If you’re a scuba diver and you love to travel, you will quickly find out that your hobby (or possibly addiction?) can be extremely expensive. In some places, like South Africa and the US, dives can cost as much as $85 each! If you’re doing three dives a day, you may find your travel-savings fund depleting a little faster than you’d like. But not every dive location is created equal. There are some places where you can enjoy the underwater universe for very cheap. Below we’ve listed five of our favourites!
The Red Sea is a diver’s paradise and somewhere that beckons do be explored. World-class ship wrecks like the Thistlegorm, the famous coral-fringed Blue Hole and the exhilarating Canyon dive site are just a few that you can look forward to. The great thing is that you can do a ten dive package here for just $385. These dives will include food and transport to the dive sites, as well as all of your equipment. You can make your dives even cheaper if you choose to stay at a hotel that is in partnership with your dive shop. If you do so, you’ll receive a percentage off of your hotel room and your dives.
Koh Tao, Thailand:
This tiny island bobbing in the Gulf of Thailand is one of the world’s real dive meccas. More divers are certified here than anywhere else on Earth and while the diving isn’t quite as sensational as Dahab, the scuba-crazed vibe is excellent. At night, every bar is filled with people excitedly describing their day of diving with whale sharks, while beaches are full of travellers with their noses in PADI books, studying up for their next course. The entire island is in dive mode and it’s a great place to travel to. Here you can get 10 dives for as little as $240 if you’re staying at the dive shop’s hotel and instructors and dive masters are more professional and safety minded on Koh Tao than anywhere else I’ve dove.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico:
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is a magnificent stretch of coral that really has to be seen to be believed. The colors of the coral shelves and the abundance of fish is hard to match anywhere else in the world and while you’re not exploring underwater caves and canyons, the island itself is a pretty funky place to hang out. Everyone gets around on golf carts here and there are a ton of affordable hotels and restaurants. Dive shops are scattered around town and all offer some pretty great deals on diving. We recommend Squalo Adventures as they are professional and eco-minded and they offer 10 dive packages for just $338 USD.
Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo:
As far as I’m concerned, this is the best dive site in the world. A small coral fringed atoll that bobs in the sea, far off of the eastern coast of Malaysia’s wild Borneo island. The island is only 12 hectares in size, but somehow it stretches downward under the surface of the sea for nearly a kilometer on all edges. The coral walls that have formed on these oceanic cliffs are spectacular and the sea life here is incomparable to anywhere else I’ve ever dove. Hundreds of sharks, turtles, jackfish and barracuda frequent these waters and while you’re on your dive, there will likely be so much to see that your neck will hurt from your head darting back and forth. Sipadan isn’t as cheap as some other Southeast Asian dive destinations, but it’s worth every penny.
There is a limit to how many divers can dive at Sipadan, so make sure you book early. You’ll probably have to book a 10 dive package to ensure that you see the island itself, and this will cost around $350. Cheaper if you book a hotel with your dives.
When you’re travelling in Southern Africa, you’ll feel like wildlife is everywhere. Diving around Tofo in Mozambique is like going on an underwater safari with no jeep to keep you safe. Enormous manta rays feed at one of the dive sites around Tofo, while school bus-sized humpback whales have been known to swim past divers. You can also see dolphins, turtles, sharks and octopus around this area and there are a couple of budget accommodation options on the main beach. Dives here will cost around $35 each, but who wouldn’t pay that much for the opportunity to dive with whales?! We recommend diving with Tofo Scuba and make sure you have an underwater camera here because the chances of seeing something remarkable are pretty high!
Now that you’ve got a few ideas of where to dive on the cheap, it’s time to get out there and explore the underwater world! Getting certified as a diver is like receiving a passport to a new world, and while there are plenty of places on the planet to dive, some are more expensive than others. Hopefully this list has helped you to plan a less expensive diving holiday! Enjoy!