Scuba Enthusiasts: Where to Dive?

I used to go scuba diving back in the day, and I would like to get back into it. What I would like to do is plan a trip to someplace good for diving, and then maybe take a refresher PADI course.

Any suggestions for a good all around trip? Someplace modestly priced with other things to do and interesting dives available.

I’m interested in wildlife, coral reefs, wreck sites, natural features and clear water. I’m not really looking for hard core, deep-sea dives or icy water challenges. I wouldn’t mind tours or guided dives, but I also want to be able to spend some time just enjoying whatever happens to be around without a stringent schedule.

I learned to dive in Hawai’i - there are so many good, easy dives there. Turtle Alley off Waikiki Beach is awesome and the leeward side has some good spots. Warm water and lots of tropical fish. Wish I was going back!

Roatan and Utila off the coast of Honduras. Flights can be expensive but I’ve also seen them really cheap if you’re willing to put up with a weird itinerary on a Latin American airline. Once you’re there the day-to-day expenses are rather low and I think I read somewhere that it’s one of the cheapest places to learn to dive.

Closer to the US would be the Bahamas, which I hear have a lot of accessible wrecks. The downside is that everything there will be expensive.

I’ve heard Hawaii is pretty pricey too, for hotels and meals etc.

Belize perhaps?

Part of the same reef system as the Bay Islands, I believe, so probably a pretty similar experience. And they have The Great Blue Hole.

How far are you willing to travel (assuming you live in the US)? I did some fantastic diving in New Zealand. Hawaii is great, too. I’ve heard good things about Belize. Maybe Florida might be more in your budget, depending on where you live.

My favorite dive vacation has to be Cozumel. Cheap, friendly, good divemasters… and most of the dives are drift dives (which are my favorite). And the food is fantastic.

Damn, now I want to go to Cozumel again.

I second Cozumel. We had better dives there than Grand Cayman.
Maui is where we dive most often, but where I really want to go is Indonesia (and thereabouts off South East Asia).

Close to the US, I had a great time in Grand Cayman. A little further away, Bonaire is awesome.

For the long trips - both Fiji and Palau were fantastic. Truk Lagoon was good, if you’re into wreck diving. I’m not…but I’m glad I went there while I was in the area.

Where are you coming from? That may help us suggest good options.

-D/a

I’m willing to research anything (I have been told to research even if it looks too expensive because you can’t find a good deal if you don’t look). The blue hole looks absolutely beautiful! Something like that would be a major attraction.

I am in the US (WI.). I’m looking at Cozumel closely. I’ve been to Cancun and really enjoyed Chichen Itza as a day trip. It looks like there are some Mayan sites in and near Cozumel.

I appreciate all the suggestions. If nothing else, I have fodder for some research.

Cozumel’s not bad, there’s some of friendly & helpful dive operators there, and it’s easy to get to and around, but the reefs have been heavily impacted by tourism, hurricanes, and eutrophication from time to time. There’s just way too many people there for them to be in good condition. I had a good time there, but the coral was underwhelming.

I haven’t been to Belize or Honduras, but people I know who have rave about them.

Cayman has really warm and very clear water, a few wrecks, and really amazing wall dives. Topside activites can keep most folks pretty happy for a week.

Cozumel has that wonderful drift diving. The mainland is a ferry ride away and there are several mayan ruins in the area and cenotes.

Bonaire is really known for shore diving. It is not really known for much topside activity.

The Florida Keys should rank right up there. Visibility depends a bit on exactly where the Gulf Stream is running that day. Shallow dives would be great for someone getting back into scuba.

And I’ll probably be the only one saying San Andres, Colombia. Great diving. Fun island.

For shipwrecks I think Bermuda is tops, but it’s very expensive. The way to do it is by cruise ship because your food and lodging is covered. For a good combination of cost and sea life, I’d go to Aruba or Bonaire. Aruba has the WWII German freighter “Antilla” which I believe is the biggest in the Caribbean. Grenada was also a nice place for diving and reasonably cheap…

There are lots of interesting sites in the Keys. Keep in mind that it takes a few hours to drive through them…it’s a big area.

That being said…if you want to stay in the USA, the keys aren’t a bad place to go. And if you plan it out, I might drive down to meet you from South Florida. I just did a weekend in Ramrod Key less than a month ago. It was easy diving with decent reefs.

-D/a

Any suggestions on a good cruise line or good packages? I’d prefer planned dives, and while I’d like to see some aquatic mammals, terrified seniors stuffed with buffet food desperately trying to make it to a life boat wasn’t what I had in mind. :wink:

That sounds great. Are you an experienced diver? I am not. I’ve never gone below 33 ft, and never outside a pool or lake in MN.

I should also mention that I am in the early planning stages and I will likely need to save up for several months to afford even the Keys (depending on the cost of the trip). I might end up doing a whirlwind vacation if something works out; maybe even a weekend or three day trip. But even that will take me a while to plan out, and I would like to take a refresher course in diving since I haven’t gone for twenty years.

Bonaire is my favorite. It is mostly shore diving, which I very much prefer to boat dives. There are lots of all-inclusive diving resorts which will rent you a truck and give you unlimited air.

However, there isn’t much to do there besides dive. Lac Bay is the most perfect beach in the world, and there is that donkey sanctuary… otherwise, you dive and hang out at your resort. But frankly, that’s all I want to be doing on a vacation.

I was mostly considering what would happen if I went with someone else who didn’t want to dive. The pics I’ve seen make it look like one could be pretty contented just diving, sleeping and eating.

Yes… a lot of Dutch tourists manage to be happy there just hanging out at resorts and Lac Bay, but it would be extremely laid back. Kralendijk has a strip of restaurants that lights up at night, but is very sleepy during the day.

The diving though, my god. I think you’d have to go to Australia to find anything better… in the way of coral reefs, anyhow. Not so many big animals though I spotted moray eels, sea turtles, and a huge ray.

Cozumel is my favorite place to dive as well.