How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost?

Scuba diving is a wonderful sport, even a lifestyle to many divers. It helps with our physical and mental fitness, and allows us to explore a seldom seen world.

Many potential divers never experience this undersea world because they do not understand the cost involve.

How much does it cost to scuba dive?

The cost to learn to scuba dive will be between $350 and $700. You may pay as little as $10 to do a shore dive, and between $50 and $150 for a two tank boat dive. Rent your gear for between $20 to $40 a day, until you are sure you want to buy your own.

These amounts may be staggering to many. The numbers themselves, however, do not tell the entire story.

When you look into the cost in more detail, you may start to understand the value you may achieve in becoming a certified scuba diver and diving frequently.

What Is The Cost To Learn How To Scuba Dive?

padi instructor and his student in a swimming pool

Scuba diving, skydiving and flying have a common trait. They are all safe activities because there are training requirements to minimize the risk.

To be very frank, trying to scuba dive without being trained will likely lead to a serious injury even death.

Proper training changes that to a point where scuba diving is safer than horseback riding or even golf.

There is an international standard, ISO 24801, that outlines the standards of training for scuba diving.

Diver Level 1, Supervised Diver, allows you to dive with a dive professional. Some organizations refer to this as Scuba Diver.

Diver Level 2, Autonomous Diver, allows you to dive with a dive buddy that is not a dive professional. This level is commonly called an Open Water Diver.

The Scuba Diver training is the first half of the Open Water Diver training. Most divers skip the scuba diver training and start with the Open Water Diver.

The Open Water Diver training program consist of three segments.

The academic can be in a classroom setting, however, it is now more common for it to be a online learning experience.

scuba diving student and instructor

A confined water segment is two sessions in a pool or other calm water where you will learn some basic skills. There are four open water sessions where you will refine the basic skills and experience diving.

The cost of taking an Open Water Diver course varies greatly with location and the size of the class.

The documentation fees, that are included, will be the same everywhere. The rental equipment that you will use will not vary much, and is included.

The cost of the time of your instructor is the biggest variable.

Places that are more expensive to live or visit will likely have higher prices.

The price range to learn to dive in the United States will range from about $400 to $700.

Taking a dive course in a popular Caribbean location such as Cancun, Cozumel or the Grand Cayman, will be slightly less in the range for $350 to $600 USD. In Europe look for a range of around 500 € to 750 €.

While learning to dive in Iceland generally includes a dry suit certification and will run from 95.000 Icelandic Króna to 13.000 Icelandic Króna roughly $750 to $1,000.

If you are looking for an exotic and inexpensive destination, then Southeast Asia is your destination.

Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia have many destinations where you can learn to dive from about $300 to $450.

If you want to learn how to scuba dive and add some bragging rights, a number of dive centers in Australia offer Open Water Diver courses where your open water dives are done on a liveaboard diving the Great Barrier Reef.

These courses average 950 AUD. That is about 675 USD.

If you feel uncomfortable making such a large financial commitment on something new, consider doing a discover or try diving class.

These half day classes will allow you to experience diving without the full cost of training. In many cases, the cost can be applied to the tuition of a certification class.

How Much Does It Cost For Each Dive.

scuba diver making the ok sign while breathing in his regulator

The cost for each dive will vary greatly depending on a number of factors. These factors include location, if equipment rental is needed, if a dive guide is needed, whether it is a boat dive or shore dive and any conservation fees.

We will discuss buying your own gear or renting it later, for now lets start with some basics.

A basic 2 tank dive can cost anywhere from $10 to over $150. That broad range does not really tell us anything.

If you and your dive buddy have your own equipment and are doing a shore dive, the only cost will be getting to the dive site, any park or entrance fees and your air.

Few divers own their own scuba tanks, opting for renting filled tanks instead.

The price difference is at the most just a few dollars. A air fill will cost in the range of $5 to maybe $25, with Nitrox being an additional amount.

My local dive center offers fills at $15 and a filled tank rental at $20.

Bonaire is considered the shore diving capital of the world. Many of the dive centers there have a drive up service, where you can get a filled rental at $10. Some the centers even have unlimited offers as low as $30 a day.

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The 2 tank dive is the most common boat diving offer you will find and a better deal then a single tank dive.

In most cases these include the dive tanks and weights. You will find dive boats that offer charter service that do not provide the tanks.

In Key Largo Florida you will find the average price for a 2 tank boat dive with air and a dive guide to be around $70.

You will find similar prices in the Caribbean side of Mexico. In Hawaii, you may find the prices about double, with an average cost being around $145.

Dive prices in the UK hover around £70, about 90 USD, for a 2 tank boat dive.

Much of the diving in the UK is done with dive clubs, which offer lower prices to their members.

