Diving gets exciting in August in many places around the world. Whether you’re after manta rays in Belize or nesting turtles at Sipadan, your liveaboard trip is sure to be a hit. To help you choose a place that’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best liveaboard destinations to go in August.
August is shark season in much of the North Pacific. Head to Cocos Island for hammerheads, Guadalupe for great whites or the Galápagos for whale sharks. Alternately, enjoy the calm water conditions in the South Pacific, or catch a glimpse of exotic marine creatures at Komodo and Sipadan. The world is your oyster!
1. COCOS ISLAND
At Cocos Island, said by Jacques Cousteau to be the “most beautiful island in the world,” divers can see schooling sharks congregating around the rocky pinnacles and underwater seamounts. There’s no staying overnight here so a Cocos Island liveaboard is the best way to access this protected area.
August falls in the rainy season at Cocos Island, but surface conditions start to get a little calmer this month. Visibility is reduced thanks to the plankton which brings hammerheads and other pelagics such as mantas and whale sharks.
This makes it one of the most popular months to dive, so book early. Temperatures vary little throughout the year but thermoclines can happen at any time.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Caldera Harbor Puntarenas, Costa Rica
PRICE RANGE: $4,500 – $6,000
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 8 to 10 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 75 to 84° F (24 to 29° C)
BEST BOATS: Best Cocos Island liveaboard boats compared
HIGHLIGHTS: Schooling sharks and manta rays
A Guadalupe liveaboard trip offers the chance to cage-dive with great white sharks, an activity in which even non-divers can partake. While the sharks are the main reason to visit the island, you might also get a glimpse of seals, amberjacks and even whales.
Divers who come to Guadalupe in August can expect to see young male great white sharks, who come to feed on the elephant seals. This is one of only three months when it’s possible to book a liveaboard to Guadalupe. Despite the generally good conditions, it’s also hurricane season, so consider getting insurance for your trip.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Ensenada, Mexico or San Diego, USA
PRICE RANGE: $3,000 – $3,500
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 4 to 5 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 66 to 72°F (19°C to 22°C)
BEST BOATS: Best Guadalupe liveaboard boats compared
HIGHLIGHTS: Cage diving with great white sharks
The small tip of a massive underwater volcanic ridge, Malpelo is a protected haven for pelagic lovers. Strong currents surround the oceanic island, whose sides plunge straight down into the depths below. A Malpelo liveaboard trip is an opportunity to see more sharks than you can imagine.
Like Cocos Island, Malpelo sees wet weather in August. Water temperatures rise as high as 75° F (24° C), but thermoclines can bring cold spells. Visibility hovers between 30 to 115ft (10 to 35m) and conditions are calmer than in the winter.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Puerto Pedregal, Panama
PRICE RANGE: $4,500 – $5,500
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 11 to 14 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 20 to 24° C (68 to 75° F)
BEST BOATS: Malpelo liveaboard boats
HIGHLIGHTS: Pelagics, pelagics, pelagics!
The Galápagos have some of the richest biodiversity on the planet, both above and underneath the water. The convergence of three ocean currents plus the ongoing volcanic activity is a match made in heaven. With a Galápagos liveaboard, you’ll have the chance to see a plethora of marine species that you won’t find anywhere else.
August in the Galápagos brings cold, choppy water and reduced visibility. However, this is a good time for seeing whale sharks, who are attracted by the nutrient-rich waters. Lucky divers will also see penguins and mola mola.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno or Santa Cruz, Ecuador
PRICE RANGE: $3,500 – $6,000
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate – Advanced
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 7 to 8 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 60 to 65° F (16 to 18° C)
BEST BOATS: Best Galapagos liveaboard boats compared
HIGHLIGHTS: Good time of year to see whale sharks
What other diving area can claim wall diving, night diving, cage diving, drift diving and an active volcano to boot? Any level of diver will find something to suit their interests here. A Hawaii liveaboard is your best bet for visiting as many dive sites as possible in this sprawling archipelago.
