Djibouti is a great place for anyone in search of an active holiday. Out on the water there’s everything from diving and snorkelling to whale-shark spotting. Away from the water’s edge there’s great hiking amid superb scenery.
Diving & Snorkelling
Although it’s less charismatic than Egypt, Djibouti has its fair share of underwater delights. You’ll be positively surprised: there’s a wide choice of shallow dives for novices and deeper dives for more experienced divers in the Gulf of Tadjoura. Wreck fans will be spoiled here, too, with a handful of atmospheric shipwrecks.
Although Djibouti is diveable year-round, the best season for diving is from November to March. During July and August, the seas may be too rough for diving.
Visibility is not the strong point of diving in Djibouti – it rarely exceeds 10m to 15m (and can drop to 5m at certain sites at certain periods of the year). Current conditions vary, but are generally imperceptible to mild. During the coolest months (December through March), water temperatures are usually between 25°C and 27°C. Summer water temperatures range from 27°C to 29°C.
The two mains dive areas include the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Bay of Ghoubbet. Diving trips to the fantastic Les Sept Frères archipelago, at the junction between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, are also available.
There's only one professional, permanent dive operator in Djibouti, Dolphin, based in Djibouti City. It's affiliated with CMAS and PADI, two internationally recognised certifying agencies. Equipment is well-maintained, facilities are well equipped and staff are friendly and knowledgeable.
If you're interested in a live-aboard tour (outside the hot season – from around October to April only), there's a choice of at least two large motorised sailing boats offering different facilities and prices. Reservations should be made several months in advance, particularly for tours during holiday periods. Occasionally it's possible to fill spaces on a tour at short notice.
Diving in Djibouti is rather expensive, especially if you compare it with other Red Sea destinations.
Snorkelling is also superlative. The local dive shop runs snorkelling trips in parallel with its dive excursions.
Hiking is popular in the Goda Mountains. From canyons and valleys to waterfalls and peaks, the mountainscape is fantastic and you’ll be rewarded with lovely vistas. Most campements touristiques can organise guided nature walks, from one-hour jaunts to more challenging day hikes.
Various treks led by Afar nomads can also be arranged along ancient salt routes in western Djibouti. It’s the best way to immerse yourself in traditional nomadic culture. Duration varies from two-day hikes near Lac Assal or Les Allols to 10-day expeditions as far as Ethiopia. Contact tour operators in Djibouti City.
Whale sharks migrate annually from their usual feeding grounds to the warm waters of the Gulf of Tadjoura to mate and give birth. The Bay of Ghoubbet is one of the best places in the world to snorkel near a massive whale shark. During the peak season (November to January), the question isn’t whether you will see a shark, but how many you will see.