Many people love to dive, but the cost of travel alone can be daunting for many divers. Many places like the Maldives, Fiji and Australia offer great diving vacations but they also burn a massive hole in your pocket. If you want to dive and get the most out of your money, then the places listed below are the destinations for you.
Closest to the US, you end up saving a huge amount in travel expenses alone as compared to flying off to some exotic location. You can catch a flight to Mexico from any destination in the US and you can have your pick of choice of accommodation. It can range from one end of the spectrum to the other, but there are various low budget hotels to small, scuba-centric guesthouses. You also have a variety of dive sites that offer deep walls to swim-throughs all abundant in healthy coral. The only thing you will have to watch for is the strong current. So come prepared.
It is the destination for tourists from all over the world and its attractive feature is its low cost of living, apart from the stunning scenery. If you want to dive, don’t go to the conventional tourist places as all their prices would be marked up. If you go there off-season, your savings will be even higher, especially if you don’t opt for a diving center and head to sea where a liveaboard trip will take you where no other budget trip would.
True, there has been some unrest in recent years, but it is still rich in dive sites and the Red Sea Coast diving is considered to be amongst the world’s best. There is a huge biodiversity of fish, multiple diving sites, a good amount of wrecks to explore and warm waters which offer great visibility. With tourism dropping, you could get great bargain deals and save a huge amount on your trip to Egypt.
This is one of Europe’s hot diving destinations and happens to be one of the cheapest along the Adrian coastline. It is still relatively unknown and mass tourism still has to hit this gorgeous country. The best time to make the most of it is now, when everything is well within your budget and with dive centers opening up all over the place.
Your flight may be the only expensive thing on your budgeting list. But once that’s out of the way, your money will go a long way. Indonesia has over 17,000 islands and is home to some of the world’s best diving spots. Accommodation is also reasonable and this country is very backpacker friendly. If you go to the tourist friendly dive spots like the Komodo Strait you may pay more than your budget allows, but you have the option to shore-dive which is cheaper.
Part of the Dutch Antilles, it is an island that is also relatively unknown to the mass tourism industry. However, divers are aware of this Caribbean gem and many flock there to dive within the watery depths awash with life and color. Most sites can be accessed by shore and you can dive from any part of the island. You can rent a car at the airport to get around easily and hop, skip and jump until you find a dive spot you love. You can even join some boat dives that head to uninhabited islands like Klein Bonaire or can take a trip to 2,000 feet underwater in a scientific submersible.
If you are new to Scuba diving and are finally exploring the big, beautiful underwater world of diving, there are a few things you should just not do. Most Do’s and Don’ts are detailed in your training course, so you would be aware of the basic rules. However, here are a few diving manners that can drive everyone else on the boat absolutely nuts.
Don’t leave your gear and diving equipment all over the boat:
Being organized is the key to better diving and making the most of your trip. If you spread your equipment all over, you’ll have a hard time finding all the equipment when it’s time to dive. Not to mention that somebody will be bound to trip over your stuff. Treat the boat like someone else’s home and be tidy and watchful of your gear.
Kicking up dirt:
If you’ve got your weight wrong or need to set your weighting so you can keep your fins up, ASK. Inform another diver to help you out so that you don’t ruin the dive for others. If you kick up dirt from the bottom, you lower the visibility for others behind you and also highlight your bad buoyancy competence.
Respect the environment:
The marine life you dive in are fragile. They have formed after thousands of years and a small action could spell their doom. Touching the coral is bad enough, but if you break if off, that’s an offence which could lead to fines and perhaps an arrest in different countries. Refrain from poking puffer fish just to satisfy your curiosity, all your actions could have a negative impact on the underwater environment around you which could lead to damage to the marine life or even death. Your thoughtless behavior could spell doom for another creature.
Use the correct terminology:
Your words advertise that you’re a newbie when you do or say the following things:
Call your air cylinder an oxygen tank. It is a tank that stores high pressures breathing gas that is distributed through valves and loops connected to either a diving regulator or a diving rebreather. Only certified divers know that highly trained and certified divers carry oxygen tanks underwater.
