Best Scuba Diving in September

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

With the nippers back at school, Europe becomes a child-free zone for those going on holiday in September. Speaking honestly, this can be a tricky month for travel because many regions are either just coming to the end of their high seasons or not quite there yet. But lucky for you, we know all the best places to go. If your home is Europe, then stay close by with shoulder season in Egypt and Gozo. The waters will be blissfully uncrowded, and the beaches delightfully child-free. What’s more, September means diving with thresher sharks in the Red Sea, a truly thrilling experience. If you fancy something further afield, then Fiji is coming to the end of its warm weather season and as the crowds thin out, you’ll have the soft coral capital all to yourself. Close by, Palau never disappoints. With over 1,300 species of fish and 500 islands to explore. You could even turn your holiday into a mega trip by popping onto Australia's east and west coast for some whale watching and shark swimming. And since we are talking about swimming with whale sharks, what about the Galapagos? Swim with these beautiful beasts as well as hammer heads and shimmering schools of jacks and barracudas. Without further ado, read on for our best scuba diving destinations in September…

Photo of a green turtle resting on some coral in cool blue waters

Egypt:

If you want to swim with thresher sharks while the kiddos are back at school, then head to Egypt. The cooler temperatures, calm sea conditions and abundance of underwater delights mark Egypt as one of the best places to go scuba diving in September. The waters here have it all; from minuscule micro marvels (think nudibranchs in every hue) to oceanic whitetip sharks and wondrous wrecks. Temperatures are balmy in the water, ranging from 25°C to 29°C, and visibility is excellent, reaching up to 40m.

September is the beginning of thresher shark season (which runs until February) and Brothers Islands, in the northern area of the Red Sea, is a great place to see them. And there is more shark action here too. Expect the company of grey, whitetip, blacktip, oceanic whitetips, hammerheads and tiger sharks (phew).

In the southern parts of Egypt, you can enjoy typical Red Sea diving. Colourful hard and soft corals dot the reefs while moray eels poke their heads out, turtles glide and the occasional dolphin whizzes by. And we haven't even mentioned the possibility of spotting a dugong. Head to the shallow waters in Marsa Alam to spy these plump beauties munching on seagrass.

And if you want to mix up your marine life with some maritime history, check out the numerous wrecks that dot the floor. The SS Carnatic wreck was carrying a cargo of gold, so you may even come across some sunken treasure.

Recommended by Rachel Gaw

Aeirel photo of snorkellers exploring the Blue Hole with sand coloured stone around them

Gozo:

After the scorching summer months, Gozo and Malta's surrounding sea is wonderfully warm to dive in (we're talking 25-28°C). Add to that crystal-clear visibility - all thanks to vast posodonia (seagrass) meadows - and fantastic wrecks, not to mention a whole heap of activities on land, and you've got a truly epic September getaway.

On the subject of wreck diving, Gozo has some wonderful wrecks resting on its sea floor. One of our favourite places to dive is off the southeast Gozo in Xatt I-Ahmar. Here, there are three scuttled wrecks that lie within 50m of each other. MV Karwela and Cominoland are both safe to penetrate as they were scuttled with escape holes. Sadly, the MV Xlendi was sunk upside down and is too unstable to explore. To see some more wrecks, head off on a day trip to Malta to explore the Rozi and P29 wrecks. Or, for a day of lounging alongside cerulean waters, how about a day trip to the neighbouring island Comino to visit the Blue Lagoon?

Gozo's beauty is as much above the surface as below. Spend your interval times church touring (there are 359 between Gozo and Malta), munching on the catch of the day in one of the sleepy fishing villages or hiking through the honey-hued rocky terrain.

Recommended by Rachel Gaw

Female diver swims over a large soft coral in Fiji

Fiji:

Over in Fiji, September is the last month of glorious weather, and with thinner crowds, divers can explore the rainbow reefs, dive with bull sharks and enjoy a whole heap of epic land adventures in blissful solitude.

Head to Vanua Levu for rustic yet romantic properties and world-class diving. In the south, you'll find Namena Marine Reserve, one of only a handful of marine areas in Fiji. The sites here range from pinnacles covered in soft corals to reef walls exploding in colour and teeming with big fish.

If you're here for the soft corals, make a beeline for Taveuni, just off Vanua Levu. Here, you'll have easy access to Somosomo Straight (considered the best diving in Fiji) and the home of the famous Great White Wall - a mind-blowingly beautiful wall that glows like ice below the surface. And while you may have come for the corals, you'll stay for the shark sightings, everything from hammerheads to various reef sharks.