Diving in Costa Brava or Mallorca Spain is a little cheaper where will see a price around €75 about 85 USD for a 2 tank boat dive.

South East Asia’s prices are lower for the boat dives. While prices vary by locations, it is not uncommon to find the average price for a 2 tank boat dive to be around 50 USD.

Equipment Cost

mares and teric dive computers

Scuba diving requires some specialized equipment, some of which can be very expensive. Divers often ponder whether they should rent gear or buy it.

There are many factors involved with the decision to purchase your own gear. Divers who are active diving locally will likely benefit having their own gear. While those that travel to go diving or do not dive as often may be better off renting their gear.

To give an idea of cost, a day’s rental of scuba gear with range from $20 to $40.

The cost of getting your own gear will be at least 500 USD and can be much more depending on the gear you buy.

Unlike other cost, equipment cost do not vary much between destinations.

Yes, Scuba Diving Can Be Expensive

At first glance, the cost can seem high.

There are a few things to consider. The training cost are a one time expense unless you want to explore additional skills.

Unlike a driver’s license, it does not expire. Compared to Golf, Scuba diving is not that expensive. Take a look at green fees and club rentals.

Horseback riding is very popular. You can easily spend more on an hour trail ride on horseback than a 2 tank dive.

Scuba diving also enhances your life. You learn more about the world and maybe even yourself. Those types of experiences are priceless.

How much does scuba diving cost?

Learning to scuba dive doesn’t have to break the bank. Find out what it will cost you to get scuba certified, purchase your own scuba gear, and more.

If you’re interested in learning to scuba dive, one of the biggest concerns you may have is how much it’s going to cost you.

When planning your budget, you’ll need to account for training and certification, renting or purchasing scuba diving equipment, travel to and from dive sites, and accommodation at your destination.

If you want to get scuba certified, you should expect to spend between $200 and $700, not including scuba diving equipment purchases and travel to and from your destination. If you decide to purchase a full set of scuba gear, it will cost you an additional $1,000 to $5,000 on top of certification and travel costs.

While this may seem like a large amount of money, the cost of learning to scuba dive is comparable to that of many other adventure sports, such as rock climbing and surfing, and is generally cheaper than activities like skiing and horseback riding (1).

caribbean dive boat with underwater divers tropical

Dive training and certification

Obtaining your open water scuba diver certification and getting training from an expert are essential costs of learning to scuba dive.

These expenses include digital training materials, online and in-person instruction, guided pool dives, guided open water dives, and certification fees paid to organizations like the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Scuba Schools International (SSI), and Scuba Diving International (SDI).

The cost of learning to scuba dive varies substantially from one location to the next. You can find quality open water diver courses for around $200 to $300 in places like Egypt, Honduras, and Thailand. On the higher end of the pricing spectrum, getting certified in many parts of the United States, the United Kingdom, Maldives, and the Bahamas will cost you upwards of $600.

Make sure to read the course description carefully. By knowing exactly what’s included, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises from hidden costs.

How much are scuba diving lessons?

The cost of scuba diving lessons depends on whether the courses take place online or in-person and what level of instruction you’re seeking.

For beginners, it costs around $70 to $200 to do a single introductory dive with a guide and between $200 and $600 or more to do an open water diving course with a scuba instructor. Online courses are available to begin your scuba diving certification journey at your own pace and range from $0 to $200.

Advanced open water diver certifications tend to be priced similarly to beginner courses. However, divers can only enroll in advanced courses after completing a regular PADI open water diver course or equivalent, which increases the total cost.

Below, we’ll discuss the cost of in-person scuba lessons and online, or eLearning, in more detail, as well as what you can expect from these different types of scuba instruction.

In-person lessons

In-person scuba diving lessons range from an introductory dive trip to a complete open water diver course. Introductory dives are cheaper and start around $70, while open water diver courses usually cost between $200 to $600+ depending on the location and what the course includes.

scuba diver practicing in pool

Open water diver certification

Getting your open water certification can take anywhere from a few days to an entire year, depending on your training schedule. The process typically consists of three main parts:

  1. Knowledge development and classroom sessions to learn the fundamental principles and concepts needed for safety.
  2. Confined water dives with a scuba instructor to learn basic skills in a safe environment.
  3. Open water dives with an instructor to test your scuba skills.
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Once you’ve successfully completed the course, you’ll get your certification card and will be able to go scuba diving without an instructor, rent gear at hotels, resorts, and dive shops, and plan your future diving trips.

Introductory scuba lessons

If you’re interested in scuba diving but aren’t sure you’re ready to commit to a full course, try an introductory dive in your area or while you’re on vacation. Whether you’re headed to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or the South Pacific, coastal resorts worldwide have plenty of introductory dive trips to choose from.

