PDA

View Full Version : Underrated, underpriced dive destinations?



terfmop
01-12-2008, 10:53
Middle of January here in the midwest and I am dreaming of going someplace to dive.

For those of you that are much more traveled and experienced than me I have a question for ya. We've all seen those beautiful shots in the magazine of Fiji, Hawaii, GBR, etc... Awesome sites to dive no doubt, but they all could be somewhat costly to get to and usually require an extended vacation time (>=1week). I'm curious about those types of places that are hidden gems of diving. Those types of places that might not necessarily make it to a feature article in 'Scuba Diving" ,but yield excellent diving at an excellent price. What places do you value as good places to go diving without breaking the bank for money or time.

For example, one might say a drive to Indiana to Pensacola, FL (only 'bout a 12-hour drive) to dive the Oriskany (a place I haven't been yet) is a great shot, as the place is within drive times and the diving is alot of fun. Or one might say that the Great Lakes (only 3 hour drive up north for me, but still cold) offer afforadable and fun dives. What about the Keys down south? Maybe you'd say a drive out East to the Carolinas can be very affordable and provide some great dives.

I'm curious where other Midwest divers like to go?

cummings66
01-12-2008, 11:04
I don't dream of places outside of what we find in the midwest. In fact tomorrow I'm going to a local quarry and hope the temps are in the upper 30's by now. I love cold water dives.

terfmop
01-12-2008, 11:15
If I had a drysuit I would too. I might even try with a 2-pc 7mil...but right now, I only have a 1-piece 7mil

Capt Hook
01-12-2008, 22:07
Try Grand Bahama Island, if you look, you can find some incredible deals.

snagel
01-13-2008, 06:18
For me, I'd like to do the Oriskany we have this planned for June. I'd also like to do some wreck diving in the Great Lakes. These both would be fairly quick inexpensive dives compared to hopping on a plane and going somewhere.

I've dove in Mexico and it is awesome, but I like diving in the midwest also. There is a lot of opportunity for diving and it's very reasonable as far as price goes even considering the cost of gas now days. I still get pumped up for local dives as much as the "expensive" dive trips - Mermett Springs, Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Haigh, and one of my new favorites Bennett Springs.

A dive trip is what you make of it. It's great to see new things and meet new people. But, if you go into with a crappy attitude you won't have a good time; nor, anybody else.

Plans for 2008 - Already talked about the Oriskany. Going to hit Norfork and Beaver this year; neither, have I dove before. Guess I need to add Oronago which I haven't dove either. Probably do several trips down to Mermett (one of my favorite places). Would like to get back up to Haigh. The last and only time I dove it I froze my butt off - will be better prepared this time. I like to camp and so does my 13 year old; so, will probably do some combination dive/camp trips to maybe Table Rock and Stockton Lake.

Hey the way I look at it, anywhere I can be wet and weightless is fine with me. You don't have to travel long distances and spend a lot of money.

S. Nagel

maggs_the
02-20-2008, 18:56
i dream all the time... and i wake up still landlocked in north mississippi.

EVERYTHING is going up right now but last year, we got a fantastic deal at Fantasy Island on Roatan. Year before that, great deal on Cozumel. This year, we're trying it without the resort/hotel and doing some apartments in Curacao.

but ain't none of 'em cheap...

so i looked around at the Keys... or Pensacola.. you can spend so much $$$ domestically for 2 dives versus what you can get down in Coz...

but you have to GET to Coz..

oh it's a vicious circle i drive myself in ..

Kokomo
02-20-2008, 19:19
If you want less expensive and are pressed for time....may want to try the Florida Keys or US Virgin Islands. Don't need passports and can get there fairly quickly. Only problem is that no dive vacation is underpriced!

Soonerwink
02-20-2008, 19:35
The Flower Gardens, great diving, and you don't need a passport or have to go through customs. Here is a link to the Spree's website Spree Expeditions Online Booking Service (http://www.spreeexpeditions.com/Default.asp)

newways
02-20-2008, 19:36
My favorite...

