Tips For Better Scuba Diving Trips

Scuba diving trips require more planning than regular vacations, but the pay-off for taking that extra time and making the effort is well worth it. You can’t really wing it with a scuba diving trip if you plan on creating the best possible experience for yourself and your dive buddies. A lack of planning may not exactly cause your trip to go wrong, but it won’t run as smoothly and that will detract from the overall experience.

The following advice should be borne in mind when planning your scuba diving trip:

Choosing the Right Destination

This is far and away the most important aspect of creating the best possible scuba diving trip. It is not as simple as finding a location where scuba diving is possible, or even a place where the scuba diving is highly regarded. You need to take into account the suitability of the destination according to your own individual requirements. Your level of experience and the type of diving you wish to do will largely dictate whether a particular dive site is right.

For example, Cozumel is considered to be one of the best destinations in the world for a scuba diving trip; in fact, PADI has ranked it as their number one location. However, novice divers may not want to try Cozumel as their first dive destination because its reef currents can be disorientating and unnerving for beginners. Cozumel’s drift diving is far better suited to the more experienced diver who doesn’t mind their scuba diving trip being a little more adventurous and unpredictable.

Equally, the Galapagos Islands can make for a memorable scuba diving trip, but you really need to be living aboard a dive boat to take full advantage, and that will not suit everyone. Some people might like their scuba vacation to be a mix of great dives and buzzing nightlife, for which they will need to be near some lively tourist destination.

You should also consider what type of diving is available at each location. You may want your scuba diving trip to incorporate wreck dives, reef dives, wall diving, diving blue holes, cavern diving, cave diving … the list goes on. Do you want to be able to walk out to your dive sites every morning, as you can on Bonaire in the Dutch Antilles, or are you happy to take a long boat ride to your dive site, as when you visit the famous Blue Hole of Belize?

What about the remoteness of the destination? You can interpret this two ways: that you can’t begin your scuba diving trip until you’ve put in some serious hours of traveling, therefore you could be jet-lagged for the first few days; or that you may only be taking a short hop, but your destination is remote from the type of civilization and amenities you are used to. Scuba diving trips to this sort of location may throw up issues of poor transport, a lack of medical care, or poor quality food and water.

Your key to choosing the best location for your scuba diving trip is masses of research. There is no excuse for picking an unsuitable dive destination with all the resources that the internet has to offer.

Choose the Best Time of Year

You may not have the luxury of being able to take a vacation whenever it suits you; work commitments normally put paid to that idea. However, no matter how restricted you are, you can make every effort to gear your scuba diving trip to a destination that offers great conditions for that particular time of year.

Most importantly, you will need to take into account the weather conditions that pertain at a certain location at any given period in the year. Your ideal destination for a scuba diving trip in the spring may prove a whole lot less attractive when the rainy season sets in later in the fall. Remember that high season for the general tourist may be low season for the scuba diver. Again, research is the key to establishing the best location for a given time of year. Your heart may be set on one destination, but your vacation schedule may mean it’s best you keep it on your wish-list and choose an alternative place where the diving is more in-season.

You should also take into account the costs involved in planning a scuba diving trip at a certain time of the year. Naturally, you will pay more for your flights and accommodation – in fact, for everything – in the high season for tourists.

Your Budget

In reality, budgets often choose us. Our income and the times of year we may be restricted to traveling in can mean we have a limited budget with which to book our scuba diving trip. This is where you need to refer back to the first point about choosing the right destination. If a certain spot is beyond your financial means, then it’s not the right destination – not this time. Or perhaps you could manage to get to your perfect dive spot in the world, but you’d have to do everything there on a shoestring. These are decisions you need to be realistic about.

Get Everything Ready

“Everything” means your dive certification, your dive log, your passport and travel documents, dive insurance, your dive gear, and whatever else you consider necessary for a hassle-free scuba diving trip. This includes your own preparedness.

Consider if you need to do any refresher courses before leaving on your scuba diving trip, or whether you need to acquaint yourself with any new equipment. Make sure all the gear you are taking has been tested in advance. You could always rent equipment once you get there, but if that’s after you discover sixty miles out on a boat that your own is faulty then you may well lose a great day’s diving.

Use a Travel Consultant who Specializes in Scuba Diving Trips

You can use a dive travel specialist to back up your own research or to replace it if you feel you can completely trust their advice. A scuba diving trip organized this way can make it all flow and fit together better. These people will know the ins and outs of certain dive destinations, and may be able to help you save money by pointing you towards the right dive shops and hotels.

If planning is not your strong point, then using a professional to draw up an itinerary for your scuba diving trip can take the pressure off, which is what a dive vacation should be all about.

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Scuba Diving Vacation Packages

Scuba diving can be a pretty expensive hobby, and organizing a trip to one of the world’s top dive destinations can be heavy on your wallet. One way to lighten that financial load is to look at the possibility of a scuba diving vacation package.

