8 Best Diving Destinations to Visit in MarchMarch 15, 2022
As the northern hemisphere heads into spring and more countries open up to tourists, March’s best diving destinations are dotted around the world. It is a great time to go diving in Egypt’s Northern Red Sea, visit Scotland’s wreck diving mecca, or swim with hundreds of whale sharks in Australia. Manta ray season is well underway in Yap and the pristine Tubbataha Natural Park in the Philippines is open for its brief dive season. Read on to find out more and get inspired for your next vacation.
1. Northern Red Sea, Egypt.
There is fantastic diving year-round in the Red Sea but March to May is one of the best times to visit to avoid the scorching heat of summer. The water is cooler than the summer months, but the dive sites are still colorful, and you can explore topside without getting too hot.
Egypt is one of the best diving hotspots for budget-friendly and accessible diving, with something for every experience level. Sharm el Sheikh diving is the most popular but there are a handful of other great destinations to choose from.
Wherever you dive in Egypt, you can join liveaboards, day boats, or just dive from shore, and enjoy access to dozens of vibrant dive sites.
The Ras Mohammed National Park is famous for its colorful reefs and clear blue waters. The diving is easy, and the reefs host vibrant soft and hard corals, plenty of reef fish, sea turtles, eagle rays and reef sharks.
The Straits of Tiran are another popular choice for reef diving in the north, offering steep drop-offs, coral-encrusted walls and exciting drift dives.
If you love wreck diving, make sure you spend a day at the impressive SS Thistlegorm and go diving at Abu Nuhas.
Abu Nuhas, also known as Egypt’s ‘ships graveyard’, hosts the Giannis D, Kimon M, Chrisoula K and Rosalie Moller wrecks. It is also home to the oldest shipwreck available to divers in the Red Sea, the 1869 Carnatic.
2. Scapa Flow, Scotland.
You might not think of scuba diving in Scotland for a spring vacation but this cool-water destination is a wreck diving mecca.
The Orkney Islands lie off the northeastern coast of Scotland and host Scapa Flow - a sheltered body of water that was the former chief base of the Royal Navy. At the end of World War I, the German High Seas Fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow and 52 of the 74 vessels sank.
It is hard to get your head around the scale of the diving on offer at Scapa Flow. There is an astonishing range of wrecks to dive, including the remaining warships of the German High Seas fleet.
3. Jardines de la Reina, Cuba.
Established in the 1990s, the Jardines de la Reina or ‘Gardens of the Queen’ is one of the Caribbean’s most successful conservation stories and offers a glimpse into the past, with pristine dive sites free from the impacts of humans.
This vast archipelago of 250 coral and mangrove islands is heavily protected and demonstrates just how well the ocean can thrive when it is protected from humanity.
There are lush seagrass beds and untouched reefs that host diverse ecologically-important species, including numerous sharks, hawksbill and green turtles, crocodiles, queen conchs, and rare staghorn and elkhorn corals.
Only 350 divers are allowed to visit each year and March is one of the best months to visit for calm waters and dry weather. If you cannot visit in March, go from July to November for the chance to swim with whale sharks.
4. Yap and Chuuk Lagoon, Federated States of Micronesia.
The Federated States of Micronesia is a bucket-list destination at any time of year, offering some of the best diving in the western Pacific Ocean. If you love manta rays and wrecks, March is a perfect month to visit.
Yap is one of the top places to dive with manta rays in Micronesia and has a resident population of manta rays that feed in the lagoons and visit Yap’s network of cleaning stations. From December to April, the mantas congregate to breed, forming long chains of courting mantas.
Take a flight from Yap to Chuuk and you can experience the holy grail of wreck diving. Chuuk Lagoon was the site of a fierce battle in World War II that resulted in hundreds of ships, planes and submarines sinking.
The wrecks remain there to this day, and you can dive approximately 50 of them. One of Chuuk’s best diving highlights is exploring the abundant sunken cargo; from coral-encrusted tanks, trucks and airplanes, to mines and bombs.
As well as wrecks galore, Chuuk Lagoon is also surrounded by a huge barrier reef that hosts diverse corals and reef life.
5. Hawaii, United States of America.
With 20 per cent of Hawaii’s marine life found nowhere else, you will have plenty of unusual species to log if you go scuba diving in Hawaii. Added to that, March is peak humpback whale season.
Hawaii is a tropical paradise of active volcanoes and turquoise waters that offer something for every diver. There are lush coral gardens and impressive lava landscapes scattered around the islands, plus wrecks, caves, colorful reefs and thrilling drift dives.
The impressive Tubestria Tunnels is a unique must-visit dive site with immense lava fingers that have created dramatic ridges, canyons and swim-throughs of hardened lava.
6. Tubbataha Natural Park, the Philippines.
The Tubbataha Natural Park is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Severn Wonders of the World. Consisting of almost 100,000 hectares of coral reef, it is the most biodiverse dive destination in the Philippines and can only be dived from March to June each year.
This thriving marine park is an important habitat for endangered marine species and hosts almost 90 per cent of all coral species in the Philippines. As well as abundant corals, Tubbataha Reef hosts around 700 fish species, including large schools of jacks, tuna and barracuda, plus abundant sharks, mantas and sea turtles.
There are dive sites for every experience level at Tubbataha, but this destination can only be accessed by liveaboard. It is a good idea to complete a boat diving certification before you visit to make sure you have the confidence and skills to enjoy your time aboard.
7. Ningaloo Reef, Australia.
February was the month to visit Ningaloo Reef in Australia for hatchling sea turtles, but March sees the arrival of hundreds of whale sharks. As Australia opens up its borders to tourists, now is the perfect time to dive Ningaloo.
The Ningaloo Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, supports an array of marine life and hosts Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, yet it has few dive crowds. With over 500 species of fish, hundreds of corals and critters, and seasonal marine megafauna, the diving at Ningaloo is fantastic year-round.
Attracted by the wet season plankton blooms and coral spawning, whale sharks congregate at Ningaloo Reef from March every year. As well as swimming with whale sharks, you also have a good chance of spotting mantas, dolphins and sea turtles there.
8. The Cayman Islands.
With crystal-clear waters and over 350 dive sites, diving in the Cayman Islands is always popular. There are epic wall dives, famous wrecks and thriving reefs, plus beach resorts and plenty of topside activities. All of which makes the Cayman Islands one of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean for divers and their families.
The underwater mountain range that makes up the Cayman Islands is peppered with sheer walls, including the Bloody Bay Wall at Little Cayman Island. This famous wall starts at 9 meters and plunges to over 900 meters deep, offering one of the most sought-after and vibrant wall dives in the area.
The wall is covered in corals, fans and sponges – all busy with an assortment of macro life - with eagle rays, sea turtles and Nassau groupers passing by.
The USS Kittiwake is a must for new wreck divers visiting Grand Cayman. This relatively shallow wreck sits in gin-clear waters and has spacious corridors that make her easy to navigate by day or night.
You can hang out with dozens of laid-back stingrays in a calm, clear lagoon at Stingray City or go in search of Grand Cayman’s numerous sea turtles. When you are done diving, make sure you visit the award-winning Seven Mile Beach.