Use the term ‘goggles’ when referring to your mask.
Use the term ‘flippers’ when talking about your fins. Only children use flippers.
Be considerate of others:
If you’re dying to get that perfect picture, don’t hold up the dive group for too long – Try your luck once, twice maybe thrice – but clicking 200 pictures in the hope that something amazing will be captured is asking for too much. If you are not in a dive group and are on your own, respect other peoples’ private space. Don’t intrude on them – you have the entire ocean for yourself. If they’re capturing the beauty of the underwater environment, don’t try to push over and take the same shot, and disturb them.
Follow health and Hygiene routines:
You may think that you’re going to underwater anyways so what’s the point. Your poor hygiene, combined with diesel fumes as your boat chugs away to your dive spot will make the trip uncomfortable for everyone else. Take a shower and spare the other divers an extra bout of sea sickness.
Make everyone wait:
If you know that you take more time than other to get your equipment securely fastened, start getting ready for your dive before others. This way they have to end up waiting for you – you’ll feel under pressure and may forget to double check something – the end point is that you won’t have guaranteed safety.
Underwater communication via hand signals is the only way you can communicate with your fellow divers. Unless of course, if you have a voice communication mask is which is very pricy. You will need to know the basic hand signals to warn another person about danger, to confirm direction, to convey how you are feeling and other factors. Here are the basic hand signals that every diver should know:
This is the most commonly used gesture to communicate that all is well. Join your index finger to your thumb and you’re ready to use it! If you are far away from your diving partner and hand signals are not visible, raise your arms and form an arc over your head to signal that you’re ok. You can also raise one arm and placing the hand on your head.
Signal for needing help:
If things are not okay and you need time to adjust your equipment or want to tell your buddy that you can’t go any lower until you equalize, you should use this signal. Keep your hand extended, palm facing downwards and swing it side to side. If your partner shows this signal, stop whatever you’re doing and wait until the OK gesture is given.
I cannot equalize:
Another gesture is to point towards your ear with a finger, preferably your index finger to show that they have to wait until you equalize.
Emergency air requirement:
This is a serious hand signal as it indicates that you don’t have air or are unable to receive air and need air from your diving partner. Join all fingers together and bring your hand close to your mouth to signal a buddy.
Out of air:
This is an emergency signal which is represented by placing your palm facing downwards and simulating a cut to the neck or chest, signaling that your tank has run out of air. If your diving partner uses this signal, pass them your spare regulator (or primary) and get ready for an exit together.
Most emergency signals are easy to identify. Wave your hands over your head to indicate that you need help from a boat nearby.
Keep your hand over your head, but don’t move it to indicate that you need to be picked up. It is similar, yet at the same time very different from the above emergency sign as movement implies danger.
This can occur more often than you think, and this is when the signal would come in handy. Open and close your fists to indicate cramping and to show if you need help to stretch the muscle.
Punching your hand in a direction indicates that there is danger ahead in that direction and that your buddies should not proceed further or exercise caution.
When you’re feeling cold:
This is universally understood. Place your hands over your body to indicate that you are feeling cold. At times the diving waters can be cold, and it can get quite uncomfortable.
Fishing is a dangerous problem. If you close your hand in a fist and place your thumb between the fore finger and the middle finger, you are indicating that you have caught by a rope or a net. Your diving buddy can then look at the problem, analyzing it and fixing it with a dive knife.
This signal is done when you cannot find the item you want. Just keep your index figure and middle finger opening and closing together to show every one that you couldn’t find the material and equipment.
There are a few people who made a huge difference in the history of Scuba diving. Of course, there are some who are legendary in the scuba diving world, and some who made it popular and made it more accessible to the average person. Who are these people?
The pioneer of marine conservation, he also co-developed the Aqua Lung (the first scuba diving set that gained popularity and commercial success.)He is the most famous diver in the history of scuba diving, probably because it is due to his efforts that it became accessible to everyone. He has written books and featured in TV shows and documentary that highlight the ocean and marine life.
