Scuba Diving, Cheap Scuba Diving vacations, Underwater diving, Diving with sharks, Diving in Budget
Scuba Diving is an exotic experience where you enter into the land of fairytales, swimming beside the colourful fishes and turtles, getting a sneak peek at magical sea creatures and immersing yourself in the beautiful coral reefs. Are you excited to know some Cheap Scuba Diving vacations around the World?
Whether you are a newbie or someone who has already tried scuba diving, you will love this list of Cheap Scuba Diving vacations around the World and add all the places in your wanderlust bucket list.
Utila is a small island 18 miles off the coast of Honduras that is best known as being one of the most affordable places to become a PADI-certified diver. Of course, the affordability and location alone make Utila one of the most relaxing places for spending a week or two earning your dive certifications and simply hanging out on a beautiful and fun Caribbean island. We love Utila so much that we were even married on the island between courses!
A trip to Utila begins in La Ceiba. You can fly directly to La Ceiba or indirectly either to Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula and then catch a bus. In La Ceiba the Utila Dream ferry runs twice daily, shuttling travellers to the picturesque Caribbean island.
With over a dozen dive schools packed along a 2-mile stretch, there is no shortage of affordable diving options. Whether you want to earn your initial Open Water Certification or want to earn your Divemasters or Instructors certification, the dive shops on Utila offer the full range of certifications.
You are welcome to choose your dive shop from the various instructors who will meet you at the pier upon your arrival. But two of the best dive shops on the island are Underwater Vision and Utila Dive Center. Both offer extraordinary staff, flexible class schedules, and very affordable pricing. You can earn your Open Water Diver certification for around $300 over 4-5 days. It is one of the cheapest Scuba diving vacations in Honduras.
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Playa Kalki, Curaçao
One of the best activities to do during your vacation in Curaçao is scuba diving. Curaçao has almost 100 diving locations. Because most of the diving locations on Curaçao can be reached from the beach, Curaçao is in the top 10 shore diving locations in the world. In addition, Curaçao distinguishes itself from other Caribbean destinations because of the great diversity and amount of underwater life. The weather and the water temperatures on Curaçao ensure that you can dive almost all year round. The water is on average around 27 degrees. Not too bad right?
Playa Kalki is located in a quiet place near Westpunt, below the resort of Kura Hulanda Lodge. The name ‘Kalki’ means lime and refers to the limestone cliffs that you find here. It is a famous place amongst divers and snorkelers because Playa Kalki is one of the most beautiful diving locations in Curaçao. That is also the reason why people call this place Alice in Wonderland. In the clear blue water, you have a view of 30 meters, and you will see crabs, colourful reef fish and lots of coral. If you’re lucky, you might even come across dolphins or turtles. You can go for cheap Scuba diving vacations in the Caribbean Sea.
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Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia
Like most people, I grew up dreaming of one-day diving at the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, it was at the top of my bucket list for longer than I can remember. Last year, when I had a chance to travel throughout Australia for 6 weeks, I naturally built into my itinerary a 3-day stopover in Cairns, the closest city to the Great Barrier Reef, and I must say, the wait was well worth it.
The Great Barrier Reef can only be accessed by taking a tour. I didn’t have a PADI certification but most (if not all) of the tour operators offer “introductory” packages that are aimed at first-timers. Our tour started in the morning with a 90-minute boat ride to the first of three diving spots, which we spent getting basic training. We learned how to breathe underwater, swim with an air tank, do’s and don’ts of diving around reefs, hand signals, emergency tactics, and basic technique.
Each instructor was paired with three people, we all got tested close to the surface before being able to dive further. The experience was magical as we were transported to a whole other world and got to experience getting close to funky fish, colourful coral, reef sharks and other residents of the underwater world. We even got to see a turtle on the first dive, which was definitely amazing. I opted to dive again at our other stops and enjoyed it even more as I felt more comfortable and relaxed breathing and moving underwater.
I found the pricing reasonable, as it cost less than $150 AUD for the day. You can go for cheap Scuba diving vacations here in Australia. We opted for a mid-range company that stopped at three locations and chose less-populated spots, so we didn’t have to share the water with hundreds of diving tourists. Overall, exploring the Great Barrier Reef was amazing and I absolutely recommend it! It’s a location you should dive in at least once in your lifetime, you won’t regret it!
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Port Royal, Jamaica
Whilst looking for the top scuba diving places in the world, Port Royal in Jamaica could give you a diving experience like no other. Port Royal is a town known in its heyday as one of the wickedest cities in the world. Mainly due to all the pirate activity and bootleg trading going on before it sank underwater after the devastating earthquake in 1692. Today, within a short 25-minute drive from downtown Kingston, you can arrive at Port Royal and take a boat ride out to sea and get close to the Sunken City. Underwater access to Sunken City is restricted unless you get special permission from the government. However, with one of the dive centres, you can access other dive sites such as nearby Port Royal Cays and many others. You can find many cheap Scuba diving vacations package with the local tour operators.
