It's certainly no secret to scuba diving enthusiasts that seeing the spectacular sights beneath the ocean's surface isn't typically considered a shoestring endeavor. If you're willing to consider some minor tweaks to the typical dive vacation, however, spotting more underwater scenery for your money is definitely possible. Try these thrifty travel tips to experience a world-class scuba getaway for a song.
Discounts: In Pompano Beach, Florida, a number of notable wreck and reef diving opportunities are available. Divers can score great deals here during the month of June, which has been designated as a learning month for new divers. Many dive operators and resorts offer great package prices during this time. Additionally, at The Scuba Club in Florida's West Palm Beach — a sort of country club for the dive crowd — members receive preferred pricing discounts of up to a full third off regular excursion rates. To keep track of other dive deals and locate certified equipment facilities from your smart phone, PADI — the Professional Association of Dive Instructors — has a mobile app available for download on their website.
Transportation: Boat charters to off-shore sites can add significantly to the overall cost of your vacation. Consider incorporating more shore excursions into your underwater adventure getaway to maximize your dive dollars. According to Terri Huber, a dive travel wholesale specialist with Deep Blue Adventures, one of the best places to accomplish this is the Caribbean island of Bonaire, which is synonymous with shore diving. According to Huber, numerous resort packages there offer multi-bedroom apartments for mid-sized dive groups which include kitchen access, daily breakfast, vehicle, tank refills and unlimited shore diving starting at roughly $110 per person per day.
Temperature: Since many people prefer tropical temperatures, heading to colder waters can shave significant dollars off the cost of a scuba trip for more serious dive enthusiasts. Matt Reider, a PADI-certified master scuba diving trainer and founder of the Canuck Abroad travel Web site, points to Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada for some of the best diving in the world, much of it accessible from the shoreline. Roughly 5 minutes from the city of Victoria says Reider, divers can hit the water to explore wolf eels, seals, sea lions, giant octopus and more. Once you have your dry suit and other gear, the only cost for this activity is a tank of air!
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.