May is one of the best months for diving world-class destinations with calm conditions. You can spot manta rays, hammerheads, basking sharks and more. It’s a great time to explore far from the crowds and immerse yourself in a world of pelagic action. With that in mind, here are our picks for five fantastic May dive destinations.
If you want to dive the stunning Galapagos Islands in calm conditions, May could be perfect. This iconic dive destination is busy with life all year. May, however, is an especially good month for calm seas, sunshine and fewer currents.May also happens to be one of the best months to surround yourself with manta rays and scalloped hammerhead sharks. There are also plenty of silky and Galapagos sharks, plus sea lions to spot at this time of year.
Wolf and Darwin Islands are the highlight of any Galapagos diving safari, offering remote diving with few — if any — other boats in sight. The islands’ waters are a highway for scalloped hammerhead sharks, and you’ll also likely see silky and Galapagos sharks, mantas, dolphins and more.
Cousins Rock is the place to spot manta rays, while Cape Douglas offers the chance to watch marine iguanas — endemic to the Galapagos — munching on algae underwater. Don’t miss Cabo Marshall for plentiful rays, including mantas, mobulas and cownose rays.
While diving in Komodo is possible all year, May is one of the best months for calm conditions and uncrowded dive sites. The flurry of tourism earlier in the year has finished and there’s a quiet lull, perfect for peaceful diving.
You’ll be spoiled for choice when diving Komodo, thanks to the sheer variety of underwater landscapes and marine life. You can go reef diving, explore pinnacles and seamounts, and drift along dramatic walls. There are swim-throughs and caverns to keep you entertained, plus black and white sandy substrates ideal for photography.
There are over 1,000 fish species, plus green and hawksbill turtles at Komodo. You can spot mantas all year, though numbers peak from December to February. If you’re lucky you might even see a dugong.
When you’ve had your fill of diving, visit Rinca Island’s Komodo dragons and the aptly-named Pink Sand beach; one of only seven pink-sand beaches in the world.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is an underwater photographer’s heaven, offering marine life of all sizes and a range of landscapes. May is a particularly good month to dive the Bismarck Sea.
Being made up of over 600 volcanic islands and scattered coral atolls, liveaboard diving is the best way to experience PNG diving.
You can explore numerous World War II wrecks in Milne Bay, the original home of muck diving. The black sand provides a stunning backdrop for the wrecks, healthy reefs and interesting critters. Wherever you look, the dive sites are full of macro life.
The coral pinnacles at Fathers Reef are a great place to search for sharks, or you can enjoy the stunning reef at Kimbe Bay. Ranked as one of the world’s best reefs, Kimbe is home to huge corals and reef sharks, and also features black sand. Don’t miss a visit to the Zero Wreck, a fully intact WWII Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind shark encounter, visit Cornwall in May, as this popular English seaside destination hosts basking sharks from May to October.
May offers the best chance for calm seas and clear water to snorkel with basking sharks, long before the crowds of summer tourists arrive.
Growing to around 20 to 26 feet (6 to 8 m) and weighing up to 11,000 pounds (5,000 kg), these impressive sharks are a treat to swim with. If you don’t spot basking sharks, you’ll still have the chance to swim with playful gray seals and common dolphins. You can also watch Cornish seabirds and maybe even spot a mola mola.
After a day’s snorkeling and wildlife watching, recount your adventures over a traditional Cornish cream tea or tour some of the prettiest Cornish villages you’ll likely ever see.
It’s the last month of the dry season in Tobago, with low visibility but plenty of manta rays flying about. It’s also a great time of year to go turtle spotting and watch Tobago’s turtles nesting on the beaches at night.
Bordered by the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, a variety of currents wash Tobago, which adds up to plentiful marine life. There are over 400 species of fish and critters, plus nurse sharks, dolphins, turtles and numerous manta rays.
Tobago’s underwater landscape includes arches and caverns, and there is good drift diving as well. Dive guides typically take small groups, and it’s rare to see other dive boats, adding to the sense of peace as you drift along colorful reefs.
Kelleston Drain is a must-see Tobago dive highlight. This reef is home to the world’s largest documented brain coral — a staggering 10 feet (3 m) high by 16 feet (5 m) wide.
Divers and writers at LiveAboard.com contributed this article.