But if you're going to trek to Fiji for sharks (and we highly recommend that you do) then Beqa Lagoon is the go-to destination. In these delightful waters, you can expect to see (deep breath) blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, tawny nurse sharks, sickle fin lemon sharks, bull sharks and the occasional tiger shark. Drifting alongside these beauties will be (another deep breath) giant groupers, maori wrasse, rainbow runners, giant trevally, java morays, eagle rays and more than 400 species of tropical reef fish. So yes, it's no wonder that Fiji is one of the best places to scuba dive in September.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

Aeriel photo of Palau showing lush green island surrounded by deep blue waters and clear blue skies

Palau:

While we're on this side of the world, let's turn our mask-covered eyes towards Palau, an astounding archipelago of more than 500 islands sitting pretty in the Pacific Ocean. Here, you'll find crystal-clear water, kaleidoscopic coral reefs and a cast of marine life that will astound even the most experienced diver. And the best part? It's still relatively under the radar. This postcard-perfect paradise is bursting at the seams with more than 1,300 species of fish - including Napolean wrasses that can grow to a whopping 1.8m.

For the experienced divers, head to the famous Blue Hole and Blue Corner, located west of the island of Koror. The cavern floor of Blue Hole descends 37m so it's more appropriate for those who are advanced or deep dive certified. As you descend into the sapphire waters, look for the whip corals clinging to the rock wall as schools of fish flash by.

Nearby (if you've planned your dive carefully and the currents are in your favour) is the Blue Corner site. Here, you'll be enveloped in the indigo waters surrounded by congregations of animals - we're talking barracuda, white tip reef sharks, big eye trevallies and much more. We would argue that there is never a bad time to dive in Palau - it's always jaw-slackingly amazing, but diving in September also means warm waters hover between 27°C to 30°C, so you'll only need a 3mm wetsuit, and the visibility typically ranges from 20-30m.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

above shot of a manta ray swimming in cool blue waters

Australia:

Since we're talking about underexplored places, let's go down under and pop over to Australia. The Great Barrier Reef needs no introduction, and the dry season (May-October) means that September is one of the best times to dive. It's no secret that the Great Barrier Reef is a mecca for divers which does mean that it can be crowded. Fear not, though, we can recommend where to go to have the world's largest reef seemingly to yourself.

In the northern reaches of the reef is Lizard Island, a beautifully quiet spot. You can snorkel from secluded beaches over gardens of giant clams or look out for hammerheads on a dive trip into the Coral Sea. September is also towards the end of whale-watching season, so be sure to ask us for the best tours and you'll also get to enjoy abundant sightings of manta rays while dodging stinger season.

Another popular spot is Lord Howe Island, which is only a two-hour flight from Sydney but a world away from the hustle and bustle. Situated at the convergence of five ocean currents, including the warm East Australian Current, it serves as a nursery for tropical fish and corals. These currents bring larvae that flourish in the island's diverse marine ecosystem, boasting over 90 coral species and 500 fish species. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982, 75% of the island is protected as a marine park and subtropical rainforest. For divers, this means unparalleled opportunities to explore pristine reefs teeming with life, making Lord Howe Island a must-visit destination.

And in case you missed the whales on the east coast, head over to the other side of this gigantic country. Ningaloo Reef beckons with the opportunity to swim with whale sharks, laze with turtles and delight at dugongs. In both the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef, you can expect water temperatures ranging from 22°C to 26°C and water visibility reaching up to 30m.

Recommended by Charlotte Dunn

A large group of hammerhead sharks swim together in dark blue waters

The Galapagos:

Last, and by no means least (as it's often top of every diver's bucket list), is the Galapagos Archipelago. It's located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador and is one of the best places to go scuba diving in September. With the dry season in full swing, you can expect cooler water temperatures (around 19-23°C) and frequent thermoclines to mix up your diving experience.

You'll be surrounded by schools of hammerhead sharks and will also have the chance to swim alongside majestic whale sharks. With so many sites to discover and the (wonderful) lack of land-based accommodations, the best way to explore this archipelago is by liveaboard where you can truly live by the manta of dive, eat, sleep, repeat.

Recommended by Emily Chappell

Ready to start planning your September diving holiday? Reach out to our dedicated dive specialists to plan your tailor-made scuba diving holiday.

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To snorkel with whale sharks in September, you can’t beat liveaboard diving in Cenderawasih Bay in Indonesia, where close encounters with these gentle giants is virtually guaranteed.

Jacqui, Original Diver

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

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