Start New Year Right – January’s 10 Best Dives

It is the start of a new year and the perfect time to pack your bags and explore the world. Whether you want a dive vacation close to home or a sunshine-soaked adventure far overseas, January’s best dives will deliver. Grab your dive kit, it is time to go diving!

Where are the best dives in January?

Go swimming with manatees in Florida’s stunning Crystal River, explore UNESCO World Heritage site diving in Brazil, or tick off two bucket-list destinations, the Maldives and Palau.

Humpback whale season is underway at the Socorro Islands and Raja Ampat is teeming with mantas, to name but a few of January’s best dives.

Whether you are an experienced diver looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure or a new diver looking for easy dives, these are the best places to go diving in January:

1. Rock Islands, Palau.

The tropical islands of Palau have graced the pages of many glossy magazines and offer some of the best dives in the Pacific.

Diving in the gin-clear waters around Palau, you can see impressive shipwrecks, dive at an exposed natural corner in the ocean, and hang in the currents with numerous manta rays.

Palau’s Rocks Islands offer some of the world’s most unique landscapes, with over 200 limestone rocks jutting out of deep blue waters teeming with life.

January is one of the best times to go Palau scuba diving and experience all these islands have to offer.

2. Ari Atoll, the Maldives.

The Maldives is a fantastic dive destination at any time of year, but January is one of the most popular times to visit thanks to having sunny days and calm seas.

Ari Atoll is a great choice for pelagic and macro encounters alike. Go scuba diving in South Ari Atoll to swim with whale sharks and experience classic manta action at Rangali Madivaru (Manta Point).

There are also many thilas, kandus, and lagoons to explore, with vibrant reef fish, critters, sea turtles, and passing reef sharks.

3. Socorro Islands, Mexico.

Scuba diving in Mexico is at its best during January, with humpback whale season well underway.

The Socorro Islands, or Revillagigedo Islands, are the undisputed Galapagos of Mexico and host an array of marine megafauna year-round. But if you are a whale fan, January is the time to visit.

These remote, volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean are surrounded by clear blue waters and can only be reached by liveaboard.

Visit during January to experience the haunting song of humpback whales as they arrive at these rich waters.

As well as spotting whales, explore the Socorro’s best dives to meet the famously-friendly giant mantas, up to 10 species of sharks, and get up close to resident bottlenose dolphins.


4. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil.

Another island idyll, Fernando de Noronha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site protected by a marine park and sanctuary that attracts tourists every year.

This picture-perfect archipelago consists of 21 islands and islets, swathed in lush green forests and bordered by golden sands.

It offers the best diving in Brazil, with beautiful azure waters and dive sites busy with sea turtles, rays, sharks and numerous dolphins.

There are plenty of other attractions for ocean lovers as well. The southern coast has the best dive conditions from January to March, with surfing at its best from now until the end of March.

5. Three Sisters Springs, Florida.

For a truly life-affirming experience, go swimming with manatees. These gentle giants are super chilled and spend winter in the warm waters of Crystal River in Florida. Swimming with them is one of the best reasons to go diving in Florida.

Three Sisters Springs is a complex of three spring areas on the Crystal River. Together, they form one of the most important warm-water refuges for the increasingly-rare Florida manatees.

As well as manatees, you will find freshwater fish and turtles there, and be surrounded by the calls of migratory and native bird species as you surface.


6. Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

If you could only go coral reef diving once, Raja Ampat would be the place to go.

It is the holy grail of reef diving, offering striking underwater landscapes covered in rainbow-hued soft corals and surrounded by huge shoals of fish.

As well as eye-catching landscapes and more fish than you could ever hope to see, diving in Raja Ampat is all about manta rays and prized Coral Triangle critters.

January sits in peak manta season and it is a great month to visit for calm, clear waters, meaning you can explore Raja Ampat’s best dives with ease.

7. Easter Island, Chile.

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is famous for its Moai statues and is a wish-list dive destination that few people know about.

Being so isolated from humans, the water visibility there reaches a staggering 70 meters (230 feet) and the marine biodiversity is incredible.

The best diving conditions can be found during winter, with relatively calm, clear waters and the warmest air and water temperatures.

Dive in to explore underwater landscapes dotted with caves, arches and lava platforms, plus an underwater Moai slowly being taken over by corals.

The exceptional visibility is the main attraction, though there is some fish life, plus green sea turtles and corals that have reached enormous proportions.


8. Moalboal, the Philippines.

By January, the annual Moalboal sardine run is on and offers the chance to dive among enormous, swirling schools of sardines.

It is the Philippines’ answer to South Africa’s famous sardine run but a lot easier to predict and join!

This natural phenomenon is a must-do experience and occurs off the coastal resort town of Moalboal in Cebu.

There are millions of sardines just offshore from the beaches of Moalboal, so simply wade in and enjoy the hypnotic dance of these silver fish.

As well as sardines, it is also one of the best times to go swimming with whale sharks at Cebu.

9. The Dominican Republic.

Sitting around 128 km off the coast of the Dominican Republic, the Silver Bank is one of the only breeding and calving areas where you can swim with humpback whales.

This marine reserve provides a safe winter haven for the North Atlantic humpback whale population.

It is visited by thousands of humpbacks every winter, who gather there to mate, calve and raise their young.

Most trips to the area are week-long liveaboard safaris, giving you plenty of in-water time with these captivating animals.

Add a few extra days to your trip to explore the other highlights of Dominican Republic scuba diving.

It is one of the most visited destinations in the Caribbean and the best dives there include spectacular reefs and shipwrecks at the La Caleta National Marine Park, plus thrilling cave dives.


10. Bimini, Bahamas.

Turquoise waters, 2400 cays, endless sunshine, and some of the world’s best diving with sharks, make the Bahamas a perfect January getaway.

The Bahamas is known worldwide for its excellent diving, with vast coral reefs and impressive wrecks perched on soft white sands.

Whilst the reefs and wrecks are enough to keep any diver entertained, shark diving is one of the top reasons to go Bahamas scuba diving.

From now until March, it is peak hammerhead shark season at Bimini.

As well as great hammerhead sharks, you can encounter lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks and laid-back nurse sharks as well.