My top 10 of the cheapest diving destinations in the world

Scuba diving doesn’t have the reputation of being a cheap hobby, so it could come as a disadvantage when travelling alone. However, I have been surprised more than once. I found scuba diving destinations with soft diving rates in many places around the world, locally and on tropical islands. Even if it sounds counterintuitive, it is possible to combine budget travel and scuba diving by going to the 10 cheapest diving destinations I listed below. If the cost of your scuba diving holiday is something holding you back to travel the world on your own and to tick off the best dive sites from your bucket list, check these places first.

Cheapest areas to go scuba diving include South-East Asia, the Mecca of Budget scuba diving, but also Central America and Southern Europe. Even the Red Sea, one of the top world-class diving area, is one of the most affordable destinations to go scuba diving. Note that these destinations are both affordable from a scuba diving and travel point of view. What’s the point of a dive below 20€ if you can’t find accommodation below 200€ a night?

Please note that the prices below are only an indication. They are based on the rates for 2020 of the 5 first diving centres (when booking direct) ranking on Google for each diving destination.

1 – Thailand

Diving Koh Tao Thailand - cheapest diving destinations

In the last decades, Thailand has acquired the reputation of the place to go if you are looking to start scuba diving on a budget. Indeed, this is where I headed in 2009, and in Koh Tao especially. The island is now famous for being the scuba diving school island for divers coming from all over the world thanks to its affordable prices both on diving, accommodation, food while offering fantastic landscape and great beach parties. I realised later Thailand is not the only place with low prices on scuba diving, but it is indeed an excellent place for beginners thanks to its easy conditions with little currents and warm waters.

While Koh Tao doesn’t offer colourful coral reefs and marine encounters of the level of the country’s top dive site, the Similan Islands, it is still a great diving destination. The dive sites close to the islands have little to see but are great for the underwater classes of the Open Water Course. Just by taking the boat a bit further, dive sites such as Chumphon Pinnacle and Sail Rock boast incredible marine life, including regular whale shark encounters!

Another popular destination with backpackers who love scuba diving is the island the Koh Lanta in the south of Thailand. I have yet to discover its waters!

Prices in Koh Tao

  • Price per dive from 1,000 BHT / 27 € / £ 25 / $ 32 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 950 BHT / 26 € / £ 24 / $ 30 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 800 BHT / 22 € / £ 20 / $ 26 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 11,000 BHT / 297 € / £ 275 / $ 352

Prices in Koh Lanta

  • Price per dive from 1,550 BHT / 42 € / £ 39 / $ 50 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 1,350 BHT / 36 € / £ 34 / $ 43 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 1,155 BHT / 31 € / £ 29 / $ 37 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 11,850 BHT / 320 € / £ 296 / $ 379

2 – The Philippines

Diving Moalboal The Philippines -  - cheapest diving destinations

A bit less explored than Thailand, The Philippines are yet one of the most affordable countries to travel to in South East Asia thanks to its extensive network of ferries and jeepney (local bus). The density of dive spots across the country is such that you will need more than one trip to see everything. Scuba divers visiting the Philippines either focus on Manilla area including Palawan and Anilao, or the Visayas Islands including Cebu and Malapascua (diving in Malapascua became famous thanks to its thresher sharks encounters).While its top dive site, the Tubbataha Reefs, a UNESCO marine heritage site, requires an expensive liveaboard to be explored, places such as Moalboal and Panglao offers low-key but paradise-like dive resorts on the beach with some of the lowest diving rate I’ve seen around the world.

Prices in Moalboal

  • Price per dive from 1,100 PHP / 19 € / £ 18 / $ 23 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 950 PHP / 16 € / £ 15 / $ 20 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 850 PHP / 14 € / £ 14 / $ 18 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 14,999 PHP / 255 € / £ 240 / $ 315

Prices in Malapascua

  • Price per dive from 1,580 PHP / 31€ / £ 29 / $ 38 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 1,300 PHP / 26 € / £ 24 / $ 32 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 1,170 PHP / 30 € / £ 28 / $ 37 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 18,000 PHP / 315 € / £ 296 / $ 389

3 – Indonesia

Diving in Bali Indonesia - cheapest diving destinations

For many scuba divers, Indonesia is the number one destination in the world. With world-class diving spots such as Raja Ampat and Wakatobi National Park, passionate divers and enthusiast underwater photographers flock from all over the world even if prices in these places are not the cheapest.

