Diving doesn’t have to be expensive. Despite what you may have heard from your friend John or your mum, diving can be done on a budget – there are plenty of good cheap diving destinations.

Luckily for you, I only dive on the cheap and consider myself somewhat of an expert on the topic. Ahhh, we are broke backpackers after all, aren’t we?

I know, I know… some places are suuuuper expensive to scuba dive in, yes. One of these locations is probably where your friend John went… with your mum. BUT, I’ve done my research, (both on the ground and the internet) and I’ve found some juicy information for ya.

Let’s discover the seven cheapest places in the world to dive so that you can turn that ‘expensive hobby’ into something that you actually get around to doing because you can finally afford it.

I’ve tried to include good AND cheap dive destinations all over the world; so yes, there will be some cheap spots I haven’t included because, well, they aren’t as great. There are also some countries with multiple good spots, but I have just selected one from each country. That cool? Ok. Vamos.

dani and friend diving in thailand
Let’s dive into this!
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

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    Top 3 Cheapest Places to Scuba Dive in The World

    Before we start, I just want to say a couple of things. Firstly, for some of the best diving information on the internet, check out our buddies over at Diving Squad.

    I think it’s also worth saying that freediving is sometimes… well… free! You may need some basic equipment, but it can be done very cheaply indeed. Diving doesn’t have to always be scuba, you know.

    Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the world’s best diving destinations (for broke backpackers).

    1. Koh Tao, Thailand

    Koh Tao
    Bet you weren’t expecting this one…
    • Best Dive Site: Sail Rock
    • Best Bit: THE PRICE!
    • Open Water Price: $320
    • Fun Dive Price: $20

    If you’re backpacking in Thailand, you gotta go to Koh Tao, whether you are diving or not. But if you are planning on diving, well, lucky you; Koh Tao is a great place to dive and is well-known as one of the cheapest places to scuba dive.

    Koh Tao has some stunning diving, but it is most well-known for being one of the cheapest places to get your open-water diver qualification. You can get your PADI or SSI certification for around $320.

    I learned to scuba dive a good few years ago on Koh Tao and had a wonderful experience doing so. I chose to dive with Big Blue Diving (and loved it), just in case you wanted a personal recommendation.

    Sail Rock is Koh Tao’s most famous dive site. This wall dive in the Gulf of Thailand is one of my personal favourite dive sites and is where I saw my first ever whale shark. If you’re lucky, you too can dive with whale sharks between March and May.

    2. Utila, Honduras

    Utila Honduras Sign in Caribbean Ocean
    I have so much love for this place.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst
    • Best Dive Site: CJ’s Drop Off
    • Best Bit: Dive Culture
    • Open Water Price: $330
    • Fun Dive Price: $25

    Utila is one of the premier destinations to scuba dive in the Caribbean. It’s a divers’ paradise. And trust me, it truly lives up to the hype!

    This little Bay Island in the Caribbean has a THRIVING dive culture. Travellers from all over the world are heading here to get their scuba gear on for the cheap.

    I actually learnt to freedive in Utila with Freedive Utila, but the most popular scuba dive shops were Utila Dive Centre (UDC) and Underwater Vision. Most of the scuba places offered good value accommodation packages as there was a lack of hostels and other good places to stay on the island.

    In Utila, you can expect to see all kinds of marine life such as dolphins, mahi mahi, marlin, reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, plenty of lionfish, nurse sharks, and more. You can even see migrating whale sharks between March and April or August to October.

    Head to the Southside for the best selection of dive sites and the North for the best chances of spotting cool marine life. Utila is a hub for marine conservation and all the dive shops offer great value eco-courses too, which is worth looking into and always encouraged.

    Join the Roatan Aggressor for seven nights exploring the crystal clear waters of the Bay Islands and dive sheer walls, lively shallow reefs, captivating wrecks and offshore seamounts.

    3. Dauin, Philippines

    a palm tree on a beach in siargao island, Philippines
    Reefs galore
    Photo: @amandaadraper
    • Best Dive Site: Masaplod
    • Best Bit: Muck Diving
    • Open Water Price: $315
    • Fun Dive Price: $23

    Dauin is located on the island of Negros in the Philippines. It’s cool for macro (close-up) photography because there is an abundance of cool and interesting little critters everywhere which just look amazing on camera.