The son of Jacques, he is listed as the first certified diver in the world. He claims that his first dive was at the age of seven when his father threw him overboard with the newly invented Aqua-Lung strapped to his back. As of today, he is the most recognized environmentalist in the world. He is the president of OFS (Ocean Futures Society – A Nonprofit organization that offers marine education) and is also a noted film maker.
Many viewers watched his TV show, “Sea Hunt” which aired for four years where he portrayed a Navy frogman who became an underwater investigator. This show introduced Scuba Diving to millions of people who were inspired to enter this sport because of the show.
The resident damsel in distress in the TV series, “Sea Hunt”, she was also a test diver for big equipment manufacturers. Having started her diving career in 1951, she is considered to be an expert on many things relevant to scuba diving. She is a member of the Diving Hall of Fame and played a key role in the development of the compression chamber treatment.
Albert Tillman and Neal Hess:
Together they founded the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) in 1960 which has become the second largest certification agency in the world, second only to PADI. Scuba America was co-authored by Tillman and Zale Perry.
John Cronin and Ralph Erickson:
Both of them co-founded PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) in 1966 which has grown over the years to become the largest diving certification agency in the world. Branches can be found in every corner of the globe with many enthusiastic divers learning the ropes at these centers.
Also known as the World’s greatest treasure hunter, he made many important discoveries like Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora se Atocha and Santa Margarita in 1985 which contained millions in silver, gold and precious artifacts. His whole life has been dedicated to the dive industry, ranging from filming, teaching and of course, treasure hunting.
She has the nickname “the Sturgeon General” and the “Queen of Deepness” and is the best known female marine scientist. She holds the record for solo diving at an incredible 3280 feet and is a Nat Geo Explorer-in-residence and a former chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
She also bears the nickname, “The Shark” due to her extensive research on sharks and poisonous fishes. It is because of her research in this field that we now currently understand the behavior of fishes. She has caught and studied more than 2,000 sharks.
we can’t forget the contributions of various celebrities who lend their name to the sport of scuba diving and help make it more popular. Celebrities like Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, James Cameron, Bill Gates, Gene Hackman, Penelope Cruz, Katie Holmes, Sandra bullock and Tiger Woods to name a few.
The sea has a life and beauty of its own that would transport you to a different world – One where schools of fish dance skittishly around you, where brilliant corals surround you and where the watery depths could be holding hidden treasures. Firstly, Scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and this alludes to the equipment used by divers to safely delve into waters to discover the watery world.
If you wish to become a Certified Scuba Diver, you will be taught by instructors who are certified themselves and are trained to conduct courses for beginners. Scuba Diving training consists of three parts:
Open water training
Here are the Steps you must follow to become a certified Scuba Diver in North America and the Caribbean.
Step 1: You must be at least 12 years of age to undertake this training. If you are younger, you could participate in restricted, junior diver training programs that are conducted by various diving agencies.
Step 2: You must be fit. If you’ve been a couch potato most of your life, don’t expect to be able to handle the level of physical fitness required to be a diver. To check if you are fit enough to take the course; you can review a questionnaire which can be accessed from the World Recreational Scuba Training Council or the International Diving Safety Standards Commission.
Step 3: Locate a Certified diving agency, teacher or training center to teach you.
Step 4: Find a location. If you have enrolled for a course with an agency or training centre, then you will save yourself the headache of hunting for a location. You can select an agency which is close to your workplace or your home for easy traveling convenience.
Step 5: Be aware of all costs. While some instructors may charge a flat onetime fee, others may conduct it by the hour or as the course progresses. Books, coursework and training materials should be included in the price, but double check if that is the case.
Step 6: Find out what equipment is required and if you have to by it. Diving is a sport that requires all equipment to be purchased before a person can go on a dive. This could prove expensive. Find out if your diving training centre can let you rent or borrow equipment for your classes.
Step 7: Prove that you are a decent swimmer. For you to become a scuba diver, you have to pass the required watermanship test which demonstrates your comfort level in water. You have to prove to your trainer that you can continuously swim for 200 yards and float for 10 minutes without aids.
Step 8: Register in a class that is convenient for you. You will require pool time to practice, so ensure that there is pool nearby or the training centre has pool access. Also, if you have a hectic schedule and don’t or can’t work in conventional timings, find one which works with your timings. Find out if the extra pool time has added charges, and if so, how much.
