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How to Plan a Scuba Diving Trip

The steps to make your next diving vacation a success.

By 7 Min Read
Scuba diver filming turtle on reef

So you want to go on a scuba diving trip and don’t know where to start?

Then you are in the right place.

In this post, you will get some great tips and tricks on scuba diving trip planning, as well as dive travel in general.

Some of the things we will talk about:

  • How to plan a scuba diving trip
  • Legal requirements
  • Important documents you need on any scuba diving trip
  • Where to book a scuba diving trip

10 Steps to plan a scuba diving trip

There are 10 steps to planning a scuba diving vacation and if you pay close attention during each of them, you will have a great time on your next dive trip.

1 Set a budget

Setting a budget in advance is important to make planning your diving vacation easier and to find something appropriate.

Scuba diving doesn’t have to be expensive, but there can be a significant cost involved, especially when traveling to super exotic or hard to get to places.

I usually divide diving destinations into 4 price categories:

Price CategoryAverage cost per full week of diving
(incl. transportation & accommodation)
Budget diving destinations< €900 / $1,000
Normal diving destinations€900 / $1,000 – €2,000 / $2,100
Premium diving destinations€2,000 / $2,100 – €4,000 / $4,200
Luxury diving destinations> €4,000 / $4,200
Price categories for scuba diving trips. Depending on transportation cost

Most diving destinations will offer something in the mid-price tier, as well as the premium price segment.

However, depending on your location, some spots might be much cheaper. Florida or Mexico, for example, are great budget diving destinations for US divers, while Egypt is THE budget diving destination for Europeans.

On the other hand, diving in the Galapagos islands or going on a safari trip to Soccorro will set you back between €5,000 – €7,000, even at the cheapest rate.

2 Type of diving vacation

The first step when planning a dive trip is to decide what kind of vacation you want to do. The common options are:

  • Pure diving trip
  • Normal vacation with a few dives in between
  • An even mix of sightseeing/relaxing and diving

Depending on your choice, your packing requirements and travel itinerary will look different.

If you travel with children, you are most likely going for option 2 or maybe 3, especially if your kids are too young to dive.

I personally try to aim for number 3 and get in some diving, as well as sightseeing on most of my trips.

In that case, my favorite way to travel is to explore a country or place for a week before embarking on a liveaboard diving trip for 7-10 days to end the trip.

Scuba diving boy standing on pool ladder
If you travel with children, you will have to adjust your scuba diving trip travel plans.

3 Choose a diving destination

Picking a diving destination sounds easy but can be quite difficult with so many great options out there.

If this is your first scuba diving trip, my list of the best diving destinations for beginners will give you some inspiration.

If you are interested in combining diving with sightseeing, aim for larger destinations and inform yourself about what to do besides scuba diving.

I sometimes check Lonely Planet, as well as Getyourguide if I am looking for things to do besides scuba diving.

4 Find the best time to travel

Not every time of the year is optimal for every diving destination.

That’s why I always mention the best time to dive at a place when I review a diving destination.

Of course, some of you have fixed holiday times when you can or cannot travel, however, if you are more flexible plan accordingly.

Beach along island in the Maldives

5 Pick the dive sites that interest you

Once you know where you’d like to go, it’s time to pick the dive sites that interest you most.

After all, it isn’t always necessary to visit every single one of them, and you will most likely not have time to do so anyway.

I find that a good mix of shore and boat dives, as well as reef, wreck, and open water dives works best to explore a place.

Scuba diver with fish underwater
Make sure to enjoy every dive on your trip!

However, leave at least one day open so you can either go back to a spot you really enjoyed.

If you go liveaboard diving, choose a tour that features dive spots that interest you and are appropriate for your level of training.

6 Research requirements & prerequisites for the dives

This step is important but often dangerously neglected by beginner and advanced scuba divers alike.

Ensure you are experienced enough with an appropriate level of certification before booking a diving package.

From experience, an Advanced Open Water Diver certification will be all that’s needed at most dive sites, in addition to maybe a Nitrox Basic specialty.

