For die-hard divers looking to explore remote destinations or take in as many dive sites as possible, the best option is a liveaboard where you can dive from the deck three or four times a day.
This year’s most talked about destination, according to Dive Worldwide and Original Diving, is Socorro, an ocean region near the southwestern coast of Mexico, accessible only by boat. Designated the largest marine reserve in North America late last year, it’s the place to spot whale sharks, humpback whales, manta rays, bottlenose dolphins and up to 10 species of shark.
Other operators, such as Steppes, are offering liveaboards with experts onboard. In November/December, its guests can sail around Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands and dive up to four times a day in the company of Doug Allan — the cameraman behind David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and Planet Earth. Allan will help divers hone their underwater photography skills, swim alongside whale sharks and explore Second World War wrecks.
And while many liveaboards are basic, there’s a growing choice of luxury liveaboards offering other activities, too. In the Maldives, Scubaspa’s luxurious yachts Ying and Yang dedicate the top two decks to a spa with treatment rooms and yoga classes, while Carpe Diem’s liveaboards also offer surfing and paddleboarding.
Hawksbill Sea turtles, whale sharks and wrecks: St Helena in the South Atlantic from December and March
Hammerhead, tiger and whitetip sharks: The Bahamas in May
Whale sharks and manta rays: The Galápagos from August and October
Wrecks and sharks: Palau, Indonesia, in November
Some like it cold…
-2C to 2C
Watch penguins and walrus, and see kelp forests, crustaceans and starfish by polar diving in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. Divers have to complete the PADI Polar Diver Specialty Course or can simply choose to snorkel. auroraexpeditions.co.uk
Some like it hot…
Whale sharks and manta rays can be seen all year round in the warm waters surrounding the Maldives. Carpe Diem has three liveaboards plus a new beach resort and spa due to open summer 2018 in the Raa Atoll.
Published in the May 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)