Diving, whale-shark spotting and hiking can all be organised from Djibouti City.

Diving

Most diving takes place off the islands of Maskali and Moucha in the Gulf of Tadjoura, where you’ll find a variety of dive sites for all levels. Wreck enthusiasts will make a beeline for monster-sized Le Faon, a 120m-long cargo ship that lies in 27m of water on sandy floor. Other shipwrecks worthy of exploration include L'Arthur Rimbaud, a tugboat that was scuttled in 2005, and the nearby Nagfa, a small Ethiopian boat that lies in about 32m of water. If you need a break from wreck dives, some excellent reef dives beckon, including Tombant Point, where you'll see a smorgasbord of reef fish; and the Canyon, a relaxing site suitable for novices.

There’s also an array of spectacular sites scattered along the southern shoreline of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Bay of Ghoubbet, furthest west.

Most sites around the Gulf of Tadjoura can be accessed with organised boat trips from the capital, particularly at the weekend (Friday).

Whale-Shark Spotting

The Bay of Ghoubbet, at the western end of the Gulf of Tadjoura, is one of the most dependable locations in the world to swim alongside a massive whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the world’s largest fish. The peak season runs from November to January. There are between two and 10 individuals, close to the shore, and it’s very easy to snorkel with these graceful creatures.

This activity has exploded in recent years, and plenty of unprofessional operators can arrange trips. It’s better to stick to well established outfits that are ecologically sensitive and follow protocols. Give the sharks a berth of at least 4m. Touching is an absolute no-no.