Where to dive in february? 4 must-see destinations
by Kathryn Curzon
There are scuba diving highlights all over the world in February, especially for fans of sharks. You can choose from tiger and hammerhead sharks in the Bahamas or whale shark encounters in Thailand. Fans of manta rays won’t be disappointed either thanks to plenty of manta action in Indonesia, whilst Turks and Caicos has a different ocean giant to see – humpback whales.
The Bahamas is one of the best shark diving destinations in the world and offers accessible shark dives in crystal-clear waters for all experience levels. A Tiger Beach liveaboard safari is not to be missed for the chance to dive with numerous tiger sharks in easy dive conditions. The dives are generally shallow, with divers kneeling on the sand as sharks glide by. The combination of clear waters, close shark encounters and striking sandy landscapes make this destination ideal for shark photography.
The Bimini Islands are the place to go for diving with great hammerhead sharks, which are best seen between January and March. As well as great shark diving, the Bimini Islands have plenty of dive sites to explore including reefs, caverns, wrecks and steep walls disappearing into the inky depths.
The Bahamas Master offers combined hammerhead and tiger shark safaris at this time of year, with only 4 logged dives required to participate.
Thailand’s Andaman Sea is another great destination for shark fans in February, offering diving at arguably the best dive sites in Thailand. If you’re looking for warm water diving and the chance to swim with ocean giants, this is a great liveaboard destination to explore.
Richelieu Rock, a remote pinnacle in the open ocean, is one of the most well-known dive areas in Thailand and is best visited in February to enjoy calm seas and dry, warm days. The walls at Richelieu Rock are covered in corals and sponges, whilst the surrounding waters are teeming with life; including manta and mobula rays, groupers and large schools of barracuda. There are sheltered dive areas for finding numerous critters, plus schools of trevallies and tuna out in the currents. This special dive destination also hosts whale sharks from late February onwards. Be sure to keep your eyes on the blue for the chance to see passing reef sharks as well. Given the swift currents, this destination is best suited to experienced divers.
The Similan Islands offer great diving in February, with fields of underwater boulders covered in hundreds of coral species. There are shallow coral gardens for new divers to explore at eastern dive sites and larger species at dives sites in the west. Whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, zebra sharks and barracuda are regularly seen, plus whale sharks and manta rays.
If you’re looking for a Thailand dive experience away from the crowds, be sure to visit the Surin Islands. These inaccessible islands are visited by select Surin Islands liveaboards and offer plenty of shark action, current diving, whale sharks and manta rays. The MV Bavaria liveaboard offers a variety of safaris to Richelieu, the Similan and Surin Islands.
Indonesia offers some of the most biodiverse diving in the world, thanks to its position within the center of biodiversity – the Coral Triangle. There are over 13,000 islands scattered across this beautiful archipelago, offering a wealth of dive sites and marine life highlights. Go Indonesia liveaboard diving in February and you’re likely to be in the company of manta rays, dolphins, sharks and more.
Raja Ampat has over 1500 forest-covered islands, providing a stunning backdrop for Raja Ampat dive cruises. February has calm dive conditions and the chance to swim with dolphins, manta rays and sharks. The waters are warm at this time of year, bringing plankton blooms and huge numbers of manta rays. If you can take your eyes off the mantas, there are coral gardens full of critters, thousands of fish species and turtles to find. As the dives are mostly drift diving, Raja Ampat is best suited to intermediate divers.
If you’re set on seeing ocean giants, consider Komodo diving in February. Whilst it’s not Komodo high season then, the waters have more plankton during February – and more plankton means more manta rays. Manta Alley and Manta Point are good choices for large numbers of mantas as you dive. As this destination has very strong currents at times, it is best dived as an experienced diver.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is a great dive destination at any time of year, being home to some of the best wall dives in the world and flourishing reefs. Go diving there in February and you can immerse yourself in world-class diving, with the chance to see humpback whales as well. February marks the start of the mating and calving season for thousands of these ocean giants off the coast of Turks and Caicos.
If you’re a fan of wall diving, be sure to explore the dive sites of Providenciales and their famous black corals. The 14-mile long barrier reef at Grace Bay has deep canyons to dive, whilst West Caicos offers pelagic diving. Another highlight of Turks and Caicos diving is the numerous relaxed nurse sharks found there. These easy-going sharks are a regular feature at various dive sites and it is possible to go night diving with them. The calm waters and great visibility make Turks and Caicos suitable for all dive experience levels.
This article was written by divers and writers for LiveAboard.com