Bonne Terre Mine

Bonne Terre Mine (http://www.2dive.com/btm.htm)

It's the coolest landlocked dive that can be done without any special training.

scubasamurai
02-20-2008, 22:43
going to the keys, hook up with spirit airlines, they have 9 dollars all the time to ft launderdale. just a hope to key largo area, but than the dives do get pricey after that.

Wolfie2012
02-20-2008, 23:10
I liked Key Largo, but personally I think if you're flyin into Ft Lauderdale, skip the trip further south and just dive there. There are a ton of awesome dive sites for every experience level, wrecks reefs or whatever. The three-tiered reef system makes it perfect for anyone, and there are some excellent dive ops around the Pompano area.

beperkins
10-17-2008, 10:23
Just invest in a drysuit and then local midwest dives become a year round hobby.

shawnwill36
10-30-2008, 10:40
fort lauderdale is cheap and exciting. air fare and hotel is about 350 bucks for 4 day trip. two tank dive costs 55 bucks and there are several reefs you can shore dive

shawnwill36
11-03-2008, 04:26
i will have to try that one

crunch
01-14-2009, 15:54
The cheapest diving i have found is to fly in to cancun for about 200 buck, ride the bus to playa del carmen 8 bucks. ferry to cozumel, If i only do shore dives i can go to mexico for a week for under 500 dollars.. but im cheap...

terfmop
02-03-2009, 22:48
The cheapest diving i have found is to fly in to cancun for about 200 buck, ride the bus to playa del carmen 8 bucks. ferry to cozumel, If i only do shore dives i can go to mexico for a week for under 500 dollars.. but im cheap...

$200?

MSilvia
02-04-2009, 09:25
The Flower Gardens, great diving, and you don't need a passport or have to go through customs. Here is a link to the Spree's website Spree Expeditions Online Booking Service (http://www.spreeexpeditions.com/Default.asp)
Great suggestion... I was going to recommend the same thing. Great reefs, 5 dives a day (including dawn and night dives), trips as short as 3 days, opportunities to dive oil rig scaffolding, and pelagics... at certain times of year there are thousands of hammerheads there to mate.

Depths are typically in the 70-100 foot range, and there can be strong currents, so be prepared for open ocean diving.

MSilvia
02-04-2009, 09:26
The cheapest diving i have found is to fly in to cancun for about 200 buck, ride the bus to playa del carmen 8 bucks. ferry to cozumel, If i only do shore dives i can go to mexico for a week for under 500 dollars.. but im cheap...
I'm cheap too... tell me more!

Byte Me
02-04-2009, 10:29
I agree with the Playa (or Coz) suggestion. You can typically get a flight from ORD for <$300. Never took the bus to Playa but for $8 not so bad! There are plenty of small clean hotels right off 5th ave and plenty of dive shops. Call Jason at Fanatseadive.com and talk to him. I know he's set people up with packages in the past.

My wife and I are planning on doing a low cost 4-5 night long weekend later this year and it'll be Playa for us! For me the really nice part is she doesn't dive but she's got a great beach, you can dive Playa, Coz and Cenotes and depending on what time of year you go you can run into bull sharks! Plus we've been there a handful of times so are familiar with the area.

I'm going to Bonne Terre in March and looking forward to that - glad to hear it's a fun dive! Also going this weekend to visit my folks in FL and we're going to get underwater once down there as well. Lots of springs to dive in! That'd be a cheapie as well if your looking for warmer fresh water dives.

ReefHound
02-04-2009, 10:59
Glad to see this thread revived, especially important with the current economy. Though my personal position is not (yet) suffering, I am an eternal cheapie.

I don't think $200 airfares to Cancun are available to most. Viva Aerobus can sometimes get you there that cheap from Austin. But don't forget that most advertised prices don't include all the fees and taxes which are over $100.