These small-group trips range from around $70 to $200. Typically, the cost includes:

  • Instruction with a dive guide or divemaster
  • Equipment
  • Short, shallow dive (usually 30 minutes or less)

Some companies offer discounts for groups of two or more people. If you’re traveling as a couple or in a small group, you’re likely to find cheaper rates.

Keep in mind that while introductory lessons are a great way to see whether scuba diving is truly a hobby you want to take up, going on a trial dive will not provide you with any kind of scuba certification.

eLearning

Some scuba diving courses use an education style known as blended learning, which research suggests can improve students’ experiences (2). This type of education combines independent, online learning with in-person instruction to provide students with additional flexibility.

For example, PADI offers a beginner open water diver course online for around $200. After completing the online education portion, the student must undergo in-person training with an accredited dive center.

Additionally, SSI provides free digital course materials to those interested in participating in one of their diver programs, followed by in-person knowledge development and in-water training with an instructor.

Online materials should be considered a supplement to rather than a replacement for in-person lessons. While eLearning is an excellent place to start, no amount of online instruction can replace in-person education, pool sessions, and open water dives with a divemaster.

Resources for finding a dive center

If you’re ready to start scuba diving lessons or begin your certification process, your next step is to choose a dive center where you’ll complete your training. You can use the following locator tools to find a reputable dive center in an area of your choosing:

Scuba Gear

Scuba diving equipment is another substantial cost of learning to dive.

At a minimum, you can expect to spend about $300 purchasing basic scuba diving gear. For a full set of dive equipment, including your own dive computer, buoyancy compensator device (BCD), and regulator, costs typically range from $1,000 to $5,000.

Rather than buying all of the equipment at once, many people slowly add to their personal dive gear over time as their budget permits. To start, you’ll want your own dive mask, snorkel, and scuba fins. If you’re planning to dive in cooler waters, you may also want to invest in your own wetsuit, ranging in price from $50 to $500 depending on the style and quality.

To learn more about the equipment required for scuba diving, check out our article here.

You can rent the rest of the required scuba equipment for your lessons if you’re not ready to purchase your own. Many introductory dives and open water training courses include equipment rental in the total cost.

If you want to rent scuba equipment after obtaining your certification, it will cost between $20 and $100 per diver per day, depending on the location and how much gear you need. Many rental shops offer discounted rates for multi-day or week-long trips.

Reputable dive centers regularly inspect and service their rental gear, but you should still always check the equipment thoroughly to ensure there aren’t any issues. If something seems off, speak up and ask the dive shop or center for a new piece of gear.

While renting is an excellent option for new and infrequent scuba divers, continuing to rent your gear will drive up costs in the long-run if you plan on diving often. Purchasing scuba diving equipment has the additional benefit of providing a consistent fit and quality. As a result, using your own gear can improve your safety and confidence while diving since you will be familiar with your equipment.

Travel

You’ll need to factor travel costs into your budget if you want to learn to scuba dive somewhere other than your local area. These expenses could include airfare, car rental, other transportation, accommodation, and dive boat charter fees.

If you’re seeking to reduce the total cost of learning to scuba dive, it may be best to find a certification course at a local dive center rather than at a resort or holiday destination.

Alternatively, you could find an open water course that includes free accommodation or try to weave in some diving lessons on a trip you already have planned. With scuba courses and lessons available around the world, you might be able to incorporate diving training into your existing vacation.

Take a look at the resources above from PADI, NAUI, SSI, and SDI to find a reputable dive center near you or at your preferred destination.

Conclusion

Becoming a certified diver opens up a lifetime of opportunities to explore the wonders of the underwater world. While the total cost may seem expensive at first, certified divers around the world generally agree that it’s well worth the money.

By choosing an affordable destination or diver course and renting some of the more expensive scuba gear at first, you can learn to scuba dive for just a few hundred dollars.

Keep in mind that your life is in the hands of the instructor. While there are many reputable dive centers with competitive rates for scuba lessons, gear rental, and open water diver certifications, quality should always take precedence over price.

The 8 Best Diving Spots in South America

Want to experience some of the best diving the world has to offer? South America is home to an incredible variety of scuba diving – from frigid cold waters filled with whales to tropical reefs and submerged volcanic ridges. This paired with a vibrant culture and some jaw-dropping terrain makes South America a must on any scuba diver’s bucket list. Whether you’re a beginner diver or an experienced diver looking for a challenge, South America has something for everyone. This post is here to share with you some of the best scuba diving sites in South America.

