Warm waters found near the equator means diving in Africa and the Middle East can be enjoyed year round. Plenty of rare species frequent these waters during mating season or as they migrate down south during winter months. With plenty to offer divers of all abilities and interest, here is our list of the top dive spots in the Middle East and Africa.
1.Marsa Alam, Egypt
Experienced divers will be lured to challenging dives in the warm waters of Marsa Alam. There are plenty of rare species to be spotted amongst a collection of testing dive sites. It is possible to dive year round in Marsa Alam, autumn is a perfect time to go for quiet but warm waters. If you are a big fish enthusiast, aim for May or June for your best chance of spotting sharks. There are milder sites in the region which beginners can enjoy but Marsa Alam is ideal for advanced divers. Sites such as The Brothers Islands require a minimum of 50 logged dives to explore. Tuna, hammerhead sharks, large pelagics and gorgonian fans await in these strong currents and unseen waters.
2. Coin de Mire Island, Mauritius
Coin de Mire has plenty of dive spots to be explored from the relaxing shore dives to challenging drift dives through caverns and swim throughs. The varied natural architecture is what makes this dive location one of Africa’s best. The Wall dive reaches depths of 40m and is bustling micro marine life, lobsters, octopus and gorgonian fans. The Carpenters offer a thrilling drift dive alongside barracudas. On the right day visibility at Coin de Mire is excellent at over 30m. It is possible to dive year round in Mauritius but June to October offer the best chances of spotting large marine life including whales. Divers of all abilities can enjoy this location as there is a great variation of sites.
3. Aqaba, Jordan
Divers are spoilt for choice in the warm waters of Aqaba marine park, offering plenty of dive spots making it easy to avoid crowded locations and some of the most photogenic underwater scenery. Amongst the coral, canyons and wreck divers have the opportunity to spot nudibranchs, frogfish, shrimps and eels. Calm waters mean divers of all abilities can leisurely swim through dive spots throughout the year. September and October are the best months for spotting the most wildlife and even though this is the high season the volume of divers is much lower than other popular dive locations.
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4. Daymaniyat Islands, Oman
Daymaniyat Islands is a hidden diving treasure which was inaccessible to tourism until 2013. Now the islands boast one of the Middle East’s best dive locations. Its coral reef bustling with clownfish, angelfish and arabian butterflyfish as well as graceful whale sharks punctuating the clear waters as they migrate south. April and May are the best months to enjoy diving in Daymaniyat Islands but it is possible to dive at any time during the year. With its expanse of dive sites divers of all levels can explore these nutrient rich waters. Experience varied and stunning topography and rock formations, have fun venturing through swim-throughs and under overhangs all whilst keeping an eye for lurking eels and cuttlefish.
5. Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
Visit Africa’s only underwater museum thriving with renewed sea life since its installation. Playa Blanca is an ideal exploration and unique experience for new divers with their open water certification; waters are shallow around the museum with a maximum depth of 14m. More advanced divers can enjoy descending into the depths of Punta Berrugo where moray eels, bastard grunts and stingrays can be found in caves, swim-throughs and fishing wrecks. Lanzarote is divable throughout the year with eagle rays and common dolphins spotted during every month. There is always good visibility but April to October have the warmest waters.
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6. Diani Beach, Kenya
The coast of Kenya is home to 5 marine parks meaning you cannot go wrong diving in any of the protected water’s dive sites. Diani offers plenty of reef dives and large wreck at 27m which attracts batfish, snappers, sweetlips and trevallies. Diani also prioritizes the conservation turtles that visit the region including hawksbill and green turtles who return for nesting. High visibility and warm waters mean diving can be enjoyed in the Indian ocean year-round and is suitable for divers of all abilities, though advanced certification is needed to explore the submerged wreck. The most ideal diving conditions are from October to March.
7. Ras Mohammed, Egypt
In Egypt’s first national park lies the protected waters of Ras Mohammed. Thriving reefs on historically altered coastlines are home to lionfish, blue triggerfish and Sohal surgeonfish. Eagle rays and blacktip reef sharks can also be found in these waters. Accessible via day trips or liveaboards Ras Mohammed can be enjoyed by divers of all abilities with visibility up to 40m on a good day. The warm waters of the Red Sea can be enjoyed year round with the highest temperature in June to August and lowest in February. Explore wall dives in the shallows or deep and venture into the cave of Jackfish Alley. This dive location is easy to reach with a strong diving community to support your adventures.
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With over 30 dive sites surrounding the african island of Zanzibar there is no way this location can be skipped. It is the ideal experience location regardless of your diving level. Protective action in place at many of the dive spots means you can find swarms of species especially on Zanzibar’s coral reef. Smaller marine life such as seahorses, octopus and harlequin shrimps can be spotted as well as elusive reef sharks or spotted eagle rays. July and August are the best months for diving though these fall within the peak months for tourism. Fortunately thanks to Zanzibar’s plethora of dive spots you are sure to find quiet dive sites. If you are particularly interested in seeing large mammals including hammerhead or whale sharks then diving from November to February is best. Zanizbar has crystal clear waters with high visibility year round, this dive location is suitable for beginners but there are plenty of deep dive sites to explore for advanced divers including caves, tunnels and shipwrecks.
9. Buracona and Regona, Cape Verde
Cape Verde offers a cave diving paradise. Experience stunning visuals as sunlight breaks through the ceiling in Buracona cove and awesome light rays cut through the water. If that was not enough, Regona offers the exploration of tunnels and caverns full of hidden lobster species, stingrays, crabs and shrimps. Divers need to have cave diving experience and advanced diving certification is required for the depths of Buracona. The best time to dive is from April to November, whilst it is possible to dive year round choppy waters can make entrance to the water difficult. You will also want a clear and bright day for diving Buracona to truly appreciate the beauty of the cave.