Scuba diving vacation packages are available to all the most popular dive destinationsaround the globe, and there is a huge range of options within those. Your best bet is to choose the location you would most like to visit, decide which time of the year it’s best for diving there, then research online to locate the scuba diving vacation package deal that best suits your needs.

The best thing about a scuba diving vacation package is that it takes the guesswork out of your trip. This is especially important if you are new to the sport, or if you are visiting a place that you are unfamiliar with. We all have our special dive spots in the world, but you need to be aware if what’s actually taking you back there time and time again is your familiarity with the place.

If you’re concerned about venturing to different dive destinations for fear of not knowing where exactly to go and therefore missing out, then a scuba diving vacation package may be for you. Packages of this sort are put together by people who know the locations, therefore they should be able to secure the best prices, and bulk bookings usually get morefavorable rates.

Scuba Diving Vacation Package Options

The first point to remember is that you are far better off when choosing a scuba diving vacation package to go via a travel consultant who specializes in dive vacations. You will be able to locate a whole host of these online. Generic travel firms may offer dive packages but they may not be as knowledgeable about the finer points, and it is these little details that can elevate your dive vacation from enjoyable to unforgettable.

Vacations with Scuba Diving Included

These vacation packages will probably not be geared to the experienced diver whose whole reason for traveling is to dive. These are not pure scuba diving vacation packages, but they could be a good way to dip your toe into the sport if you are a novice, or an acceptable compromise if you are traveling with someone who is not a diver and who would like to see your head above water for more than an hour a day.

Dive Packages With and Without Flights

Normally, scuba diving vacation packages are cheaper when everything is included, but you shouldn’t take this as read. Deals can be had on flights only that could undercut the package price, so a little research may pay dividends. You may be better off restricting your scuba diving vacation package to the destination only and handling the international travel arrangements yourself.

All-Inclusive Scuba Diving Vacation Packages

It is important to verify exactly what’s included in your scuba diving vacation package. Meals included in a scuba diving vacation package may be breakfast only, breakfast and lunch, or three meals a day. Your eating habits will dictate how you want to play this, but meals can work out good value and remove some of the thought (and walking) from your vacation. Having breakfast included can be a good idea to save you rushing to get ready for your first dive of the day.

Truly all-inclusive scuba diving vacation packages – that’s to say where all your food and drink are included – allow you to budget ahead of time because you will know that you only need to take a little spending money. However, this will restrict your dining out options, unless you are happy to effectively pay twice for the same meal. Consider how much you may want to “go local” and eat out away from the group.

Deciding on whether to include meals can be helped by some research online. Check out what the local fare is like. If the local cuisine leaves something to be desired, you may be safer with the included meals. The last thing you want is to become ill and miss any of your precious diving.

It goes without saying that you must know exactly what your scuba diving vacation package includes in terms of dives and dive equipment. Are enough dives included to satisfy you, and are they going to the kind of locations you most want to visit? Paying for extras on top of a dive package because it doesn’t quite fit the bill can become a very expensive affair.

Depending on the resort and the scuba diving vacation package you choose, you will be allowed a set number of dives per day, or your dives may be unlimited. Dedicated dive resorts will probably favor the latter option, but you need to check this out, and let your specialist travel consultant know exactly what you want.

Ascertain what “unlimited” actually means. It may typically include 2 to 4 boat dives per day and unlimited shore diving. If you want to mix it up a little, then find a scuba diving vacation package that lets you specify how many dives take place on which days, so you can customize your vacation perfectly.

What You Need to Know About Your Scuba Diving Vacation Package

Here is a small checklist to help you book your scuba diving vacation package with confidence. You need to find out:

  • Is rental equipment included? – If not, how much does it cost to rent what you need? Can you reduce the cost by taking a few bits of gear of your own? If you want to take your own gear, can you negotiate the price down some?
  • >How many dives per day are included? – A crucial question to ask before booking your scuba diving vacation package. This is the whole reason for making the trip.
  • Are the dives boat dives or shore dives?
  • How many people will be on board for a boat dive?
  • What type of diving is on offer at the destination? Reef, wreck, wall, drift, cavern, blue hole, etc.
  • Is night diving an option?
  • What is the transfer time to the dive sites they will be using?
  • Is dive insurance included or will you have to take that separately?
A Final Point about Scuba Diving Vacation Packages

Fatalities amongst divers are pretty rare – estimates say around 5 per 100,000 divers – and they are decreasing every year. But half of those fatalities are reported to occur on scuba diving vacation packages, rather than on scuba trips organized locally by professional dive shops/operators.

You need to make sure that any scuba diving vacation package you are looking at is a professional operation and that fully-qualified personnel are involved. Equally, novice divers should not see these less-organized packages as a chance to fast-track themselves into deep water after just an hour’s practice in the shallows. Professional associations like PADI and NAUI recommend that a full training and certification program takes place before any open water diving happens, which may not be the case with certain scuba diving vacation packages.

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