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QUICK ANSWER: THE BEST SCUBA DIVING SPOTS IN SOUTH AMERICA

1. Malpelo Island

2. Galápagos Islands

3. Fernando de Noronha

4. Peninsula Valdes

5. Abrolhos Marine Park

6. Easter Island

MALPELO ISLAND – COLOMBIA

Shark Party

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/montgomerygilchrist

Often compared to Coco’s and the Galapagos Islands, Malpelo is famous for its abundance of large marine life, yet without the crowds. Far off the coast of Colombia, the island itself is only 8 square kilometers. It’s the 300km underwater volcanic ridge paired with the convergence of currents that attracts the sheer amount of marine life. Enormous schools of silky sharks, hammerheads, and pelagic fish circle the island. Sometimes the marine life is so dense, it blocks the sunlight!

Malpelo is not a dive destination for beginner divers, and advanced open water certification is mandatory. Each diver must have his own surface marker buoy and dive computer. There is no decompression chamber for hundreds of kilometers, so stay conservative while diving.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS – ECUADOR

Hammerhead Shark swimming in open water.

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/burnsboxco

Often referred to as a pilgrimage trip amongst the diving community, the Galapagos has it all. A unique convergence of islands in the Pacific west of Ecuador, these islands have become renowned for its biodiversity and conservation. Nearly 20% of life found here is found nowhere else in the world! The deep sea upwellings fill the waters surrounding these volcanic islands with nutrients, attracting a unique community of life.

Almost the entire region is preserved as a national park. Picture shoaling Galapagos sharks, sea lions, turtles, whales sharks, dolphins, rays and the iconic marine iguana. Though day trips are possible, the best sites are accessed only via liveaboard.

FERNANDO DE NORONHA – BRAZIL

Atlantic Spade Fish

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/leofrancini

One of Brazil’s better kept secrets, the island of Fernando de Noronha is a divers dream. A two-hour flight from the mainland, this little island is Brazil’s first marine park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts some of the best visibility in the region, averaging at around 164 feet (50 meters).

A plethora of marine life inhabits these crystal clear waters. From tropical fish species to manta rays, sea turtles and reef sharks. Fernando de Noronha is also home to one of the biggest spinner dolphin colonies in the whole world as well as Brazil’s largest sea turtle colony. Preservation is strict, and only a limited amount of tourists are allowed on the island at a time. There is also a hefty tourism tax. Worth it, though.

PENINSULA VALDES – ARGENTINA

sea lion underwater looking at you

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/izanbar

For those who don’t mind bearing the cold, the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina is one magical place. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a mecca for special marine life encounters. Fur seals, southern right whales, penguins and sometimes even orca’s grace these frigid waters. The city of Puerto Madryn is the gateway to this cold wonderland. Plan your trip according to what you hope to see, as life is migrational here.

ABROLHOS MARINE PARK – BRAZIL

hawksbill turtle

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/leofrancini

43 miles (70 kilometers) off the Brazilian coast is a desert-like island archipelago known as Abrolhos. Don’t be deceived by the barren top side look of the island’s; marine life thrives just under the surface. This area is uninhabited except for a few park rangers and is only accessible via liveaboard boat.

The water is bath warm and is home to around 270 species of fish. Sea turtles, dolphins and manta rays are also frequent visitors. If you happen to come during the months of July and November, you might be lucky enough to have an encounter with Humpback whales!

EASTER ISLAND – CHILE

Diver and Goatfish

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/DJMattaar

When people think of Easter Island, diving is not normally the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, Easter Island is home to some incredible diving. The average visibility is around 60 meters. Lacking regarding reef life, the main underwater attractions include vast rock formations, arches, and caves. A popular underwater attraction is a fake Moai statue placed on the seafloor. Though there is diving year-round, the best time to dive here is between the months of September and May.

LOS ROQUES – VENEZUELA

best scuba diving sites in South America

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/kjorgen

An island archipelago of 350 islands, Los Roques, is a must for any diver visiting Venezuela. A national park with a population of 1500 residents, the area has remained pristine. The reef life here is thriving, and the crystal clear water is a dream come true for divers. Along with the variety of tropical fish, nurse sharks and even the cheeky manta ray can be spotted here. There are numerous dive sites all around the archipelago. From shallow reefs and seagrass beds to steep walls and caverns, there is something for everyone at Los Roques.

PROVIDENCIA – COLOMBIA

Invasive Lionfish in Saba

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/Matt_Potenski

The islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina in Colombia are home to the 3rd largest coral barrier reef on the planet. This vast reef boasts over 40 dives sites. From blue holes, caves to even wrecked pirate ships, the variety of sites is awe dropping. A UNESCO protected area, diving here means diving amongst some of the most beautiful corals in all of South America.

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For more of our top scuba diving gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer’s guides:

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