Beach holidays in beautiful places are all well and good, but many of us are looking to the beauty beneath the waves to add a new dimension to our vacations. Scuba diving is more popular than ever, with guides and instructors all over the world, and resorts dedicated to the activity. Whether you want to swim with turtles, explore mysterious shipwrecks or take in the serene beauty of a coral reef, there is a holiday out there for you – but it’s essential to make a plan. For both seasoned divers and newbies looking to jazz up a visit to tropical climes, the planning stage of a trip is equally important. Here are some things to consider to help plan the perfect scuba diving trip.
Where to go
Your destination depends on several things. Firstly, what do you want to see when you dive? Here are some things to consider to help plan perfect scuba diving holidays worldwide. For example, if it’s coral reefs you’re after, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea or the Red Sea are all popular options, as well as the Great Barrier Reef. Hawaii or Tenerife are great for turtles, and you can find shipwrecks all over the world. Your experience also plays a part – some locations are better for beginners to learn, but you can find more challenging places if you’re more confident. And if you’re with kids, or those who don’t want to scuba dive, a destination with many other activities might be a good choice.
Where to stay
Again, this depends on who you’re travelling with. Most diving destinations feature a range of accommodation, from reasonably priced tourist hotels to grand lodges with sweeping ocean vistas. If you’re with a large party you may want to find a villa to rent, and for kids, it’s wise to choose a place with easy (but safe) access to a beach, a swimming pool and other activities. For those on a budget, or willing to rough it, hostels and simpler digs are available, and some places even have camping.
It might sound frightening, but night diving is an incredible experience, and brings a whole new dimension to your scuba diving trip. In fact, according to Scuba Diving Corner, you miss out on half the experience if you limit your diving to daylight hours. Some wildlife can only be seen at night, such as manta rays in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, octopus, leopard sharks and lionfish in Tobia Arbaa, Egypt and pygmy seahorses (amongst many other things) in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. If you decide to dive at night you should be with an experienced diver (or be one yourself). You’ll need an underwater torch, and a backup should that fail. Once you’re down there it’ll be an unforgettable experience.
There is something spooky and thrilling about exploring shipwrecks – mystery and history on the sea bed. So it’s no wonder that diving down to see the remains of lost vessels is one of the most popular attractions to the activity. Exploring shipwrecks is usually for more experienced divers – you have to remain beneath the waves for a longer period of time, and unless the wrecks are in shallow waters, you have to dive deeper. But the rewards are there for those who do – global highlights include Truk Lagoon, Micronesia, where more than 60 Japanese warships were sunk in 1944, some with fighter planes still inside. For fans of cold water diving, Scapa Flow in Scotland was the site of the scuttling of the German fleet after World War One. Other destinations include Florida Keys, Sardinia and Bermuda, but there are diveable wrecks all over the world.
We mentioned some reef destinations before where divers can take in the stunning underwater ecosystems across many continents. But reef diving is also about conservation and education – we have already lost 50% of the world’s coral reefs due to global warming, pollution and other human factors. Conservationists hope that coral might start to regenerate, and awareness is key. But scuba divers can also damage coral – brushing against it may break parts off and add to the erosion – it’s important to listen to your guides or instructors on how to keep perfect buoyancy so you stay in control.
There are incredible sights to be seen underwater, and now you can capture them on camera! Photographic equipment for use underwater is more widespread and affordable than ever. You don’t need a dedicated underwater camera – a good waterproof housing should be adequate. It takes a bit of getting used to framing shots and measuring exposures when you’re diving, but there are plenty of experienced underwater photographers out there with resources online. You may find that there are group diving sessions at your destination specifically with photography in mind – check with the local diving centre when you arrive.
Scuba diving is a wonderful way to spend a holiday. A thrilling mixture of adventure and relaxation, and a chance to see some of the planet’s most fascinating natural beauty.
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