Advice on best scuba destination for a new diver

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Matt1of11

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My girlfriend is getting certified and I want to take her on a trip somewhere so she falls in love with diving. I'm fairly advanced and looking for something that will be easy for her (shallow reef, minimal current) but still be engaging. She's a gem and I want to make a special trip for her.

We're in Chicago, looking at the Caribbean ideally. Turks & Caicos? Cayman? Any suggestions would be appreciated!
 

chillyinCanada

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My girlfriend is getting certified and I want to take her on a trip somewhere so she falls in love with diving. I'm fairly advanced and looking for something that will be easy for her (shallow reef, minimal current) but still be engaging. She's a gem and I want to make a special trip for her.

We're in Chicago, looking at the Caribbean ideally. Turks & Caicos? Cayman? Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Where have you been yourself in the Caribbean? What kinds of things do you two like to do aside from diving?

Is there a budget in mind?
 

AdivingBel

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Pre-covid, Little Cayman. It's where my wife and I began our resurgence into dive travel. Now...how soon do you want to go and how long can you wait? :idk:
 

markmud

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I'm fairly advanced and looking for something that will be easy for her (shallow reef, minimal current) but still be engaging.

Is there a budget in mind?

Chilly has a great question.

If you are wanting a quiet destination that has a resort feel, but not the resort crowds, I would try Oasis Coral Estates and Coral Reef Divers on Curacao. It is not cheap, but it is beautiful. The flights to Curacao are packed and not inexpensive.

For a relaxing location with excellent benign diving on beautiful reefs (and one that is spectacular), try All West Apartments and Go West Diving on Curacao. Nos Krusero is nice and right across the street from Go West. A really nice VRBO type condo complex is a little farther east (I can't remember the name) The Westpunt area is rural and quiet. There are fine restaurants there. Romantic? I would not say that. Beautiful? Yes!

The west end of Curacao is usually (always) in the lee (leeward side of the island as the trade winds blow, unlike the east end—leeward is pronounced lew-ward)

Go West does one-way boat dives. No swimming back to a mooring ball. There are usually no currents. Very relaxed and relaxing diving.

I would not agree that Key Largo is good spot for a brand new OW diver. The water off the Atlantic can get rough and the Gulf Stream flows right past Key Largo. The Gulf Stream can rip!

Here are two trip reports.
Trip Report - Westpunt Curacao: 6 June to 14 June 2021!
Our Free Trip Back to Curacao!

cheers and good luck,
m
 

arew+4

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A second vote for Curacao, lots to do top side nice, calm, pretty dive sites. Airfare from NYC used to be pretty reasonable ($500-600) not sure post covid. We stayed at a VRBO in coral estates and rented a truck to get around.
First choice would be Bonaire, it's got slightly better diving, and a more intimate feel. However, I hear airfare there has blown up like $1500 for basic economy. From just about everywhere.
 

arcie

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Speaking as a newbie myself - I recommend Roatan. I was there last week. The West Bay/West End area has lots of easy sites with enough options to please the more experienced divers on the same boat (i.e swim-throughs, options to to go deeper etc). 5 to 10 minutes by boat in calm water. Nice coral, not many big fish but enough smaller ones and other critters to stay amused with, including spotted eagle rays and free-swimming morays.

context: I was certified last year just pre-covid and had a whopping 4 post-cert dives when I got to Roatan, last dive a year ago. We went with West Bay Divers and I highly recommend them - we had a refresher and a nice shore dive with one of their instructors, and then 5 boat dives with them. Nice new Cressi equipment (I had my own regs though), tanks consistently at 3200 fill, divemasters/instructors/captains who seem to have found that good balance between keeping everyone safe without being overbearing. DM goes in the water, flexible regarding proven, experienced divers. Small boats, we had 5-6 divers on board every trip.

edit: I agree with Markmud that Key Largo isn’t all that great for a newbie, depending on conditions. Three of my post-cert dives were there - getting buffeted around in 3ft swells hanging on a line to get back in the boat apparently is not for me
 

KathyV

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We are also in the Chicago area and have found that St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands is a really nice Caribbean destination because it's a bit exotic and tropical but it is also a US territory, so that may make travel a bit easier.

There's lots to do topside on STX, great restaurants and water sports, and a wide range of dive experiences, including diving the Fredricksted Pier which is the best 30 foot dive I've ever done - and it would be wonderful for beginners!

We were there last October and we dived with St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventure (SCUBA) and they were excellent. They have boats and shops on the North (Christiansted) and West (Fredricksted) sides of the island so you can enjoy a range of dive opportunities - shore, wall, drift, wreck, reef, night, pier, etc. We saw a wide range of sealife including seahorses, octopus, rays, reef sharks, and many more.
st croix SCUBA diving PADI dive shop virgin islands boat dives SCUBA dive training

One word of caution, SCUBA's west shore dive boat will be out of service from September 15th till October 6th (2021) for her biennial USCG dry dock inspection and painting, etc. so I wouldn't plan on diving with them during that period.

Take a look at the Christiansted Harbor Cam, STX is a great destination!
Official Page for Live St. Croix Web Cam | GoToStCroix.com
 

Pedro Burrito

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markmud

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Speaking as a newbie myself - I recommend Roatan.


Roatan would be a good choice. Can't beat it. We are going to AKR in December.

We are also in the Chicago area and have found that St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands is a really nice Caribbean destination because it's a bit exotic and tropical but it is also a US territory, so that may make travel a bit easier.

Yeah, St. Croix would be another nice destination. Throw in the Chicken Shack and Rowdy Joe's on the north side. The Salt River National Park is nice diving. Are the beer guzzling pigs still guzzling non-alcoholic beer? The Cruzan Rum Distillery is fun to visit. Captain Morgan's Rum distillery is fun to visit. Lots of history there.

Vertigo and The Pinnacle are really cool dives. Not for newbs though.

Driving on the wrong side of the road takes some getting used to.

I agree with Markmud that Key Largo isn’t all that great for a newbie, depending on conditions. Three of my post-cert dives were there - getting buffeted around in 3ft swells hanging on a line to get back in the boat apparently is not for me

Yeah, that takes a little getting used to! Not for a newb.

"First choice would be Bonaire, it's got slightly better diving, and a more intimate feel." @arew+4

Bonaire is a really good recommendation!

cheers,
m
 
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