Budget diving: 10 tips to save money as a scuba diver in 2024

By Julius
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Scuba diver checking pressure

Scuba diving is not exactly known to be a cheap hobby and we often get asked how one can go diving on a budget.

There is definitely a cost involved when buying scuba gear, getting certified, and traveling to cool diving destinations.

However, scuba diving doesn’t have to be expensive!

Budget diving can be achieved if you make smart choices and are willing to put in a little extra work.

In this article, you will find 10 tips on diving on a budget, as well as how to save money as a scuba diver!

1 Choose budget travel destinations

Some diving destinations like Galapagos, Polynesia, or Antarctica are very expensive. There is no way around it.

They can start well above $5,000 for a week of diving in addition to flights, visa fees, and extra activities.

However, there are also really cheap diving destinations everywhere in the world that are much easier to get to and offer great value.

Infinity pool near beach in the Maldives
There are many beautiful budget travel destinations even for scuba divers.

For European divers, Egypt, Croatia, and Curacao are inexpensive budget diving options as you can get super cheap flights or even travel by car.

Check out the cheapest diving destinations in 2024 for more suggestions!

A good indicator can be the cost of living index. The lower, the cheaper it usually is to dive and travel there.

Check out our current deals and offers on liveaboard diving to save a lot of extra money:

Liveaboard Deals in June

2 Buy your own scuba gear

Buying scuba gear is important to be safe and comfortable underwater, and save rental costs.

Unless you want the absolute best of the best, you can find many quality dive computers in the sub-$500 range and even below $300.

Scuba gear on boat
Buying your own dive equipment can help save money.

A good BCD can easily last 10+ years and you don’t need many of the bells and whistles out there. A solid Backplate/Wing combo is also very cost-effective yet super high quality.

Remember though:

If you buy cheap, you buy twice.

Therefore, try to find a food middle ground between the quality and life expectancy of the equipment piece.

Check out our recommendations for the best scuba gear in 2024 for budget options!

3 Take quality diving courses

Regular dive training and taking diving courses are two ways to become a (better) diver fast.

You can save a lot of money by picking quality dive training with reputable dive schools and instructors.

The course cost might be higher at first, however, you will save money in the long run because learn scuba diving the right way.

Scuba divers descending in pool
Good dive training is a cost saver for the future.

This prevents you from having to redo courses, needing extra training, and missing out on dives because you lack skills.

It also helps you achieve better buoyancy faster and manage your air better.

4 Plan your dive travel well

We already talked about picking the right diving destinations. However, you can save even more money by carefully planning your trips in advance.

Make use of early bird (or last-minute) offers on plane tickets, and special offers on liveaboard diving deals, and buy your dives in packages rather than one by one.

If you rent scuba gear, do so in advance and aim for package deals. This is usually cheaper than piece by piece.

Traveling and diving on a budget are not difficult to do but require thorough planning in advance. If you want help with this, let us do your dive travel planning for you!

Scuba diving trip packing list

5 Dive locally

It doesn’t always have to be the Maldives or Raja Ampat. Diving locally, wherever you are, is a great way to enjoy your hobby and save money.

For example, we love to dive in Munich and around as it offers a plethora of small, yet beautiful lakes to explore. The same is true for our second location in Frankfurt.

Tech diver in lake using flutter kick
Dive at your local dive sites and save money.

Find a dive buddy, get your tanks filled up, and dive in your local lakes, rivers, or beaches!

You’d be surprised how many cool dive spots you’ll find that can be reached from shore wherever you live.

Don’t forget that you will also need your own scuba gear once you start diving locally.

6 Only buy what you absolutely need

You have it, we have it, and everyone else does, too. Shiny-object-syndrome.

We see a new dive computer, and our initial impulse is: I need this. Now!

Don’t fall for hype or shiny stuff. Save the money and only get what you absolutely need and will definitely use.

Old diver smiling on boat before dive
Only buy what you absolutely need.

I have owned a particular side-mount diving kit for 4.5 years and never once even put it on…yes…shame on me! The same money could have gone into another dive trip or improving my underwater camera setup instead.

My tip:

Use the 3-day rule before purchasing anything.

The 3-day rule means that whenever you are about to buy anything, wait three days between deciding to buy and finalizing the purchase. If you still want it after that, it’s a good decision.

7 Buy used

We talked about buying good quality gear, and only what you absolutely need.

Let’s now talk about another big potential money saver: Buying used or second-hand online and offline.

I have bought used scuba fins, scuba tanks, more than one BCD, and an underwater camera housing on eBay and local dive stores.

You can check out my recommendations on where to buy scuba gear or hop on over to eBay right away to look for bargains.

Remember #6 though and only buy what you absolutely need!

8 Travel during the off-season

Besides budget locations, good planning, as well as diving locally from shore, always aim to visit a place during the off-season.

This is a sure way to go diving on a budget, as accommodation, flights, rental cars, and dive packages are often discounted.

Scuba divers leaving water on beach
During the off-season, you can often dive by yourselves.

Moreover, the dive sites will be less crowded and the dive groups are usually much smaller.

9 Don’t follow brand hype

I’m a big fan of certain brands. This concerns diving, as well as any other part of life.

However, buying or using something purely based on brand name is a sure way to overpay.

For example, certain liveaboard cruise operators charge a premium for their name and reputation. As you can imagine, this is not always justified.

Instead, use our liveaboard diving deals, as well as a liveaboard diving search engine to filter based on your actual criteria.

The same is true for scuba gear, of course. Read online reviews, and browse our scuba gear section to find independent and honest recommendations instead of brand hype!

10 Back to the roots

Last but not least, a final way to save money as a scuba diver is to go back to the roots.

Of course, luxury travel is fun, however, budget diving can be achieved by traveling more easily.

Here is a comparison chart on ways to save while traveling without compromising a lot of quality:

Budget TravelPremium TravelPotential savings
Basic liveaboard ship (16-24 divers)Luxury liveaboard ship (6-10 divers)Very large ($3,000+)
Hostel or divers campsHotelLarge ($1,000+)
Unguided shore diving/house reefDaily excursions Medium ($400-$1,000)
Individual bookingsAll expense tourVery large ($3,000+)
Rental carPick-up/taxi servicesMedium ($200-$800)
Budget vs. Premium Travel


This was our guide to diving on a budget.

It all comes down to making smart choices and planning ahead.

Scuba gear, accommodation, flights, diving destination, and diving operator are just a few potential saving options.

If you need help with any of your dive planning, send me a message, and let’s talk!

Check out the true cost of diving article I wrote for even more numbers and facts on scuba diving finance.

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃



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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

©2024 Social Diving. All rights reserved. The content presented here is the exclusive property of Social Diving and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Social Diving.

Social Diving is your #1 online source for scuba diving, scuba travel, water sports, learning, and having fun in and under water. We have scuba online articles, review plenty of (scuba) gear, and regularly post travel guides around the world.


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