From Key West to Jamaica to Bermuda to Belize, where there is water, there are dive and snorkeling trips. Exploring the waterways of the world, the coral reefs lining up to islands and coastlines across the globe, has become big business for a good reason -- the underwater world is one of the most vibrant, colorful, and incredibly entertaining places to be. Some tiny fish light up in neon rainbows; bigger specimen patrol the waters like grey bullies; turtles just meander about floating like feathers in the turquoise waters. Whether you snorkel or dive, or just swim, this exciting world becomes more accessible and affordable everyday.
In America, the Florida Keys and Key West has one of the only living reefs in the United States with dive centers and resorts offering dive and snorkeling packages located throughout the region. Holiday Isle (tel. 800/327-7070; www.holidayisle.com) in Islamorada has special rates for long stays and dive specials. For a minimum of a four night stay at the self-contained resort including weekend nights, a standard room with a king-sized bed starts at $137.50. Rates go up from there. For a three night midweek stay, rates start at $119. Daily diving packages start at $60 per day when you book at least two-dive trips with another person. The resort also offers dive and accommodation packages starting at $280 for two nights and two two-tank dives. In addition, the resort has deep sea and backcountry fishing trips through the Florida Everglades as well as a number of on-site dining and entertaining options.
Further down in Key West, Captain's Corner Dive Center (tel. 305/296 8865; www.captainscorner.com) is a centrally-located full-service dive shop with training, teaching, instructor, dive and snorkel facilities. A full open-water PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Certificate with pool training, class work and open-water dives costs just $350. Going out from 9:30am to 1:30pm and 2pm to 5:30pm daily, scuba trips cost $35 for two reefs trips with two tanks and $40 for night dives. Of course, non-divers can hit the waters as well with two-location snorkeling trips costing $30 per outing. Special trips to the Atocha, the fantastic underwater wreck of a Spanish Armada ship where Key West diver and treasure hunter Mel Fisher hit it big will be available for approximately $250 per dive in November. For accommodations, Captain's Corner has an apartment and chalet-bunk bed dorm-style room. The apartment costs $150 per night and the bunk beds go for $30 per night. Located on Ann Street, the accommodations are a short walk to the dive boat and just one-block from Duval Street, Key West's main shopping, eating and drinking drag. A four night open-water certificate with accommodations cost $425 for the course and lodging.
If you like a little reggae with your diving, the Grand Lido Braco Resort and Spa (tel. 800/467-8737; www.grandlidobraco.com) has an all-inclusive land-only fall special to the hotel including a five night package from October 4 to October 8, 2006 starting at $1,863 per couple (that's $931 per person) with $150 in spa credits and a Jamaican "goodie bag" thrown in for good measure. The fully-equipped hotel, owned by Super Clubs, sits on its own quiet strip of beachfront property away from the hustle and bustle of Ochos Rios or Montego Bay. All meals and drink as well as water activities and land sports are included in the price of the trip. In addition to snorkeling right off the hotel beach, The Grand Lido Braco has a fully-licensed PADI dive shop on premises. There are at least eight dive locations within a ten-minute boat ride of the hotel with all tanks, boat rides, and other scuba-related activities included in your vacation package. At the Grand Lido, even golf is included in the vacation package price. The hotel also has a winter special where standard rates get you free room upgrades. So for $175 per night, you get a choice of any available suite. You just have to book by August 31, 2006 with travel good from December 1 to 20, 2006 and January 3 to 15, 2007. Remember, everything -- diving, golf, food, drink -- is included in the nightly rate.
Sport Diver Magazine (www.sportdiver.com/travelpackagespage.jsp), the official publication of PADI, lists dive specials from scuba locations around the world. Through the listings, we found several dive vacations which included accommodations and all diving extras. Dive Provo (tel. 800/234-7768; www.diveprovo.com) a dive provider located on Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales. An eight-day/seven-night hotel and diving package with accommodations at the Royal West Indies, a full-service resort with large rooms and apartment-living amenities including a kitchenette costs $1,055 per diver with double occupancy living. The package includes seven nights in an air conditioned room, six days of two tank boat dives, airport transfers, all hotel service taxes, and transfers to and from dive boats. The package is available from now through December 15, 2006.
For more one-stop shopping, Caradonna Dive Adventures (tel. 800/328-2288; www.caradonna.com) has air-inclusive dive packages to destinations all around the world including Belize, Bermuda, Honduras and Borneo. Available specials included a Diver's Getaway to the Wyndham Bermuda Resort starting at $1,232 per person and an end of summer scuba trip to Belize with accommodations at the Sun Breeze Hotel on Ambergris Caye for $715. To book a dive trip through Caradonna, the scuba travel provider prefers you fill out an online interest form before they get back to you with specific prices and deals available to your selected locations. To skip all that, just call a Caradonna travel representative to begin your underwater adventure.
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