For half of the globe September and October are the last hurrahs of summer, fading into autumn. This feeling that the warm days are slipping away (especially in the north of Europe!) can spur even the most lethargic of divers to look to the travel agents for a possible dive spot. The problem with this is that September and October are usually the months of change in many parts of the world, leading to potentially terrible weather. What I’ve compiled here is a list of fairly safe bets on getting good diving conditions (though I don’t guarantee that the surface weather will be as pleasant).
Miserable Northern European Autumnal Weather Gets Some Folks To Thinkin’ About Getting On A Plane… Any Plane!
I’m going to start with and easy destination tip first, just to get us off on a roll. Australia has the exact opposite weather system to Europe and North America, which means that as the weather deteriorates into a goo of grey clouds and windy days back home, Australia just gets hotter. This is also applicable to the dive sites for the whole region:
Australia – Australia is renowned for its diving, especially for the Great Barrier Reef in the North-east of the country. However, there is plenty of dive sites to be found across the whole continent. In effect, you could easily pick a coast at random anywhere you like in Oz and it will probably have superb diving not far from it. There is a very active dive community in the West of Perth, and because of its less traveled location it is much quieter than the busy Barrier Reef. September heralds the beginning of their high season, so get those long haul flights booked!
The Barrier Reef Is A Wonder Of The World, Though It’s Worth Looking Into Other Sites For Quieter Dives.
New Zealand – Many Kiwis get all hot and bothered when we group them in with the Aussies, however I’m forced to do so in this case because, like Australia, New Zealand is also home to some awe inspiring dive sites. Though you are likely to find that the water is a little less warm that their Oz counterparts, and because of this it may be wise to wait until further into their summer (November/ December) to take advantage of the hot sun.
South Pacific – Going even further afield into the Southern Pacific Ocean, although remote and logistically challenging, is very rewarding for an adventurous diver. September and October are ideal months to travel down here because you will avoid the potentially treacherous cyclone season which tends to kick off in November. Autumn is also the time of year when you are most likely to see humpback whales. Specific areas to look into are the Cook Islands, Micronesia (though it might be worth waiting until December as it is drier then), Fiji and the Solomon Islands. Although all of these places are paradise on Earth and support phenomenal diving, Micronesia may have the best of the bunch.
Asia is massive, way too massive to group together. And as such there is no way to say that all of Asia has good diving at any particular point, so I will pick and choose some exceptional spots that I feel will banish any thoughts of October blues!
Philippines – The really handy thing about the Philippines is that there are loads of islands dotted about in a huge archipelago, and they don’t all follow the same weather patterns which means that a mobile diver can literally island hop until they find the right dive spot with the right weather. The diving does tend to be fairly remote, but this should provide a thrill for the adventurous divers among us. You will find that there is a high concentration of shark, which will again tickle the excitement bone of the adrenaline junkies.
Thailand – Now we come to my part of town, Thailand. Thailand is a strange place in September and October because the whole country experiences totally different weather! In September the East side of the Gulf of Thailand clambers out of the rainy season and bursts into October with a renewed high season. However, in Koh Tao (on the West coast) there is a nightmare cyclone which makes the island inhospitable for a month. Phuket and the Similan Islands are a little wet (read: soaked) in September and early October, so it might be better to hold off until November before visiting the South.
Thailand Is A Common Getaway For Many, Even Big Fellas Like This Guy!
Bali – Unlike Thailand which will be just recovering from the low season in September, Bali is just finishing up its high season. It will still be perfect dive conditions in September, though as you go into October you may find the situation deteriorates a little. If you do go in September then you have a chance to spot ocean sunfish which are spectacular animals indeed (and a tad peculiar looking…). Of course, the beauty of diving in South East Asia is that it is very easy to country hop, so if the weather turns sour down in Indonesia, it is simple enough to jump to Thailand or Malaysia.
Maldives – Moving west from South-East Asia is the Maldives which sit south of India in the Indian Ocean. If you arrive in September then you will miss the worst of the rainy season which ends in August. Once you have arrived then you will likely have to take your last look at the surface because you will be submerged from there on in! The Maldives is an undisputed wonderland for divers and will certainly have you gasping into your reg at constant intervals. Ensure you bring your torch because night dives are a must!
You Don’t Even Need SCUBA To Enjoy The Maldives, It’s So Shallow!
The summer in Europe might be looking like it’s considering closing up shop, but September and even October can still offer summer-like diving conditions if you look in the right places. Most of the usual suspects will still be running in September such as Turkey, Spain and the Canary Islands though some of the smaller centres might have shut by early October. There are two spots that are still big attractions in September:
The Red Sea – The Egyptian Red Sea, which is arguably the best dive location in the world, will still be warm in September and is perfectly pleasant in October. The visibility will almost certainly be perfect, with forty metres being commonplace. There is often a large array of livaboards operating during the high season but they might not be wise in October being as you may find you’d like to do indoor activities on the odd day. I won’t list what you may see when diving there because I simply don’t have the space to write so many fish, my suggestion is to look at every fish in a comprehensive, large fish guide…you’ll see all of those fish!
Scotland, Scappa Flow – Not every diver is a wimp who needs sun, sea, sand and cocktails to enjoy their dive trip (most of them just need the cocktails) – some of them are just in it for the dive. If that’s the case then it would be a very worthwhile trip to head to Orkney in the north of Scotland to enjoy the best wreck diving in the world. The conditions will certainly be chilly in September, but in a dry suit you should be quite comfortable, and the visibility is usually surprisingly good. You might find the currents are a little hairy at times, and the wreck are mostly deeper than thirty metres so a novice diver might get a little flustered. There is plenty of wildlife and the wrecks themselves are in great condition. The Coln is said to be the best dive because of its easy penetration and intact structure.
I’m Not Sure If This Guy Has Enough Gear For The Dive, He Looks A Little Underprepared!
Costa Rica – Costa Rica is warm and wet during September and October, but the diving conditions are great. The country is intensely beautiful both on land and underwater with beautiful jungle and white sandy beaches adorning the land and volcanic formations and dense coral reef bejewelling the seas. The reason you will want to travel to dive in the rainy season is because the rain washes nutrients into the sea which kick starts a strong food cycle and brings a huge array of wildlife to the area, including some formidable predators!
Caribbean – Although the Caribbean is open to dive all year round, there is a hurricane season that fizzles out in the end of October, so if you plan to go exploring this wonderful region of the world then I suggest you head out towards the end of autumn. There are hundreds of world class dive locations in the Caribbean like the HMS Rhone in the British Virgin Islands, or the amazing sites of Grand Cayman to the hidden and relatively unexplored sites of the Turks and Caicos. A truly wonderful area to visit, but try to aim for winter rather than autumn.
I’m Not Sure, But I Think There’s A Guy With SCUBA Gear On In That Car…He Obviously Didn’t Read My Guide…
In this brief guide I’ve tried to scan the globe for good places to dive, though ultimately most sites are OK to dive, if you have the correct gear and appropriate training, all year round. I have also missed out huge swathes of the dive globe, like the UAE and most of Africa for instance which I regret, but it would take many, many books worth of articles to catalogue all the good dive spots at this time of year, I’ve tried to pick out the best in this guide. The diving in September is exciting because it is a time of change in the world which prompts wildlife migrations and shifts in climate, embrace this turbulent time and dive as much of it as you can!
Do you have any dive trips planned for the coming months? Where are you going? Where was the best autumn dive you ever did? Is there anywhere that you’d avoid in September and October? Please give us your advice in the comment section below.
Happy (well traveled) Bubbles!