Diving Vacations For Every Budget The Great Escape

Whether you’re a newbie diver or an experienced one, you’ll want to be in the know of the best diving deals. 

If you’ve ever gone scuba diving, you’ll know it is an experience quite unlike any other. While snorkelling can be fun, it doesn’t come close to the thrill and exhilaration of swimming alongside shoals of fish, and getting up close with magnificent sea creatures like manta rays, turtles, and even sharks. If you haven’t scuba dived before, I can’t recommend it enough. It is a strange mixture of exciting and calming, and every dive is different so you’ll never get bored.

I’ve been diving for about eight years now and recently got my Advanced Diving license, which qualifies me to dive to greater depths as well as at night, among other things. While I usually sign up for dive packages with overseas dive centres, I was curious to see what sort of dive packages do our local dive centres offer. Here’s what I’ve found:

Your budget is below $500

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Granted, the waters around Singapore aren’t the best but if you’re really eager to dive and can’t take that much time off, Pulau Hantu is one of your best bets. Located a short boat ride off the southwest coast of Singapore, the island actually consists of two individual islands, Hantu Besar (Big Ghost) and Hantu Kecil (Small Ghost). Don’t let the name of the island throw you off though. Underwater, it’s teeming with life. Expect to see a variety of clown fish (Nemo!), crabs, clams, as well as both hard and soft corals.

For more information, click here

Your budget is $500

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For a short weekend escapade, many local divers favour places like Pulau Aur, which is situated almost directly east of the port town of Mersing, and is mainly populated by local fishermen. There are neither roads nor vehicles on the island, which gives you a chance to unplug and unwind. What can you see underwater? Plenty! The waters off Pulau Aur offer great diving sites – from mysterious wrecks to beautiful coral gardens. Some lucky dive
have also spotted whale sharks and mantas in the area!

For more information, click here.

Your budget is between $600 to $1, 000

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Another popular weekend retreat for Singapore divers is Pulau Tioman. Lying to the far east of the Malay Peninsula, Tioman’s relatively remote location means you have a higher chance of encountering some of the larger sea creatures such as groupers, giant stingrays, and even whale sharks.

For more information, click here

Your budget is between $1000 to $1500

Of course, a post on diving is incomplete without a shout-out to one of my favourite countries – Thailand! While I’ve dived around several of the islands in Thailand, I’ve yet to visit the Holy Grail of dive sites – the Similan Islands. However, the waters around this cluster of nine islands are famed for their stunning diversity of sea creatures, from leopard sharks to moray eels, barracudas to batfish. Most people who visit the Similan Islands opt for liveaboard cruises so as to explore the various dive sites at their leisure.

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Your budget is between $1600 to $2000

Komodo Island is one of the most popular diving spots in Indonesia. On land, the Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its large population of about 5, 700 giant lizards (commonly known as Komodo dragons). These creatures cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and are of great fascination to tourists as well as scientists who study the theory of evolution. Underwater, you’ll also find a wide array of magnificent creatures, both big and small. From sunfish to mantas, dolphins to blue-ringed octopus, Komodo is where you go if you want to spot the big’uns.

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Your budget is between $2100 to $2600

Just the word “Maldives” is enough to conjure up images of beautiful tropical waters and endless white beaches. Dive into the warm turquoise waters and you’ll be amazed by the array of sea life all around you. Mantas, sting rays, turtles, and even whale sharks swim languidly amidst a beautiful variety of corals. Best part is, it’s not ridiculously expensive to get to Maldives either!

For more information, click here.

Your budget is more than $3000 

If you have the moolah to splash out, the world is basically your oyster (underwater creature pun unintended) but if you want a dive you’ll never forget, I think you should try the Sardine Run. Every year, between the months of May and July, millions upon millions of silvery sardines travel north from the cold oceans off South Africa’s Cape Point up along the coastlines of the northern Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

This unique phenomenon, which is visible even by satellite, is a sight in itself. However what makes it even more exciting is how hundreds of predators show up to partake in a feeding frenzy. Birds, dolphins, sharks, and whales all show up to feed. It is an extravagant spectacle is one that will leave you spellbound. Think of the Sardine Run as an underwater version of wildebeest travelling across the African savanna, but one that you can witness up close.

For more information, click here

For as long as she can remember, Vanessa has always wanted to escape to a place where no one knows her. But because that’s not always possible, she often retreats into the world of books and pop culture. When she does get to travel, she prefers going off the beaten track and back to nature. Some of her best memories include napping in a treehouse in Laos and cycling across padi fields in Bali.

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