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January 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 30, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Where to Go Diving -- and When

seasons change, and so does the weather at dive spots

from the January, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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If you're traveling overseas for a diving vacation, don't just research one liveaboard versus another, or which Indonesian resort has WiFi. You also need to research prevailing regional conditions -- such as weather, temperatures, and dry and wet seasons -- before deciding where to go and when to go there. Undercurrent has a lot information in its Seasonal Dive Planners (see "Plan Your Dive Trip" on the left side of our homepage at, and click on any destination listed below it). I recently asked our travelin' contributors Bret Gilliam, John Bantin and Maurine Shimlock to give us their notes on seasonal conditions at top dive destinations, and the best times to visit.

The Carribean and Southern Atlantic

The Caribbean. John Bantin prefers to go between January and June, because "I find the weather is more stable and the rain less persistent." Bret Gilliam says his optimal conditions are from late April into September, "because the brisk trade winds abate then, and sea conditions are milder. Also, rates will generally be lower for hotels and resorts, as well as airfares." Of course, you have to consider that hurricane season officially runs from June into late October. Honduras can get wind and rain from December to February. In the Caymans, it lasts through the winter and later, meaning the Cayman Aggressor frequently cannot make the crossing to the smaller islands.

The Bahamas. The same conditions generally prevail as in the Northeastern Caribbean -- with one exception. "If you want a getaway in winter periods, understand that the Bahamas are in the North Atlantic and can sometimes get quite chilly, both underwater and above," says Gilliam. "I've been in the Abacos in January when night temperatures on land have hit the low 40s -- that's definitely 'sweater weather' for a lot of people." I'll add that one winter only a 7mm Farmer John could keep me warm, though the following summer I dived just in swim trunks. Bantin agrees with the chilly weather, "but I've experienced some of the best diving in the first half of the year." If you choose an area protected by island lee shores or large-scale reefs, you have a much better chance of getting good diving conditions -- Gilliam recommends the Exumas or the Crooked Island archipelago for good diving with excellent protection. "If you're taking a liveaboard, keep in mind that transits can be dicey in winter, depending on your port of embarkation and your route."...

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