From the immediate area, you can dive reefs and many shipwrecks. Plus with an average temperature of 27°C all year round, you can dive very comfortably. If you like shipwreck diving or have never tried to before, you won’t be disappointed here. Many British pirates, including the late Henry Morgan, at one time, would frequent this whole area. If you find anything, though, remember it is illegal to remove any objects from the dive sites or near the reefs. So, if you’re heading to the Caribbean and looking for the best dive spots, get over to Kingston, Jamaica to discover the world of pirates, treasure, and reggae music.
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Channel Island, California
The Channel Islands off the coast of California are some of the best places in the world for kelp diving. There are eight islands and each of them has its own characteristics, but they are all great. The two most visited islands are Anacapa Island and Catalina Island. Catalina is the only occupied island, and you can stay there and go shore diving or take boat trips from either of the two towns, Avalon or Two Harbors. You can also dive Catalina as a day trip from San Pedro just south of LA. Trips to Anacapa and Santa Cruz typically leave from Ventura just north of LA and dives to San Miguel and Santa Rosa are usually from Santa Barbara.
There are sea lions and seals, bright orange Garibaldi fish and schools of other fish. But the highlight is diving through the giant kelp forests. Swimming through strands of golden kelp that stretches from the seabed to the surface far above is a magical experience. This is not for beginner divers though, as there is the possibility of getting entangled in the kelp. Dive with a buddy and take a knife.
Visibility is best September – November, but anytime July through January is generally OK. Dive trips typically include three dives and cost $140 plus equipment rental. I dove with Eco Dive Center, who have a dive shop in LA, so I could check in the day before easily. They also provide the best packages for cheap Scuba diving vacations. For more tips, read all about diving the Channel Islands here.
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Malapascua Island, Philippines
Malapascua Island in the Philippines is an excellent base for dive enthusiasts. The main attraction is to dive with the mysterious Thresher sharks – which normally live and hunt in deep waters, all the way down to 500 meters, and are therefore hard to spot for divers. On a sunken island called Monad Shoal outside of Malapascua, Thresher sharks come up in the early morning to get cleaned by tiny fish. This is when scuba divers have the chance to see the incredible creature up close. The dive itself is easy, you dive down to the sandbank of Monad Shoal, and down the wall is where you have the opportunity to see Thresher sharks. Divers will sit by the wall and observe the sharks circle until it is time to go back up.
Most diving companies on Malapascua travel out daily to see the sharks, though they try to spread so that not all the divers are in one place and disturb them. I recommend going with a responsible dive centre that uses its resources to educate divers on the importance of not kicking the coral. This is a common problem in Monad Shoal as divers get so (understandably) excited seeing the mesmerizing Thresher shark. They also provide cheap Scuba diving vacations.
To get to Malapascua island, you need to get to Maya in Cebu, which is about 2,5 hours by bus from Cebu City. From Maya, you need a boat transfer which takes about half an hour.
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Diving in Southern Mozambique
Southern Mozambique has numerous renowned scuba dive sites to choose from. Ponta do Ouro, Ponta Malongane and Ponta Mamoli each have their own dive operators. I have used the dive operator in the campgrounds at Parque de Malongane.
From South Africa, at Kosi Bay border you drive to the towns on the tarmac and later on the sand, so a 4×4 is necessary. It is about 7 kilometres to Ponta do Ouro, 15 kilometres to Ponta Malongane and 20 kilometres to Ponta Mamoli. From Maputo, there is a good tar road most of the way.
Many South Africans and tourists have qualified for their PADI open water and advanced certification at these warm water dive sights. There is a variety of shallow dives of less than 20 meters to deep dives such as Pinnacles with abundant sea life from juvenile fish and nudibranchs to game fish and sharks. Some of these dive sites experience current or surges.
Pinnacles are ranked as number 8 in the world for the best shark diving spot and best dived in summer. It is only for experienced divers, weather dependent and about a 20 – 30-minute boat ride. It is notorious for hammerheads, bull (Zambezi), blacktip and tiger sharks although no guaranteed you will see them. Nineteen species of shark has been identified in the area with visibility generally very good.
The cost of a dive is on average $25 without kit hire plus a reef tax of approximately $7 per week. It is the best place for Cheap Scuba Diving vacations in Mozambique.
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Island of Cozumel
If you are into scuba diving, then you would have probably heard of the island of Cozumel. The underwater adventures are truly impressive, with the island boasting the second largest barrier reef in the world. They also provide for cheap scuba diving vacations.
I explored Cozumel’s amazing reef while living in Playa Del Carmen. Back when I was a divemaster. There are 45 + dives sites on the Barrier Reef. With some of the best drift dives, I have ever been on. That’s probably why it’s one of the islands “must do” dive specialities.
There is so much marine life, swim-throughs and caves to explore. From sharks to vibrant sponges. I remember poking my head under a ledge, only to become face to face with a shark having a rest (very cool). With warm water all year round and consistent visibility of 80-100 feet ( 24-30 meters). It’s a great destination for a scuba diving holiday.
There are dive shops and resorts all over the island suiting all budget options. I just recommend shopping around if you’re on a tight budget. That goes for the accommodation as well as dive centres. The island is just off Mexico’s eastern coast ( Yucatán Peninsula). So, to get there. You can either catch a ferry from Playa Del Carmen or Fly, there is an international airport on the island.
