The hottest diving destinations for 2019
Emerging destinations, new discoveries and lower airfares are opening up new diving holiday destinations for Australian scuba diving enthusiasts. Here are Diveplanit Travel’s picks for the hottest diving holiday destinations for 2019.
Cheaper flights to the Americas, and more of them, make Mexico more and more accessible for Australian travellers, but that’s not the only thing luring divers here. Mexico boasts incredible marine encounters – some not found anywhere else, including encounters with oceanic manta rays, whale sharks, sail fish – you can even snorkel with American crocodiles. Add to this the alluring (and photogenic) ‘Cenotes’ caverns and the coral reefs of Xcalak and Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve, where you can dive with manatees.
It’s enticing enough with its romantic-looking overwater bungalows and turquoise lagoons, and it’s no longer exclusive to the rich and famous. There are now two budget airlines taking passengers from Australia to the Maldives, making a lot more affordable. For divers, it’s all about the guaranteed pelagic encounters, with whale shark encounters year-round at South Ari Atoll and one of the world’s largest aggregations of manta rays in Hanifaru Bay in the north. Net-fishing is not allowed anywhere in the Maldives so wherever you go, you’ll encounter abundant marine life.
This emerging destination is possibly the most accessible to Australians, with daily flights from both Bali and Darwin. Closed to tourism for many years, the coral reefs here are truly ‘unspoiled’. On a shore dive close to the capital Dili, divers are frequently joined by friendly dugongs and between October and December, much larger encounters are experienced in deeper waters, with migrating humpback, sperm, pilot and blue whales.
If you haven’t ticked this destination off your diving bucket list yet, 2019 is the year to do it. It really is everything it’s cracked up to be, with huge schools of pelagic species including manta rays and hammerhead sharks. In season, if you’re lucky you’ll encounter some of the largest whale sharks in the world, dive with playful sea lions, penguins and marine iguanas in the shallows, and on land, get up close and personal with endemic species such as giant tortoises and blue footed boobies.
Japan is trending as a hot holiday destination for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the rich culture, fantastic food and friendly locals. For divers, there’s the added allure of the Yonaguni Monument – a mysterious underwater structure on remote Yonaguni Island that has had geologists and archaeologists at loggerheads for over 30 years. The enormous structure is described by many as an “underwater Machu Picchu”. Okinawa is also a hot spot for schooling hammerheads and its largest reef on Ishigaki Island is home to a large population of manta rays.
Best dive holiday deal right now: Dive Munda, Solomon Islands
This month Solomon Airlines start direct flights to Munda in the Solomon Islands Western Provinces, which lays claim to stunning coral reefs, warm tropical water and the most diverse diving in the Solomon’s. Everything from pretty coral gardens, schooling reef sharks, hammerheads, WWII wrecks and… the Cave of the Kastom Shark – a truly unique dive experience which combines local Kastom culture, a cave dive that rivals even Fish Rock and a beautiful coral reef wall.
An all-inclusive 7-day, 10-dive holiday package to Munda costs less than AU$3000 per person including flights ex-Brisbane.
About Diveplanit Travel
Diveplanit Travel is a specialist scuba diving travel agency and wholesaler. It’s founders, Deborah Dickson-Smith and Simon Mallender, are scuba divers and passionate ocean advocates, whose main mission in life is to encourage more people to see first-hand how incredible the underwater world really is, and hopefully care more about looking after it.
In 2014, with this aim in mind, the couple launched Diveplanit – a website and blog with detailed articles about diving destinations in Asia Pacific and weekly blog posts about marine conservation issues.
For four years, Simon and Deborah have enjoyed introducing their readers to new diving destinations, unique marine encounters and marine conservation initiatives.
Earlier this year, the fast-growing company acquired established dive travel wholesaler and agency Diversion Dive Travel.
“We launched Diveplanit with an aim to encourage more people to experience our incredible underwater world. The more people that take the plunge, surely the more ocean advocates we will create. And the world needs more ocean advocates,” according to Deborah.
Diversion Dive Travel has been taking care of divers’ travel needs for 23 years and have personal knowledge of all the dive resorts and liveaboards they recommend to customers, either from personal experience or from feedback gleaned from their many returning customers.
Specialising in tailor-made diving holidays – the Diversion team pride themselves on finding the best travel combination for each client, taking care of everything along the way, from airfares and accommodation to dive equipment and transfers.
“Wherever you want to go diving, whatever your budget, we have the experience and specialist knowledge to find the right destination and the best dive-stay package to suit your specific requirements – and your budget.
“Whether you want to travel with your family, your partner or your six best dive buddies, we’ll find the perfect match for you – and help you tick off your underwater bucket list items – whether that’s whale sharks, WWII wrecks, manta rays or humpback whales.”