The Red Sea is a renowned scuba diving destination that offers visiting scuba divers exceptional underwater experiences throughout the year. But is there one particular season that stands out amongst the rest? 

Using information from our partner resorts and liveaboards, as well as reviews from our guests, we’ve put together an in-depth explanation of scuba diving seasons in the Red Sea, including the pros and cons of visiting at certain times of the year.

Red Sea scuba diving seasons explained

Winter diving conditions in the Red Sea

December – February (low season)

December through February is winter within the Red Sea region, with lower temperatures between 20-25°C, both on land and in the water. Though an ambient air temperature of 20°C+ is perfectly pleasant, divers are likely to feel the chill below the waves, while a reduction in the sun’s heat can make it harder to warm up during surface intervals. As a result, anyone visiting the Red Sea during winter should ensure they pack appropriately. A thick, full-length 5-7mm wetsuit will normally suffice, though suitably experienced divers might prefer a dry suit. Hoods and booties can really help to keep the heat in underwater, while a warm hoodie or dive robe can be a blessing back above the waves. 

Temperatures begin to warm up in February towards the end of winter, making this a good month for anybody that is considering a winter dive trip but is concerned about getting cold.

Spring diving conditions in the Red Sea

March – May (high season)

Spring in the Red Sea runs from March through May and brings relatively warm conditions all-round. Air temperatures range between 25-35°C, while the waters fluctuate around the mid 20s. And, though the water may feel cool for some, a spot of sunbathing back on deck is a speedy way to warm up. Considering these months offer some of the best overall conditions, it’s no real surprise that spring is one of the most popular seasons to visit the Red Sea. 

A full length wetsuit will likely be the best bet during a spring dive trip to the Red Sea, with the thickness depending largely on where you’re heading and how frequently you plan to dive. The further south visitors venture, the hotter the water will get, and multiple daily dives from a liveaboard will take more of a toll on body temperature than most resort-based scuba excursions.

Summer diving conditions in the Red Sea

June – August (low season)

June through August is summertime in the Red Sea when temperatures soar. In fact, things can get so hot and stifling during these months that summer is typically considered another low season throughout the region – particularly when it comes to diving. Air temperatures typically range between 30-40°C during summer, and can even climb to 45°C on occasions. In the water, temperatures climb from the mid 20s to highs of over 30°C by August. A thin, full-length wetsuit is easily enough for most divers in these conditions, with many visitors feeling comfortable in ‘shorties’ or even just swimwear, depending on where you visit and how often you plan to dive.

Back on the surface, sun protection is an absolute essential, including high SPF sunscreen, as well as hats and light-weight clothing should you need to cover-up.

Autumn diving conditions in the Red Sea

September – November (high season)

Autumn in the Red Sea is between September and November, and brings nicely balanced conditions. Air temperatures range between 25-35°C, while the waters are around the mid to high 20s, depending on where you visit. With similar conditions to those of March through May, autumn also attracts plenty of divers and is considered another high-season period within the Red Sea. That said, visitor numbers are still lower than they are in spring, making it a great option for anybody eager to avoid crowds.

Again, most divers will find a full length wetsuit the most comfortable option during autumn, though they may wish to adjust the thickness depending on the location and number of their dives. 

Why dive the Red Sea during high season?

High season in the Red Sea is the ideal time to join a liveaboard trip.
High season in the Red Sea is the ideal time to join a liveaboard trip.

Spring and autumn are both high seasons in the Red Sea, and there’s a reason the majority of divers decide to visit during these two periods. Conditions in the Red Sea come into their own between the months of March through May and again from September through November, making these comfortable and convenient times to dive. Water temperatures at this time are reasonably warm, and the additional intensity from the sun makes it easy to shake off the shivers during surface intervals.

What’s more, many of the Red Sea’s best marine life encounters can occur within these two seasons, making them extra appealing to divers. Spring is a good time to encounter whale sharks off the coast of Saudi Arabia, and sightings are also possible in Egypt towards the end of this season. When it comes to autumn, manta rays are common in Saudi Arabia at this time and hammerhead sharks are still lingering around some of Egypt’s iconic sites.

Oceanic whitetips are also commonly encountered in Autumn around some of the famous offshore islands and reefs. Both spring and autumn can also make for some spectacular photography opportunities, as the sun’s position begins to change in the sky, creating spectacular effects beneath the water.

Why dive the Red Sea during the low season?

Despite being the low seasons – when the fewest tourists decide to visit – there are some noteworthy positives to diving the Red Sea during summer and winter. Of course, the most obvious bonus is that a decrease in demand leads to discounted prices. This typically includes the most costly aspects of a trip, such as travel and accommodation, with airlines, resorts and liveaboards all offering reduced prices during the low season. Fewer visitor numbers also reduces the chance of crowds, both above and below the water, meaning divers can have some of the region’s most popular sites all to themselves.

Diving the Red Sea during the summer low season

The soaring temperatures during summer can pose a real challenge to any unsuspecting visitors. But, for divers that can handle the intense heat, this season is a worthwhile time to explore the Red Sea. And, though temperatures can get stifling on the surface, divers won’t have to worry about getting cold – the waters are practically tropical at this time of year and the sun will reverse any chills almost instantly after surfacing.

What’s more, many of the region’s most impressive marine life encounters peak during the summer months, tempting divers with unparalleled underwater experiences. Manta rays are common in Saudi Arabia throughout the summer, while Egypt’s hammerhead sharks are most prevalent. The height of summer is also a good time to spot nesting sea turtles.

Diving the Red Sea during the winter low season

Temperatures obviously drop during winter in the Red Sea and, though most people don’t come here to be chilly, there are actually a few advantages to the reduced heat. Cooler waters can often curtail algae blooms and bring better visibility as a result, while there are always those marine species that appear to enjoy the cooler climates. Moderate day-time temperatures also means liveaboards and resorts are less reliant on air-conditioning, which is good news for the environment and often a little easier on divers’ ears and sinuses. 

Reasonably strong winds are to be expected while diving in the Red Sea, no matter what time of year you visit. That said, the winter months offer some of the highest chances of breeze-free days, helping the sun’s warmth work its magic and keeping water conditions flat and glassy. 

Last but not least, winter is one of the best seasons for local produce around the Red Sea. At this time, guests can expect their meals to be filled with delicious vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots, along with plenty of legumes. Fruits including oranges and strawberries are also abundant in winter, as are ripe salad ingredients such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and spring onions. The ample fresh flavours on offer during these months not only ensure guests enjoy a healthy and varied diet during their Red Sea dive vacation, but it also allows more produce to be sourced locally, helping resorts and liveaboards cut-down on their carbon emissions.

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Article written by
Matthew Oldfield
Co-founder, dive travel expert

Matthew has lived in Indonesia and Malaysia for the last 20 years, and explored some of the world’s best scuba diving destinations as a photographer. He is our resident expert at finding the perfect dive resort, the best time of year to explore, and destinations with the best street food!