Best Budget Friendly Dive Destinations in the World | Scuba Diving

Best Budget Friendly Dive Destinations in the World

Why do the Top 100 Readers Choice Awards, now in their 23rd year, still matter to divers? Because these are your picks, based on thousands of votes from the most experienced dive travelers on the planet. Why do they matter to us? Because every month you hear from our editors on what we think matters in the world of dive travel. For the January/February issue of Scuba Diving we get to listen to you, and we’re taking notes.

Here, we proudly present the No. 1 ranking destinations in the Best Value category of the awards. The full list of winning destinations is below.

Mexico schooling fish underwater photo


Best Value in the Caribbean and Atlantic

What, you ask, the whole country? Um, yes. Mexico has fantastic diving on both coasts, and in the Yucatan interior in its unique cenotes, freshwater underground caverns that guard the secrets of the ancient Maya. Flights from the U.S. are reasonable due to proximity and frequency, and both coasts of Mexico specialize in all-inclusive resort packages for every taste and budget, which can make your dive dollars go farther. Many of those packages also include diving; even if you are not at an all-inclusive, the high degree of competition among Mexican dive operators in places like Cozumel or Cabo San Lucas gives you a lot of choice. Sure, there are super-spendy spots, as with any top tourist destination, but in almost any Mexican region where there’s diving, it’s also easy to get just a little bit off the beaten path and find the warmth — and value — of authentic Mexico. — Mary Frances Emmons


scuba diving Washing Puget Sound underwater photo


Best Value in North America

Puget Sound’s sheltered emerald green waters offer great bang for your buck. There are hundreds of superb shore diving sites in Washington where a few bucks for an air fill buys you encounters with ling cod, rockfish, jellies, king crabs, and even the Pacific Northwest celebrities, giant octopus and wolfeels. — Brandon Cole


Scuba diving in the Red Sea, Egypt underwater photo

Red Sea, Egypt

Best Value in the Indian and Pacific Oceans

The Red Sea has been the ‘backyard playground’ for discerning European divers for decades, and it is not hard to establish why. Easy access via direct flights; solid tourist infrastructure; accommodation and diving packages to suit all budgets; fantastic visibility year-round; colorful reefs and walls smothered in myriad varieties of hard and soft corals; and a veritable smorgasbord of vibrant marine life - many endemic to the region - as well as pelagic favorites like whalesharks, oceanic whitetips, tiger sharks, manta rays, turtles, even the rare dugong. Throw into the mix a selection of world-class shipwrecks such as SS Thistlegorm, Giannis D, Numidia and Rosalie Moller, and that all adds up to yet another destination to place on your ‘bucket list’ of must-dive hotspots. — Mark Evans


Pacific and Indian Oceans

  1. Red Sea

  2. Indonesia

  3. Phillipines

  4. Palau

  5. Thailand