Diving is addictive. Once you get certified, the sport opens up an entirely different world to you — and one that can take you to some insanely beautiful corners of the planet.
I’m kinda psyched up about my upcoming dive trip to Malapscua, hence the number of dive posts that are coming out (see my last post about why you should head on a dive trip if you haven’t already!)
Here are some destinations you might want to look into for diving.
6 Popular destinations for diving
Many places around the world are known for their diving opportunities, from Mexico to the Philippines and beyond. This post will talk a little bit about what you can expect to see in some common diving destinations. However, some other dive meccas include:
1. Koh Tao, Thailand
One of the most popular places in the world to get certified to dive, second only to Cairns, Australia (home of the Great Barrier Reef). April and May are the best times to dive here.
2. The Blue Hole in Belize
This giant marine sinkhole is famous for diving. Expect insane visibility that will show you cave formations and wildlife — and probably lots of other divers. This is a popular 40-60 minute dive and if you like cave formations, you’ll enjoy it.
For divers who love coral and wall diving. Expect drift dives and reef hooks (only into dead coral). Main diving season is October to May, but you can dive here year-round.
4. Costa Rica
There’s no shortage of places to dive in Costa Rica, as this Central American nation is known for its diversity in wildlife. Some of the best visibility is found in Drake Bay.
Cocos Island: Famous for hammerhead sharks, that come to the area to feed from June to November. The only way to see Cocos Island is on a live-aboard dive ship, which you’ll board from Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
Diving in Indonesia is a real treat to any diver. With so many islands to choose from, there’s no shortage of diving opportunities, from shipwrecks to coral and critters.
6. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
You can dive the Great Barrier Reef year-round. The reef has a huge number of dive sites, so you’re not as likely to run into other divers, and an array of coral, wildlife and sharks.
I got certified as an Open Water Diver back in 2004, but due to a whole variety of circumstances, it took me another 4 years before I got around to another diving trip, which resulted in me having to do a little refresher course before I could get back into the swing of things. So, I thought I’d talk a little more about how you can get started planning your diving trips, so you don’t suffer the same inertia I did.
Questions you should ask before you travel to go diving
Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself to help get yourself get started on your pre-trip research when it comes to your next diving trip.
When do you want to go?
The weather is a very key factor into what you’ll end up seeing when you dive, and ultimately where you end up going. You’ll need to check what the weather is going to be like for the particular place you want to visit, and if they open or close for specific dive seasons.
It’s a bit of a bust if you dive during a low visibility period and can hardly see a thing underwater, or choppy waters and stormy weather derail your plans.
Of course, the weather these days is a little unpredictable, but the great thing about the internet is that you can do a little googling to find out how divers recently in the area have found the place.
Many dive centers have embraced social media quite enthusiastically, and you can get pretty up-to-date news on how the waters are like at any point. Start checking their platforms once you’ve decided on a destination.
How much time do you have?
One important thing to note for divers is that there’s a 24-hour no-fly period (‘Decompression time’) before and after diving so as to let your body adjust to the changes in air pressure, so that needs to be factored into your plans if you’re thinking of flying somewhere for a trip.
If you can drive or take a boat to your destination, you don’t have to worry, which is one thing I love about Asia: there are so many great diving locations that are conveniently located!
Also, some of the best dive locations are a little more out of the way, so you need to take that time to get there into consideration as well.
The last trip I had to Sipadan (Malaysia) required me to fly to Kota Kinabalu, stay overnight and catch my connecting flight the next morning to Tawau, then take an hour’s car ride to Semporna. If I wanted to stay on Mabul Island, I would have needed another hour’s boat ride to get there… phew!
Because of the short time we had there, we elected to stay in Semporna instead to maximize our dive time as far as possible.
What do you want to see?
What do you want to see when you dive? Different places around the world are renowned for different critters.
I’m headed to Malapascua in the Philippines in hopes that I can spot a Thresher shark or two, and diving in Sipadan was awesome because of the sheer number of reef sharks and turtles in the waters. I’ve heard great things about the Lembeh Straits in Indonesia being great for really unusual and rare small creatures.
There are also different types of terrain underwater that you can experience, from shallower reefs with lots of colorful coral, to diving alongside steep walls of coral where the fish are swimming sideways (it’s bizarre but true!).
You might want to explore shipwrecks, or caves as well. The possibilities are endless! Check out what types of dives you can do in the place you want to go, and you may need to make sure you’re suitably certified before you head there.