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Covering almost 20% of the Earth’s surface, the Indian Ocean is the third biggest ocean on Earth. It has some of the warmest water in the world, making it home to unique marine life that thrives in these warmer temperatures. The Indian Ocean has few islands but those that do sit in turquoise waters and offer some of the best diving experiences in the world. Join us as we explore the best places for Indian Ocean diving.
The Seychelles remained uninhabited until the late 1700s when it was first claimed by the French. Its trading history can be discovered in sunken wrecks waiting to be explored around the island. Now known for its white sand beaches, clear blue waters, and secluded island atmosphere, the diving in the Seychelles offers a perfect island getaway and fantastic diving.
The Seychelles offers a range of dive experiences depending on where you descend. Water temperatures vary from 28 °C (83 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F), meaning no matter the site, warm waters will create a comfortable experience.
Visibility is often beyond 30 meters (100 feet), making it easy to spot the beautiful wildlife darting between coral and granite reefs. Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit the Seychelles with optimum visibility and calm conditions.
There are over 100 islands that make up the Seychelles, but flying to Victoria-Seychelles airport is the best way to reach the country. From there you can decide if you will explore the shore of the main island Mahe or take boat trips or liveaboards to the smaller islands, each with spectacular tropical wildlife.
Aldabra is a protected area as part of the UNESCO World Heritage program, home to numerous green and Hawksbill sea turtles, silvertip sharks, potato groupers, and many macro critters. Divers require a permit to visit these waters and there are sites to suit all abilities.
For advanced divers who love discovering wrecks, the Aldebaranwreck has been submerged for 15 years and is now home to batfish, lionfish and moray eels. During the right season, divers may even get to dive with hammerhead sharks.
A pristine paradise that has to be seen to be believed, the Maldives is on every traveller’s bucket list. Over 1000 coral islands beckon, all surrounded by white sand beaches and swathed in palm trees. But it is the beauty of the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean that attracts increasing numbers of people to go diving in the Maldives. As one of the lowest countries, the islands seamlessly merge with the water and offer fantastic diving with whale sharks.
Liveaboards are a great way to explore the islands and try drift diving, letting the current take you on a propelled journey through channels and past coral-covered pinnacles. The nutrient-dense waters sustain a variety of marine life and offer the chance to revel in the glorious biodiversity that Indian Ocean diving is known for.
Temperatures stay warm, averaging 28 °C (82 °F) throughout the year, and depending on conditions, visibility ranges from 10 meters (35 feet) to 30 meters (100 feet). The clarity and vibrant blue water make it a favorite location for underwater photographers, whether searching for macro delights or wanting to capture wide-angle large pelagics.
There are dive locations for all abilities in the Maldives but being an advanced diver will allow you to make the most of the array of dive sites available.
Noonu Atoll diving offers unique marine life including redtoothed triggerfish and Pikachu nudibranchs. Christmas Rock attracts large fish including nurse sharks, whitetip sharks, and stingrays, which can be spotted gliding around this submerged island.
For even more Maldives shark diving adventures, do not miss Orimas Thila. This dive site is perfect for advanced divers, where leopard sharks, guitar sharks and rays dwell in large numbers.
Beginner divers can enjoy exploring the many shallow sites of Faafu Atoll. This area is a relatively unexplored and new dive destination, so there is always the opportunity to spot a creature for the first time. Faafu offers channels, pinnacles and reefs to explore with barracudas, Napoleon wrasse, schools of tuna and more to be discovered.
The closest island to India, Sri Lanka is an island of incredible beauty, tropical climate and abundant tea plantations. Due to its positioning, diving in Sri Lanka is possible year-round, as one coast always offers calm waters when the other is choppy.
Sri Lanka is easy to reach by plane and exploring the island is achievable by bus or train. You can always reach out to local dive centers for the best ways to reach your dream dive destination. Sri Lanka has dive sites suitable for all abilities, including sites which offer challenging tec diving.
