Jul 8, 7 years ago

Open Water Scuba Certification on a Budget

Open Water Scuba Certification on a Budget

Scuba diving isn’t just a sport for the rich or adrenaline-fueled shark divers, but a relaxing hobby that can be an incredible way to experience a different view of the natural world. To boot, the price tag can be quite reasonable in many Caribbean destinations in Central America, which offer sane prices in the path to certification as well as gorgeous reefs, wildlife, and wrecks to explore.

Simply put, a PADI Open Water Diver Scuba Certification involves three stages:

  • Knowledge Development: learn the lingo, study the book, take a test
  • Confined Water Dives: practice skills like clearing your mask, sharing air, and emergency skills in a pool
  • Open Water Dives: head out for shallow water practice with your instructor!

All of this could take as little as three of four days depending on your school, conditions, etc. Now, let’s look at some wonderful and reasonable destinations for certification.

Roatan, Honduras

Here you can find sites including the second largest coral reef in the world just off the coast, the ‘Aguila’ wreck, and shark dives if you’re up for it. Utila, another popular location in Honduras, also offers reasonable rates, but it’s difficult to access and the diving conditions are not as great as Roatan, so in the end your overall costs may be higher even with a great deal on a course in Utila.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Set off for the Belize Barrier Reef. Belize Diving Services offers highly rated services on Caye Caulker in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. The open water certification course runs four days and costs $375 USD. One huge benefit of Belize is there are endless opportunities in the area if you’d like to stay longer and have more vacation time or advanced dives.

Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Several outfitters offer budget priced certification courses – some as low as $200 USD – but it’s always a good idea of ask around for recommendations before committing to one. This is a great locale for beginners due to the lively dive community and abundant sea life.

Los Roques, Venezuela

Deemed a national park in 1972, this area has escaped big-time tourism and high rise hotels.  The entire 2211 square kilometer archipelago is protected and filled with reef and aquatic life.  The beaches are tough to beat and the water is tranquil.  Check out Aquatics Diving Center for top rated service.

Lead Photo: CC Image courtesy of laszlo-photo on Flickr


Ryan is a writer, photographer, and teacher living and volunteering throughout Latin America.

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  1. September 13, 2012
    Yes, I agree with you that scuba diving is also a relaxing hobby. When you've got to see those colorful fishes and coral reefs, it's like you are in another world where everything is wonderful. Even if I didn't experience it first-hand, and I've got to watch it only through television, I'm still in awe. I will keep in mind those destinations you have mentioned since I'm planning to get Scuba Certification. Thanks for this post!
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