Scuba Diving

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Scuba diving can open up new worlds to travelers.

Learning to dive is fun, but it's also a pretty big commitment in terms of time and money. So first ask yourself if you really want to use a big chunk of your precious vacation time for lessons.

Anyone who wants to dive without close supervision must first complete a certification course. Courses take 30 to 40 hours, split among time in a classroom setting, in the pool, and out in the open water.

Learning to dive on vacation isn't the only option. By taking a certification course arranged by a dive shop or YMCA back home, you'll be ready to head right into the ocean on your next trip, rather than being stuck doing homework.

At many great dive spots, you can also sign up for what's known as a resort course. It's an easy alternative to getting certified, and no experience is necessary. You learn how to use the equipment in a pool, and then go for a short, open-water dive that's closely supervised by an instructor. Resort courses often cost under $100.

Of course snorkeling's the easiest and cheapest option. Rather than renting equipment once you get to the islands, buy gear at home and bring it along. It'll more than pay for itself over the course of a week's vacation.

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