However, Indonesia being such a vast country from Sumatra to West Papua, there are many places which offer fantastic dive sites and affordable prices such as Bali and the Gili Islands. Even Komodo National Park, a UNESCO marine heritage site, can be explored on day trips for less than most liveaboards.

While being one of the most popular tourist destinations with world-class dive sites, diving in Bali remains surprisingly affordable. It’s especially true in Tulamben area, known for the Liberty shipwreck, which is mostly about shore diving. In areas like Nusa Lembongan, where longer boat rides are necessary, the price of a dive is obviously higher but still extremely affordable. On top of this, there is so many fun things to do in Bali, you can only spend unforgettable holidays there.

In Komodo, the day trips leave early morning Labuan Bajo harbour for a two or three-tank dive trip in the waters of the national park. Obviously, these boats can only take you to a tiny part of the park, but it’s already fascinating. And did I mention, you will also have the opportunity to meet a Komodo dragon at the surface interval?

Prices in Tulamben

  • Price per dive from 300,000 IDR / 18 € / £ 15 / $ 21 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 250,000 IDR / 15 € / £ 13 / $ 18 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 271,500 IDR / 16 € / £ 14 / $ 19 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 3,100,000 IDR / 186 € / £ 155 / $ 217

Prices in Nusa Lembongan

  • Price per dive from 425,000 IDR / 26 € / £ 21 / $ 30 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 425,000 IDR / 26 € / £ 21 / $ 30 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 342,900 IDR / 21 € / £ 17 / $ 24 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 3,750,000 IDR / 225 € / £ 188 / $ 263

Prices in Labuan Bajo (Komodo National Park)

  • Price per dive from 550,000 IDR / 33 € / £ 28 / $ 39 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 550,000 IDR / 33 € / £ 28 / $ 39 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 550,000 IDR / 33 € / £ 28 / $ 39 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 5,500,000 IDR / 330 € / £ 275 / $ 385

4 – Egypt

Diving in Dahab Egypt - cheapest diving destinations

Even before becoming a certified Open Water diver, I knew the waters of the Red Sea offered some of the most fabulous coral reefs and spectacular marine life in the world. No wonder why, only 3 to 4 hours of flying from Europe, only 6 months after my certification, I was travelling to Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt! For most European divers, Egypt is all about liveaboards diving, especially to the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone Islands which made diving in the Red Sea famous. But if you are looking for affordable scuba diving day trips, you have to know that the South Sinai include some of the most famous spots in the Red Sea such as the Dahab Blue, Ras-el-Mohammed National Park and the Thistlegorm submarine wreck. With budget diving camps and mostly shore diving, Dahab in the South Sinai, and Marsa Alam in the south of Upper Egypt, became budget travellers’ favourites.

Prices in Dahab

  • Price per dive from 25 € / £ 23 / $ 30 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 25 € / £ 23 / $ 30 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 20 € / £ 19 / $ 24 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 280 € / £ 259 / $ 332

Prices in Marsa Alam

  • Price per dive from 40 € / £ 37 / $ 47 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 32 € / £ 30 / $ 38 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 27 € / £ 23 / $ 30 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 325 € / £ 301 / $ 385

5 – Honduras

Diving in Utila Honduras  - cheapest diving destinations

This little country of Central America might be mostly known internationally by scuba divers thanks to the Bay Islands on its Caribbean shore. While Roatan became a place for scuba divers looking for a luxury dive resort, Utila became the hotspot for backpackers in love with scuba diving and whale sharks! Over the years, Utila became for Central America was Koh Tao is for South-East Asia, a scuba diving school island.

