Achieve A Lifelong Skill During Your Gap Year
One of the biggest regrets you hear from people who have completed their gap year is that they wish they had something to show for it, some kind of achievement. Now we know that a gap year is all about enjoying yourself and exploring the world, but we have the perfect solution for those of you wanting to achieve something while on your adventures. Why not gain a PADI qualification in the Caribbean ?
The Caribbean is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, above and below the water. The archipelago is made up of islands that are all unique and distinctive in their own rights with different landscapes and individual cultures and histories. One thing that they all have in common is that the beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea surround them. The whole area is rich in marine life and offers some of the best diving in the world. All of the islands offer dives of varying degrees of difficulty making it the perfect place to learn, and then progress with your new-found diving skills. Not only will you feel a sense of pride and satisfaction for having done something worthwhile with your gap year, as opposed to constantly bumming around on the beach, but if you enjoy diving then you can use your PADI qualification on future holidays without having to waste precious time off work learning the skills first. The benefits of diving on your gap year are numerous.
Here is a look at what we think are the best three locations to gain your PADI qualifications in the Caribbean.
Variety and choice
If you're looking for a wide choice of dive sites with an impressive mix of difficulty levels that are all easy to reach, then Grenada is the island for you. The island's waters contain wrecks, reefs in abundance, a volcano and even an underwater sculpture park. When you are learning to dive the last thing you want to do is spend hours aboard a boat travelling to and from dive sites. To make the most of your valuable diving time, and to spend the maximum amount of time actually in the water, give Grenada a go.
A choice of shallow sites such as MV Veronica, Dragon Bay, Flamingo Bay and the underwater sculpture park at Molinere Bay mean that you will never get bored as a learner diver. There is also a huge range of dive schools to choose from. The majority are based on the island's famous Grande Anse Beach.
The island of Bonaire is blessed with an almost continuous reef surrounding it. In many places this reef is only a few yards from the shore meaning you can simply wade out to experience some fantastic shallow diving. Bonaire is also well set up for visiting divers. Yellow markers along the coastal road indicate where the dive sites are. All you have to do is park up and walk out to the relevant site.
As you progress with your diving skills there are also some great off shore sites to be reached by boat as well as the uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire which also falls under the protection of the Bonaire National Marine Park.
Remote and unspoiled
If one of the criteria for your gap year is to experience real cultures and to avoid mass tourism at all costs, then Utila should be on your dive wish list. One of the lesser known Caribbean islands, it is located 18 miles from Honduras. If you are on part of a backpacking gap year and on a tight budget, you will be pleased to hear that Utila has a reputation as not only being one of the most beautiful dive locations in the world, but also one of the cheapest. There are over 60 dive sites to choose from, including caves and wrecks. The marine wildlife is also impressive, and many divers in Utila encounter whale sharks migrating through the area.
A skill to last you a lifetime
Gaining a PADI qualification during your gap year is time very well spent as it will enable you to dive in beautiful locations around the world for the rest of your life. The Caribbean is one of the most stunning places to dive and the dive schools located in the islands have a great reputation. Come and explore the underwater side of the Caribbean and reap the benefits for years to come.
These waters you see in the video are the shallows of half moon bay - now you can begin to see why its real easy to learn to dive here.