With domestic borders finally opening after months of travel restrictions, many of us are desperate for a diving holiday. Now is definitely the time to start thinking about where you’d like to go in 2021, but during lockdown, the landscape has changed. With Covid-19 social distancing rules, many dive resorts are already fully booked until after the Easter holidays and dive liveaboard itineraries have changed. We highly recommend booking now for a mid-year holiday – with reduced capacity, places will fill fast.
Read our guide on where to go, and when, before you go crazy and book the flights!
Jan/Feb – book now to dive Cairns
Options in NSW and Queensland are very limited, with destinations including Lord Howe Island, Lady Elliot and Heron Islands fully booked. There are limited options in Cairns, with Divers Den introducing new 3, 4 and 5-day itineraries but Spirit of Freedom is not expected to start trips again until Minke Whale season. Pro Dive Cairns is another option with several 3-day/2-night departures each week.
Other Queensland options to think about include Lady Musgrave Island, based in Bundaberg via day trips, or the Yongala and Museum of Underwater Art, perhaps based on beautiful Magnetic Island.
Mar/April – book now to dive Ningaloo and Christmas Island
If you’re in WA, whale shark season continues until April on Christmas Island, and from mid-March, it’s the start of whale shark season, Ningaloo Reef.
May – book now for Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island has limited availability in May, as do Lady Elliot and Heron Islands, but worth booking soon as they will disappear fast! May is the start of peak-manta season on Lady Elliot, another good reason to lock something in.
May is also peak season for great white sharks at world-famous shark café: the Neptune Islands, and there are a few spaces left on the MV Rodney Fox. It’s also the start of the giant cuttlefish winter aggregation in Whyalla.
In May, humpback whales start to travel up the east coast of Australia, with opportunities to swim with them in Coffs Harbour and Hervey Bay.
June/July – book now for dwarf minke whales on the Ribbon Reefs
June and July is Dwarf Minke Whale season on the Ribbon Reefs in the far north Great Barrier Reef. Snorkelling with these intelligent, inquisitive creatures is described by all who experience an encounter as life changing. 7-day Minke whale tours are available with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Spirit of Freedom – these tours always sell out fast, and due to Covid-19 social distancing, there is less capacity, so it is very important to book early.
July/August – book now for minke whales on the GBR and humpback whale swims in Ningaloo
July and August is also peak manta season on Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Island. While it’s possible to see mantas in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, they are usually present in greater numbers in the winter months.
Mid-July is also the start of humpback whale season on the Ningaloo Reef, with day trips available with Exmouth Dive & Whale Sharks. If you time your trip well, you could even swim with both humpbacks and whale sharks.
Sep/Oct – book now for Rowley Shoals
October is the ONLY time you can dive WA’s remote Rowley Shoals – and these tours book out sometimes years in advance. There is limited availability in 2021 with Kimberley Expeditions but it is essential to book early.
Nov/Dec – book now for Far North QLD and Turtle Season
This is a great time to dive Cocos Keeling Islands – and November sometimes sees the start of the famous red crab migration on Christmas Island, as well as the start of whale shark season, which continues until April.
November is also the start of turtle nesting season in Far North Queensland, with special expeditions to the reefs surrounding Raine Island, where you’ll likely dive with hundreds of turtles, available with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions.
Turtles can also be seen in great numbers on Heron and Lady Elliot Islands between November and April.