However, especially when wreck diving or at deep dive sites even more might be required.

Most dive centers will have an FAQ page where they give you details on the requirements or contact them before booking.

Next, get proper dive insurance if you don’t have one yet. Not only is it often required, especially in South-East Asia, it is also an affordable way to be safe while diving.

7 Check visa, local & customs regulations

Research vaccination and visa requirements for both your travel destination and your home country.

Some countries may have strict visa regulations so ensure you know exactly how to obtain it and that it gets to you in time.

PLEASE check your passport’s expiration date BEFORE you start your trip.

Missing or expired passports are probably the number 1 reason why scuba diving trips end before they have even started.

Bonus tip: It’s a good idea to tell your bank you’ll be abroad so they don’t deny your credit card payments when you are traveling.

8 Choose a good dive center or tour operator

Now that you have a good idea about the kind of diving you want to do, as well as where to go and when…you need to find someone to provide you with the means to do so.

You can check out my article on how to find the best dive school out there for your training and diving needs if you need some tips.

Compare prices, package options, as well as overall presentation style.

Do they seem trustworthy? Did they put some effort into their website and product presentation?

Dive guide leading group underwater
A good dive guide can make any dive more enjoyabe.

Reviews on Google, Bing, as well as big travel sites can help you decide, as well.

Bonus tip: A good dive center will assist you in finding accommodation, as well as arranging a pick-up service to and from the airport or hotel. As such, they are vital in your scuba diving trip planning.

9 Use a scuba diving trip packing list

By now you should have all the information you need to decide how to pack for your scuba diving trip.

I take this step before booking all my flights, as well as diving packages and accommodation, as my packing list may influence how I go about it.

Use my scuba diving trip packing list to make sure you have everything you need.

Scuba diving trip packing list

You should also think about whether to rent your scuba gear on site or bring it with you.

In case you bring your own, ensure it is in good condition and ready to be used.

Some airlines have more generous luggage policies than others, so sometimes booking a more expensive flight will allow you to bring your entire scuba gear, thereby saving you rental costs in the long run.

10 Book your scuba diving trip

The final step of your scuba diving vacation planning is to book all your flights, diving packages, accommodation, rental car, and anything else you will need.

Booking a flight

I usually start by using a flight comparison engine such as idealo, Kayak, Skyscanner, or Expedia to find cheap flights. However, I always check the airline’s website, too, before booking through a third-party provider, as this will give you better customer service most of the time.

If you can find a competitive offer, a travel tour operator can also be a good option, as they are obliged to find you alternatives, in case a flight is canceled.

Bonus tip: Flights are usually cheapest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Accommodation

Accommodation naturally depends on the kind of diving trip you planning. For liveaboard diving, I recommend liveaboard.com.

On the other hand, similar to airline tickets, I use comparison engines for finding hotels for a dive trip.

My go-to is Hotels Combined for hotels and accommodation of any kind.

Airbnb can be an option in larger cities, however, they are often not present at some of the more exotic diving destinations.

Rental Cars

I exclusively use Check24 for finding rental cars, however, Expedia and others offer similar rates, as well.

Bonus tip: You can often get better rates when booking for 7 or 14 days rather than shorter or longer durations.

Extra Tips and tricks

It’s always a good idea to learn at least a few important phrases in the local language such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, how much, excuse me, where is… or I need help.

Although everything can be paid for using a card nowadays, it’s a good idea to take some cash on every vacation.

Not only will you have a means of paying small amounts quickly, but you are also more flexible. Last but not least, your dive guide or the boat crew will appreciate a tip. 😉

Let me help you

If you want some help in planning and booking your next dream diving vacation, send me a message.

Whether you want to book a two-week liveaboard safari in the Maldives, a family trip to the Canary Islands, or an exploration trip to Antarctica, I will help you make it a truly unforgettable and enjoyable trip.

Conclusion

These were the 10 steps to planning a scuba diving vacation.

I use these for my own travels, as well as all Social Diving trips.

What’s you best travel planning tip you can share with us?

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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