Ft. Lauderdale is great. Flights are usually cheap, under $250. Car rental and motels can be found cheaply there. Beach diving is free and charters are inexpensive. Biggest issue for me is whenever I plan to go there I end up deciding that I might as well go on down to the keys for the world class wrecks. And why go all that way for 2 dives a day, so we do morning and afternoon charters. Even doing it on the cheap ends up being an $800 weekend.

Flower Gardens is great for Texans and Cajuns that are within 6 hours drive to the port. You can do it on the weekend and not miss time from work, except maybe Friday afternoon if you have to drive several hours. Blowouts due to weather are common though so I wouldn't fly in for it.

Any place you can drive to, as driving is probably going to be more economical than flying in most cases, especially if you can stuff 4 in a van. From Houston (or Texas in general), that means road trips to places like Pensacola/Destin or South Padre.

MSilvia
02-04-2009, 11:09
Spirit airlines may be able to get you to the Caribbean on the cheap... Boston to Ft. Lauderdale is under $100 round trip from Boston, and Montego Bay is under $200.

maverick
02-04-2009, 13:47
CSSP in Texas, Pelham AL.

Foo2
02-04-2009, 14:46
You should always check what's on Worry-Free Vacations Home (http://www.worryfreevacations.com)

CompuDude
02-04-2009, 16:25
Spirit airlines may be able to get you to the Caribbean on the cheap... Boston to Ft. Lauderdale is under $100 round trip from Boston, and Montego Bay is under $200.

There's the downside to living in California. :( No matter where you want to go, warm water is going to be many hundreds of dollars and 6+ hours on a plane. (With the exception of Cabo and the Sea of Cortez, although those flights aren't cheap either)

I have yet to find a way to put together a dive trip anywhere (other than 2-3 hrs driving distance and mostly shore diving planned) that's not going to be over $1k for a week of diving. Most boats in the states are going to be $100-300 for a full day of diving (3-4 tanks), minimum. 5 days of that is $500-1500 just for the diving. Add flights, it's rare you're looking at less than $200, and that's still pretty lucky, more like $300-600. Then you need a place to sleep, and food. Even if you're able to find $50/night lodgings (an iffy proposition) that's another $250. Our minimum, before food, has just reached [$500 diving + $200 flight + $250 hotel=$950] easily $1k with taxes, and food for a week (7 days) is generally going to cost $30/day, so that's another $210 if you can keep to $10/meal.

So $1200 seems like a real minimum for a week (5 days + 2 travel days) of diving, whether you're stateside or in another country somewhere.

That can be shaved down if you're driving, but $2/gal gas means it better be close or 2-3 tanks of gas is at least $100+ just for gas, sharing accommodations (thus splitting hotel) (or perhaps couch surfing if you have a local friend) and if you're shore diving instead of boat diving (meh). But I really haven't been able to get costs much below that floor.

Thing is, at $1200, if you spend just a bit more, like $1600, you can actually get into some serious diving. I'm planning to spend about that on a week in Bali later this year. $1k for the flight, and $600 should get me through the rest of the week if we budget carefully, since the dollar is still quite strong over there. Looking at figures like that makes it hard to swallow $1200+ for Caribbean or Mexican diving... let alone Florida.

CompuDude
02-04-2009, 16:40
The Flower Gardens, great diving, and you don't need a passport or have to go through customs. Here is a link to the Spree's website Spree Expeditions Online Booking Service (http://www.spreeexpeditions.com/Default.asp)
Great suggestion... I was going to recommend the same thing. Great reefs, 5 dives a day (including dawn and night dives), trips as short as 3 days, opportunities to dive oil rig scaffolding, and pelagics... at certain times of year there are thousands of hammerheads there to mate.

Depths are typically in the 70-100 foot range, and there can be strong currents, so be prepared for open ocean diving.

Spree is not available until May.

I'm interested, but it's hard to justify the cost when you look at the total price to dive Texas (for someone who has to fly in) vs. more exotic trips.

