How to Plan a Scuba Diving Trip in 6 Steps

Last Updated: March 8, 2023

There are over 3,000 dive sites to explore across the world. If you’re wondering how to plan a scuba diving trip, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide provides a step-by-step list to get you ready for an upcoming diving trip.

Your trip will be impacted by things such as your budget, diving experience, health, and the time of year. With so many dive attractions, there is something for everyone who wants to experience the underwater adventure of scuba diving.

Tips for Planning a Scuba Diving Trip

couple on a scuba trip

Going on a scuba diving trip takes extensive planning, especially if you want to bring personal equipment. First, you must decide on things like your budget, dive location, type of dive, and diving center. Then you’ll need to prepare your body, equipment, and luggage accordingly.

Here are the 6 steps to planning out your scuba diving trip.

  1. Set a Budget
  2. Choose a Type of Diving
  3. Choose a Dive Center
  4. Purchase Insurance and Diving Gear
  5. Prepare Your Body
  6. Packing Your Bags

1. Set a Budget

Before planning your trip, you’ll need to decide how much you’re able to spend. Your budget will determine things like where you dive and what kind of diving you do. Common costs associated with scuba trips can include:

  • Airfare
  • Hotel stays
  • Ground transportation
  • Food (if not included in hotel)
  • Scuba equipment rental or storage
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Boat charters
  • Additional non-diving recreational activities

Scuba trips can cost anything from less than $100 to a few thousand dollars. For those who own equipment or plan to rent, you can save yourself the large expense of purchasing new gear.

Some diving spots have a luxury dive shop down the street from a budget-friendly one – it’s all about researching your options. Make a note of the things you’re looking for and what you can do without.

After balancing out your wants and needs when it comes to your dive and accommodation, you should have a good idea of your spending budget for your scuba diving trip.

Low-Cost Budget Options

For those on a shoestring budget, you may want to look into some of the cheapest diving destinations in the world, like:

  • Cozumel, Mexico
  • Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
  • Bonaire
  • Thailand
  • Southeast Florida, USA

Keep in mind that, from the continental U.S., a flight to Thailand will be more expensive than one to Florida; however, in Thailand, you may be able to eat $3 meals and stay in $5-per-night hostels that make up for it.

Luxury Diving Options

If you want to enjoy a luxurious diving trip with all the bells and whistles, you can explore the following dive regions:

  • The Red Sea
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Fregate private island
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • The Maldives
  • Fiji
  • Vamizi Island in Mozambique

These are home to some of the most pristine diving spots in the world, with schools of fish and coral reefs abounding. You’ll pay a pretty penny to charter a boat and rent equipment on these waters, but the memory will last you a lifetime.

2. Choose a Type of Diving

diver entering water

If you’re a beginner, you will likely be doing open water dives with an instructor in relatively calm ocean waters. For those who are more experienced, you can explore the different types of diving options.

Night Diving

Night diving allows you to see the hidden secrets of the ocean. The strange nocturnal creatures in a mysterious atmosphere are sure to keep you on your toes.

Night divers rely on strong underwater light to navigate depths of up 50 feet. In the right conditions, you can see bioluminescent marine life, such as glowing jellyfish, or eels and octopuses.

You can complete night dives at almost any location that offers day dives. Although the likelihood of encountering a shark is about the same as diving during the day, you can choose areas where sharks are not common to calm your nerves.

Cold Water Diving

Cold water or temperate diving is found in cooler, more pole-ward regions of the world. The water must be colder than 75 degrees Fahrenheit but higher than freezing to be considered temperate. Some cold water dives may require extra training or equipment, but others will not.

Temperate diving can bring you into the world of rivers, estuaries, and lakes. You can select such dives to explore things like sponge gardens or kelp forests.

Wreck Diving

Shipwrecks are known for their mystery and extensive marine ecosystems. There are thousands, if not millions, of shipwrecks around the world that offer hours of possible exploration.

Wreck divers should hold their PADI Open Water certification and have extra materials such as a dive light, compass, and line and reel for wreck penetration.

