The Top 10 Best Diving Destinations For Beginners
Warm, clear water? To check. No flow? To check.
It is fairly easy to turn the world around and put your finger in a place that offers confidence-building conditions. But they are not all equal. Some offer big-animal sensations or wreck encounters from the bat, and other pack reputations for nightlife and all aboard welcome cars. Here are our tips for the best diving destinations for beginners.
1. Best for bonus wrecks: British Virgin Islands
“It is difficult to find sites deeper than 80 meters here,” says Marcus Lyng, a diving instructor for Cuan Law, a liveaboard based on the British Virgin Islands. Lyng continues to explain that other than the north coast of Tortola (the main island) and parts of Jost Van Dyke, it is all fair game for beginners. This property under water could not be sheltered anymore: along the Sir Frances Drake Channel, which span
s the south coast of Tortola, is a series of seven islands – that is a lot of protected coastline and reefs. The playing field for beginning divers in the BVI also includes the RMS Rhone, the most famous wreck of the region, as well as the ships of Wreck Alley at Cooper Island. And although that does not mean that you are doing a restoration of the regulator while you are in the hull of the Rhône, you can easily explore the wreck during the tour part of certification dives three and four. “I change it into an artifact yacht,” says Lyng. While new divers are looking for the teaspoon and the happy porthole, they build trust in wrapping environments – and in themselves.
2. Best for Out-of-the-Gate Bonding: Bahamas
Gary Vanhoeck is not surprised by all the couples he sees while holding the submarines from the Stuart Cove operation on Nassau. “I started to dive with my wife,” he says. The couple is on staff together at Stuart Cove’s, where they enjoy warm, clear water with visibility on average 80 feet.
The circumstances are so reliable that Vanhoeck says he often meets people who have tried to get certified elsewhere and give up. Recently he confirmed a woman who had just returned with her husband from a failed diving trip in South America, where visibility was too frustrating. “She hated it because she could not see it,” he says. Vanhoeck knew that the Bahamas would simply be the ticket to make the diving experience happy – so much so that he is willing to bet that diving in the Bahamas might soon replace couples’ guidance.
3. Best bang for your Baht: Thailand
It is not only the US-favorable exchange rate that makes Thailand an obvious choice to be certified. Diving costs are further reduced on islands such as Koh Tao due to the concentration of diving centers. This bubble hub has more than 50 operators on a patch of approximately 12 square miles. It is simple supply and demand: you can get two certifications on Koh Tao for the price of one somewhere else – what most divers do in the end. “It is common for people to finish their open water and immediately start an advanced course,” says Andrea Warren, an instructor at the Buddha View Dive Resort. The Canadian was backpacking with friends when she found the island, a diving center, and soon found a new career choice. You can also see the best of the Andaman Sea on board the Thai Aggressor
4. Best for Reef-Critter Distractions: St. John
You must be able to clear a flooded mask to be certified. “It can be frightening – it attacks your senses,” says Ann Marie Estes, owner of Low Key Watersports on St. John. Recently a family of four came to the dive shop, ready to be certified together. But the woman could not complete the mask drill, in panic when the water hit her eyes and nose. “Back on the surface she looked so sad,” says Estes. “We asked if she would be fine if she had been separated from her family for a while, and then gave her one-on-one instructions.” The dive group of two went to Lovango Cay, one of the favorites of Estes, which starts at 6 feet of water. The woman went into hiding to find her instructor pointing to a stingray and, minutes later, an octopus. “She was so distracted, she lost all that fear – given the incredible animals her in the moment.” Estes says that the woman then immediately finished the skill. “You could just see how excited she was,” says Estes. “She did not want to be part of the experience.”
5. Ideal for training encounters with animals: Key Largo, Florida
“One of the good things to learn is that we are able to go our best reefs with our students,” said Rob Haff, diving instructor and owner of Sea Dwellers Dive Center in Key Largo, Florida. The destination locations are largely within the range of 25 to 40 feet in open water. Haff’s favorite target for training diving is Molasses Reef, which is part of the Florida Marine Marine Sanctuary. “It’s hard to beat,” he said about the region, rich in groupers, snappers, tarpons and snooks. “I was in a sandy area with students when a loggerhead turtle came adrift.” Haff reports that the turtle is woven between students, a stay of a few meters for the next 25 minutes. “The students were surprised – it was their first dive.” He also took new divers into the French Reef and the school of eagle rays eight slowly slid past the first newcomers. “The students think we see this all the time”, says Haff, who has been teaching Key Largo for 21 years. For him, the most difficult part of the certification process is to explain that such encounters often happen, but not every day.