Diving at Hawaii is decent all year, but you might as well go in the summer when waters are warmer and conditions are calm. Visibility in August can reach up to 100ft (30m) and weather tend to be drier than in the winter.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Kailua Kona, USA
PRICE RANGE: $2,000 – $2,500
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 7 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 78 to 81° F (25 to 27° C)
BEST BOATS: Hawaii liveaboard boats
HIGHLIGHTS: Specialty dive sites including night diving with manta rays
Belize has an abundance of protected dive sites thanks to its gigantic barrier reef, making it a great destination for beginner divers. Come watch dolphins and manatees play in the shallows.
Keep an eye out for the endemic whitespotted toadfish. Of course, no Belize liveaboard trip would be complete without a visit to the blue hole.
August affords a chance to see manta rays in Belize, who are attracted by the plankton blooms. Other than the slightly reduced visibility, Belize enjoys good conditions in August, with warm weather and calm waters. It’s the wet season, but it only rains a few hours a day. However, most people are scared away by the rain so this is low season and probably the best time to dive Belize.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Belize City, Belize
PRICE RANGE: $2,500 – $3,000
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 8 to 11 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 82 or 84° F (28 or 29° C)
BEST BOATS: Best Belize liveaboard boats compared
HIGHLIGHTS: Huge variety of dive sites for all levels
A Komodo liveaboard will give you the opportunity to see such unique creatures as the blue-ringed octopus and the ghost pipefish. Because of the strong currents and tides – also responsible for bringing in such a rich variety of marine life – Komodo is best left to intermediate and advanced divers.
August in Komodo is dry, but you may run across choppy waters in the south. Water temperatures are at their coldest. This is the best month of the year to spot mola mola, the world’s heaviest bony fish. August is the last month to find the full assortment of liveaboard itineraries.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Labuan Bajo, Indonesia
PRICE RANGE: $1,500 – $3,000
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 3 to 7 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 68 to 82° F (20 to 28° C)
BEST BOATS: Best Komodo liveaboard boats compared
HIGHLIGHTS: Chance to see mola mola and other rare species
Thousands of species of fish plus several hundred types of coral make this the dream destination for any scuba diver. Sipadan is Malaysia’s only oceanic island and boasts an impressive 600m wall teeming with moray eels, angelfish and gobies. The most convenient way to dive the area is with a Sipadan liveaboard.
You’ll see nesting green and hawksbill turtles at Sipadan in August, along with the perennial white-tip sharks and eagle rays. Early-morning divers in certain dive sites will have the chance to see hundreds of bumphead parrotfish.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Semporna, Malaysia
PRICE RANGE: $1,000 – $2,000
DIFFICULTY: Beginner – Intermediate
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 3 to 7 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 82 to 86° F (28 to 30° C)
BEST BOATS: Sipadan liveaboard boats
HIGHLIGHTS: Barracuda tornadoes
9. MARSHALL ISLANDS
A Marshall Islands liveaboard will take you around the hundreds of islands that make up this coral paradise. Only several thousand people visit these islands every year, and the dive sites are only recently reopened to the public after having served as nuclear testing sites in the past. These factors make for an amazingly well-preserved marine environment.
Summer in the Marshall Islands brings warm weather and calm seas. You’ll see lively coral reefs, breathtaking drop-offs and plenty of pelagics. This is one of few places in the world where you can wreck-dive an aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga.
WHERE TO GO FROM: Kwajalein, Marshall Islands
PRICE RANGE: $6,500 – $8,500
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 11 to 15 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 82 to 84° F (28 to 29° C)
BEST BOATS: Marshall Islands liveaboard boats
HIGHLIGHTS: Marine life in good condition since only recently opened to the public
10. SOLOMON ISLANDS
Keep your eyes peeled for macro critters on your Solomon Islands liveaboard trip. The country is famous for its muck diving, World War II wrecks and immaculate coral reefs. But there’s no shortage of pelagic life either, including manta rays and schooling barracudas.
The Solomon Islands lie in the tropics and can be dived year-round. From June until August the country sees cooler, dry weather and calm water. Visibility tends to range from 50 to 90ft (15 to 30m).
WHERE TO GO FROM: Honiara, Solomon Islands
PRICE RANGE: $3,000 – $6,000
LENGTH OF THE TRIP: 8 to 12 days
WATER TEMPERATURES: 80 to 85° F (27 to 29° C)
BEST BOATS: Best Solomon Islands liveaboard boats compared
HIGHLIGHTS: Quiet dive sites with fantastic reefs and muck diving