There are many important factors when researching and choosing a dive resort such as who will be on your trip with you. Will it be you and a few of your favorite dive buddies, or will it be with your family and your kids? Is this a dive site you have visited before or a new one that somebody told you about? Perhaps you are planning on combining the pleasures of an underwater adventure and relaxation of the beach while watching the ocean tides?
Probably the biggest factor in planning your next trip, and possibly the most costly, is the destination. There is plenty of easy to find information online, in magazines, and at your local dive shop that can help you select your next dive site. First, you have to decide if you are looking to try something new that someone recommended or if you want to return to a favorite site that is still just as exciting. For me it’s Cozumel. While I like exploring new places like Turks and Caicos and the Catalina Islands I always try to plan a trip back to Cozumel where the walls and drift diving is still exhilarating! When searching for a tropical resort you can choose between immediate beach access or a spot that may be just a little off the beach. If beach front property isn’t that important to you it may be an easy way to save a few dollars. If you are on vacation specifically for diving, and diving only, many resorts have their own dive boats and facilities and in some places with exceptional shore diving may have available packages that include unlimited shore diving. Sometimes they may offer specialty type diving experiences like rebreather diving as is this case at a resort I know of in the Cayman Islands. Some resorts may also have a contract with a neighboring operation; investigate this as it might be an option for you or it might not be that good of a deal. One of my favorite resorts in Cozumel has such an arrangement, but I still book all of my dive trips through another operator there that I’ve been very happy with over the years. A final consideration about location is the simple cost of both airfare and ground transportation. If you are looking for an exotic trip to Micronesia you will like pay quite a bit more than a short flight to Mexico or the Caribbean. Likewise, Depending on how remote the location you may have to make special ground travel arrangements besides an airport taxi.
When shopping around for a resort there are some features you may want to consider since there is a large variety of resorts out there. As previously mention the kind of trip you are planning will have a big impact. If you are looking forward to a vacation where you can dive in the morning and party with your buddies in the afternoon there are some resorts available that cater to travelers 18 and over only. Obviously if you are traveling with the wife and kids this would probably not be the spot you want to go to (even if they allowed children.) You would likely want to shop for a resort that has a kid’s pool and/or maybe age appropriate activities more suited to your kids. Regardless of which of the above you might be planning a good option is an all-inclusive resort. All-inclusive resorts mean just what they say; the cost of your room includes all of your food and drinks. Just because food and drinks are included doesn’t mean you have to except the challenge to eat and drink your money’s worth all day long, for many it’s just an easy way not to have to worry about an extra bill by at the end of the vacation.
My last piece of advice for you is to read reviews or talk to people who have stayed there before! There are plenty of good sources of information available to you; dive magazines, travel websites, and your local dive shop to name a few. If a resort has a large number of positive reviews and one or two horrible ones take them with a grain of salt as they were most likely written by someone who chose the wrong sort of destination for their vacation. The staff at Reef KC is very knowledgeable about destination diving and has recommendations for any type of trip you may be planning so feel free to stop in and ask, and most importantly enjoy your trip!