Deep desire to visit the reefs

Old Jul 13th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Deep desire to visit the reefs

My 17 year old daughter has a dream of swimming/scuba diving among the reefs within the next couple of years. (She just completed a class in high school that heightened her interest and concern over the eco-state of this priceless treasure.) I am totally a novice at all this, but with prayer, research, and determination would like to make her dream come true. So here come the questions...
1)Where do we start?
2)Is Cozumel the best place for this adventure?
3)Do cruises stop there and allow time to explore the reefs or would it be better to fly and stay in a hotel and take a bus over to the reefs?
4)What kind of preparation do we need to begin before going...like taking scuba diving lessons, etc.
Any cyberspace mentoring you can offer would be beneficial and greatly appreciated.

Shellynnee is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2008, 05:37 PM
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First off, I wouldn't do this via a cruise ship.

I'd take a serious look at Belize. It's English speaking. From the northern cayes, the reef is less than a mile from the coast. The reef runs the entire length of the country. There are also some atolls where you can stay at a lodge right on the reef.

I would certainly have her do at least the classroom part of her scuba instruction before she goes on her trip. She can either do her check out dives where you live, or wait and do them where ever you decide to travel to.

JeanH is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2008, 06:25 PM
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Where do you live? Look for a local dive shop. They will be a good resource for classes. A basic open water certification class should take four or five days, if she's doing certification dives at home. I did my class and pool work at home, then found a reputable instructor at my next vacation spot to complete my certification dives.
DO NOT go on a vacation and take a 'resort course'. Take the time to do this right.
There are plenty of places to go diving. Where you go can depend on where you're travelling from. Lots of dive resorts will have hotel/dive packages - you can work on that later. First, get her certified. And while you're at it, have you thought about getting certified with her? It's always better to travel with your own dive buddy (otherwise she takes the chance of getting paired up with a stranger on dives.) It's a great experience to share!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 05:56 AM
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She would probably love taking a scuba certification course but, unless you're on the Gulf or in southern Cal doing the open water dives "on referral" is a good bet. It's more expensive to split it up that way, though.

There's something to be said for doing the whole course in blue water, too - I can't imagine doing all the prep work in a pool without reefs at hand, though I considered it before our first trip to Belize in 2003.

Cruise ships diving doesn't sound like a good plan; even if she's already certified she'd be a novice diver and the dives might be pushed and riskier.

Consider Roatán, Honduras - MUCH cheaper than Belize, though Belize is also a wonderful option.

Also, I wouldn't discount Discover Scuba courses at a reputable shop. When we were in Belize one of our sons (17) wanted to dive but knew it would be years before he dove again and didn't want to spend 4+ days with classroom work and reading and testing while we were on vacation. In a Discover Scuba class we took together we read the 1st chapter or 2, learned a bit about reef health and protection, learned some skills in shallow water by the dock, and dove with our instructor, no deeper than 40 feet. I continued and completed my open water certification because I could tell I had fallen in love with diving, but Isaac just continued to dive with the instructor that week without needing further certification. The instructor was fabulous and we have no regrets about the courses we chose. (He finally dove again in Cuba last fall, 4 years since Belize).

Lastly, I don't have a built-in dive buddy. My husband is an avid flyfisherman and lots of places with great diving have great fishing flats too; I've always been partnered with the divemaster and often see more cool stuff than anyone else because of it. That said, diving is amazing - you might love it, too!

Leaving for a month in Honduras this week - woohoo!!
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Old Jul 15th, 2008, 10:28 AM
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Since your daughter is young and has no dive experience -- as in, it doesn't sound like your family dives, consider snorkeling as a start. It is so easy and nearly free to do. You can either buy inexpensive equipment or rent equipment. Snorkeling is an excellent way to start exploring the reefs anywhere. The bonus is that you could all do it as a family. Its much less costly than diving lessons. My husband is a master diver, but I am not able to dive. I have snorkeled everywhere -- Mexico, Belize, Honduras, many, many Carribean islands, the Great Barrier reef in Australia, French Polynesia, and Thailand. I've seen wonderous things. In fact, I've seen all the creatures that my husband has seen -- just in shallower water.

Diving is an expensive, highly skilled, time consuming sport - not to be taken lightly. It can be quite exhilerating, but also dangerous if one isn't prepared properly. At 17 and without a dive buddy, your daughter might want to give the reefs a try in a more relaxed way first. She can buy a small underwater digital camera and have a ball on her very first outing.

My advise would be to explore destinations that are affordable from your point of departure -- East Coast, West Coast?? Then post here again and you'll get lots of advise on the quality of reefs in places you are considering.

Best of luck. The underwater world is truly amazing.

TC is offline  
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