Recommended: 12 Tips for Safe Wreck Diving

Shark Diving

Shark diving can be done by both novices and professionals. Some divers may even find themselves on an unexpected shark dive during a basic open water course.

Most sharks are cautious around divers. Here are the least dangerous sharks you may enjoy diving with:

  • Whale sharks
  • Nurse sharks
  • Basking sharks
  • Leopard sharks
  • Angel sharks

Drift Diving

Drift diving allows the scuba diver to be moved by the tides or currents. These divers cover more ground than others and can see many habitats and formations.

Drift divers should have knowledge of equipment such as delayed surface marker buoys, floats, lines, reels, and more.

Also Read: Top 7 Drift Diving Tips

Cave Diving

Cave diving is risky, especially due to strong currents and low visibility. To participate in cave diving, you’ll need open water and advanced scuba diving certifications. This type, along with technical diving, is more expensive than other diving methods.

Cavern diver courses are great to start your cave diving journey. For those who possess cave diving skills, you’ll be able to explore underwater wonders that few others have ever seen before.

Technical Diving

Technical diving is for those who want to expand their dive skills and knowledge professionally. From diving longer at shallower depths to more advanced and deeper destinations, technical divers use specialized equipment for truly unique experiences.

3. Choose a Dive Center

Before choosing a diving center, you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. Rental equipment, boat charters, courses, certifications, and price are all factors to consider.

Call the dive center before booking online to go through the fine print. Some cheaper dive centers don’t include things like materials, gear, or the certification fee in their offered price. Ask about everything the cost does and doesn’t include.

Group sizes are also important. If you’re paying less but have to share your instructor with nine other people, it may be worth paying a bit more to enjoy the perks of a smaller group.

4. Purchase Insurance and Diving Gear

Additional expenses that may assist with your peace of mind include diving insurance and diving gear.

Scuba Diving Insurance

You are more likely to get into a car accident on your way to your dive site than to have an accident while diving. Nevertheless, not all travel, life, or accident insurance covers diving trips.

If you want diving coverage, you can choose between comprehensive coverage, extra coverage for transportation and accommodation, medical accident coverage during dives, permanent and total disability, or accidental death insurance.

Scuba Diving Gear

Renting a basic set of scuba gear costs around $75, while purchasing it may cost around $300. For a complete set, you’re looking at spending $1000 or more.

For those who only dive once a year or so, rental equipment should suffice.

If you plan to dive often and far into the future, buying equipment may be a smart investment. Also, consider the cost of transporting your equipment and where you plan to do most of your diving.

5. Prepare Your Body

If you’ve never gone diving or have had health complications in the past, be sure to schedule an appointment with your physician before your trip.

Generally speaking, the more in shape you are, the better a diver you will be. Being fit means you have a stronger cardiovascular system, which will help you to better acclimate to the pressure changes associated with diving.

6. Packing Your Bags – What to Pack?

what to pack

When packing for a dive trip, you’ll need to bring the essentials for your stay in and out of the water.

Be sure to pack:

  • Day-to-day clothing dependent on the weather
  • A versatile jacket that is wind and water-proof
  • Toiletries such as medications, motion sickness tablets, shampoo, body wash, etc.
  • A waterproof camera or camcorder for recording your dives
  • Extra batteries
  • A dry bag to store your things on the boat
  • Scuba diving equipment, such as:
  • Dive computer
  • Wetsuit
  • Diving mask and snorkel
  • Gloves/fins
  • Regulator
  • Depth gauge

The amount of equipment you will need to pack depends on whether your trip also includes a flight – see my article on flying with scuba gear.

How Much Does a Scuba Diving Trip Cost?

A scuba diving trip can cost anywhere from $70 to a few thousand dollars. If you plan to drive to your nearest beach and complete a single introductory dive with a guide, you can spend less than $100 including a tip.

If your trip requires airfare, accommodation, a multiple-day scuba diving course, and equipment rental, you could easily spend hundreds.

The good thing about diving trips is that there are a ton of options to meet you within your price range. With a little research and coordination, you’ll be sure to plan the perfect diving trip for yourself.

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