    ‘Muck Diving’ or diving on the sandy sea floor is what Dauin is most famous for. Here you can spot all sorts of interesting creatures such as nudibranchs, sea horses, cuttlefish, octopuses, and even frogfish.

    Diving in the Philippines in general is both cheap and awesome. Other cool spots include Molaboal and Oslob on Cebu Island where you can see sardines galore and whale sharks.

    Dauin is good all year round but I would suggest you avoid the potentially rough seas that are common in typhoon season (June-November).

    Bongo Bongo Divers is the most famous dive shop in Dauin and my fav sites were Masaplod and the nearby El Dorado Reef. The nearby Apo Island is also worth a dive, or two, or three…

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    4 More Budget-Friendly Places to Dive

    Whether you haven’t been impressed yet, or you like what you’ve seen so far, I’ve got more for you. Read on for some of the best cheap diving destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

    4. Gozo, Malta

    • Best Dive Site: The Blue Hole
    • Best Bit: Cool Caverns
    • PADI Open Water Price: $450
    • Fun Dive Price: $39

    Up next we have the beautiful little hidden gem of a country in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta. Malta is a small group of islands and the second biggest is called Gozo. This is where you wanna go for some of the cheapest scuba diving in Europe.

    Gozo is TINY, and I mean TINY, so most of the dive sites are accessible from the shore and you won’t need to travel far at all to get between them. The water is crystal clear, there are lots of cool caves and wrecks and the diving is good all year round.

    Gozo has a nice diving culture too and it’s the ideal place for a European getaway to scratch that scuba diving itch. I can recommend diving the 14m deep Blue Hole for cool caverns and a sheltered, wave-free chill spot.

    5. Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

    Scuba diving with a school of hammerheads in Ito, Japan.
    Hammerheads are AWESOME!
    Photo: @audyscala
    • Best Dive Site: Ras Mohammed Nat. Park
    • Best Bit: Exotic Coral Reefs
    • PADI Open Water Price: $420
    • Fun Dive Price: $40

    The Red Sea is one of the best places to dive with a liveboard and also the wreck diving capital of the world. The big blue here is nothing short of magnificent!

    Sharm el-Sheikh is located on the very tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. It’s the best place in the Red Sea to suit up and experience EPIC wrecks, drops, walls and the most impressive coral reefs you’ll ever see – trust me. Join the Discovery II liveaboard for a dive trip to remember in the Red Sea.

    With over 30 renowned dive sites, this thriving African beach town is a personal favourite dive location of mine. Go to Ras Mohammed National Park for visuals of a MASSIVE shipwreck, and a variety of sharks such as hammerheads, white tip reef sharks, tigers, and even whale sharks.

    If you want to see Hammerhead Sharks, head here between June and September for the best chances. For whale sharks (because I’m obsessed with them) head here between May and August.

    For a more memorable experience during your trip to Egypt, consider exploring the diving opportunities in Dahab or Araqa in the Gulf, but this place has nothing on the beauty of Sharm. So despite Dahab being slightly cheaper, I would say Sharm is a better value.

    6. Amed, Bali, Indonesia

    Scuba Diving in Komodo
    Diving in Indonesia is so coooool
    • Best Dive Site: The Pyramids
    • Best Bit: Muck Diving
    • PADI Open Water Price: $260
    • Fun Dive Price: $25

    Everyone always asks me where to scuba dive in Bali. Well, let me introduce you to Amed, on the northeastern coast. NOT the most popular spot amongst travellers in Bali, but a GREAT place to dive.

    Amed is probably both the cheapest and best place to dive in Bali and, like Dauin, is another muck/macro-paradise. This is such a nice place to spend a chilled couple of days away from the tourism hubs we all know Bali for.

    Some of my favourite dive sites in Amed include the black-sand ocean floors of The Pyramids and Ghost Bay. The contrasting colours of the marine life against the black sea floor is just fantastic.

    The diving here is available all year round but is best in April-June or September-December. There is a nice variety of wrecks, corals, dive sites, and marine life here (oh, and gentle currents) making Amed one of the diving experiences in Bali.

    The Scubaspa Zen liveaboard offers exciting itineraries to some of Indonesia’s top dive destinations, such as the world-famous Raja Ampat, Komodo, and the Banda Se.