RoyN
02-04-2009, 17:00
I would never move anywhere out of California. Ever since I fell in the water when I was 7 years old off of Big Sur, I saw my first humpback when it was gliding underwater and under the boat. That day, changed me to who I am today. :) I think California is one of the few underrated dive spots. For $400 to $600, you can go on the Truth Aquatics Liveaboard or go down to where the wrecks are in San Diego. When I complete my tech dives, I'm going to go down and do some tech dives with Compudude. That is what I call is an excellent vacation! :smiley20:

CompuDude
02-04-2009, 17:21
I would never move anywhere out of California. Ever since I fell in the water when I was 7 years old off of Big Sur, I saw my first humpback when it was gliding underwater and under the boat. That day, changed me to who I am today. :) I think California is one of the few underrated dive spots. For $400 to $600, you can go on the Truth Aquatics Liveaboard or go down to where the wrecks are in San Diego. When I complete my tech dives, I'm going to go down and do some tech dives with Compudude. That is what I call is an excellent vacation! :smiley20:

That falls under the "drive within a few hours" or semi-local diving, though. I love CA, but I don't love that it costs so dang much to get anywhere else worth diving. Gotta have variety! :)

DevilDiver
02-04-2009, 18:20
There's the downside to living in California. :( No matter where you want to go, warm water is going to be many hundreds of dollars and 6+ hours on a plane. (With the exception of Cabo and the Sea of Cortez, although those flights aren't cheap either)

I have yet to find a way to put together a dive trip anywhere (other than 2-3 hrs driving distance and mostly shore diving planned) that's not going to be over $1k for a week of diving. Most boats in the states are going to be $100-300 for a full day of diving (3-4 tanks), minimum. 5 days of that is $500-1500 just for the diving. Add flights, it's rare you're looking at less than $200, and that's still pretty lucky, more like $300-600. Then you need a place to sleep, and food. Even if you're able to find $50/night lodgings (an iffy proposition) that's another $250. Our minimum, before food, has just reached [$500 diving + $200 flight + $250 hotel=$950] easily $1k with taxes, and food for a week (7 days) is generally going to cost $30/day, so that's another $210 if you can keep to $10/meal.

So $1200 seems like a real minimum for a week (5 days + 2 travel days) of diving, whether you're stateside or in another country somewhere.

That can be shaved down if you're driving, but $2/gal gas means it better be close or 2-3 tanks of gas is at least $100+ just for gas, sharing accommodations (thus splitting hotel) (or perhaps couch surfing if you have a local friend) and if you're shore diving instead of boat diving (meh). But I really haven't been able to get costs much below that floor.

Thing is, at $1200, if you spend just a bit more, like $1600, you can actually get into some serious diving. I'm planning to spend about that on a week in Bali later this year. $1k for the flight, and $600 should get me through the rest of the week if we budget carefully, since the dollar is still quite strong over there. Looking at figures like that makes it hard to swallow $1200+ for Caribbean or Mexican diving... let alone Florida.


CD,

You can't take it with you and you only get one go around to spend it. You are very lucky to have the opportunity to dive at great locations close to home but it is a big world covered in water.

One day you might look back and and think that $1,200 $1,500 or even $2,000 is not that much compared to the experience and memories....

Just look'n out for you.... no offense. :smiley20:

CompuDude
02-04-2009, 19:43
CD,

You can't take it with you and you only get one go around to spend it. You are very lucky to have the opportunity to dive at great locations close to home but it is a big world covered in water.

One day you might look back and and think that $1,200 $1,500 or even $2,000 is not that much compared to the experience and memories....

Just look'n out for you.... no offense. :smiley20:

I also have debt, a monster mortgage, a [non-diving] wife who is in school but still likes nice things, and I live in Los Angeles, one of the top 3 most expensive cities to live in in this country. But I don't disagree with you. Ah, if only I had an extra source of income...

mrm777
02-04-2009, 20:10
American has some good specials right now.....looked at the Divi in Bonaire rate......

