Planning a vacation to go scuba diving in July? Then, check out these top diving destinations. Choose from a number of sun and fun-filled adventures, such as minke whales in Australia, manta rays in Indonesia, or hammerhead sharks in Costa Rica. For epic megafauna encounters, consider Mexico or Mozambique. Meanwhile, destinations across the South Pacific and Europe are enjoying their best conditions during this month. In reality, there really is no wrong choice when deciding between the best places to go diving in July.

Read on to discover our picks for the top dive destinations in the seventh month of the year.

A giant whale shark encounter at Isla Mujeres in Mexico, and why this destination has some of the best snorkeling in July

1. Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Love whale sharks? Head to Isla Mujeres in July to snorkel with them. While this isn’t strictly a diving destination, this experience is one of the best whale shark encounters available. So, we definitely have to include it on our list of the best destinations for diving in the seventh month.

Set just offshore from Cancun, Isla Mujeres attracts hundreds of whale sharks from June to September each year. This is partly because the island sits at the point where the Gulf of Mexico joins the Caribbean. The excursions will take you about an hour off the island by boat. Then, you’ll jump into the warm, clear waters where the whale sharks congregate.

In terms of the actual scuba diving around Isla Mujeres, the area suits all levels of divers and snorkelers, making it one of the best family destinations in July. This is because many of the sites are shallow reefs with little to no current. If you have an advanced certification, a few deep wrecks, as well as ledges and cenote dives, are also available.

Editor’s Recommended Dive Center: Pocna Dive Center

2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Queensland’s gorgeous Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,400 miles (2,250km) down the east coast of Australia. This area includes 900 islands and 2,900 individual reefs. Because it’s Earth’s largest reef system, you can see just about every type of tropical marine life here.

There’s truly no bad time to scuba dive in Australia. However, there’s little doubt diving Down Under is one of the best places to dive in July. From June to November, Australia experiences winter and slightly cooler water temperatures in the Great Barrier Reef. However, this change doesn’t make the water uncomfortable. Instead, it attracts a range of exciting and large pelagic marine life, including manta rays, whale sharks, and even minke whales.

In addition, the seas are relatively calm and visibility is excellent. At the beginning of the season, you can enjoy dives with 30m (100ft) visibility in the outer reefs.

If you’re ready to jump in with bucket-list marine life while checking the Great Barrier Reef off your scuba diving wishlist, be sure to pick July for your Australian diving vacation.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: Spoilsport

Hundreds of schooling hammerhead sharks, a view which makes Cocos Island, Costa Rica, one of the best diving holidays in July

3. Cocos Island, Costa Rica

If you haven’t heard of Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica, you’ve been severely deprived of this incredible diving destination. For instance, located 340 miles (550 km) off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, this is the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest. The island is also the first point of contact with the northern equatorial counter-current, which creates an incredible ecosystem for marine life. For these reasons, this area has become very famous with divers, who rate it as one of the best places in the world to view large pelagic species, such as sharks, rays, tuna, and dolphins.

The best time to dive at Cocos Island is from June to December. This is known as the wet season and is also when plankton blooms attract large amounts of marine life, including the schooling hammerhead sharks that make the island famous as one of the world’s best dive sites. For this reason, Cocos Island is undoubtedly one of the best diving spots in July.

During July, you might also encounter whale sharks and manta rays at this liveaboard-only destination. However, be prepared for decreased visibility versus the dry season and cooler temperatures. It’s also important that you have experience diving in a current before attempting a trip to this Costa Rican island.

With all that said, Cocos Island really is one of the best liveaboard destinations in the world, especially if you love diving with sharks. Book a liveaboard in July here, and get ready for the adventure of your scuba diving life.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: Cocos Island Aggressor

A female diver watches a manta ray in Komodo, Indonesia, one of the best destinations in the world in July for scuba diving

4. Komodo, Indonesia

If manta rays are at the top of your list, Komodo is definitely one of the best places to scuba dive in July. This spot is one of Indonesia’s most famous dive sites. Manta rays, sharks, and colorful reefs are just a few of the stars of Komodo. It is relatively remote, but if you want an adventure and incredible diving, put this on your bucket list. Additionally, you can expect to find an array of dive sites perfectly suited to drift diving.

