Best scuba diving in March

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

March is a bit of a 'meh' month. Many of us are fed up with winter, and spring hasn't quite sprung. There is but one solution: go away. Diving in March is still great in the Maldives (though hurry, the sun and visibility will start to drop soon!) and over in Australia, whale shark season in Ningaloo Reef is kicking off. For families, depending on when Easter falls, March can be the month to take advantage of the bank holiday and it doesn't get much better than Easter in the Caribbean - from the shallow coral gardens and underwater sculptures of Grenada to the unofficial shore diving capital of the world, Bonaire. March is also a marvellous time to go diving in the Philippines, where world-class muck diving can be mixed with colourful coral reefs (it is in the Coral Triangle, after all) and encounters with long-tailed thresher sharks around Malapascua Island. Expect superb diving in the remote Outer Islands of the Seychelles too, with 100m walls, pristine reefs and whirlpools of marine life. Ready to beat the winter blues and get into the blue? Read on for our top picks for the best scuba diving in March...

close image of a hammerhead shark's head underwater close to the sea floor

The Caribbean

Let's kick the winter worries with some guaranteed sunshine in the Caribbean. For the art lovers, head to Grenada's Spice Island for the chance to see the world's first underwater sculpture garden - Molinere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park. Installed in 2006 by Jason deCaires Taylor, the park features 75 sculptures across 800 square meters all at depths of five to eight metres, making it accessible for divers and snorkellers alike.

For the coral lovers, head over to Bonaire. East of Grenada, the clear blue waters here and full of brain coral that extend two metres in diameter and stag horn corals that grow in dense colonies reaching one and a half meters. The fringing reefs are home to 60 different coral species, including fire, elkhorn and gorgonians and support the life of species such as parrot, reefperch and wrasse fish. Make sure to also head to the tiny island of Kelin Bonaire to see the amazing mangrove ecosystem before lazing on a secluded beach, coconut in hand.

And for the shark lovers? Bimini is calling. Located in the western chain of the Bahamas, the waters here are warm, with a flow from the Gulf Stream leading to the Great Bahama Banks, attracting marine creatures from big to small. Come for the great hammerheads and stay for the bull and nurse sharks.

Finally, for those who are seeking some extra pampering and luxury while scuba diving in March, the Turks and Caicos islands are just the ticket, with a cool face towel and pillowed sun lounger awaiting your arrival. Dive over extensive coral reefs and spy nurse sharks and turtles before relaxing on a secluded sand beach fringed by palm trees.

Recommended by Rachel Gaw

oranate eagle ray swimming away into clear blue water close to sandy seabed

Western Australia

Over on the other side of the world, Ningaloo Reef shines. While this site is great year round, diving in March means swimming with whale sharks. The annual coral spawning in Western Australia attracts the world's largest fish to feed meaning that you're guaranteed an encounter with these gentle giants. Due to restrictions around whale shark encounters, you can only snorkel (as opposed to tanking up), making Ningaloo Reef and all of its wonders perfect for all levels of water lovers. And thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the reefs here have an untouched beauty and rich biodiversity. Within the warm waters (which hover around 24°C with visibility ranging from 15-30m, you'll find pods of dolphins, dancing manta rays around Coral Bay and coral reefs buzzing with tropical fish.

Recommended by Charlotte Dunn

Thresher shark swimming out in the blue water close to the surface

Philippines

Descend through glittering clouds of fish as you mingle with millions of sardines in Moalbaol. Located just west of Cebu, this serene stretch of coastline has little to see along the horizon apart from the occasional traditional fisherman boat. Descend through thousands of glittering sardines, discover walls covered in every hue of the rainbow and fin along field upon field of coral, keeping your eyes peeled for tiny pygmy seahorses.

While the sunlight makes day diving a delight here, try a night dive to see the colourful coral turn neon and watch the creeping crustaceans emerge from their hiding holes. If you're lucky, you may even spot a blue-ringed octopus or bobtail squid.

