Across the globe, divers have their pick of islands and cities where revelers usher in the New Year with street parties, beach parties and more — all with next-day access to scuba attractions. After all, there’s no better place to spend January 1 than underwater.
Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
For a New Year’s celebration on the beach, there’s no bigger party in the Caribbean than that on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. The revelry flows between several open-air bars, including the most popular, Foxy’s Tamarind Bar in Great Harbour. Just be sure to make reservations early- the island’s villas and few hotel rooms sell out quickly. The other option is to secure a boat ride back to the bigger island of Tortola. Regardless of where you sleep off the party, you’ll want to devote at least one day to diving Jost. This island’s Atlantic coast has swifter waters that attract bigger fish like pompano and Caribbean reef sharks.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
If you find yourself in Europe this holiday season, Tenerife is the place to be with the best of both worlds. Soak up the sun on one of the many beautiful beaches and then head to the highest mountain peak in Spain, known as Mount Teide, to potentially enjoy a snow day. When it comes time to bring in the New Year, check out the firework show, bustling street parties that last until dawn, or one of the many clubs throwing lavish celebrations. Remember to be ready to dress to the nines, because the locals sure will be. When you’re ready to take a break from popping bottles, go for a dive at the El Condesito Shipwreck, swim with the rays at Los Chuchos, or explore the caves at Cuevo del Palm Mar.
On Bermuda, the New Year’s Eve moment to watch is the Onion Drop, which attracts crowds in the town of St. George. Fireworks and food stalls keep the party going. When you recover from celebrating, check out the island’s wrecks — there are hundreds, with 55 regularly visited by dive operators.
The best part of the New Year’s celebration on Grand Cayman is that fireworks light up the sky at 7 p.m., allowing you plenty of time to dance and cheer — and get to bed early so you don’t have to miss a dive day if you don’t want to.
Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand
New Year’s in Thailand is epic, thanks in large part to the crowds of young backpackers looking to make the most of their wild years. Find the biggest full moon party on Ko Pha Ngan, an island off the country’s east coast. Accommodations book up early, so if you’re having trouble with a reservation, consider staying at the nearby island of Ko Samui and ferrying over. Both islands are home to a handful of dive centers ready to whisk you to reefs aflutter with leopard sharks, titan triggerfish and schools of sweetlips.
Key West, Florida
The Conch Republic is an easy choice for New Year’s: Traffic is shut down on Duval Street, so revelers can walk between bars and restaurants. Travelers who’d rather enjoy a leisurely meal can opt for the prix-fixe menu at Michael’s, Cuban cuisine at El Meson de Pepe or savor the view from the Roof Top Café. Those wanting to mingle with a crowd can ring in midnight with a unicorn dropping at The Chive Bar, the lowering of the conch shell at Sloppy Joe’s, or, from the balcony of the New Orleans House, the performer Sushi lowered into a giant, red high heel. Recoup, then stay to dive the U.S.N.S. Hoyt S. Vandenberg.
Looking for more travel inspiration for the new year? Check out the PADI Vacation Spotlight page.