Top 5 Night Dives
Night diving is a special treat – you enter a secret world and the beam of your torch reveals strange and wonderful behaviour. The reef is a very different place than during the day – invertebrates more active, sharks predate on sleeping reef fish, morays leave their crevices to hunt. Here is a round-up of some of our favourite night dives
Hawaii’s Big Island has more than 50 dive sites, with lava tubes, swim-throughs, pinnacles, coral gardens and numerous species of endemic fish. Highlights include Paradise Pinnacle and the numerous turtles at Turtle Pinnacle, but the main attraction is night diving with manta rays at Kona.
Kona is rugged and dramatic, with deep waters that attract large pelagic species to the area. You can spend time diving and snorkelling with numerous feeding manta rays at night, plus see sharks, whales and dolphins during the daytime.
Diving is possible all year at Hawaii and the manta ray dive is suitable for all experience levels. The Kona Aggressor II offers night diving with mantas as part of their Hawaii liveaboard safaris. Fans of whales should visit from December to May, when large numbers of humpback whales migrate to the area for their breeding season.
The Maldives may be well-known for encounters with whale sharks and manta rays during the day, but there are also shark night dives to enjoy at this popular destination. Alimatha Island in Felidhoo Atoll offers the chance to dive with hundreds of nurse sharks and stingrays at night. Divers kneel on the sandy bottom and watch as the sharks and rays come in and pass them by.
The popular Maaya Thila, at Ari Atoll, is great for night diving with numerous hunting whitetip reef sharks. Night dives there also bring the chance to see moray eels, turtles, stonefish and octopus.
January to April is the best time to dive Ari Atoll and Felidhoo Atoll for calm seas, and the best chance of mantas and whale sharks at Ari Atoll. The diving at Ari Atoll is best suited to experienced divers due to the strong currents, though there are some dives suitable for less experienced divers.
The Maldives Aggressor II offers shark night diving at Alimatha. The Horizon 3 liveaboard is a good choice for night diving with whale sharks, as the experienced captain knows where the whale sharks go at night.
Australia is another good option for night diving with sharks, during outer Great Barrier Reef liveaboard safaris. The OceanQuest liveaboard offers nightly Shark in The Dark dives, giving divers the chance to jump in and swim with numerous reef sharks at night. It is also possible to go experience a night dive with special torches and mask filters to experience the wonders of fluoresence on the reef at night with this liveaboard.
One of the other benefits of night diving is seeing natural phenomena that can’t be seen during the daytime, such as coral spawning. Witnessing mass spawning of corals is a unique experience and can be difficult to predict, but it occurs at the Great Barrier Reef between November and December each year. Flynn Reef off Cairns is known for its annual coral spawning and divers can enjoy coral spawning with the Pro Dive Cairns Fleet and OceanQuest.
There are dives suitable for all experience levels at the Great Barrier Reef, with easy and challenging dives available.
The Straits of Tiran and Elphinstone both have reef night dives available, unlike some other dive areas of Egypt where night diving is restricted. The reefs come alive with activity at night and you can drift along dramatic walls and reefs, watching active marine life and lionfish hunt in the torchlight.
Night wreck diving is also possible in Egypt and the Thistlegorm is worth diving at night to see her in a completely different way. A dive there during the hours of darkness reveals shrimps, crabs, hunting lionfish and more as you explore the different sections of the wreck. Wreck fans should consider combining a trip to the Thistlegorm with diving the wrecks at Abu Nuhas, the ‘ships graveyard’.
The Thistlegorm is suitable for most experience levels, depending on which area of the wreck you dive, and the SimSim liveaboard offers safaris to both the Thistlegorm and Abu Nuhas. Elphinstone is more suited to experienced divers, whereas Tiran has a variety of dive sites for all experience levels. There are many liveaboards to choose from that visit both areas all year and the Freedom VIII is a good budget-friendly option.
The Caymans Islands
The USS Kittiwake is one of the most popular wreck dives in the Cayman Islands and is a good night dive. This former US submarine rescue ship is lying in shallow and clear water, making her ideal for night diving. The wreck is relatively easy to dive during the day and night, with several entry and exit points, and has spacious corridors. There is a range of marine life to see, including corals, macro life, a variety of fish species, eagle rays and stingrays.
The Cayman Aggressor V visits the USS Kittiwake and this vessel also offers night diving at the Balboa and Ore Verde wrecks. The USS Kittiwake is suitable for all experience levels.
This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com