If you’re wondering where to go diving in May, you’ve come to the right place. This guide highlights destinations in which the fifth month represents the best time for diving.

Dwarf minke whales in Australia, manta ray aggregations in Socorro, and regular shark sightings in the Maldives, Galapagos, and Egypt means pelagic encounters are high on the list for May. Destinations such as Komodo and French Polynesia are also enjoying some of their best conditions at this time of the year. Plus, whether you’re interested in marine life, shipwrecks, archeology, or cavern diving, the destinations of Cancún and Cyprus have plenty to offer.

Keep reading to discover nine of the top destinations for scuba diving in May.

A scuba diver swims next to a giant manta ray in Socorro, Mexico, one of the best destinations in the world in May

1. Socorro, Mexico

Located 250 miles (400km) from mainland Mexico, Socorro Island and the Revillagigedo Archipelago are one of the best liveaboard destinations in the world. Here you’ll find a wonderland of pelagic species, but May is a particularly magical month to visit, especially if you love manta rays.

Liveaboard season in Socorro technically lasts from November to May. However, the last month of the season offers the best chances for encounters with giant oceanic manta rays. This is due to the slight increase in water temperatures as summer approaches. The mercury reaches towards 26°C (79°F), and manta rays alongside several species of shark make their way to this remote, volcanic island.

It is important to note, however, that the humpback whales often seen near Socorro are not present in May. During the summer, the cetaceans move away in search of cooler waters.

If you’re looking for epic encounters with giant manta rays, Socorro is a challenging yet fitting destination for diving in May.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: Quino El Guardian

2. Australia

Honestly, there’s no bad time to head to Australia, but scuba diving in May holds several unique advantages. In the Land Down Under, May is the last month of fall, signaling the arrival of cooler weather and the end of the rainy season. However, in the scuba diving hotspots up north, winter doesn’t mean a time for dry suits. Instead, it offers the unique opportunity to swim with large marine life.

If you’re after a bucket-list dive in the Great Barrier Reef, May might just be the right time to go. Seas are calm, and the water is still warm. In addition, dwarf minke whales begin to arrive and are regularly spotted by liveaboard divers. Jump in the water with these giants for a unique snorkel.

Furthermore, Ningaloo Reef is at its finest in May. This is prime time for whale shark encounters, and there are plenty of manta rays around as well.

Finally, because May isn’t thought of as high season in Australia, you are more likely to find the best liveaboard deals during this month. It may not be the most popular time to dive Australia, but for us, May is one of the best months to travel south.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: MV SeaEsta

Two divers explore the cenotes which are underwater caverns and an attraction that makes Cancun one of the best May vacations

3. Cancún, Mexico

Heading to the other side of the world, Cancún and the surrounding Yucatán Peninsula are top diving destinations in May.

May offers some of the best visibility for both the cenotes and MUSA (the famous underwater sculpture park). With such crystalline visibility, your underwater photographs will be spectacular and Instagram-worthy.

Like Australia, May is not part of Mexico’s high season. You’ll be able to find great deals on accommodation and diving. However, this is the very beginning of the hurricane threat, so trip insurance is a good idea.

Editor’s Recommended Dive Resort: The Reef Playacar

A giant school of sharks in French Polynesia, which is one of the best holiday destinations for diving in May

4. Fakarava & Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Diving in the Tuamotu Archipelago and French Polynesia is great year-round, but in terms of the weather, this is one of the best scuba diving destinations in May.

Rangiroa is the largest atoll in French Polynesia. Its beautiful lagoon is filled with a variety of marine life and corals. In particular, this area and its neighbor, Fakarava, are known for their shark encounters.

The wet season ends in April, so May ushers in the dry season. However, June begins the windy season called “mara’amu” by the locals. Therefore, May sits in the perfect position for dry skies and calm seas.

Plus, you’ll benefit from the year-round presence of giant marine life. Dolphins, barracudas, reef sharks, and even manta rays can be spotted. If you love shark diving, do yourself a favor and book a Rangiroa and Fakarava liveaboard as your next dive vacation.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: Aqua Tiki II

A scuba diver watches a giant manta ray during a dive in Komodo, Indonesia, one of the top tropical places to visit in May

5. Komodo, Indonesia

May is just about the best month possible for diving in Komodo. Although the peak season lasts from April to November, May brings the best balance of calm surface conditions and uncrowded dive sites.

