It December and probably cold if you’re reading this in the northern hemisphere, its minus 3c outside as I type brrrr. Even if you’re in warmer climes December is definitely the time of year to think about escaping everything! Decembers ScubaEarth Featured Destinations will definitely get you in the mood to warm yourself or even dive off some of that festive cheer that you over indulged in.
The more than 170 islands that make up the South Pacific’s Kingdom of Tonga don’t disappoint above or below water with the purity of their tropical bliss. Every year from July to October, humpback whales come to Tonga to calve and mate in the warm waters, and in water encounters are possible through licensed tour operators. The diving, which takes place off the four main island groups of Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Vava’u and the Ha’apai, features a hard coral seascape with clownfish, eels and lots of glittery tropicals flitting over the reefs. Pinnacles and drop-offs, walls and coral gardens are found off most islands with many sites rarely visited or still undiscovered. There is also the opportunity to gain certifications, such as completing the PADI Carvern Diver course, which you may need to dive certain sites.
Malta and Gozo
Just a short flight from most European cities, these two small islands in the southern Mediterranean are wrapped in the regions’ warmest and clearest waters, and is one of the few European destinations where warm water diving is possible year-round. A strong and enticing mix of intact, penetrable wrecks, marine life, caverns and flourishing drop-offs will keep the 50+ dive sites that ring these islands at the top of the mind for European divers. The wrecks represent several eras and both shipwrecks and airplanes, including WWII casualties and wrecks recently sunk as artificial reefs. These islands offer more than 7,000 years of human occupation and cultural heritage. Architecture runs the gamut from temples dedicated to the goddess of fertility to dozens of wonderfully ornamented cathedrals, forts and palaces.
Turks and Caicos
A group of 40 islands and cays just southeast of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos have gained fame in the dive world with a beloved four letter word: Walls. Here, wall diving sits at the center of the dive experience. If you want to feel the sensation of flying on every dive, then the Turks and Caicos is the place to soar. Top dive areas include Providenciales, West Caicos and Grand Turk. The water is always ice clear and as with all wall diving, you never know what will pass by, from spotted eagle rays to reef sharks.
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