Strong currents, low visibility, freezing water and yes, sharks – these are just a few first-dive-trip experiences that can cause a newcomer to shake their head and internally decide “never again.”
But the trick to feeling that passion for scuba diving — and, more importantly, inspiring your loved ones and friends to appreciate scuba diving as much as you do — is to start off easy and build your way to those more challenging and potentially scary dive destinations.
If you’re planning your first diving trip, or a first diving trip with a scuba newcomer, you may be wondering a good destination to make that maiden voyage.
Thankfully, there are plenty of locations where the waters are clear and warm, the currents are mild and there is little chance of seeing large, aggressive sharks.
Consider these locales that make the sport accessible, enticing, and absolutely contagious. And if you or your new diver is a little nervous about traveling to foreign countries where English may not be widely spoken, you’re in luck! English is the native language in all of these destinations.
There are few sites in the British Virgin Islands that are more than 80’ ft. deep, and the local underwater regions are beautifully sheltered. Check out the RMS Rhone, the region’s most well-known wreck, or the equally shallow waters of Wreck Alley off of Cooper Island.
These sites serve as perfect introductions to a wreck environment, and are nicely intact, which gives new divers a pure thrill of discovering an archeological treasure.
This Mecca for shore diving makes the trek into the water an easy venture. Shore diving can be especially appealing for divers who are prone to seasickness or feel nervous far from land.
Depending on the site, divers need only head out into the water for 10-20 yards or so before they’re face-to-face with a veritable swimming pool filled with exotic fish, corals and underwater plant life. Even if new scuba divers need a hand, they’ll find plenty of help — Bonaire is home to a wealth of diving resorts, with on-site piers and launch points, which makes accessing the colorful waters a breeze. Many sites are somewhat protected by currents, so check with local divemasters.
Off the southern tip of Florida, divers will find endless destinations where the top sites are in 25’-40’ ft. of water, and the ocean currents are a non-factor. In these conditions, divers can enjoy gentle and non-threatening encounters with goliath grouper, snapper, snook and tarpon.
Check out the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as a starting point, which is well-known in local circles as a “training ground” for new divers. You’ll find shipwrecks and artificial reefs to explore too!
And the best bet? The Florida Keys is a very affordable dive destination – we wrote about affordable dive destinations in a previous post.
Will you be interacting with newly-certified honeymooning couples and cruise-goers? Yes, in some locations such as Nassau.
But will you also be enjoying incredible visibility ranges that average 80’ ft. regardless of time of year? Yes.
The Bahamas is a winning site simply because it’s so consistent. Regardless of the time of year, unless a major hurricane is passing through the region, of course, divers can count on exceptional visibility, minor or non-existent currents, and a world of sea life that’s visible for both snorkelers and scuba divers. In essence, there’s a reason why so many casual cruise-goers take the plunge.
Though there are plenty of global “hot spots” worth checking out, divers may also want to look close to home. With a number of marine sanctuaries stationed across the states, and freshwater lakes and inland bodies of water serving as prime training grounds, your first scuba diving adventure may be closer than you think.
The key is to take it easy and not go beyond your comfort level. Once you log a few easy dives, you’ll likely find your thirst for adventure increasing! After all, sometimes the anticipation of reaching those iconic and dangerous destinations or adventures (shark dive trip anyone?) is part of the fun.
Do you or someone you know want to get certified to scuba dive or increase your skills? Scuba Toys offers dive education courses year-round! Visit us online or call us at 877-728-2243. We serve the entire North Texas area with our shop in Carrollton, a suburb of Dallas.
Can you suggest any other dive destinations for beginners? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/ (Blue Hole, Exuma Cays, Bahamas)