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Liberty Shipwreck, Bali
The Liberty Shipwreck near Bali remains one of the top scuba diving places in the world. Not only the diving at the Liberty Shipwreck is an amazing experience for the beautiful corals and vibrant sea life, but it’s one of the best things to do in Bali. You can go for cheap Scuba diving vacations here in Bali
The Liberty ship was a US Army Cargo ship that was struck by Japan in the second world war. Since 1942, Liberty shipwreck has stayed submerged in the Indian Ocean near Bali and houses a plethora of fish and other sea animals.
The shipwreck is in Tulamben, Bali. You can either go to Tulamben from Ubud if you are staying there. Hire a taxi or drive by yourself. If you are in Amed, visiting Tulamben is even easier for it is just 15 km from the Amed beach.
The speciality of diving at the Liberty Shipwreck is that the corals are pretty rich and all kinds of fishes are present in huge quantities. As soon as you would put your head down into the water, you would see pools of fishes swim around and come play with you.
You should go with a diving company that is in abundance in Tulamben and Amed. If you have a PADI certification, then you can just rent some gear at the Tulamben beach and dive. But if you are new to diving, you can book a tour with any of the diving agencies.
From Ubud, the tour could cost around 100 USD for the pickup and drop from Ubud and the diving experience along with lunch. If you rent the gear, costs would be much less.
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Koh Tao, Thailand
If you are a newbie to Scuba Diving and keen to learn somewhere that it’s warm, beautiful, with great food and good partying, then look no further than Koh Tao in Thailand! As part of the Chumphon Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is world-renowned as one of the best places to learn to dive in the world. They provide cheap Scuba diving vacations in Thailand.
Most people will arrive into Thailand in Bangkok, and there are a number of ways to reach Koh Tao; you can fly directly to Koh Samui and hop on a short boat ride across to Koh Tao, or head towards Surat Thani (by train or bus) and pick one of the numerous ferries that head to the islands.
Alongside being one of the best places to learn, there is a good chance that you’ll see whale sharks on your dives, and if not, there are loads of other stunning marine life to keep you thoroughly excited on every dive! What we also really enjoyed is that there has been an amazing eco drive, led by the dive shops and local community that is seeing Koh Tao quickly becoming a hotspot for sustainable diving. The island has banned plastic bags, and you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere that uses plastic straws.
For a PADI Open Water course, you’re looking at about 500 GBP (that’s including your accommodation), so it’s really cheap – and the quality of the dive instructors and staff is some of the best. We really enjoyed our experience with Crystal Dive and would highly recommend them to anyone who is looking to learn!
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The Bay of Pigs, Cuba
The Bay of Pigs is an area of Cuba that encompasses the two towns of Playa Larga and Playa Giron in Cuba. It’s more famous as the site of the failed US invasion of Cuba in the 1960s. Easy to reach by Viazul Bus or taxi from Havana in just a few hours, these quiet towns are great for scuba diving. The diving here is shore-based, so it’s relatively cheap (US$25 a dive, including equipment and a dive leader). The water is fresh and clear and the sea life is varied – from lobsters to lionfish! This is a historic area and staying in Playa Giron you can also visit the museum of the invasion and learn more about what happened here.
Arrange a dive trip here with your casa particular (accommodation) and the bus will collect you from there in the morning and drop you after diving. It’s possible to dive here as a beginner and you can take a specific taster dive for an additional US$10. Snorkelers pay just US$3 to use the dive bus to the dive site of the day. They provide cheap Scuba diving vacations in Cuba.
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SS President Coolidge wreck
The SS President Coolidge wreck is reputed for being a top scuba diving place in the world. The shore dive is one of the best things to do in Vanuatu. It attracts tourists from all over the globe to Espiritu Santo, the biggest island of the archipelago. The easiest way to get there is by plane. There are domestic flights from the capital Port Vila and even direct international flights from Brisbane in Australia, which is only 2.5 hours away.
Most people diving in Santo focus their holidays on the SS President Coolidge. The WWII wreck has an interesting history and is full of surprises. It would take maybe two dozens dives, and technical skills, to see most of it. Even if you’re short in time and not a wreck aficionado, I recommend doing at least three dives. The first dive is generally an orientation dive when the guide judges your abilities. On the second dive, you can enter the wreck and see some unimaginable reliques from WWII. The night dive holds a fantastic surprise that you don’t want to miss. Because you’ll get down to about 30 meters for the most common dives (and way deeper if you’re down and certified for it), you won’t be able to pack more than a couple of dives per day.
The SS Coolidge dive is better suited for experienced divers. Beginners or those who haven’t dived in a while can start with other sites, like the famous Million Dollar Point, where the Americans dumped all their war equipment or beautiful reefs that are a short boat trip away.
Although both the SS Coolidge and Million Dollar Point are shore dives, scuba diving in Vanuatu isn’t cheap. You’ll need to have a guide with you for the SS Coolidge. There are various options for accommodations on Espiritu Santo, such as resorts or village stays, that will suit different kinds of budget.
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Also Read: Best diving sites in the world for beginners