If you’ve ever wanted to start scuba diving – or get friends or relatives to take it up – then there is a whole world of excitement out there for you to explore. Whether you want to visit some of the most renowned scuba diving destinations on the planet, or sample some underwater attractions that are off the beaten track, the possibilities are almost endless.
While it might seem like a difficult activity to get started with, there are ‘learn to scuba dive holidays’ in locations around the world. These cater for beginners while still allowing them to explore some incredible locations and wildlife beneath the surface. In this guide, we’ve hand-picked five top destinations for learn to dive holidays, varying according to the nature of your trip and your top priorities.
If you’re travelling solo
When travelling on your own, your waterproof camera can be your best friend, allowing you to document the area you explore and ensure your memories are captured forever. For this kind of trip, we recommend taking a flight to the Caribbean and heading for Grenada, where there are shallow reefs that are easy and accessible even for beginners.
There are a number of resorts which have their own in-house PADI Open Water diving courses, which you can complete over the first few days of your trip. Then you’ll have some time to dive at your leisure, and especially to visit the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park on the west coast. It’s the first of its kind in the world, with 75 concrete and steel works of art between two and five metres below the surface.
If you’re travelling with your family
If travelling with your partner and children, then it’s important to take a holiday that will have something for everyone. The chance to see lots of marine wildlife is always a hit with younger divers, as is having plenty to do on dry land in the evenings. And if you’re on a budget, then plentiful access to affordable flights and accommodation is a big plus.
One place that ticks all of these boxes is the Canary Island of Lanzarote. Its underwater landscape is shaped by the volcanic nature of the region, with lava reefs, ledges and caverns. Shoals of fish abound at every depth, along with rays, turtles and angel sharks, which will make your kids feel like they’re swimming in the middle of an aquarium. And don’t miss the chance to explore some underwater art at the Museo Atlantico.
If you’re travelling with friends
A group of close friends deserve to share an unforgettable experience, and diving in paradise fits that bill perfectly. For crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches and luxury accommodation, we recommend a trip during the winter months to Phuket in Thailand. Don’t be put off by the time of year: it will still be approaching 30 degrees Celsius both on land and in the water.
The best resorts will give you the opportunity to dive in a pool and get used to best practice and your equipment, before you’re let into the open water. Then you’re free to swim through the tropical seascape, and swim among the beautiful turtles and clownfish (it won’t take you long to find Nemo here!).
If you’re organising a dive trip for children
School groups, scout groups and youth clubs are ideal for learn to dive holidays, as most kids will be beginners and can progress together. For these kinds of trips, you’re looking for an affordable destination, clear waters, a relatively short flight and a place where English is widely spoken. On these criteria, the standout destination is right in the middle of the Mediterranean: Malta.
Divers as young as ten can visit Malta and get qualified, and the year-round warm weather maximises the flexibility of booking. Once there, you’ll have countless bays and rocky caverns to explore, teeming with wildlife and plant life that’s easily accessible for all. Many Maltese courses require some online theory lessons to be completed before the holiday, which can help build excitement ahead of the trip.
If you’re looking for wildlife and corals
There are so many countries all over the world where you’ll find beautiful reefs and abundant marine wildlife. Ideally, you’d like one with warm weather all year round, clear waters and a high level of marine diversity. A destination that makes the grade, and that you might not have necessarily thought of, is Oman.
At the southern end of the Arabian peninsula, the Omani waters are full of nutrients that support plentiful wildlife, such as bannerfish, hawksbill turtles and yellowfin goatfish. There are also some spectacular corals that are full of colour, bringing the ocean scene to life. Basing yourself in or close to the capital, Muscat, also gives you access to some truly world-class training facilities and accommodation options.
Get scuba diving travel insurance with SportsCover Direct
Regardless of your level of ability and experience in scuba diving, taking out specialist scuba diving travel insurance is absolutely essential. This is partly because you never know what might happen, but also because many standard travel insurance policies don’t include scuba diving on their list of permitted activities. This means if you suffer an accident or injury when diving abroad, you could be faced with a substantial medical bill.
SportsCover Direct offers comprehensive scuba diving travel insurance that allows you to dive up to 30 metres deep (or 40m if you’re qualified and under supervision). We’ll make sure you don’t end up out of pocket if you have an accident that necessitates medical treatment, or if your scuba diving equipment is lost, stolen or damaged. Our policies include night diving, wreck diving and cold-water diving, making them ideal for your next trip, wherever you’re planning to go.
Find out more about our affordable scuba diving travel insurance here.