The area is also well known for its opportunities for macro lovers. As a result, you’ll be drifting around hard and soft coral walls and checking out the myriad of critters hiding among them. It is important to note that you should be experienced enough to feel comfortable on drift dives for this destination.

Diving season at this UNESCO World Heritage site lasts from April to November, with near-perfect conditions in July, which falls right in the middle of dry season. As such, calm surface conditions, great visibility, and an abundance of marine life make this one of the top vacation destinations in July. You can expect to swim with manta rays and spot some of the 1,000-plus species of fish that inhabit these waters.

To see the very best dive sites in Komodo, be sure to book a liveaboard. If you book early enough, you might be able to find a great deal on PADI Travel’s special deals page.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: KLM Manta Mae

5. Sipadan, Malaysia

Sipadan is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, boasting over 3,000 fish species and several hundred coral species. It’s located in the Celebes Sea, which is just an hour-long ride from mainland Borneo. The nutrient-rich currents entering this area attract almost every member of the marine food chain, including small fish, large fish, sharks, and turtles. Lucky divers can also expect to dive with hammerheads and thresher sharks occasionally!

Much like Australia, you can dive Sipadan in Malaysia year-round. However, the dry season lasts from March to October, and it is in the middle of this season that you’ll experience the most breathtaking conditions. Indeed, this is one of the best scuba diving destinations in July.

During this month, visibility can reach 50m (160ft). In addition, there’s fantastic muck diving in nearby Kapalai Island. It’s no coincidence that July is one of the most difficult months for finding the necessary permits. So, be sure to book your adventure early.

It’s also worth noting that liveaboard diving here allows you to see the best of Sipadan over multiple days, along with Kapalai and Mabul.

Editor’s Recommended Dive Resort: Sipadan-Mabul Resort

A gentle dugong feeding in the seagrass, and a popular sight while enjoying a vacation in New Caledonia or Vanuatu

6. New Caledonia & Vanuatu

During the month of July, New Caledonia and Vanuatu hit their peak diving season. These South Pacific, multi-island neighbors both boast world-class diving, with everything from pristine coral reefs and shipwrecks to manta rays and dugongs to entice travelers.

With a 1,000-mile (1,600km) coral reef, which curves around to create the world’s largest lagoon, it’s little wonder New Caledonia is crammed full of so many dive-worthy sites. During any trip, you can expect to descend into clear waters and enjoy some truly memorable underwater encounters. Marine life present in the area includes dugongs, sharks, manta rays, numerous other pelagic fish, and a range of macro life.

Additionally, to round off New Caledonia’s impressive diving buffet, there are several shipwrecks and caves to be explored if you want a little variation or if marine life-centric dives aren’t your go-to. In short, New Caledonia is a dive destination with something for every diver.

The island nation of Vanuatu is a quick 390-mile (630km) hop over a maritime border from New Caledonia. This country rivals New Caledonia for being the most diver-worthy travel destination in the area. Vanuatu’s historic wrecks (including the famous SS President Coolidge), huge caverns, and steep drop-offs are all home to an abundance of marine life. It makes diving here an experience you’re not likely to forget anytime soon. Vanuatu is also one of the top destinations in the world for diving with dugongs.

Whether you visit New Caledonia or Vanuatu, this South Pacific paradise promises some of the world’s best diving in July.

Editor’s Recommended Dive Resort: White Grass Ocean Resort

A reef teeming with Mediterranean marine life in Italy, one of the best destinations in Europe for scuba divers

7. Elba Island, Italy

With warm temperatures above and below the surface, if you’re intending on diving during a vacation in Italy, July is a great time to do it.

