Diving doesn’t have to be all that expensive. Sure, plane tickets, transportation and accommodation can add up, but by and large—depending on location—the diving itself doesn’t have to be exorbitant.
As a sport, hobby and pastime, diving isn’t geographically bound to the developed world. Some of the best diving areas on the planet are in less developed, more economically humble areas compared to places like Europe and North America.
But where are the cheapest diving destinations? Mostly huddled around the tropics, these locales and regions’ quality of diving incidentally rival MUCH more expensive place (looking at you, French Polynesia).
And how are we defining cheap? On a dive-per-dive basis, places like Southeast Asia often offer the greatest value with some dives averaging a mere $20-$30/dive. Other tropical destinations with favorable exchange rates—like Mexico—can be a bit more expensive ($50-$70/dive), especially in resort towns.
So if you’re looking to save some cash on your next dive trip or are just curious about some of the cheapest spots to explore the underwater world, check out the curated list below of our top budget diving destinations.
With tons of places to go, an excellent bevy of training centers and some of the world’s top liveaboard trips, Thailand is a diver’s dream budget destination. Food, transportation and accommodation are all extremely affordable relative to North America and Europe. Single tank dives can average $15-$35, depending if you’re already staying at a dive center.
If you plan to do a lot of diving, ask your dive center if they offer package deals.
Currency: Thai Baht
Exchange: 1 USD = 30 THB
Made up of thousands of tropical islands, the Philippines is a paradisiacal diving destination that also boasts a favorable exchange rate with the Philippine Peso. Turquoise waters, bangka rides and exceptional marine biodiversity make this coral triangle mecca one of the best budget diving hot spots in the world.
For an (affordable) itinerary off the beaten path, catch a puddle jumper to Busuanga/Coron and make your way slowly down through the island of Palawan. Find legendary and reasonably priced liveaboard diving at Apo Reef in the Sulu Sea.
Currency: Philippine Peso
Exchange: 1 USD = 50 PHP
The Bay Islands of Honduras are legendary for their diving, beach parties and shoestring accommodations. Swim and dive amongst whale sharks in what is, pound for pound, one of the best value dive destinations in the entire world. Utila alone has over 80 dive sites to explore and rock-bottom prices to boot.
For a taste of the finer things, head over to the more high-ended Roatan to where there are definitely still great dive deals to be found. Again, negotiate rates and try to finegle a dive/stay package if possible.
Currency: Honduran Lempira
Exchange: 1 USD = 24.6 HNL
Like any country, diving in Indonesia can be cheap or expensive. But unlike any other country, Indo boasts some of the most ecologically diverse waters on the planet. As a means of protection, some of the best preserved and most fragile places—like Raja Ampat—are exclusive. and by default, pricey.
Other regions of Indonesia that are more firmly within the tourist infrastructure offer cheap, affordable dive rates that are on par/ a little more expensive than you’ll find in Thailand or the Philippines.
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
Exchange: 1 USD = 13,979 PHP (!)
5) Hurghada, Egypt
Crystal-clear water, prodigious marine life and steeply affordable rates make the Hurghada region of Egypt a top line item on your budget diving bucket list. Turtles, dolphins and a myriad of other aquatic species linger amongst the region’s thriving reef walls and full-day multi-dive packages can be found for as little as $35.
Currency: Egyptian Pound
Exchange: 1 USD = 16 EGP
Editor’s Note: If you’re like the rest of us and always looking for a great travel dive bag, consider one of the dive-specific bags and duffels from Stahlsac. For longer trips where having cargo space is a premium, try the Caicos or Curacao Clipper Pack Duffels. For a bag that boasts large volume sizes, but also offers WET/DRY Storage capacity, reach for the Steel Line.