Prices in Utila

  • Price per dive from 27 € / £ 25 / $ 32 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 21 € / £ 20 / $ 25 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 25 € / £ 23 / $ 30 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 190 € / £ 176 / $ 225

6 – Belize

Diving in Caye Caulker Belize  - cheapest diving destinations

Another tiny country of Central America, right below Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize is mostly famous to scuba divers. This is due to its Great Blue Hole, the largest in the world with a diameter of 200 m! While most scuba diver looking for a luxury vacation will stay on Ambergris Caye, backpackers touring Central America gather in Caye Caulker. While the day trips to the Great Blue Hole became increasingly expensive over the years, diving in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, located between Caye Caulker and Ambergris, remains affordable.

Prices in Caye Caulker

  • Price per dive from 42 € / £ 39 / $ 50 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 42 € / £ 39 / $ 50 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 42 € / £ 39 / $ 50 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 338 € / £ 313 / $ 400

7 – Mexico

Diving in Playa del Carmen Mexico  - cheapest diving destinations

This is maybe one of the most exciting diving destinations in the world due to the variety of diving adventures you can live from one ocean to the other. In Baja California, on the Pacific shore, it all about encounters with large pelagic species such as whales and sharks, while in the Yucatan Peninsula, on the Caribbean shore, you can mix reef diving with cenote diving, the famous Mayan underwater caverns.

While the prices have increased a lot since my visit in 2010, Mexico remains as a whole an affordable diving destination, mostly if you stay around Playa del Carmen in Quintana-Roo.

Prices in Playa del Carmen

  • Price per dive from 25 € / £ 23 / $ 30 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 25 € / £ 23 / $ 30 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 25 € / £ 23 / $ 30 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 286 € / £ 265 / $ 339

8 – Spain

Diving in Tenerife Spain - cheapest diving destinations

Let’s talk about diving in Europe, in Southern Europe, to be specific! I usually amaze people when I say scuba diving in Europe can be some of the cheapest in the world. You can scuba dive everywhere in Europe, but Spain offers the widest choice in terms of diving spots with some of the most affordable prices. Diving hotspots in Spain mainland are mostly around marine protected areas such as the Medes Islands in Costa Brava, Catalonia, or Cabos de Palos in Costa Calida, Murcia. However, let’s not forget the Canary Islands also belong to Spain. Scuba diving in Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, El Hierro and La Palma is full of underwater surprises with volcanic landscape and pelagic marine species encounters.

Prices in l’Estartit (Medes Islands)

  • Price per dive from 42 € / £ 39 / $ 50 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 30 € / £ 28 / $ 36 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 37 € / £ 34 / $ 44 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 345 € / £ 319 / $ 409

Prices in Tenerife

  • Price per dive from 37 € / £ 34 / $ 44 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 25 € / £ 25 / $ 32 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 35 € / £ 32 / $ 41 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 380 € / £ 352 / $ 450

9 – Malta

Diving in Malta  - cheapest diving destinations

When discussing scuba diving in Europe, it’s impossible to forget Malta. It must be Europe #1 diving destination thanks for its warm waters and the shipwreck program conducted since the 1970s. Most dive sites in Malta and Gozo are accessible from the shore. Hence you usually take a van to go scuba diving in the Maltese Islands. This unique situation makes the prices cheaper for the greater pleasure of European divers who love the shipwrecks or the famous Gozo Blue Hole.

Prices in Malta

  • Price per dive from 37 € / £ 34 / $ 44 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 30 € / £ 28 / $ 36 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 29 € / £ 27 / $ 34 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 315 € / £ 292 / $ 373

10 – France

Diving Porquerolles France

My latest destination on this list might be the most underrated scuba diving destinations in Europe. Why? It might be because people think prices will be expensive in France, and international divers are afraid they won’t find service in English. Well, prices are definitely among the best in Europe and now most scuba diving centres, especially in the south of France, have English speaking instructors. With two superb marine national parks, Port-Cros & Porquerolles and the Calanques between Marseille and Cassis, diving in France offers surprisingly an incredible value.

Prices in Marseille

  • Price per dive from 50 € / £ 45 / $ 58 (with rental gear included)
  • Price per dive from 35 € / £ 31 / $ 41 (without rental gear)
  • Price per dive from 31 € / £ 28 / $ 36 (as in a 10-dive package)
  • Price for the Open Water course from 410 € / £ 370 / $ 479

Here are some other articles you might be interested in reading if you want to learn more about how to travel and scuba dive all around the world on your own:

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