May is the second full month of the dry season and boasts little sea movement throughout the region. Visibility is great, and the area’s marine life is in full swing. Expect to swim alongside manta rays and spot some of the 1,000-plus species of fish that inhabit these waters.

Most importantly, May isn’t the busiest month of the season. Most tourists haven’t yet arrived, and the tiny spurt of tourism the region experiences at the beginning of liveaboard season in April is over. If you love uncrowded dive sites, this top liveaboard destination is one of the best places to go diving in May.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: Indo Aggressor

An aerial photo of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, which is one of the best places to go scuba diving in May for megafauna

6. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

As scuba divers, the Galapagos Islands are on almost all our bucket lists. Everyone wants the opportunity to swim with marine iguanas, watch schools of hammerhead sharks, or swim next to the graceful giant known as the whale shark.

By diving in May, you’ll avoid the rough seas that creep in during the busy season. As well, you will miss the crowd of tourists. If you’re interested in the big stuff, you’re in luck. Iconic hammerhead sharks are resident year-round, while May is the last month of peak manta ray season in this region. Prime time for whale sharks and migrating humpback whales also begins in June – if you cross your fingers, with some luck you might spot one later in the fifth month!

Regardless of whether or not you see a whale shark, these islands have one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. This is one of the top travel destinations in May, and every dive here will be sure to make it into your best-ever experiences underwater.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: Galapagos Master

7. Maldives

If you don’t mind 25-30℃ (77-86°F) water, then the Maldives during May is the place to be.

During this time of year, the wind shifts, blowing in the southwest monsoons. This brings in a high concentration of plankton, which reduces visibility but attracts pelagics, like whale sharks and manta rays. As well, hammerhead sharks and reef sharks congregate to prey on the schools of fish swimming in from the open ocean.

While every part of the Maldives is a contender among the best diving destinations, May is a great month to visit North and South Ari Atoll, which happen to be some of the most accessible islands from the country’s main airport in Male. Visiting these locations will give you the best opportunity to step off the plane and into the ocean, maximizing your scuba diving adventure.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: Maldives Aggressor II

An amphora resting on the seabed in Cyprus, one of the best vacations in May for wreck diving and underwater archeology

8. Cyprus

By the fifth month, the weather warms up across the best European diving destinations, including the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Here, sandy beaches meet rocky seascapes and azure waters, with visibility often reaching 30m (100ft). This offers optimal conditions for exploring the region’s many swim-throughs and wrecks. Among these, the legendary MS Zenobia ferry takes center stage. Spanning depths from 16-42m (52-138ft), it’s an iconic dive for beginners and experienced divers alike.

Cyprus is also celebrated for its fascinating underwater archeology, from ancient pottery to the harbor of Amathus. Meanwhile, turtles are abundant in this part of the world, as well as lion fish, barracuda, and jacks. Night diving is easily reached from shore, increasing your chances of spotting morays and octopuses in the open.

May is an ideal time to experience Cyprus’s charm and culture, and falling just ahead of peak tourist season, you should be able to find some great deals.

Editor’s Recommended Resort: Amathus Beach Hotel

9. Egypt

There are countless reasons to dive Egypt during any month. However, this Red Sea destination holds particular appeal as one of the best diving spots in May for shark fanatics.

You can encounter several shark species in these world-class tropical waters, including grey reef, oceanic whitetip, leopard, thresher, and tiger sharks. In addition, May is one of the best times for hammerhead and whale shark sightings.

Beyond the pelagic action, Egypt promises to deliver on every diving interest. Whether you prefer resort or liveaboard diving, you can easily tailor your underwater adventure to include pristine coral reefs, world-class shipwrecks, thrilling walls, drifts, and laid-back shore dives, to name a few.

With topside temperatures still comfortable before the height of summer, Egypt is undoubtedly one of the best places to scuba dive in May.

Editor’s Recommended Liveaboard: MY Blue Melody

Explore the Best Scuba Diving in May

PADI Travel’s collections offer 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.

If you’re looking for the best scuba diving destinations in May, we’d love to answer any questions you have. 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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