Where to dive in December? 4 must-see destinations

by Kathryn Curzon

If you love marine megafauna, December is a perfect dive month. From swimming with orcas in Norway to meeting the Socorro Islands’ giant manta rays and whale sharks, you’re spoilt for choice.

The Maldives has ideal conditions this month for exploratory diving the remote Deep South atolls, whilst the Galapagos is in the midst of sea turtle mating season.

Read on to discover our top December dive destinations.


Swimming with orcas is a life-changing experience. Go Arctic liveaboard diving in northern Norway at this time of year and you can see what all the fuss is about.

Hundreds of orcas gather in the waters off Tromsø each winter, following the migration of their main food source; Norwegian spring spawning herring.

As well as watching enormous herring bait balls swirling below your fins, you can snorkel or freedive with numerous visiting orcas.

December is one of the best months to go swimming with the orcas and you can also spot passing humpback whales.

Be sure to watch the night sky from your liveaboard deck. The Northern Lights are incredible above the snow-covered fjords.

The Sula liveaboard offers 3 and 6-night orca safaris.


It’s the start of the Maldives dry season, meaning plenty of sunshine and calm seas just perfect for cruising the atolls and going Maldives diving.

With so many atolls to choose from, it can be difficult knowing where to start. If you want classic Maldives diving without any crowds, try the Northern Atolls.

The far-flung Northern Atolls are famed for their diverse reef life and varied underwater topography, as well as numerous feeding mantas at Baa Atoll from May to August.

The Central Atolls have a well-established dive scene and are easy to access from the capital.

If you’re an experienced diver, these Central Atolls are ideal; offering challenging current dives, wrecks and schooling hammerheads, plus numerous whale sharks at Ari Atoll.

That said, the Southern Atolls are a real hidden gem. Cruise the Deep South and you can visit dive sites few others have seen.

This is exploratory diving at its finest, where you’ll discover tiger sharks, hammerheads and occasional thresher sharks passing by.

Whale sharks and mantas are also often seen there and the coral reefs are pristine.

The Seafari Explorer offers 10-night Deep South Special safaris as well as Central and Southern Atolls dive cruises.


Galapagos diving in December is ideal for turtle fans. Male and female green sea turtles
flock to the Galapagos Islands this month and it’s not uncommon to see them mating.

As well as numerous turtles, you can also enjoy the Galapagos Islands’ famously-diverse marine life.

December to March is the warm season, which brings the best visibility, allowing you to watch and photograph schooling hammerhead sharks and feeding marine iguanas with

You’ll also see plenty of Galapagos sharks and mantas at this time of year, plus cheeky sea lions, penguins and an array of fish species.

The Nortada offers intimate Galapagos diving safaris and small dive groups, catering to just 12 guests.

Socorro Islands

One of the best marine megafauna destinations in the world, the Socorro Islands are ideal for divers who enjoy open ocean diving and thrilling pelagic action far from land.

Only accessible by a 24-hour sea crossing, these islands are remote by anyone’s standards.

Take a liveaboard safari there and you can dive with famously friendly giant Pacific manta rays, plus silky, Galapagos, white tip and silver tip sharks.

Resident bottlenose dolphins are known for mimicking the mantas movements and you there are huge schools of tuna and jacks in the blue.

Visit in January to spot humpback whales migrating through the area in their thousands or try December for the chance to see whale sharks.

Whilst this destination is best suited to experienced divers, you can dive the Socorro Islands as a newer diver.

The Quino el Guardian offers Socorro safaris with no minimum logged dives required.

This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com