Not all scuba destinations are created equal. Some are super expensive while others are quite cheap or middle of the road. Some places you can spend a few days diving dozens of dive spots. Others, you can spend a day diving three or four then have to travel a few hundred kilometers to the next town.
Now there is no right or wrong place to go diving.
But, there are places that may not be right for you. We’re going to help you with planning your next dive trip. First, we’ll take a look at the factors that make a destination good or bad for you.
Then, we’ll go into some tips on how you can get the most for your time and money.
What makes a good diving destination?
There are far too many factors that make a place good or bad to visit. Many of these are going to be up to individual preference more than anything. So, let’s take a look at the most important factors which can make or break a location:
- Your skill and experience level
- The cost of the area and your budget
- Number of dive centers
- Ease of travel
- Total number of dive spots
Let’s break these down further so you can get a better idea of what we are talking about.
Skill Level and Experience Level
This is going to be one of the most important things to take into consideration. Different areas of the planet may require that you be more or less experienced. For example, regardless of your skill level, you can visit Thailand and find plenty of places to dive. But, if you try to go to Dahab as a newly certified diver, you may be out of luck.
You need to plan where you are going based on the number of dive sites that you can enjoy at your current skill level. If you visit a coastline that is known for wreck diving, but you’ve never dove a wreck before, you aren’t going to have much fun. Unless, of course, your going there to take a certification course and learn.
Skill level is the most important factor because its the one that directly affects your safety. Do not ever try to dive sites that are beyond your skill level. Going a little deeper than you are certified to go is one thing. But, diving a site rated for high-level divers with only a few dives under your belt is suicidal.
Look at the stories of past dive fatalities. You will find in the majority of them that going beyond their experience level got them killed. After that, it is diving a site without the proper equipment. You don’t want to become a statistic in a sport that is otherwise considered very safe.
Cost and Budget
After skill level, this is probably going to be the biggest make or break factor. You need to do your research and set realistic expectations about where you can travel to.
There are plenty of places around the world where it is possible to have an amazing dive trip on a moderate budget. But, if you are looking to dive places like Cocos Island near Costa Rica on a shoestring budget, you’re going to be out of luck.
You need to plan for everything. It isn’t going to be much fun traveling to an exotic location only to go from the dive boat to the hotel or hostel every night because you can’t afford to go out.
Make sure you are looking at the total cost of your trip including having fun and enjoying non-diving activities.
There are destinations around the world that match all budgets. This includes South East Asia on the lower end, all the way to islands such as Frigate Island in Seychelles on the higher end.
Dive Shop Availability
As far as diving goes, areas that have a few different dive centers to choose from are better. Especially, if you are a beginner. The more dive centers there are the more options you have and the greater the competition. If you go to an area that has only one dive shop, chances are you are going to be paying more.
There also are personal factors that affect this. Do you speak English or another language? You need to make sure you can find a shop where you are going that has divemasters who speak the same language.
Are you bringing your own dive equipment or do you plan on renting equipment?
Make sure there are dive shops available in each area of the country or island you plan on visiting. If not, you may have to skip a few spots.
Ease of Moving Around
This is another big one. Depending on how long you have for your trip, you will want a place that is easier to get around. For example, if you only have five days, then you probably don’t want to fly to Thailand. The reason for this is you are going to be spending at least two of those days getting to and from the islands.
Instead, you may find it better to visit an island such as Bonaire where you can rent a car and travel up and down the coast. You can easily do three or more dives each day in a place like this.
But, if you have a few weeks or more, you can go to places that are going to require more traveling in-between areas. Remember that travel can eat up a lot of time. The last thing you want is to have to rush through different areas because you are on a tight schedule. Plan a destination that is suited to the amount of time you have to visit there.
Number of Dive Spots
If you are a beginner, you probably want to see as much as possible. You are probably looking to fit as many dives as safely possible within the time you are traveling. Also, you want to see a variety of reefs and fish species. As an advanced diver, you may be looking for something a bit more specific.
As an example of this, we wouldn’t mind traveling to an area to see one specific wreck. We’ve been diving for quite a while and have seen plenty of reefs and pelagic fish.
Now, our interest is in more challenging dives. It is not uncommon that we visit a location to dive a single wreck three or four times. As a beginner though, this is probably not what you have in mind.
Make sure when you are planning a dive trip, that there will be enough dive sites to fill up your itinerary. If you have a week or more to travel to a location, but there are only three main dive sites, you may find yourself bored quite quickly.
For more help with planning, you can check out our helpful dive guides.
How do you get the most for your money?
As we mentioned before, the budget usually plays a major role in where we travel. For most people, this is a reality. So, how can you get the most out of your diving trip without breaking the bank?
Travel during the offseason.
The thing about scuba diving is that most people like to travel and dive during certain times of the year. This usually corresponds to the weather in the country. If your schedule is open though, you can save quite a bit of money traveling right before or just after the main peak season. Especially in the most popular diving destinations. The best part, the weather will still be good during these months.
So, for example, instead of traveling to Greece during July and August, you go in mid-September to early October. The weather will still be good but the prices for everything from hotels to restaurants much cheaper. Sometimes, you can find hotels as much as half off during these times of the year. The popular areas will also be less crowded which is a major plus.
Many dive shops even offer discounts during the low season to incentivize people to dive with them. After you have settled on your next dive destination, you can look to see when the peak travel time is for that country. Try to pick a time to travel that is a month before or after that peak travel time. Then, go to the different websites for the dive centers in the areas you want to dive and see if their prices are less.
You can also send them a message ahead of time. Many dive centers around the world offer discounts if you book ahead of time and book in bulk. Meaning, if you book six dives it will be cheaper per dive than if you just book one.
By planning your trips during the right time, you can save significant amounts of money. This leaves you more money to do what you enjoy, diving.
Have any ideas where you will be going for your next diving adventure? Maybe you’ve recently returned from a trip and have some advice to share? Let us know in the comments section. We enjoy hearing from our fellow divers. Also, your information may help someone else in choosing their next destination.