

The underwater landscape around Mafia Island is equally impressive, offering a variety of dive sites which are suitable for every type of diver. From shallow coral gardens to deeper, more challenging sites, divers can choose from various options tailored to their skill levels making Mafia Island an attractive destination for both novice and experienced divers alike.

The combination of whale shark sightings, rich marine biodiversity, favourable weather, marine park protection, and versatile dive sites collectively makes Mafia Island one of the best places to scuba dive in December.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

sunken airplane wreck in dark blue waters

Chuuk Lagoon

Chuuk Lagoon (formerly known at Truk Atoll), an atoll in the central Pacific 1,100 miles northwest of Papua New Guinea, is at its peak in December. The 40-mile-wide expanse is home to the ghost fleet of sunken ships from World War II and is globally recognised as one of the best wreck diving destinations in the world.

During an allied attack on the Japanese naval base in WWII, more than 60 ships and 200 planes were sunk and have since been claimed by the corals and aquatic animals. Today, the site represents a Japanese memorial and, as with all grave sites, this area deserves to be visited with respect and reverence for the history that it holds.

Chuuk Lagoon is relatively easy to dive, as the surrounding reef protects the lagoon from strong currents. And with wrecks at various depths, it accommodates everyone from newbies to technical divers. The Fukikawa Maru's deck is at 15m and is one of Chuuk's most popular sites. 133m meters long, this armed aircraft carrier has four of its six holds open, allowing divers to glimpse inside the machine shops and see the old tools still in place. Old sake bottles litter the sea floor surrounding of Rio de Janerio Maru that lies on its side at a depth of 30m. And for those technical divers who want to go deeper, San Francisco Maru rests at 60m with a cargo load brimming with coral covered tanks, trucks and bullets.

Amid the wreckage of the sites marine wildlife thrives. You'll find graceful white, black-tip and grey reef sharks patrolling the corridors; schools of barracuda gliding past; and moray eels hiding in the cracks left behind by the attacks. Crawling along the walls, admire nudibranch blending in with the colourful hard and soft corals that adorn the sunken walls of the wrecks. And, if you're very lucky, you'll come across an elusive leopard shark.

Scuba diving in December in Chuuk lagoon promises warm waters and dry conditions meaning that you'll only ever need your 3mm to hop overboard.

Recommended by Rachel Gaw

blue spotted ray swimming along hard coral

The Philippines

Scuba divers flock to the Philippines in December, as the country enters their dry season. With 7,000 islands to explore, an amazing array of marine flora and fauna, and calm diving conditions it's no wonder scuba diving in the Philippines in December is so popular.

Below the surface, temperatures range from 25 to 29°C in December, offering a comfortable environment for underwater exploration, and there is excellent visibility of up to 30m. Around Malapascua Island, keep an eye out for thresher sharks with their distinctive long tails, while Donsol and Oslob promise interactions with whale sharks, the gentle giants of the sea. Apo Island and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park are prime locations for witnessing vibrant coral reefs and sea turtles, while Anilao, known for muck diving, caters to macro photography enthusiasts with a world of fascinating critters and small marine species to snap.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

Ready to book your December diving holiday? Reach out to our dedicated dive specialist to plan your tailor-made scuba diving holiday.

Original Highlight
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Emily C and Jacqui are our 'Best Scuba Diving in December' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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