6. Best to learn Focus: Maui
If you have ADD, Maui is a difficult place to get. Green turtles are so numerous that they have always been a part of predictive conversation reminding everyone – beginners and others – that touching these charismatic creatures is not only bad shape, it is forbidden in the 50th State. But Steve Juarez, an instructor and one of the owners of Dive Maui, knows that the temptation can often be too big.
He asked the students to catch their mask to start the flood and cleanup exercise, but instead he began to swim over his head. Juarez is a patient man. By catching them at the tank, the weight belt or something else, he brings them back in line. “It’s a sensory overload here in Hawaii with corals and turtles, so I understand that the hardest thing for students is to focus,” he says. He also certified students in California, where there was not much to see outside the sand, so the process was faster. In Hawaii, in the middle of the dive, he swung his finger and scored a note: the skills first, the second on tour. Back on the boat, Juarez talks about nature conservation. Learning how to clean a mask is a good thing, but it is better to learn how to protect what we will appreciate over our lifetime.
7. The best for satisfying the satisfaction of large animals: Heron Island, Australia
“Diving is great, super easy, but we do not certify many people,” says Stü Ecob, an instructor at Heron Island Resort. Coral Cay off the coast of Queensland in Australia is best known as a breeding ground for green, mock loggerhead turtles and loggerhead turtles. “I saw 50 turtles in an hour”, says Ecob – although he is not diving at the moment, but in the semi-submersible space of the station. Yet this concentration of animals in the wild could make it too difficult to go much further than to look. Luckily the conditions lend themselves and they offer a drift dive at lazy river speeds. “You do not have to swim too strong,” said ECoB, “and you do not have to worry about either browsing – the reef is always on one side of you.” Each dive contains at least four turtles plus a few potatoes. cod, manta rays, lemon and gray reef sharks. He adds: “If you are a beginning diver, you will probably not have such a better dive into your life – you will see many animals that will need other years to see.
8. Best practice place for the court: Bonaire
“Diving on the coast is the main attraction of Bonaire, but so many new divers are afraid to go out alone,” says Augusto Montbrun, manager of scuba activities at Buddy Dive Resort. Every week, Montbrun tells the resort that a reef check-out is needed before they board the boats sailing to the offshore island of Klein Bonaire.
Sometimes panicky faces stare back. “If they go directly to shore diving, it may not work,” he says about these people. Montbrun encourages them to spend more time on the house reef. As part of the prep talk, he explains the natural navigation, how to find moorings and where the strangest creatures, such as frogfish and seahorses, reside. “As soon as they enter the water and see that it is a pool full of fish, everything changes,” he says. “They jump out, grab a tank and go straight out again.” And if they do, even the way they enter the water is changed. The resort offers three access possibilities: shore, ladder and giant pass. Montbrun has seen a lot of people renounce a giant step – and then, still wet from that first dive, choosing to start their second with a jump from one of the two piers of the resort. “Poco, poco, these conditions provide trust.”
9. Best Après-Dive Scene Utila
Approximately 200,000 newcomers per year earn C-cards on Utila, one of the Bay Islands of Honduras. The main street stretches no more than seven blocks from Manhattan, but it is sufficient to contain six PADI IDC centers. There is traffic here, but it does not run on gas. Credit the backpackers for keeping the site hoping and the prices low. “When I first came here in 2001, you could get certified for $ 200,” says Adam Laverty, dive instructor at Laguna Beach Resort. In the past decade the price has risen by about $ 100, but the scene has not changed much, he says. “Most dive shops have their own social activities, such as barbecues, and then everyone goes to the bar at 9 pm.” And when he says everyone, he means everyone, adding that if you are completely connected to the store, you are included. “Young, old, gay, straight – everyone is part of the family, feels welcome.” So much so that it is a party that many visitors do not want to leave – and thus never do. “Many people just come to be certified, but stay here, to continue and become instructors, I’ve been here 12 years without any plans to leave.”
10. Best for building multitasking Trust: Grand Cayman
It may seem easy to write off Grand Cayman as a destination that is best left for advanced divers thanks to the legendary wall – but that would mean overlooking the 20-some sites on the West End only up to 60 feet or shallower. It can also mean that you sell yourself too short. Tahvo Laukkanen, instructor at Sunset Divers, recalls his just-certified charges that wall diving is not a prize earned by jumping through specific hoops, but rather an experience that is available to everyone who feels ready. PADI recommends that open water certified divers limit depths to 60 feet, and on Grand Cayman the wall starts at 50 feet in many areas. There, the steep drop-off is characterized by tunnels and narrow sand-lined crevices that create mini buoyancy obstacle courses. Laukkans never drive, but reminds new divers that he will not always be part of their future plans and that challenges are an integral step towards independence. After they have left a swim-through, he says: “You always see a smile behind the regulators.”
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