Travelling locally to go scuba diving, right next to your doorstep or regionally, can be a great idea to try solo travel at the beginning as you may feel safer not to go too far from home. Beyond the risk of feeling homesick on the other side of the world, one of the disadvantages of travelling alone, local diving has many other advantages, especially through the complicated period we are all enduring. Here are 5 good reasons why I love diving locally, only a few hours away by train or by car, in France, but also when I was living in Scotland or Japan.
1 – Go diving all year round
If you feel that your single or two dive trip per year is far from being enough to feed your underwater wanderlust, it’s time to think about diving locally. I know some of you will say they can only survive in warm waters, but if being underwater is the solution to all your problems, you will find the strength and money to become a certified dry suit diver.
Can you imagine the difference it would make to go diving every weekend or let’s say even every month to start with?
You might be surprised by doing little research online on places you can go scuba diving within 2 or 3 hours of travel by car or by train. Obviously, if you live near a coastal area, it will sound easier, but even land-locked scuba divers can find suitable lakes, quarries, caves or even special deep indoor pools in their vicinity.
2 – Avoid no diving days
Another great advantage of travelling regionally and not overseas is the ability to reach your next dive site by land transportation, whether it’s with your own car or by high-speed train. For the time of the weekend, it means you don’t need to wait 24 hours before flying, you can dive both days!
This is what I do when diving in France, thanks to the TGV high-speed train between Paris and Toulon. In 3h30, I can arrive on a Friday night and leave on Sunday night, and I could do two dives on both Saturday and Sunday.
3 – Dive for less with shore diving
Often by getting in touch with the local diving community, you may learn about shore diving opportunity in your area. These are usually insiders’ tips so don’t give up too quickly if you cannot find information easily online. Get in touch with people you see diving in your area on social media, introduce yourself and kindly ask if you can meet up. This is what I did to go scuba diving in Scotland.
For only the cost of a tank rental (if you have your own equipment) or an air refill (if you even invested in your own tank), you can go diving as much as you like on a budget and at the time you like (if the location is not tide and/or weather dependent).
By joining a local Scottish scuba diving group on Facebook, I quickly found myself shore diving the sea lochs of West Scotland every Saturday for the cost of £5 the air refill!
4 – Be surprised by cold-water marine life
Do you still think there is nothing to see in colder waters? Then try to imagine what an encounter with a basking shark, the second largest fish in the world, or playful grey seals may feel. Even if you are into macro critters, do you know there are colourful sea slug species in any water temperature all over the world?
Besides, the numerous shipwrecks found in European waters such as when diving in Scapa Flow, usually become magnets to marine life and over the decades are turn into wonderful artificial reefs.
But Europe is also about incredible national marine parks and other marine protected areas, with some being protected for more than 50 years! For instance, less than 3 hours away from Paris by train, I can go diving in Marseille to explore the Calanques National Park, and just a bit further I can go diving in Port Cros National Park. Still reachable by train from Paris, I can even go diving in Costa Brava in Spain, and its highly protected Medes Islands.
To make the most of it, make sure to invest in a good diving light. With less sunlight, it’s indeed harder to see the colours underwater than it is in tropical waters. People are generally shocked when I show them all the colours I could find underwater in Europe, such as the bright orange of sponges or anemones, or deep red and purple of a starfish or gorgonians!
Even for those who dive in the freshwater of a lake or a quarry, be patient and you may soon know how to find frogs or pikes in this totally new underwater ecosystem.
5 – Make long-lasting friendships with your dive buddies
The last and not least, if by going to the top dive sites in the world you are more than likely to meet like-minded dive buddies, the issue is, once everyone’s back home in his own corner of the world, it’s harder to keep in touch, even if you manage to meet-up somewhere else the following year.
The easiest to keep in touch with your favourite dive buddies is by going diving locally. By joining a local diving Facebook group or a local club, you will have more opportunities to scuba dive and hang out with fellow scuba divers regularly.
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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