Step 9: Read through all legal documents before signing them. During registration, you will have to fill out a form which is a version of the WRSTC or the ISSDC medical and fitness guideline form which certifies that you are fit enough to dive. This is a legally binding contract and it is only after you agree to the terms that you will then require a doctor’s medical approval on your fitness. The Liability Release forms are a required in the US and if you refuse to sign them or want changes made to them, the training centre has every right to refuse you.
There are fantastic diving spots and what better way to spend a vacation than to explore uncharted waters and wrecks from a century long past. Search for hidden treasures or lost mysteries. Shipwrecks are not only famous for well, being shipwrecks, but also for the marine life they attract that live and dart in and out from the watery ruins. Here are the best sites in the world for wreck diving:
Located in Australia, this ship was launched from Southampton in April 1903 and reached Sydney in October of that year. It sank off the coast of Queensland due to a cyclone in 1911 killing all on board. This is considered to be the best wreck dive in the world for a reason. It attracts a diverse marine life which includes manta rays, sea snakes, bull sharks, tiger sharks, beautiful schools of fish and colorful coral. The yongala is officially protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act and any diver caught diving inside the wreck is arrested and fined. Diving in the wreck is forbidden.
Translated to Blue Thistle from its Gaelic name, this British vessel sunk due to air warfare in the Second World War in the Strait of Gobal in the Egyptian Red Sea. This wreck was carrying war supplies like trucks, rifles, motor bikes to name a few and the ship itself is quite long – 131 metres to be precise. If you’re looking for a great wreck dive, this could be on your list. However, due to strong currents and the size of the wreck, you may want to do it more than once to explore the wreck fully. Named as one of the top ten wreck dive sites, the wreck itself is slowly disintegrating due to natural rusting and human intervention.
The Liberty lies almost parallel to the Beach in Bali and is only 30 m from the shore. Lying in a bed of water that ranges from 9 m – 30 m, this wreck is covered in brilliantly colored anemones, corals and gorgonians. She was sunk by a torpedo released from a Japanese submarine in 1942 and you can still see the remnants of the utilities from then like the toilets, boilers etc.
This luxury ocean liner launched in 1931 broke many speed records and was commissioned as a troop carrier in WW2. She sank in 1942 after hitting mines into Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. The wreck is protected by law and the area around it has been designated as a Marine Reserve due to the diverse and splendid marine life that inhabits the wreck. You may need several dives to truly explore the wreck.
This wreck lies just outside Lanarka harbor in Cyprus and sank in 1979 on her maiden voyage. This has been rated as one of the top ten wreck dives in the world due to its great visibility and it is suitable for divers for any experience level although divers with Padi advanced open water and upwards would fare well. Divers would need up to at least 10 dives to truly explore this wreck.
This shipwreck is brimming with life and you can dive there any time of the year although January – March are considered the best months as the weather is dry. The temperature doesn’t vary much in Truk Lagoon (Chuuk lagoon) in Micronesia. You can see the magnificent wreck with its fighter plane cargo still present in her hold. This has consistently been featured as one of the top ten wreck dives in the world.
If you are wondering on how to spend your summer vacation this year, why don’t you go diving amidst some of the world’s best reef dive sites? Corals are one of the most fascinating things on Earth and their bright and colorful formations attract divers and snorkelers to various coral rich locations around the world. Here are the best reef dive sites for you to visit:
The Great Blue Hole, Belize:
This giant submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize is a circular underwater cave that is declared as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. It is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A huge favorite with many recreational scuba divers due to its crystal clear water and diverse fish species, it is not for all levels of divers. You must have logged at least 24 dives to swim here and it’s a dive where you will be surrounded by turquoise waters in a 400 foot deep cave which has impressive stalactites, butterfly fish. Elkhorn coral and royal purple sea fans to name a few. If you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of a hammerhead shark.
