If the reason you got into diving was to explore new places, meet new people and swim around in places that the BBC are showcasing in documentaries such as Blue Planet, then you should seriously consider taking a dive holiday!
A good place to start with your planning is to think about what you would like to see while diving. If you wanted to see a Whale Shark or a Manta Ray then booking a trip to somewhere like The Maldives might be a good idea, but booking a trip to the Fjords in Norway might be a little bit pointless. If you wanted to go cage diving with a Great White Shark then taking a trip to Thailand would only let you down. It is essential to work out exactly what you want to get out of your holiday before booking, and then work from there. An important thing to remember is that when we dive we are in nature with wild creatures. You should not get too disappointed if you go somewhere specifically to see something and it doesn’t show up, remember the ocean is not a zoo. It is common for places to sell themselves on the sighting of different species, E.g. Koh Tao and Utila for Whale Shark sightings, South Africa for Great Whites, The Philippines for Thresher Sharks, but you need to check what seasons these creatures are spotted. There are places in the world where they can almost 100% guarantee you sightings of different species at certain times of the year, but for most places they are advertising what you might see, not what you will defiantly see.
If you don’t want to see anything in particular then you are lucky! You won’t set your expectations too high and if you see something special then it is a bonus! You are also lucky as now you can go absolutely anywhere in the world! If you have never dived in crystal clear fresh water then why not try Silfra in Iceland? Or if you usually dive in lakes then why not check out the some of the most diverse underwater ecosystems in Indonesia? As travel can become quite expensive you need to keep your budget in mind. If you are in the UK flights to Fiji could potentially take your entire budget, however flights to South East Asia are fairly cheap. Also you need to consider the cost once you are there. Different parts of the same country can vary massively in cost. If you are staying on an island resort then everything can cost a little bit more than it would on the main land. Hotels can widely vary in price depending on the level of luxury you want. Luckily most popular diving destinations are in places where you can get a 5* hotel room for about the same price as a cheap room would cost in the UK. If you are only going for a short while then why not splash out on a fancy room!
Once you have decided where you want to go and have set a budget you need to get booking! It is a good idea to speak to a few different dive shops about how many dives you are planning on doing as they will usually offer discount if you will be booking several at a time, and in areas with a lot of dive shops they may even try to offer cheaper dives than their competition. DiveCompare makes it easy to find exactly what you want from a dive shop and allows you to find out how to contact them easily. It is common that dive shops either offer accommodation themselves or are in partnership with a resort or hotel. They can help you book your accommodation so you are not too far away from the dive shop for those early dives!
If you want to get more out of your diving then it is essential to travel also. Maybe you don’t want to head half way around the world to dive in the tropics, but if you are only ever heading to the same lake or quarry every weekend then you will eventually get bored. If you are in the UK (for example) then there is some great diving in Cornwall, the Scilly Isles or Scapa Flow. Diving in new areas will not only keep your interest in diving high, but it will also make you a better diver, as you may be diving in new conditions, and have to navigate new dive sites. Remember the more you put into diving the more you get out of it!
‘Take a Diving Holiday’ was written by Mike