How to Plan a Scuba Diving Trip During the Pandemic

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Diving everyday, every week, or every month? That was before the pandemic hit us. This global health crisis has forced us to stay at home and record our longest mandatory surface interval ever. Ware all itching to go back underwater and get our precious dose of vitamin sea.

While it may not be safe to travel just yet depending on where you are, planning a dive trip can help us have something to look forward to once it’s time to travel (and scuba dive) safely again.

In this guide, we’ll cover the current travel restrictions for destinations all around the world. We’ll highlight a few tips to help you plan your dive trip stress-free so that you don’t lose money on your bookings should things change.

This post was accurate at the time of publishing. Because restrictions change without notice, be sure to check official government advice before making any plans.

Travel Requirements and Health Protocols

For most scuba divers, diving require travel. With today’s pandemic, some countries have travel restrictions and this may vary according to the policies of a region, state or province within the country you will be travelling to.

Aside from the usual travel documents (like passport and visa if required), some countries may require you to submit a health certificate. These medical forms are usually from a rapid or swab testing facility (from your country of origin) showing negative results for coronavirus infection.

While you can get a health certificate by completing a health check, consider the validity of health certificates in the country you are visiting. Before you are allowed entry, some countries may require you to have a health check one to five days prior to your departure date.

For ease in planning your dive trip, here are the major dive destinations in the world that have opened its borders for diving tourism:

CountryTravel Requirements – Aside from passport and visa
Caribbean
BahamasNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 5 days prior to date of travel, completed travel health visa application and health questionnaire
British Virgin IslandsNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 5 days prior to date of travel, travel insurance.
Cayman IslandsNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
HondurasNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
St. Kitts and NevisNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel, travel authorization, COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of departure (for guest staying more than 7 days)
St. MaartenNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 5 days prior to date of travel, Mandatory Health Authorization
Turks and CaicosNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel COVID-19 RT PCR test prior to date of departure
The Americas
BelizeNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
Costa RicaNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel, medical insurance
EcuadorNegative result for COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
Mexico
Hawaii – USANegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel (each island has specific set of criteria).
Southeast Asia
ThailandNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
Asia Pacific
Fiji14 day hotel quarantine at your own cost–only open to very high spenders and those arriving by yacht in “Blue Lane”
French PolynesiaNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
PalauNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test prior to date of travel, quarantine certificate, open to Taiwanese.
Indian Ocean
Maldives
SeychellesNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 2 days prior to date of travel
Europe
Italy
NorwayNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
SpainNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel
Middle East
EgyptNegative result for  COVID-19 RT PCR test 3 days prior to date of travel

Flexible Cancellations and Change Policies

We all love promo fares because they are cheap. But be aware that these discounted tickets often don’t come with flexibility in terms of cancellations, refunds or rebooking. Because flights are cancelled or delayed so frequently during the pandemic, you might be out of pocket more than you would if you paid for a flexible fare.

Make a booking that comes with flexible cancellation and change policies. This includes hotel reservations, tours, liveaboards, and more. This is very important since travel policy and border restrictions are constantly changing. Bear in mind that a country (or a region, state or province within that country) may open its borders for tourists, but may suddenly close due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Having an open flexibility ticket may take your worries off the counter.

Dive Centers and Resorts observing Health Protocols

As countries open for travel and tourism, so does the infrastructure that supports the industry. Establishments have been deprived of operation for months and may offer discounts or promos as a stimulus to attract guests. While these offers may be advantageous to our pockets, only book with those who are observing health protocols.

Aside from the new normal of wearing masks and social distancing, some of these health protocols may include a reduction in hotel capacity (some establishments may go as high as 50% capacity reduction), thermal scanning upon entry (in some cases every time you enter the facility), filling out COVID-19 related questionnaires for contact tracing, frequent disinfection of the facility, and access to healthcare facilities if needed. While these health protocols may vary from establishment to establishment, the keyword here is that the more health protocols in place, the better.

Book your trip with dive centers and resorts that have strict policies in place–and are happy to enforce them should guests break the rules. Boutique dive resorts and centers tend to be more personal and have less traffic when it comes to guests, making them a safer place to dive than mega resorts with rotating doors. Plus, you’ll likely be helping a small business who may not have a padded savings account for emergencies that span as long as this pandemic.

To Rent or Bring my Own Equipment?

While most of us bring our own equipment, some of us may opt in renting scuba gear thanks to luggage weight limitations. With this pandemic, it is highly advised to use your own equipment.

In case you don’t have equipment or if the situation calls you to use rental equipment, you can do the following:

  • Disinfect all equipment before use–paying special attention to the regulator.
  • Try to bring your own mask, snorkel, regulator, and exposure suit. You can ask for a new mouthpiece if you must rent a regulator.

Keep Moving While Waiting

If you are already booked for a dive trip (whether it be weeks or months away), focus on getting fit in the meantime–if, like us, you’ve become somewhat of a sea slug during the quarantine period.

At-home workouts and bodyweight exercises like sit ups, push ups, jump roping, and squats will all help get you prepped for when it’s time to lug around a heavy scuba tank again.

Plan for the Future

Most of us are still confined within the four corners of our home and eager to go out. While there isn’t a set time for many of us on when we can go on the dive trip we’ve always wanted, there is plenty of time to daydream and plan.

And while waiting for that right time to come, make use of the free time searching for information about the country you will be visiting. Watch dive-related videos, documentaries, browse through the site, and get ready for when it’s time to travel again. In fact, planning and preparing for your future dive trip will enhance your overall mental well-being.

Fingers crossed we’ll be able to load up on nitrogen and underwater memories again safely sometime soon!