As we get closer to Christmas, it’s time to start planning the next diving holiday, but as we’re all shuddering at the thought of those Christmas expenses, South Pacific specialist Diveplanit Travel has put together a Top 5 list of best value diving destinations to book now.
- Munda, Solomon Islands
At the eastern tip of the Coral Triangle, the most biodiverse marine habitat on Earth, lies the Munda, in the Solomon Islands.
With direct flights from Brisbane to Munda in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province, and budget accommodation at Agnes Gateway Hotel, Munda is one of the most affordable places to dive in the South Pacific, with packages starting at AU$1270 for diving and accommodation and a choice of over 50 dive sites to explore, including WWII wrecks, beautiful coral walls to drift along and mysterious caverns to explore.
Nearby Gizo is a 15-minute flight away, with special offers in beautiful over water bungalows at Fatboys Resort and Oravae Cottage.
- Bali, Indonesia
If you haven’t dived the USAT Liberty wreck in Tulamben Bay, you really need to add it to your dive bucket list – the biodiversity at this one dive site alone will have you strolling from nearby Tauch Terminal Resort four or five times a day, not to mention the other great coral and macro diving on Bali’s north east coast. A week’s diving and accommodation here will set you back around AU$1080.
If it’s big stuff you prefer, hop across the Lombok Strait to Nusa Lembongan to dive with Mantas and, perhaps the world’s weirdest marine mega-fauna; Mola Mola. A week at Lembongan’s Hai Tide Resort with 12 dives starts at AU$1760.
- Tanna, Santo and Vila, Vanuatu
Less than three hours flight from Australia’s east coast, Vanuatu boasts some of the Pacific’s most famous WWII wrecks including the SS President Coolidge and Million Dollar Point on the island of Espiritu Santo, and incredibly varied diving off the coast of the island nation’s Port Vila.
Diving in Vila ranges from the staghorn fields and anemone gardens of Hideaway Island to stunning dives such as the Semele Federesen wreck and the Cathedral sea cavern. And let’s not forget the beautiful caves, swim throughs, seriously untouched coral (and active volcano) on the island of Tanna. A week’s diving will set you back AU$1450 with Pacific Dive on Santo, AU$1150 with Volcano Divers on Tanna and AU$1920 at Hideaway Island in Vila.
- Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
Malaysia’s Tioman Island sits inside a marine protected area and as such is home to some of the healthiest reefs in South China Sea, with a huge variety of reef fish, turtles, sharks, cuttlefish, as well as fantastic muck diving and even a wreck.
A week diving here with B&J Diving including 10 dives starts at AU$1700 – including road and ferry transfers from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur international airports.
- North Sulawesi, Indonesia
North Sulawesi is a bit of a double whammy, its east coast famous for the macro wonders of the Lembeh Strait and west coast for the beautiful coral walls of Bunaken National Park (Manado) and pristine coral gardens of Bangka Island.
Some dive resorts offer two-in-one and even three-in-one packages which allow divers to sample two or three of these North Sulawesi dive experiences, taking care of all transfers making the trips between locations seamless.
Thalassa Lembeh Resorts offer a 7-night, 12-dive stay at Manado for AU$1470, at Lembeh for AU$1820 or 5 nights at each with 18 dives for only AU$2450. Murex Resorts offer a 3-in-1 Passport to Paradise package, which includes diving in Bunaken, Bangka and Lembeh. Three nights at each resort, with 16 dives costs AU$2890.
About Diveplanit Travel:
Diveplanit Travel is a specialist scuba diving travel agency and wholesaler. It’s founders, Deborah Dickson-Smith and Simon Mallender, are scuba divers and passionate ocean advocates, whose main mission in life is to encourage more people to see first-hand how incredible the underwater world really is, and hopefully care more about looking after it.
In 2018, the fast-growing company acquired established dive travel wholesaler and agency Diversion Dive Travel. Diversion Dive Travel has been taking care of divers’ travel needs for 23 years and have personal knowledge of all the dive resorts and liveaboards they recommend to customers, either from personal experience or from feedback gleaned from their many returning customers.
Specialising in tailor-made diving holidays – the Diveplanit Travel team pride themselves on finding the best travel combination for each client, taking care of everything along the way, from airfares and accommodation to dive equipment and transfers.