Water temperatures range from 27 °C (80 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F) throughout the year. As with many of the places you can experience Indian Ocean diving, visibility can be spectacular and reach 30 meters (100 feet).
Sri Lanka has more than 50 wrecks to explore and coral reefs full of life around its coast with sites accessible from the shore or as a day boat trip. The waters of Sri Lanka have diverse marine life, including bannerfish, sweetlips, trevally and plenty of crustaceans. There are even residential blue whales.
Gorgonian Garden is an unmissable dive site. Located on the seabed it offers a unique exploration for technical divers due to its depth of 35 meters (115 feet). The fauna is vibrant, and divers will see giant sea fans stretching into the distance.
Sri Lanka has operated many popular ports in its history and as a result, many ships have succumbed to the sea and are now exciting wreck dives. Conch is a wreck located at 22 meters (72 feet), making it accessible for those with advanced certification. Parts of the wreck are scattered around the main vessel and the wreck itself has been taken over by marine life.
Mauritius has a rich cultural heritage celebrated through music and dance and the island’s Hindu influence makes it a peaceful location for divers to explore. Diving in Mauritius offers excellent visibility and there is plenty of marine life big and small to discover.
Fly into Mauritius during the daytime and you will be in awe of its striking mountain ranges covered in greenery, as well as its dramatic coast with inviting waters in every shade of blue.
Temperatures from November to April are the lowest, at 21 °C (70 °F), and then increase from March to October at 30 °C (86 °F). Whilst other Indian Ocean diving locations spring to mind more easily, there is no arguing with Mauritius’s excellent visibility, which can exceed 40 meters (140 feet)!
There are hundreds of species of coral in the rich waters of Mauritius, plus morays, stingrays, octopus, scorpionfish, and butterflyfish to be discovered. Venturing to the north of the main island is best for divers, as it offers easy access to the other islands and lots of shore reef diving.
Coin de Mire is a popular location with dive sites for all abilities. Sitting at 11 meters (36 feet) and descending to 20 meters (66 feet), Water Lily Reef can be explored with an Open Water diver certification upwards and has many varieties of reef fish including yellow-edged lyre tails, wrasses and surgeonfish. This dive site’s beautiful colors mean you will not want to leave your camera behind.
Water Lily and Emily are two sunken wrecks that can be explored at 20 meters (66 feet) to 25 meters (82 feet) and are home to Bengal snappers, red crabs, and yellow mouth morays. The marine life at these wrecks is often curious to the presence of divers.
Batfish Wall off Snake Island has a maximum depth of 50 meters (164 feet). Coral decorates this wall dive and there are schools of batfish, for which it is named.
The largest island in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is renowned for its flourishing nature that extends from its jungle-dwelling lemurs to pygmy blue whales gliding past the coast. A remote dive location where clear waters welcome you to discover some of the world’s most varied biodiversity, Madagascar is an unmissable place for Indian Ocean diving.
Once cyclone season has ended, divers can easily explore the clear waters of Madagascar, with May until December being the best opportunity to venture beneath the surface. Liveaboards operate in Madagascar and local dive centers can curate trips around your needs. Tourism is at a sustainable level, so having peaceful dives at relatively untouched sites is possible.
Thriving biodiversity means rare species can be easily spotted when you go diving in Madagascar. The waters are crystal-clear, with visibility often over 30 meters (100 feet). The island is also on the path of migratory humpback whales and offers the chance to see families making their way through the ocean.
Diving in Nosy Be has something for every diver and there are many dive sites home to huge schools of fish. The Nosy Tanikely marine reserve is home to thriving corals, sea turtles and numerous fish, including wahoos, damselfish, and fusiliers.
Rosario is a top site for whale shark spotting and has large sea fans to small coral pinnacles hiding micro marine life. The Gran Banc Exterior is a large drop-off site that boasts large fish including hammerhead and whitetip reef sharks. Pufferfish, groupers, and tuna can all be spotted at this site.
The Indian Ocean certainly has a lot to offer divers. So, where will you head to first?
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DIVING IN THE INDIAN OCEAN.