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.
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.