One of the perks of being a scuba diver is we have an almost endless supply of reefs, wrecks, caves and other fantastic underwater features and sea life just waiting to be explored. That’s why so many of us start planning our next dive trip as soon as we arrive home from our last one! With so many to choose from, how do we choose a dive destination?
The answer to this is often dependent on who else it traveling with you – if your significant other, kids, friends, whomever are not divers, you (and them) will probably have a much better, more relaxing vacation if you choose a destination that offers activities aside from diving. If you’re traveling with avid divers who want to do several dives per day, every day, then pick a destination dedicated to diving. Dive resorts that cater to divers tend to be less expensive and more laid back than your traditional 4 or 5-star beachfront resort. Live-aboard dive trips where you eat, sleep and travel to dive sites aboard a boat, is another option if you want to really immerse yourself in a dive vacation.
If you’re planning to travel during a specific month, this may also dictate where to go. You don’t want to find yourself on a coveted dive vacation during a hurricane or even just the high rainy season. Surface conditions and visibility can also change between seasons, so if your desired spot tends to be rough with less visibility when you need to travel, you might want to consider a different destination.
If you’re most interested in wreck diving, of course you’ll need to focus on destinations known for their wrecks such as Truk Lagoon in Micronesia or Scapa Flow in Scotland. Migratory patterns of sea creatures may also be a factor in choosing a destination. If you want to dive with whale sharks, for example, you might choose to dive Isla Holbox, near Cancun, Mexico, in July when they migrate through the area. If you’re into macro photography, Bonaire is a good bet. If you want to see Great Whites, head to northern California or South Africa.
If you only have three or four days, you’ll want to choose somewhere easy to get to, where you don’t burn most of your time on roundtrip travel. Direct flights into Grand Cayman and Cozumel and short land commutes make these ideal destinations for quick trips. If you can get away for longer, The Red Sea, Fiji, Palau, and the Galapagos offer a plethora of fantastic dive sites.
We must always take into account our experience level when choosing dive destinations. If you’re relatively new to diving or haven’t dove in a while, you may want to focus on destinations with calm seas, good visibility, no currents and relatively shallow diving such as the Bahamas or the British Virgin Islands. If you’re an advanced technical diver looking for adventure, Antarctica, the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the Blue Hole in the Red Sea or Yucatan Cenotes (sinkholes) in Mexico are all top notch.
Most of the best diving is only reachable by boat, but fortunately, there are some places where you simply gear up on the beach and glide in. Some of the advantages of shore diving are: it’s far less expensive than boat diving; if you’re experienced, you don’t need a divemaster; you’re on your own schedule – no need to adjust your day around the boat’s schedule; and you don’t have to deal with a group of strangers who may or may not have strong diving skills. Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, Florida and the Philippines have excellent shore diving.
If money is no object, bucket list destinations include Micronesia’s Palau, the Egyptian Red Sea, Polynesia’s Rangiroa, and Malaysia’s Sipadan Island. Have no fear though, there are plenty of fantastic, affordable destinations such as Cozumel, south Florida, Honduras and even Bonaire with its unlimited shore diving.
If you’ve done most of your diving in warm, tropical waters and want to try something new, consider Norway, the Arctic, or Antarctica. In Norway, dive with orcas in the winter. Dive with penguins, leopard seals and sea lions in Antarctica, and with walruses in the Arctic. Not for the faint of heart, this is serious cold water diving so you should know how to dive with a dry suit.
You can learn more about dry suits, as well as all of your scuba gear needs, by visiting us at Scuba Toys! We serve the Dallas area.
Stop by the store at 1609 S Interstate 35E, Carrollton, TX 75006, call us at 877-728-2243 or visit us online at ScubaToys.com to see our enormous selection of gear for sale.
Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cs-jay/
What factors do you consider when you choose your dive destinations? Let us know!