I’m kinda psyched up about my upcoming dive trip to Malapascua, hence the number of dive posts that are coming out (see my last postabout why you should head on a dive trip if you haven’t already!)
I got certified as an Open Water Diver back in 2004, but due to a whole variety of circumstances, it took me another 4 years before I got around to another dive trip, which resulted in me having to do a little refresher course before I could get back into the swing of things. So, I thought I’d talk a little more about how you can get started planning your diving trips, so you don’t suffer the same inertia I did.
Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself to help get yourself get started on your pre-trip research:
When do you want to go?
The weather is a very key factor into what you’ll end up seeing when you dive, and ultimately where you end up going. You’ll need to check what the weather is going to be like for the particular place you want to visit, and if they open or close for specific dive seasons. It’s a bit of a bust if you dive during a low visibility period and can hardly see a thing underwater, or choppy waters and stormy weather derail your plans…
Of course the weather these days is a little unpredictable, but the great thing about the internet is that you can do a little googling to find out how divers recently in the area have found the place. Some of the dive centres have embraced social media quite enthusiastically, and you can get pretty up-to-date news on how the waters are like at any point.
How much time do you have?
One important thing to note for divers is that there’s a 24-hour no-fly period (‘Decompression time’) before and after diving so as to let your body adjust to the changes in air pressure, so that needs to be factored into your plans if you’re thinking of flying somewhere for a trip; if you can drive up there or take a boat you don’t have to worry, which is one thing I love about Asia… so many great diving locations conveniently located!
Also, some of the best dive locations are a little more out of the way, so you need to take that time to get there into consideration as well. The last trip I had to Sipadan required me to fly to Kota Kinabalu, stay overnight and catch my connecting flight the next morning to Tawau, then take an hour’s car ride to Semporna, and if I wanted to stay on Mabul Island, I would have needed another hour’s boat ride to get there… phew! Because of the short time we had there, we elected to stay in Semporna instead to maximize our dive time as far as possible.
What do you want to see?
What are you looking to spot when you dive? Different places around the world are renowned for different critters. I’m headed to Malapascua in Philippines in hopes that I can spot a Thresher shark or two, and diving in Sipadan was awesome because of the sheer number of reef sharks and turtles in the waters, while I’ve heard great things about the Lembeh Straits in Indonesia being great for really unusual and rare small creatures.
There are also different types of terrain underwater that you can experience, from shallower reefs with lots of colourful coral, to diving alongside steep walls of coral where the fish are swimming sideways (it’s bizarre but true!). You might want to explore shipwrecks, or caves… the possibilities are endless! Check out what types of dives you can do in the place you want to go, and you may need to make sure you’re suitably certified before you head there.
Some other dive meccas include: Koh Tao, Thailand; The Blue Hole in Belize, Palau, Costa Rica, Bali, Cocos Island and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Where else I want to head to dive… eventually! (Watch this list grow!)
– A nice luxurious Live-On-Board to the beautiful islands of Raja Ampat (Yes P! We will get around to doing this!)
– Lembeh Straits in Indonesia for Muck Diving and teeny little creatures
– The Park in Tragoess, Styria, Austria (more pix in this post here!)
– The Great Barrier Reef to see what the big deal is about
– Belize and its Great Blue Hole just looks so enticing!
– The Maldives just because
– The Similan Islands of Thailand, or any of the Koh’s
– I’d like to do a cold water dive one time just to see what it’s like, though I’m pretty sure I’ll freeze…
Stuff I want to see while diving:
– Big ass WHALE SHARK
– I’ve seen dolphins but never dived with one!
– I’ll take any other big critter – manatees, seals and sealions, more whales…
– I’m very much a big creature diver… I do like the occasional pygmy seahorse or nudibranch, but those things are TINY and unless you’re really into photography, not that exciting really…