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Thread: Best dive site and cheapest place to go.

  1. #1
    TadPole
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    Best dive site and cheapest place to go.

    The wife and I just returned from Jamaica where she got her certification. Now we are planning another trip perhaps in August and would like opinions, locations and where you think is the least expensive place to go. All suggestions are appreciated but keep in mind our funds are very limited.

  2. #2
    Barracuda Founding Member
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    Cozumel might be the cheapest.

    I like Bonaire but all depends on getting a good deal on flights. Bonaire is also for the most part shore diving so no DM with you. You can do boats but it's Bonaire.

  3. #3
    Cozumel certainly could be - there's some great flight deals from the Midwest. Villablanca Garden Hotel is one, they bundle diving/room/breakfast with 3-4 local dive shops (walking distance) and there's a couple nearby food options also. "Downtown" is 2 miles away though. Also check Cancun flights since there's the "bag drag" option - fly into Cancun, take a bus (short ride) to the ferry and over. Sometimes it's not worth it, other times I've seen almost $300 in savings. Google Cozumel Expedia Code also - if there is one and you book thru them, sometimes it's 20% off the total. Same places but I"m not sure how/if they include diving.

    Bonaire is certainly an option. Stay away from the popular dive resorts on the water. Just about every property owner on Bonaire offers a dive/drive/stay package with someone and by locating across the street from the water (usually an obstructed view in the Belnem area south of town) you can save a lot. Some properties to look at are Coco Palm Gardens, Windsock Apt's (pricier/nicer) or Lagoen Hills which is about 10mins. inland - on a hill so nice view. LH bundles diving with Buddy Dive - one of the best dive resorts and they have a drive-thru tank pickup you can use.
    www.infobonaire.com is a good resource.

    I'll make a case for Curacao also. Depending on where you live, you may find the flight up to $150 cheaper since a lot of the Bonaire flights stop there first. It's literally the same diving with much easier entries since the 2 islands are 50 mi. apart. Most of the entries on Curacao are off nice sand beaches, the few that are ironshore have dive docks. Most entries on Bonaire once you leave town are off slippery ironshore - both in/out of the water and coral rubble. It's very easy to go down there - esp. with a tank on your back. There are all sorts of rental options on Curacao in all price ranges as well - one difference is that while the resorts bundle diving/stay/truck on Bonaire - on Curacao you buy each separately generally - although there are a couple locations that sell an unlimited package also. This is because at most shore dives there's an on-site operator for tanks/food etc. - on Bonaire there are literally no facilities once you leave town except for wherever the food truck happens to be.

    Either way, you want to look for properties that rent by the room/apt. and not stay at a dive resort where the pricing changes to PP. If you're AI resort fans, Plaza Resort is the only true AI on Bonaire, on Curacao there's none although you can add a meal plan at Lions Dive. Divi Flamingo on Bonaire has that option also. But they won't be the cheapest - by far. Everything Curacao - www.curacao.com

    My last suggestion is Roatan. Not at the (true) AI dive resorts since they all price above $1000pp/wk. but somewhere in the West End. It's an "eclectic" mix of shops, dive operators, most of the better restaurants on Roatan, decent but narrow beach, and all the nightlife - not counting resort bars. Since there's at least a dozen dive operators in the area, boat dives are priced at 10/$300-350 - some shops do up to 4 dives/day - most 3. Someone is always night diving also, that's $40 more. Lodging is really cheap, from hostels on up. A decent place is Posada Arco Iris - low season (summer) a 1br. apt. with a decent kitchen goes for $40-60/nt. There's two small markets in the West End and fish/produce/fruit trucks park along the road daily. It's nice stuff, we buy from them. You don't need a car since it's all self contained within a mile area - and it's actually a bad idea due to liabilities/process if you hit something. Cabs are really cheap, always in that area - no ride should be more than $10-15 unless you decide to go to the far east end which can be around $40 or more. The only fixed cost is a $25 cab from the airport.

