Dive Vacation PlanningSimon Vetterli
Many divers find that the only time they really get a chance to dive is on vacation. Either they live in a location where diving is not available year round or other things get in the way of diving. So we spend our lunch hour at work surfing the net looking for an inspiration of where to go on a dive vacation. For many people trying to decide where to take a vacation is a huge task, divers can reduce those choices to only include places to dive. If the diver is traveling with a non-diving companion or with a family, some locations might not be appropriate. With proper planning you can still get your dive vacation while the others are still getting their own wonderful vacation, it is planning and priorities.
A dive vacation does not have to be at a dive resort, however, it can make things easier. Not just for you but for any non-divers as well. Many top diving locations are top vacation locations as well. The dive resorts in these locations will be catering to those not diving as well. While you are out diving, the others can be enjoying the spa. Many resorts are set up to do two morning dives and two afternoon dives. Few divers will want to do four dives a day every day, so there is time for other activities. Staying at the dive resort means less travel time between your hotel room and the boat and back again. You will also feel more comfortable leaving your gear at the dive center, even if you are not going to dive the next day.
When looking at a dive resort, separate the two functions between the diving and the resort. Evaluate each element to see if it meets your needs. You do not want to select a resort based on the dive center and not see that the resort itself is not to your liking. The other way around as well, the resort might be great but the dive center is in name only. Weigh which of the two evaluations is more important to you If you are diving with family it may be 60% resort / 40% diving, however, what ever you feel is the proper weight.
This same process can be done where the resort and dive centers are separate locations. In this case, you need to factor in travel times.
Dive Vacation – Liveaboard style
Many new divers might be intrigue by the though of taking a liveaboard vacation. The thoughts of a full day of nothing but diving, your own little world away from cell phones and emails, Thousands of stars each night and the company of other divers does have an appeal. However, they often set those dreams aside thinking they need to be expert divers to join a liveaboard. While that may be true for a few locations, it is not the general rule. Remote locations like Osprey Reef in the Coral Seas off the coast of Australia or the north islands of Galapagos islands are open to experienced divers only. However, most other liveaboard locations are an excellent opportunity of novice divers to improve their diving skills. You may even be surprised to hear that many liveaboard do Open Water Diver certifications and referrals. Adding in an advance course or specialty is a good option as well.
While a few decades ago liveaboards were converted fishing vessels with cramped spaces, today’s liveaboard offer vessels that have been custom built for diving. Similar to the range of services offered by dive resorts, you can find liveaboards that appeal to budget and luxury travel. Four or five dives a day are common with ample food. Some the liveaboards are so proud of the creations of their onboard chef, they will post the planned menu on their website.
The standard sailing is generally a week but you will find that in some locations this can be broken down into a 3 or 4 day segments. Some liveaboards offer shorter sailing of just a few days. There are even a few that stay out for extended periods and guest are shuttled by service boats or helicopters.
When you are first comparing the cost of a liveaboard to a dive resort, remember that almost all of your expenses are included in the liveaboards fare. On a liveaboard you get out of the water, dry off and have your meal. Dinner is casual and there is seating for everyone. No need to search for a restaurant or wait an hour to be seated. After dinner, watch the stars from a hot tub with no light pollution around to ruin the view.
Image waking up in the morning, walking a few meters to the dive brief, gear up with your buddy and giant step off the back of the boat as the sun is just teasing the sky with light. You will not find that at a resort.
Dive Vacation – Cruising
The Whitsunday Island group in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is considered by many as the sailing capital of the world. Sailing enthusiastic from around the world will come here to enjoy the islands and coral cays that make up this area, discovered by James Cook. He even commented on the perfect conditions and vast safe anchorages. Sailing and motor vessels of all sizes are available for charter. You can charter a vessel without a crew, or with one. Many will join a sailing on what is called a partial charter and sail around the area. The area has few liveaboards however. While the sailing or cruising is the focus you can arrange to have dive equipment brought onboard. Another option is to have a dive boat pick you up from the yacht you are on. The Whitsundays are not the only place this is done, as some locations in the Caribbean also has these arrangements. This is perfect if a travel companion does not want to stay on a liveaboard.
Dive and Travel Insurance
This was mention when we talked about DCI, but it bears being mentioned again. Any time you dive you need to be covered by dive insurance. A DCI event can give you medical bills higher than the cost of a condominium. While DCI is the primary focus in discussions about dive insurance, DCI makes up just a small percentage of the situations that lead to a medical need. Health insurance often dose not cover cases while scuba diving even if it not caused by the diving. Most liveaboards and many dive resorts will make it a requirement to dive with them. If you do not often dive, then you might consider a short term policy.
Travel insurance is equally important and more frequently used. You or your family can become sick or injured outside of diving. Many times it can require a medical evacuation, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The travel insurance will cover other items besides medical. Missed flights, missing luggage and a host of other coverage. Please make sure that when you make your reservations, your insurance is in place.
Your first dive vacation will likely not be the last. So start planning.