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12 Essential Tips for an Amazing Scuba Diving Vacation

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

How to plan + enjoy a scuba diving getaway that's safe, simple and stimulating.

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We believe scuba diving is one of the most blissful, otherworldly and adventurous activities. It allows you to enter another realm, and adopt a calm, slow, gentle demeanor, all while observing the fascinating dynamics of the community under the sea.

I adore this aquatic endeavor so much that in my early 20s I became a rescue diver and lived on the Caribbean island of Roatan, Honduras for three years. While this experience gave me an in-depth knowledge of how miraculous scuba diving really is, it also gave me insight into what could go wrong, and what can make a dive trip more enjoyable. Following are tips and tricks I acquired during that time.

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1. Choose a location that offers more than scuba diving.

Woman in a bikini floating on her back in crystal clear water in a cave during a diving trip.

As amazing as scuba diving is, you’ll likely want to do more than just that on your vacation. Selecting a destination that also has amazing snorkeling, beaches, zip lining, or other activities that intrigue you, will allow you and your family to have a well rounded adventure.

2. Become dive certified before you go.

Because you never know how you’ll react during the strange experience of breathing underwater, it’s ideal to test these skills before you reach your vacation destination. In addition, getting the busy-work of studying, and all the requirements that go into becoming dive certified, done before you leave will help ensure your trip is filled with enjoyment and exploration, versus stress about your certification test.

Even if you don’t live near the ocean there are dive shops in almost every major city, and even some smaller towns, that utilize pools and lakes for certification.

3. Research the dive shops in your vacation destination.

A wooden post sign in a tropical location that says bar, reception and dive shop.

The dive shop you select can make or break your trip, as you're putting your life in their hands. Because we live in the age of ample online reviews, making it easy to read about the experiences of past clients of almost all dive shops, we recommend investing ample time reading these reviews, and even contacting reviewers you would like to ask questions. If you are a newer diver, look for a dive shop that has a reputation of being hands-on and extra cautious.

4. Contact your top three dive shops.

After you’ve narrowed your search to two or three dive shops, contact them to ask about specifics regarding equipment, dive times, preferred dive sites and so on. This communication will give you insight into the competency of the employees at the dive shop, in addition to whether their services will accommodate the unique needs of your group.

For example, if you’re traveling with a group of experienced divers who would like to do more advanced dives, it’s important to confirm the shop can accommodate this preference, and won’t charge an exorbitant fee for the service.

5. Book your dives ahead of time.

After you’ve selected the shop you want to dive with, ask them how quickly their dives fill up. If you have a large group, see if they can set up private group dives. If the shop reports that it’s easy to hop on dives last minute, and you want flexibility with your schedule, hold off on booking until you’re at the destination.

However, if they don’t have much flexibility, talk with your group and decide whether you want to do one or two dives each day, and whether you all prefer morning or afternoon dives – then, book the applicable dives.

6. Say yes to morning dives.

Sea turtle swimming in the Caribbean with the sun shining through the surface of the water.

If you think it’s possible to get your group up and out first thing, book morning dives, as this is when the wind is often calmer and the water visibility better. However, don’t stress if you don’t think this is possible, as your dive shop will know where to go for fun afternoon dives.

7. Research dive sites.

Nowadays, almost everything is chronicled online, which means you can get information, and likely photos, of the most popular dive sites in various destinations. While there is no guarantee a dive shop can accommodate all your preferences, especially if you’ll be diving with strangers of various skill levels, dive shops often do their best to get you to the spots you’re most interested in.

8. Bring a good underwater camera.

Eel with its mouth open underwater near bright coral.