While Italy has dive-worthy locations all around its peninsula, ranging from the north of the country, in Liguria on the Italian Riviera, to the island of Sicily in the south, the island of Elba is one of the not-to-be-missed diving destinations here. 

Located within the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Italy’s third-largest island is surrounded by hundreds of rocky outlets and sandy sea beds. These are home to plenty of Mediterranean diving marine life staples, such as eels, nudibranchs, starfish, groupers, shrimp, and lobsters. If you’re particularly lucky, it’s possible to find sunfish lurking in and around the black stones on certain dive sites, too.

Another popular diving spot near this Tuscan paradise is the Elviscott shipwreck, a merchant ship that sank in 1972. Sitting on a sandy bottom in just 12m (40ft) of usually calm water, the wreck is a comfortable starting point for newcomers to wreck diving. It is also possible for more advanced divers to penetrate the hull.

Editor’s Recommended Dive Center: Talas Diving Center

8. UK and Ireland

The UK and Ireland might not immediately come to mind when thinking of the best places to go diving in July. However, the untold charm of these island nations, coupled with their abundant wildlife and rich maritime history, shouldn’t be overlooked.

For instance, many of the world’s top shipwrecks are scattered along these rugged coasts. The south coast of England boasts a particularly prolific offering for wreck divers and caters to every level and interest. Meanwhile, advanced divers won’t want to miss Scapa Flow’s World War I battleships or Ireland’s Malin Head.

The marine life in these temperate waters flourishes at this time of year, from the smallest crustaceans and seahorses to spectacular sightings of dolphins, sunfish, and even whales! The seventh month is also peak season for trips to Lundy Island. Here, you’re almost certain to enjoy close-up encounters with playful grey seals. Elsewhere, blue sharks are seasonal visitors to south and west areas (such as Cornwall and Pembrokeshire), while basking shark experiences are at their best around the Inner Hebrides.

July marks the height of summer in the UK and Ireland. This promises the warmest, calmest conditions for diving in this part of the world. However, it’s also a popular time for holidaymakers, so it’s wise to book early for the best deals.

Editor’s Recommended Dive Center: Ocean Turtle Diving

An aerial view of Quirimbas Island in Mozambique, one of the best destinations for scuba diving in July and seeing megafauna

9. Mozambique

Along 1,500 miles (2,500km) of diverse coastline, endless white beaches and mangrove forests are lapped by the Indian Ocean. It’s no surprise Mozambique is a haven for scuba divers. Its plankton-rich waters, many of which are protected, draw in huge gatherings of megafauna seeking food and sanctuary – particularly whale sharks and manta rays. Indeed, you’re almost guaranteed to see both species at dive sites such as Whale Shark Alley and Manta Reef.

Mozambique is also home to five of the world’s seven species of sea turtle. The southern parts of the country offer unrivaled sightings of nesting females and their hatchlings. As well as other larger life, such as dolphins and dugongs, this destination is home to over 2,000 fish species.

Although Mozambique offers year-round adventures, July stands out as a particularly great month to visit. Not only are the surface and water conditions at their best, but the seventh month is the start of whale watching season. These gentle giants, including humpbacks and southern right whales, migrate from Antarctica to breed in the warmer climate, providing an unforgettable encounter for lucky divers.

In addition, if you weren’t able to catch the Sardine Run in South Africa during its peak months of May and June, then diving in Mozambique in July provides one last chance to witness the spectacle before it heads off into the Indian Ocean.

Editor’s Recommended Dive Resort: Tilak Lodge

Ready To Go Diving in July?

Interested in planning a trip to one of the best places to dive in July (or any month)? PADI Travel offers collections full of bucket-list adventures, the largest collection of liveaboards and dive resorts, and options to travel in a way that truly makes a difference to local communities and our shared blue planet. Contact one of our PADI Travel experts 24/7 via chat, email, or phone, and they’ll help pick the right scuba destination for you.

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