This reef dive site is suitable for divers of all experience levels and is home to hundreds of species of fish, manta rays, sharks and more. Divers can experience diving with a multitude of harmless jellyfish in Palau’s famous Jellyfish Lake. If you feel that you don’t want to take the leap of faith and dive with the jelly fish or manta rays, you can swim with the migrating sea turtles and dolphins that can be found in this area.
Bonaire’s National Marine Park:
This designated marine park has been rated as one of the best scuba diving sites in the world and is a protected area. Relatively close to the US, Bonaire Reef is located in the Caribbean and is one of the best reefs in this part of the world with a visibility that ranges to 150 feet and a comfortable temperature range of 78 – 84° F. Divers have easy access to the reef from the shore and there are a total of 87 dive sites with over 350 recorded species of fish.
Turks and Caico’s Provo:
This is a biodiversity hotspot and is on the UK’s tentative list for future UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is a British Overseas Territory and there is something here for everyone. If you are travelling with a family who are not too keen on scuba diving, they can try their hand at fishing while you dive because of the shallow waters. Divers can expect to see various varieties of fish like the colorful parrot fish, yellow fin, snappers and groupers too.
The Great Barrier Reef:
Located in Australia, this is the largest reef in the world and extends for thousands of miles. It is home to multiple species of whales, fish sharks and turtles. The reef is protected and can be seen from space. Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1981, it was also labeled as one of the seven natural wonders of the World by CNN. The Great Barrier Reef marine Park controls the tourism and helps to reduce and control the damage to the reefs by humans. It is a popular destination for scuba divers due to its vast biodiversity, cleat waters and easy access via tourist boats. The Great Barrier Reef is a huge draw for visitors and contributes more than $6 billion annually.
As with any sport, exercise is the key to excelling in it, or at least enough to not be the weak link in the sports chain. If we’re interested in diving, we go out and invest the best equipment that money can buy because you are investing your life with these products. Are you able to see clearly through our goggles? How is the field of view from inside the mask? Even though we scrutinize each piece of equipment, we rarely do the same when it comes to our bodies. Preparing your body for diving involves exercises. Here are a few tips to follow:
Just going for a walk half an hour everyday could make you be fit enough for diving. People who walk everyday weight 20 pounds or less than those who don’t.
You have arm up your body before diving. Just like you don’t expect a pro to suddenly walk on the green and start playing golf, similarly warm up exercises work out different parts of your body to keep you fit for hauling heavy oxygen tanks and lubricates you joints and muscles so that you can easily slide into your wetsuit.
Do squat exercises
Rotate your arms like windmills
Do a few push-ups
Twist your body left and right
As you get older, you tend to lose muscle mass. When we pass the 30 mark, we lose up to half a pound of lean muscle mass annually. This means lower energy levels for you, less strength and stamina to handle the pressures of diving. If you follow these simple exercise routines, you will remain fit and healthy for diving.
Stand in an upright position and hold two dumbbells with both hands. Slowly lower your body until you have reached a pose which resembles like you’re sitting on a chair. Your thighs should be nearly parallel to the floor and your knees shouldn’t go past your toes. Get up slowly and repeat.
Lie down on the floor and pull your feet towards your body until they are at 90°s. Place your hands behind your head and pull up the right side of your body and curl towards your left knee and vice versa.
Drink lots of water:
Water keeps your body hydrated and this is essential for you to drink sufficient amounts of water in the days preceding your dive.
Especially on the night before a dive. Apart from impairing judgement, it also dehydrates your body and can mess with the error detection center of the brain. This could mean bad news for you especially when you need all your wits about you on your dive.
Exercise your feet:
We tend to work out our bodies and arms, but we rarely focus on our feet. Unless you are a ballerina then you’re good. When you’re diving deep down and are working your feet to get you here and there, not having exercised our feet could lead you to getting foot cramps which are painful and not something you want to happen to you 50 feet underwater.
Do Breathing Exercises:
Breathing is very important when you’re underwater and you become conscious of every breath you take. If you panic and don’t know how to breathe properly, then you could use more oxygen quickly and this could lead to you rushing to the surface which is a HUGE no-no, or even causing hypoxia through rapid, shallow breathing which leads to a buildup of carbon dioxide.