Fairly new on the dive scene and a lesser-known whale shark hotspot, Djibouti is ideal for adventurous divers and pelagic fans alike. Discover caves, wrecks, deep drift dives and a crack between tectonic plates, as well as huge schools of pelagic fish and plenty of shark action.
Diving in Djibouti
Djibouti only recently began growing as a scuba diving destination, meaning many sites remain untouched.
Diving in Djibouti is quite unique, as many of the sites are suited for more experienced divers. Whilst there are plenty of opportunities for beginner divers too, the country’s geographical location at the Horn of Africa and the opening between the Red Sea and where Indian Ocean currents are stronger means that many dive sites are better for advanced divers. These specific currents are good news for those who love seeing big stuff, like dolphins, manta rays, sharks and the elusive whale shark, as these creatures travel along them.
There are plenty of dive centers, dive resorts that visit dive sites daily, but the most advised option is to take a liveaboard trip around Djibouti’s exceptional dive spots. Some sites are too far for land based dive operators to go to, whereas liveaboards are not limited by distance. Many of the best sites are more remote, which is another reason to opt for a liveaboard.
As for dive courses, Djibouti is a great place to obtain an advanced certification due to its challenging conditions.
Best time to dive
Djibouti’s climate is tropical desert, and is hot all year round. The winter continues from December to February, seeing air temperatures around 29°C (84°F), and sea temperatures, between 26-27°C (79-81°F). Rain is scarce during this period, and the weather is humid and sunny. From March to May it heats up slowly to around 35°C (95°F). June to September is summer, with soaring heat often exceeding 40°C (104°F), but with less humidity as an upside. Summer ocean temperatures are slightly warmer, averaging around 29-31°C (84-88°F).
With regards to weather, there’s really no bad time to dive in Djibouti. However, as its known not only for its amazingly healthy coral reefs, but also it’s huge number of whale sharks, there are better times of the year to dive here if you aim to see these amazing pelagics en mass. The whale sharks season runs from November to February when the changes if spotting them is very high. They still appear during other times of the year, however, the chances are much less.
Types of diving
Djibouti offers a range of diving experiences, with varied dive sites including vibrant reefs and some epic topography, such as caves and tunnels. There are even a few wrecks to explore, such as the Orchard Reefer located at Moucha Island near Djibouti City.
Though there’s much on offer, the pelagic diving that’s the main attraction, with the show stopper being the beloved whale shark. Their smaller counterparts also thrive, including reef sharks, huge schools of fish and barracuda.
Djibouti also offers deep diving and drift diving thanks to strong currents, which means that a lot of the sites are better suited to very advanced divers.
Liveaboard diving is popular here, as mentioned, due to many of the best sites being further afield.
What to see
The highlight of diving in Djibouti is the gentle giant of the sea - the whale shark. From November to February, these spotted pelagics come to the Gulf of Tadjourah to feed on plankton that live close to Ghoubet Al Kharab. The bay here is a confined space for baby whale sharks that stay for over four months in their early developmental stage, and offers a unique opportunity to see these adorable juveniles.
Furthermore, divers can often spot dolphins that cruise alongside diving boats, playfully jumping out of the water. Other creatures include grey and nurse sharks, tiger and blue sharks, manta rays and occasionally pilot whales.
Best places to dive
Gulf of Tadjoura
Some of the best reef diving in Djibouti is undoubtedly at Maskali and Moucha in the Gulf of Tadjoura. Suited for divers of all levels, exceptional biodiversity, prolific marine life and vibrant reefs can be enjoyed at many sites, notably at Tombant Point, Les Patates Air France and the Canyon.
For congregations of pelagics, the Seven Brothers archipelagos come out on top. Currents rage through this area twice a day, bringing nourishing water to soft corals and other creatures that love to dine on plankton. There are beautiful reefs around here too, including Rhounda Khomaytou, and shallow sites such as the Japanese Gardens on Kadda Dhabali, which is also a great night dive spot.
Bay of Ghoubet
The grand spectacle of Djibouti is of course the possible sighting of whale sharks. And the best place to be amongst these otherworldly pelagics is in the Bay of Ghoubet, where they migrate to mate and give birth. From November to February, not only will you see a boatload of these epic creatures, but you’ll also likely see the juveniles, as this unique place serves as a whale shark nursery.