American Airlines Vacations - Caribbean Vacation Sale (http://www.aavacations.com/specials/crb0904-caribbean-sale.asp?ADID=AAVA-DNV-CRB-09-06)

awap
02-04-2009, 20:33
American has some good specials right now.....looked at the Divi in Bonaire rate......

American Airlines Vacations - Caribbean Vacation Sale (http://www.aavacations.com/specials/crb0904-caribbean-sale.asp?ADID=AAVA-DNV-CRB-09-06)

Well that site really sucks. I guess you can't see a price until you pick the dates and other info. Goo0d enough reason for me to shop for bargains elsewhere.

toecheese
02-08-2009, 09:40
I am currently planning a last minute vacation to either Cancun or Cozumel. The airfare is about the same from Newark,NJ. However, the difference is flight time and convenience of flights. I can get direct flights to cancun (~4 hours), and there are better flight options. The flight to coz is about 7-8 with a changeover in Houston and there is only one time in and one time out.
My questions:
1) If I were to take the bus to Playa Del Carmen and then the ferry to Coz, about how long does it take? Is it reliable?
2) If I were to just stay in Cancun, how is the diving there and which dive operator is the best? I am having a tough time finding recent info regarding the reliability of dive shops. I've heard too many stories about negligence of the mexican dive shops. Especially from the Key largo dive shops. I assume a good portion of that is propaganda.
3) Last question, I would like to improve my skills. After reading the Chatterton adn Matsen books, I am intrigued by more aggressive diving. Would it be a good idea to take Rescue Diver or while in Mexico, do the Cavern Diver courses in Cenaote?

Any help would be appreciated, many thanks.

Straegen
02-08-2009, 14:50
Not super cheap, but still a pretty good deal. Someone told me about Scuba Club in Coz. You can usually pick up a room for two people, 7 days, all food and 5 dive days with unlimited shore diving for under 2k.

MSilvia
02-09-2009, 09:00
Spree is not available until May.

I'm interested, but it's hard to justify the cost when you look at the total price to dive Texas (for someone who has to fly in) vs. more exotic trips.
Just IMHO, but having had to fly in order to do that trip myself, I think it was well worth it. Since you'll be too busy diving to set foot on land, it doesn't much matter what State you're in... a 10' brain coral in Dominica looks just like a 10' brain coral in the gulf of mexico, and you'll really be hard pressed to notice the groupers and angelfish having any trace of a drawl.

Bottom line, as liveaboard trips go, it's pretty reasonable even with the flight considering that food and lodging is included, and the reefs are really very healthy, very big, and deep enough to be well protected from hurricane damage.

CompuDude
02-09-2009, 14:36
Spree is not available until May.

I'm interested, but it's hard to justify the cost when you look at the total price to dive Texas (for someone who has to fly in) vs. more exotic trips.
Just IMHO, but having had to fly in order to do that trip myself, I think it was well worth it. Since you'll be too busy diving to set foot on land, it doesn't much matter what State you're in... a 10' brain coral in Dominica looks just like a 10' brain coral in the gulf of mexico, and you'll really be hard pressed to notice the groupers and angelfish having any trace of a drawl.

Bottom line, as liveaboard trips go, it's pretty reasonable even with the flight considering that food and lodging is included, and the reefs are really very healthy, very big, and deep enough to be well protected from hurricane damage.

I value your opinion, so thanks. Since you've done it, and I assume you've done a reasonable amount of Caribbean diving as well (haven't you?), are you saying the diving is comparable?

Also, I'm looking at overall trip cost + bang for the buck. Assuming the Spree's website price of $625/seat is correct, add in Approx $250-300 in airfare (LAX-HOU), and I figure at least $50 in cabs or car rentals and you're awfully close (or beyond) to the $1k mark for a weekend of diving, assuming no extra hotel nights needed for off-gassing after the trip before the flight. That's perilously close, IMO, to the cost of week of diving in Coz and other destinations.

Edit: My bad, looks like there are no scheduled trips to the Flower Gardens, since they've moved the boat to Florida? Dry Tortugas are 5 days of diving or so, but $1050-1250 plus airfare and all the extras, which again puts it square against a week long tropical dive trip pretty much anywhere.