    The nicest beach on Roatan is 2 miles away in West Bay. There's also a dozen or so dive resorts on it as well but they tend to be larger condo properties. The water taxi from the West End runs back/forth till dark. There's also properties all along the beach between the two areas but they're a little more upscale. The real deal on Roatan is to find a small house/apt. a couple blocks inland and be willing to walk. We stay on the east point of Half Moon Bay which puts us a 5min. walk from downtown, it's a lot quieter but there's no beach. Here's a good West End info page from Coconut Tree Divers - we dove with them all week also - good people. http://www.coconuttreedivers.com/roatan.html

    Roatan does not have the cheapest flights - generally $6-800 but it can be very inexpensive once you get there. I rented a nce 3 br. house on the waterfront, full gourmet kitchen, multiple decks etc. for $1500/wk. There's also a lot of more reasonable properties on vrbo.com or homeaway. One "gotcha" is "close to the beach - especially in the West Bay area - can be 10mins. walk. Sandy Bay or points farther east you'd want to drive - or make prior arrangements with a cab driver to pick you up - it's a little too far from everything - except Anthony's Key Resort.

    hth, Post if you have further questions. Except for Cozumel, that info is from my dive group friends. I have been to Cancun, but not to dive.

  4. #4
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Some good advice already provided. I can echo pretty much all of it. It really depends on where you want to spend your money and how fancy / thrifty you want to be. For me, I like Bonaire because once you get there it is all shore diving (freedom) and you are not being nickled and dimed for dive trips. But, the flights do cost a little more compared to Mexico and Coz. Coz is great and does have some good deals, but again if you want to stay on one of the resorts it will cost a little more. If you don't need the resort thing you can find some basic room and cots.

    You might look at a cruise and see if you can get a deal. This can provide you with a larger sample of what is out there as you visit various ports. But, the diving can run a couple hundred dollars per person for an afternoon of diving if booked through the cruise line. But, you will quickly get a taste of what is available.

    Local diving? There is a lot of local diving available if you look for it. I know it isn't blue water, but it is wet and weightless. We typically dive all year long and make one trip to blue water a year. I'm not sure where you live, but if you visit your local dive shop and do some research you can find the local hangouts for divers. Here in the Midwest, we host a webpage devoted to local and global diving www.midwestmuckdiving.com Feel free to stop in and check it out. There is a tremendous amount of information on Midwest Diving and what we call Paradise Diving (blue water).

    Snagel

  5. #5
    Barracuda
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    Check out Coral Reef Inn in Cozumel. They have a basic room rate for 1,2 or 3 people ( same price) then the diving is added on per diver. Really nice quiet place located about a 15 minute walk from Barracuda hotel to meet your boat. You get to store your gear at the Barracuda. It has a kitchen on top floor and small fridges in rooms. There are serveral local resturants in the nieghborhood and its close enough to walk to downtown if you want to. They are partenered up with Dive Paradise.

  6. #6
    Grouper
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    If you are thinking about August, the whale sharks will be near Cancun then. That would be such an awesome sight. I know it's a long boat ride and all but wow. Fly into Cancun, stay a couple days to do the whale shark snorkel and then do the bag drag to Cozumel. Cozumel has some great food at good prices and hotels that are cheap or expensive and in between. Just let the DMs know that your wife is a relative newbie and they will treat her right.

  7. #7
    Grouper Founding Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullseyebivl View Post
    The wife and I just returned from Jamaica where she got her certification. Now we are planning another trip perhaps in August and would like opinions, locations and where you think is the least expensive place to go. All suggestions are appreciated but keep in mind our funds are very limited.

    With limited funds, I would strongly suggest you consider diving in Key Largo Florida. Find a dive company and book several days of diving with them. There is a dive company on every corner in Key Largo. Or, book a few days with one company, and a few days with a second. Molasses reef is great for beginners, and there is the Speigal Grove and other deep wrecks. The age wood is a great wreck for a beginner. Don't forget Christ of the abyss. Good diving, easy to get too....fly to Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

    There is a lot of competition because there are so many dive boats, so prices are relatively good. My buddy and I did a five day dive trip there a few years ago, and had a great time.

    Don't forget to get in a night dive....I recommend the Benwood for a night dive. Dive it during the afternoon to get the layout in your head, and then dive it again at night. Very nice and easy diving. Very relaxing, and yet exciting too.
    To those in the miltary who serve, past and present, to protect my freedom, I thank you. I've had a good life so far.

  8. #8
    Grouper
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    +1 for CoCo Palm Garden if you go to Bonaire. By staying there and cooking for myself I can stay for 2 weeks for what 1 week would cost everywhere else. They get the best unlimited air package (Dive Friends) and the cheapest truck rental (various) available at the time. They usually have a local resturant come on site for a $10 buffet on Tues & Thurs evenings as well.

  9. #9
    Grouper dkh6070's Avatar
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    As long as you can get the flight for a good price, Cozumel is about the least expensive place to dive in the world. Except for the flight, we can spend 5 days in Cozumel for less than we can in Key Largo diving and in Coz you don't need to rent a car if you stay in downtown.

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