If you’re like us, you’re always thinking about planning your next scuba diving vacation. But where do you start? In this article, we look at the most efficient way of planning a diving holiday to ensure you are properly prepared for the adventure ahead. Simply follow the steps below to find the perfect scuba diving vacation destination and plan a holiday that’s fun, memorable, and as worry-free as possible.

Step #1 Decide Where and When to Travel

The list of places you want to dive probably just keeps getting longer. Luckily, the PADI Travel® website makes it easy to pick the perfect holiday destination based on:

PADI Travel homepage find scuba diving vacation deals and book a scuba diving holiday anywhere in the world

For example, let’s say you’re interested in taking a scuba diving vacation in the Maldives. The PADI Travel destination profile tells you that diving is great year-round, but August-November is considered the best time of year to see manta rays and whale sharks.

Other considerations to take into account when deciding what month to travel in may include seasonal water temperature and visibility changes.

Safety First

When deciding on where to travel, you may also want to take into account if there are requirements for travel insurance. It’s highly recommended that everyone has insurance when traveling but in some countries, it is mandatory for scuba divers. Travel insurance from Divers Alert Network (DAN) provides protection and peace of mind.

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Step #2 Explore the Best Dive Sites and Specialty Training Options

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of travel destinations, it can be hard to choose a winner. YouTube can be a helpful tool. Search for the dive operator, diving destination and/or time of year.

For example, let’s say you want to scuba dive in Egypt, but aren’t sure where. Try searching for:

  • Scuba diving Egypt + the month you want to travel
  • Scuba diving + Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Sharm El-Sheikh, etc.
  • Best dive sites in Egypt for (beginners / experienced divers)

YouTube videos can help you identify dive sites you want to visit and the operator you want to dive with.

Also, consider your personal diving goals. Let’s say you’ve decided to travel *somewhere* in the Caribbean, but aren’t sure where. 

  • If you’re interested in coral reef restoration, set a course for Bonaire, where you can earn a Reef Renewal Specialty certification. 
  • Looking for a heart-pumping experience? Visit Cozumel and sign up for a drift diving course.

No matter where you decide to travel, a Nitrox certification allows you to enjoy longer, deeper dives and shorter surface intervals. You can start your Nitrox certification online and finish locally or at your travel destination. There aren’t any required dives; you can get Nitrox certified in a single day.

Step #3 Research Local Requirements and Customs

Once you’ve finalized your plans, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with local regulations and customs.

  • Research visa and vaccination requirements for both your travel destination and home country. At the time of writing, some destinations require proof of vaccination upon entry (or when returning).
  • Tell your bank and credit card companies you’ll be away from home. When financial organizations detect unusual behavior, like charges from another country, they may put a hold on your account or block your card.
  • Ask the local dive shop about local diving regulations. For example, some locations ban certain types of sunscreen, others don’t allow divers to wear gloves.
  • Learn about local customs. In some places, it’s rude to show someone the bottom of your foot, wear shoes indoors, or show your bare shoulders (for women).
  • If you’re visiting a country where you don’t speak the language, learn essential phrases such as: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, where is the toilet, I need help, excuse me, I don’t understand and I’m sorry.
  • If you are visiting a country where the predominant religion is different from your own, check if there are any religious events or holidays during your stay. In some countries, joining a ceremony is a great way to experience the local culture, although it may also mean that shops and some services are closed for the day.

scuba diving vacation planning

Step #4 Prevent Travel Headaches and Avoid Diving Disappointment

  • Get your scuba gear serviced in advance of your trip.
  • Make sure you dig out your certification cards – or have them available on a device that you are traveling with. Order a replacement, if necessary.
  • Purchase extra batteries for your camera, dive lights, strobes, etc. Rechargeable batteries are the most sustainable option. If you are traveling with non-rechargeable batteries, check with your dive center on how to dispose of them responsibly – that may mean bringing them home with you!
  • If it’s been a year or more since you went diving, PADI ReActivate™ is a fun and easy way to refresh your skills.
  • If any of your equipment looks brand new – bring a copy of the receipt. I once traveled with a diver who spent an hour convincing a customs agent who wanted him to pay tax on USD $3,000 worth of camera gear. The agent believed the equipment was purchased in the island country we just left.
  • Bring a paper copy of important travel info, like your flight details, address where you’re staying, and emergency contact numbers for people back home – just in case your phone dies.
  • Make sure someone back home knows where you’ll be, when, and how to reach you. It’s a good idea to email your travel details to someone back home, that way you’ll also have a backup copy online in case you need access while traveling.
  • Invest in dive accident insurance from DAN. Very few medical policies cover the cost of emergency evacuation, chamber treatments and post-incident rehabilitation.

Step #5 Prepare for Adventure!

Pack smart!! When it comes to packing, it’s a good idea to place valuables and any breakable items, such as your camera, in your carry-on bag for additional safety and peace of mind.

Use our ultimate scuba packing checklist to make sure you have everything you need for your next scuba diving vacation!

scuba diving vacation checklist

Ready to plan your next scuba diving vacation? Browse all available dive resorts, liveaboards and day trips available on PADI Travel.

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