Take the plunge—without getting soaked!—by learning to dive in one of these three inexpensive scuba hotspots.
By: Alex Baackes, executive editor, alexinwanderland.com
Scuba diving is the ideal activity for the active travel enthusiast – not only can you explore other-worldly terrain below sea level, but you can take the plunge with a new group of friends who love marine life just as much as you do. Just sign up for the nearest dive boat—and you’re headed for an incredible undersea experience.
But while scuba diving can be one of the coolest ways to experience a new place, the price of admission—often upwards of a $100 for a two-tank dive, and $400 for an open water certification—can be cost-prohibitive for many adventurers on a budget.
Fortunately, there are a few places on earth where you can stretch your baht, lempira, and pound just a little further than others – meaning less time at the ATM and more time with your fins on! Check out these three bank balance-friendly scuba destinations.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Koh Tao is renowned for being one of the cheapest places in the world to get scuba certified. Despite having only 13 square miles of landmass, this tiny island boasts fifty dive shops and more annual dive certifications than almost anywhere on earth (save for Cairns, Australia). Koh Tao’s warm and shallow waters are teeming with life: Post-dive you’ll be beckoned by beautiful beaches, cheap beers and a lively social scene. $288 for an Open Water Course, $26 for a Fun Dive, Roctopus Dive.
Utila is known as the “Koh Tao of the Western Hemisphere” – and for good reason. Both islands share similar affordability, diving conditions and youthful, fun vibes. Utila is one of three isles that make up the Bay Islands, which—while technically located in Honduras—lie firmly in the Caribbean Sea. That means you’ll have access to white sand beaches at a fraction of the cost of most Caribbean islands to the east. Lucky divers may even spot the elusive whaleshark – Utila is a hotspot for sightings. $309 for an Open Water Course, $35 for a Fun Dive. Utila Dive Center
Dahab is the backpacking hub of Egypt’s coastline. With prime access to the reefs of the Red Sea but prices friendly to the independent traveler, this laid-back beach town is a budget diver’s dream. Underwater, explore colorful reefs and world famous dive sites like The Blue Hole, and while topside, indulge in camel rides and trips to historic Mount Sinai. $333 for an Open Water Course, $28 for a Fun Dive, Poseidon Divers.