MSilvia
02-09-2009, 14:56
Ahhh... well, I didn't know they had moved. For what it's worth though, I'd say the reefs I saw on Flower Garden Bank were the equal of anything I've seen in the Caribbean in terms of biodiversity, although it didn't have any of the swim throughs, etc. you might find in Coz. It was, in 2000, every bit as pristine as I've seen elsewhere, and because of the depths of the reefs on FGB and the hurricane damage from the past 5 years or so elsewhere, I'd hazard to guess they may be even more pristine than other reefs now.

That said, my Caribbean diving has thus far been limited to Mexico, Roatan, and Belize. I consider Dry Tortugas and the FGB sanctuary "Gulf of Mexico" diving.

ReefHound
02-09-2009, 15:19
Also, I'm looking at overall trip cost + bang for the buck. Assuming the Spree's website price of $625/seat is correct, add in Approx $250-300 in airfare (LAX-HOU), and I figure at least $50 in cabs or car rentals and you're awfully close (or beyond) to the $1k mark for a weekend of diving, assuming no extra hotel nights needed for off-gassing after the trip before the flight. That's perilously close, IMO, to the cost of week of diving in Coz and other destinations.

That's all true. If one has to fly in, one might as well keep on flying. Not that FG isn't worth the money, but the real issue is the risk of the trip being a no-go. What annoys me is when locals claim they can go to Coz for less.

You would need a place to stay on the evening your trip returns, unless you skipped the dives that morning which would not be very smart to miss 2 dives over a $50 room.

The Spree is moving to the Dry Tortugas but the Fling continues to serve the Flower Gardens.

CompuDude
02-09-2009, 15:24
Also, I'm looking at overall trip cost + bang for the buck. Assuming the Spree's website price of $625/seat is correct, add in Approx $250-300 in airfare (LAX-HOU), and I figure at least $50 in cabs or car rentals and you're awfully close (or beyond) to the $1k mark for a weekend of diving, assuming no extra hotel nights needed for off-gassing after the trip before the flight. That's perilously close, IMO, to the cost of week of diving in Coz and other destinations.

That's all true. If one has to fly in, one might as well keep on flying. Not that FG isn't worth the money, but the real issue is the risk of the trip being a no-go. What annoys me is when locals claim they can go to Coz for less.

You would need a place to stay on the evening your trip returns, unless you skipped the dives that morning which would not be very smart to miss 2 dives over a $50 room.

The Spree is moving to the Dry Tortugas but the Fling continues to serve the Flower Gardens.

That's pretty much what I thought. Sad, because I've been intrigued by FG and DT for some time, but until I find a sugar daddy... :(

ReefHound
02-09-2009, 15:32
You might find one in Key West....

hudson
02-11-2009, 22:58
For those interested in Coz, flying into Cozumel and paying a bit more is easily worth avoiding the hassle of the Cancun airport and the followup transportation. I would only fly into Cancun if my destination was Playa and the cenotes, and Cozumel was a side trip.

Blue Angel dive op/hotel is one of the best deals on the island.

Glub000
02-15-2009, 15:35
Thanks for the Dive Stop link. I have a daughter in St. L and we were looking for a place to get our AOW close by. Looks like this might be worth a look.

BubblesMcCoy
05-05-2009, 14:10
It's been a while since this thread has been active, but as the economy has continued to go down the toilet, I thought it would be worth noting the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa as one of the more exotic (cheap) destinations available to the land-locked masses in the midwest (quasi south).

On the down side it is just a great big hole with little subsurface life and no wrecks, but it's a constant temp (62 degrees) its relatively deep for freshwater (85'), and is within driving distance of a number of major towns. Plus, its cheap, I think a week long permit is about $8. Fills were $5.00 and the dive site has stairs in and out, making it a pretty easy dive.

cruzan
05-05-2009, 16:13
St. Croix use Cane Bay diving great dives and not badly priced.