    7. Cozumel, Mexico

    Scuba divers underwate Cozumel Mexico
    • Best Dive Site: Palancar Reef
    • Best Bit: Marine Biodiversity
    • PADI Open Water Price: $425
    • Fun Dive Price: $50

    Last but not least is Cozumel. I mean, how could I not include a Mexican location in this list?

    Cozumel, in the Yucatan Peninsula, is not only one of the cheapest, but it is one of the most beautiful places to scuba dive. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system is easily accessible from Cozumel and is the second-largest reef system on the planet, so this place has EVERYTHING.

    One of the unique benefits of diving in Cozumel is the ‘easy drifting’. The strong currents help divers to cover large distances of the huge reefs with ease in the right conditions.

    The diving here is great all year round and ‘Scuba Tony’ is the dive shop I heard the most positive things about. Whilst Cozumel isn’t the cheapest place to dive on this list, it’s damn worth it.

    If you’re in Cozumel, I would suggest that you try some diving in Cenotes (freshwater sinkholes) for a truly unique experience.

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    Get Yourself Some Good Diving Gear

    Any good diver needs some great gear. Whilst rentals are cheaper if you just want to try diving out, investing in some gear will 100% save you some cash over time. If you plan on diving more than a handful of times, get your own gear (that no one has gobbed all over).

    Best Dive Watch
    Garmin Instinct 2S
    Best Dive Watch

    Garmin Instinct 2S

    • Price > $350
    Best Fins
    Cressi Adult Reactive Full Foot Pocket Scuba Diving Fins
    Best Fins

    Cressi Adult Diving Fins

    • Price > $60
    Best Dive Mask
    Cressi F1, Scuba Diving Snorkeling Frameless Mask
    Best Dive Mask

    Cressi F1, Scuba Diving Snorkeling Frameless Mask

    • Price > $55
    Best Dive Camera
    GoPro HERO11
    Best Dive Camera

    GoPro HERO11

    • Price > $300
    Best Waterpoof GoPro Casing
    TELESIN Waterproof Case
    Best Waterpoof GoPro Casing

    TELESIN Waterproof Case

    • Price > $36
    Best Mens Wetsuit
    Cressi Men's Ultraspan Scuba Diving Wetsuit
    Best Mens Wetsuit

    Cressi Men’s Ultraspan Scuba Diving Wetsuit

    • Price > $130
    Best Womans Wetsuit
    Cressi Ladies' Ultraspan Scuba Diving Wetsuit
    Best Womans Wetsuit

    Cressi Ladies’ Ultraspan Scuba Diving Wetsuit

    • Price > $130

    Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

    Wherever you travel for your EPIC diving adventures, ensure you get top-quality scuba travel insurance to cover your back. Some insurers may even insure your dives, but dive centres normally include this…

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    FAQs About The Cheapest Diving Locations on Earth

    Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about these wonderful diving locations. If you have any more questions, drop them in the comments section at the end of this post. 🙂

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      Final Thoughts on The World’s Cheapest Diving Destinations

      Scuba diving doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Yes, acquiring your open-water qualification will cost you a pretty penny, but it’s an investment. Plus, you only have to make it once in your lifetime.

      Once you have your open-water qualification, you can do fun dives for as little as $20. Plus, you can even do some fun dives WITHOUT a qualification. You know, to try before you buy.

      Getting my PADI in Koh Tao was such a great decision for me and I can 100% recommend that you get yours in one of these cheap diving destinations. Head to Thailand, Indonesia or the Philippines for some of the best diving in Asia (that’s cheap). Or if you’re in the Americas, go to Mexico or Honduras for some great cheap dive destinations.

      Two people taking a selfie whilst scuba diving.
      Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

      Diving can be done on any budget, so don’t feel like it’s out of your reach. You just gotta be smart about it. If you can afford it, Egypt and the Red Sea have some of the best value dive packages in the world (but this is more expensive than diving in Asia or Central America).

      Head over to Diving Squad for more excellent info about diving all over the world. 🙂

      Wherever you are on this planet, there is a whole new world awaiting you in the big blue. Go explore it. You won’t regret it.

      Why stop here? Check out more ESSENTIAL ocean lovers content!
      free diving in south east asia
      Freediving is FREE!
      Photo: @danielle_wyatt

      And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!