The water’s warming up in the Northern Hemisphere and bringing dive sites to life. It’s a great time of year to pack your bags and head for Europe and beyond. Choose between vibrant coral reefs, fascinating wrecks and more. Here are our top picks of five great June dive destinations.
Italy’s Tuscan Archipelago
With over 450 dive sites scattered along the Italian coast and islands, diving in Italy has something for everyone. Visit in June for the best chance of seeing eagle rays and seahorses as the water warms up for summer.
Italy is ideal for laid-back sailing and diving safaris, allowing you to cruise picture-perfect islands and anchor in secluded coves well away from other divers. The Tuscan Archipelago National Park has many of the best-known dive sites. The coastline itself is stunning, with steep cliffs, white sands and clear, turquoise waters.
Dive there to spot barracuda, conger eels, mola mola, dolphins and even whales. Fans of macro life are well catered for with leopard snails, hermit crabs and seahorses as well.
Don’t miss diving around Elba Island. You can explore a collection of statues depicting historical and mythological figures in an underwater museum and visit the Elviscott, an interesting shallow wreck sitting at just 39 feet (12 m). Shoals of fish swirl around the wreck and there are plenty or morays tucked away in the shadows.
If you’re keen to see eagle rays, be sure to dive Pianosa Island near Elba. This pretty little island has old Italian buildings, a tiny harbor, and eagle rays just under the surface.
Egypt’s northern Red Sea
Summer means blissfully warm waters and plenty of marine life in the northern Red Sea.
Plankton is starting to bloom, attracting whale sharks and manta rays. It’s also the start of the sea-turtle nesting season, meaning you’re more likely to see turtles during your dives.
Ever-popular with European divers, it is well worth diving Egypt to experience thriving coral reefs, affordable liveaboard safaris and diverse marine life.
The Straits of Tiran, famed for four reefs, offers steep drop-offs, eel gardens, abundant corals teeming with reef fish, and some great drift dives. Thomas Reef at Tiran has fantastic coral cover with archways, swim-throughs and caves to explore. Gordon Reef is the place to go for bigger pelagics such as tuna, eagle rays and whitetip reef sharks. If you’d like to see hammerheads, dive Jackson Reef from late June onwards to catch the start of hammerhead season.
If turtles are your thing, you don’t want to miss Sipadan, Malaysia. Green and hawksbill turtles nest on this idyllic island from April to September and there are always numerous turtles in the water. June is also a great month for enjoying clear waters, settled conditions and hot, sunny weather topside.
Sipadan is renowned for having some of the world’s most biodiverse waters, with more than 3,000 fish species and hundreds of corals. The island has resident schools of jacks and barracuda, plus bumphead parrotfish and whitetip sharks. Don’t miss a dawn dive to watch hundreds of parrotfish as they head offshore to feed.
Another European-dive highlight, Malta has warm waters and great visibility in June. The conditions are perfect for exploring Malta and neighboring Gozo’s wrecks, caves and reefs.
Malta has numerous wrecks, including WWII warships and purpose-sunk artificial reefs. There is easy wreck diving off the coast of Comino at the P-31 patrol boat and advanced wreck diving at the Um El Faroud. This huge, 10,000-ton former tanker measures 377 feet (115 m) and sits off southern Malta. Its deck sits at 100 feet (30 m) and it’s surrounded by schools of barracuda. Experienced divers can penetrate the wreck through the kitchen.
There are also plenty of shore dives (more so than boat dives). Note, however, that some entry points involve long walks with your gear over uneven ground. Be sure to visit Gozo’s Blue Hole to dive through a crevice into clear, blue waters busy with octopus and lobsters. The rock formations and light from above are well worth visiting for.
This Red Sea destination is quieter than Egypt and has a smaller coastline, but with a great variety of dive sites. June is a great month for clear, warm waters and to avoid the scorching heat of midsummer. With over 20 uncrowded dive sites, mostly accessible from shore, there is something for all dive-experience levels in Jordan.
Seven Sisters dive site offers a perfect combination of wreck diving and fringing reef exploration with many soft corals, morays, nudibranchs and warty frogfish to find.
Fans of corals and macro life should dive Japanese Gardens and Black Rock to spot black corals and ornate ghost pipefish.
The Cedar Pride wreck is an imposing Lebanese cargo ship sunk in 1985. Sitting on its side, it’s mostly intact and hosts cowtail stingrays as well as frogfish and macro life.
Divers and writers of LiveAboard.com contributed this article.