The best diving in the World is a huge statement to make especially with so many great choices. But great diving needs to come hand in hand with great customer service and that is what sets one dive operation apart from the rest.
6 things to remember when searching for a dive vacation. What makes the best diving in the World?
For me, a good dive vacation is a blend of good diving and good customer service:
- Great wildlife experiences
- Comfortable and reliable boats.
- Good lunches and snacks on the boat
- Professional guides that bring out the best of the situation
- The package and overall feel good experience.
- Underwater wildlife is what most people scuba dive to see. There are a few that go for cave diving or wrecks but the vast majority go to see the colourful fish, corals, sharks and Manta Rays if we’re lucky. Some locations are specialised in particular animals like Malapascua in the Philippines, famous for it’s Thresher sharks or Guadalupe for it’s Great Whites. Maybe huge schools of fish are what you’re after…..
- Other places are good specifically for Macro like Lembeh Strait. So it’s a personal choice and worth thinking about before you even start to think about what tour operators to go with….What would you like to see? The best diving in the world is not going to be the same for everyone. The best overall diving in the world with variety and quality of sites may be the compromise here.
Boat dive or no-boat dive?
Unless you’re a fan of the shore diving in Bonaire or the Cenote Dives in the Yucatan, most dive sites are a short or long boat ride away. This raises two questions: Do you get seasick? and… Is the boat comfortable and reliable? If the answer to #1 is yes, then maybe shore dives or Ginger supplements might be the thing for you. If the answer is no, then consider whether Liveaboards or daily tours are more your thing. Think about the comfort factor. Does it have dry areas? Is it a valet service where the staff will bring your tank to the dive step and help you gear up? The best diving in the world for you might be off the end of a jetty or might be a week of sailing away from civilisation…if you can stomach it.
How good is the food?
Diving for all its weightless relaxation still can generate a healthy appetite, so make sure that the operator provides reasonable lunches for you. Surface interval snacks and hot beverages are always welcome, even in the tropics and it’s the little touches like this that make a big difference when you’re out for the day. Also look for operations that think about the environment. Do they use single use plastics? Are they giving you reusable bottles for water or off the supermarket shelf single use bottles? Do the lunches come in reusable lunch boxes or is everything wrapped in plastic? What about trash, how is that dealt with? Does it end up here?
How good are the guides?
This ultimately goes together with point 5 but aside from safety the guides can make or break your dive vacation. They take responsibility for your experience. They look after you, anticipate your needs, suggest fixes to problems, show you the really cool stuff you’ve travelled so far to see, they engage with you during surface intervals, help with your gear (or don’t help if you don’t need it) they’re courteous, knowledgable but don’t brag. And lastly they deliver you back at the end of the day with a smile on your face. It’s a lot to ask or expect. (so don’t forget to tip ;-))
Safety is always on my mind when diving. It is after all an alien and unforgiving world, and even with training accidents can and do happen. Of course it is the tour operator who should be looking after your safety but assuming that will always be the case is a mistake. It’s still your responsibility to assess a situation and make a decision. If in doubt do a refresher course. No-one will scold you for it and the tour operator will welcome a responsible (if little rusty) customer any day over one that shuns feedback and thinks they know it all. Egos can kill.
Overall experience and feedback. Tell other people why it’s the best diving in the world.
Your overall feel good experience is of course extremely important. It’s why so many of us take vacations. We don’t take time out and spend so much money for a bad time do we? So how you feel as you board the plane back home is crucial. Any dive shop, resort owner worth their salt is concerned about this too or should be. This is where feedback is extremely important. Websites like trip advisor are where you as a consumer can help fellow travellers by writing reviews. It is also worth noting that businesses can vet and remove bad reviews if they don’t like them and of course create ghost accounts and rate themselves highly.
Recommendations for the best diving in the world
My experience from 23 years of diving has shown me that diving and vacations are a very personal experience, that a dive shop/ business needs to be safe and show that it’s safe without over mothering their guests. The facilities, the boats, hotel, live aboard, meals everything you experience above the water also needs to be as good as can be reasonably expected given the location and price. Lastly is that parting feeling you get at the end. Was it a good experience or did the owners just want your money and for you to leave as soon as possible?
Look for this dive shop here: http://www.daridiverspalau.com
They have always impressed me, from when I walk fin to when I walk out. Friendly, courteous, good diving, great meals, great service, great guides, great attention to detail. If you’re thinking about Palau as a destination, seriously consider them. Check out the short video at the top of the page or watch it here.
Thank you for your time.