And for a truly unique encounter, head to Malapascua, an island north of Cebu, where you can dive with elusive thresher sharks, which you can't see anywhere else in the world. These stunning creatures usually live in deep waters off continental shelves, but at Malapascua, there are two underwater islands that act as cleaning stations for the sharks and other animals. Thresher sharks are morning creatures, due to the missing membrane in their eye, so you'll need to set off at sunrise. Don't worry though; your 5am dive will be in waters hovering between 26°C to 29°C and with visibility reaching up to 30m.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

macro photography of a small orange fish on orange coral

The Seychelles

March is a great time to dive in the Aldabra Group of the Seychelles, which boast some of the world's most remote and pristine sites. Submerge in the warm waters (temperatures range from around 27°C to 30°C) and see dramatic walls, perfectly preserved coral reefs, hundreds of species of nudibranchs, dancing manta rays, and - if you're lucky - hawkbill and green sea turtles.

If wreck diving is your thing, check out the famous Ennerdale wreck, which is home to eels, barracudas and sharks. And make sure to leave some time for the land-based attractions. More than half of the Seychelles is protected as a nature reserve and you can explore lush jungles filled with millions of sea birds and the occasional centurion giant tortoise.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

yellow, orange, red and pink corals with a deep blue ocean background

Papau New Guinea

Another under-the-radar dive location worth checking out is Milne Bay, in Papua New Guinea. This prime location in the Coral Triangle is relatively diver-free, and you can enjoy all kinds of underwater adventures, from muck and drift diving to wall and wreck diving. Venture to the East Cape to check out sites like Sullivan's Patches, Banana Bommie and Cobb's Cliff, as well as Observation Point - one of our favourite muck diving sites. Over on the north-west, explore Cape Vogel and encounter the legendary wreck of Blackjack, a B17 bomber. And to the east, marvel at the towering islands of Normanby, Furgusson and Goodenough, which form the picturesque D'Entrecasteaux Islands.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

mounted machine gun on a sunken ship wreck that's covered in pink corals

Micronesia

For the manta ray lovers, head to Yap, an island group in Micronesia. March is the perfect time to dive here, and there's heaps to see, including over 100 marine species, 200 species of coral that decorate the outer reefs and caverns, and huge numbers of reef sharks (you may find yourself swimming with ten or more at a time).

Afterwards, set sail for Chuuk Lagoon where you can explore eerie Japanese wrecks from WWII from the infamous 'Operation Hailstone' battle that has left more than 300 vessels decorating the sea floor. Although this is a year-round site, the peak diving season spans from October to April, meaning that diving in March is perfect. You'll only need a 3mm suit, as the water temperatures are consistently between 27°C to 30°C, and the visibility extends beyond 30m. The best way to experience Micronesia is via liveaboard, and due to the various depths and currents, it's great to have a number of dives under your (weight) belt to experience the beauty of these sites at their finest.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

underwater photo of a turtle eating resting on some coral in deep blue water

The Red Sea, Egypt

If you're seeking a world-class dive escape within easy reach of the UK, head to Egypt for some March sunshine and diving delights. The Red Sea holds a spectacular array of marine magic, from vibrant coral gardens and historic wrecks to serene reefs and picturesque coves. And with March marking the onset of warmer waters (ranging from 22°C to 28°C) you can enjoy pleasant conditions before the peak season kicks in.

Divers of all levels can find their haven here, from beginners looking to explore shallow coral gardens teeming with life to seasoned enthusiasts wanting to discover deep sunken treasures. For shark lovers, March promises encounters with oceanic white tips, reef sharks, silky sharks and the occasional awe-inspiring appearance of whale shark or tiger sharks. For the wreck heads, there's the legendary SS Thistlegorm as well as wrecks from old trade routes (we're talking cargo ships filled with tiles, toilets and motorbikes), and WWII planes. And for the adventure lovers, you can fin along the Straits of Tiran to swim with marauding jacks and schools of barracudas or seek out larger pelagics in Ras Mohamed National Park.

Recommend by Rachel Gaw

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

Original Highlight
Image of Jacqui Brooks

Avoid any March misery by jetting Western Australia to snorkel with whale sharks as they start to arrive in Ningaloo Reef.

Jacqui, Original Diver

Our favourites for Best scuba diving in March

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Emily C, Eleanor and Jacqui are our 'Best scuba diving in March' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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