How to plan a scuba diving trip

Not sure where to begin? Here's what you need to know before going on your next diving holiday

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Some dive destinations are infamous for their strong currents

New explorers of the underwater world will quickly realise that scuba diving holidays are not like any other holiday. Aside from the basics, such as weather, there are other things to take into consideration, from currents to water temperatures. If you’re just starting out as a diver and don’t quite know what to do when it comes to planning your next wet getaway, stick around and read on.

Find out more about the dive season. In other words, determine when’s the best time to visit the destination you have in mind. You probably wouldn’t want to go scuba diving in the Philippines knowing it’ll be cloudy and gloomy half the time, or visit the Maldives on the cheap, only to find out that it’s cheap because the weather completely blows.

Ask yourself what exactly is it that you want to see. In some places, the chances of seeing specific marine animals are higher during certain times of the year. In Fiji, for example, the water may be nice and warm in November, but you’ll see a lot less bull sharks compared to other months because they leave the area for mating season.

Do research on water temperatures. This is crucial for those who cannot stand the cold – it will help you decide if a 3mm wetsuit is enough, or if you need to consider renting a thicker one from your dive operator.

The moon phase matters. If you want to get really technical, turn to science. If you paid attention in school, you’d remember that moon phases affect the tides and the currents. Can’t handle crazy conditions just yet? Don’t choose dates that fall around a new or full moon. Speaking of currents…

Check how strong the currents can get. And, seriously, do not take this lightly. In destinations like Komodo in Indonesia, the currents are pretty darn insane. Sure, the fact of the matter is you’ll get big fish with strong currents, but if you’re not experienced enough, you put yourself (and those looking after you, like your dive buddy and guide) at risk.

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There are times where nitrox is a way better option compared to air

Do you need to be nitrox-certified? That’s something worth asking. Diving on nitrox increases your bottom time (amongst several other benefits) and is highly recommended if you’re visiting places like Lembeh in Indonesia or Palau, where you will find yourself parked at particular depths for quite a while.

Liveaboards versus land-based resorts. In areas like Tubbataha, Philippines, you don’t have a choice and must book a spot on a liveaboard, but in other destinations, like the Red Sea in Egypt, you have both options. However, many seasoned divers will tell you that the latter is best explored via liveaboard, even though the land-based resorts are everywhere (and mostly less expensive).

Consider the no-fly rule. Whether it’s the standard 24 hours before flying or several days if you’ve been diving continuously over a long period of time, keep the golden rule in mind and plan ahead so you know when your last dive will be and what you can do during the extended surface interval.

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Co-founder and editor of GoodVis, Sam has been obsessed with scuba diving since 2011. When she’s not doing research on lesser-known dive destinations, ogling at new scuba gear, or taking pictures of fish underwater, she’s either writing or stuffing her face with awesome food (or doing both simultaneously).