The world’s most famous underwater explorer and photographer, the great Jacques Cousteau, put it best:
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
Scuba diving is one of the most unique and inspiring ways to enjoy the wonder and strangeness of the ocean, and a worthy addition to any bucket list! Whether venturing forth alone, on a romantic break, or introducing the kids to the majesty of the underwater world – we take a look at some of the best spots on the planet to take the plunge…
Your first scuba experience
Key West, Florida is the perfect spot for your first diving holiday if you’re looking for a more sophisticated experience, coupled with a bit of awesome nightlife! Diving has a long history in Key West, and many of the ‘dive shops’ have been around for quite some time, meaning you’re sure to find yourself in safe hands!
Key West, Florida allows the opportunity to dive with a manatee or two!
If your budget is minimal however, Utila in Honduras can’t be beaten for value for money. Many of the dive schools even throw in free board and lodging with your course – not a bonus you’re likely to find anywhere else! This destination is simply perfect for an exciting gap year, travel with your best mates or an adventurous couple’s backpacking expedition!
With (gasp!) a non-diving spouse or partner
The wonderful thing about spectacular diving spots is that there’s usually an awful lot worth seeing ‘topside’ too! The beautiful island of Fiji is a prime example. Cousteau gave it the nickname ‘The Soft Coral Capital of the World’ – and of the over 300 islands which make up Fiji, only 105 are inhabited – meaning that finding those special, pristine diving spots is simple!
And if you’re up for some real adventure, Pacific Harbour on Viti Levu offers some of the best shark diving in the world! So that’s you taken care of, what about the landlubber partner? Fiji’s people are known to be some of the friendliest in the world, and there are endless indigenous craft markets and charming villages to explore where you may even be able to partake in a traditional kava drinking ceremony.
For a bit of pampering, there are a multitude of spas and gorgeous beaches to catch a tan. And luckily most of the hotels offer free Wi-Fi (which was a blessing for my beloved on our trip, with her casino games and Facebook addiction!).
Scuba diving with kids
While PADI – The Professional Association of Diving Instructors – system allows kids as young as eight to take their charmingly titled ‘Bubblemaker’ qualification which starts out with learning to use the equipment in a swimming pool – it’s important to make sure your kids are comfortable with the idea of diving and at home in the water.
That said, there are several good spots to take an awesome family holiday that can potentially introduce the young ones to a lifelong passion for the sport! Cyprus boats beautiful Mediterranean waters with plenty of shallow sites for beginners, The Red Sea in Egypt also offers PADI qualifications and is a quick flight for European travellers; and Thanda Island in the Indian Ocean offers a luxury experience and relaxed schedule ideal for North American residents.
Wherever you choose to begin your adventure, focus on getting the basics right first – it’s silly to splash out (if you’ll forgive the pun) on a superb diving destination that the kids won’t be able to fully appreciate yet.
Wherever you choose to go diving – you are guaranteed to find yourself inspired and amazed by the beauty and mystery of the ocean. Take the plunge and immerse yourself in the hidden world of unexpected treasures that a scuba diving experience has to offer!