Diving 2

The 10 best scuba diving sites with points

To the point Our planet is very rich in life at the level of its sea beds; here is our list of the 10 best scuba diving sites!

This post is also available in: FR

Following the article Our tips for scuba diving with points, here are our favorites in terms of the best scuba diving sites in the world. Places all over the world that can be explored both on land and underwater.

The list of the best scuba diving sites does not stop at ten, of course. However, the peculiarity of these destinations is that it is easily conceivable to visit them by redeeming points; getting there with your points as much as using points to pay for expenses on the spot.

The cenotes of Mexico

The Office de la langue française defines the word “cenote” as follows A limestone depression partially or completely closed and filled with water. There are more than 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico alone.

It is the largest network of caves on the planet and among the best sites for scuba diving. We might be mistaken to think that an advanced cave diving course is necessary but since many of the cenotes are caves (not completely closed), it is possible to do this type of trip with a basic course.

The guides have smallers groups and have additional training and equipment to make the activity safe.

Cenote Mexique

Getting there and staying with points

Mexico is located very close to Canada which makes it an ideal destination for a short trip. Prices for flights to Mexico are generally inexpensive in both money and points. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find award tickets around 25,000 Aeroplan points or cash tickets around $450 to travel to Mexico.

YUL-CUN Aeroplan Fr

Depending on the situation, it may be preferable to use reward points that can be applied to the expense such as Membership Rewards. It’s a great currency of choice since they are flexible, thus you can compare prices in cash and Aeroplan points before transferring if it makes sense to your situation.

In addition, this destination is eligible for a companion pass if you have one.

In Mexico, Marriott Bonvoy points can greatly reduce your travel budget. Here are several reports we have done:

The Galapagos Islands

The islands that make many travelers dream will not disappoint you in terms of scuba diving. Three confluent marine currents, a marine reserve that protects marine species, the waters of the Galapagos are literally a diver’s paradise and one of the best scuba diving sites in the world.

The seasons bring a dominance of cold or warm currents, which alternates the observable fauna from one season to another. The coldest and driest period is from June to November.

This is the time to observe whale sharks and the number of hammerhead sharks are usually also higher. On the other hand, December to May is hot and humid season, which means for diving, the arrival of manta rays. Turtles and sea lions are present all year round.

For more information, I recommend reading our complete guide to the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos -2-

Getting there and staying with points

To get to the Galapagos Islands for a scuba diving trip, Aeroplan will be the program of choice since Avianca flies to the islands themselves. Award ticket prices start at 60,000 Aeroplan points for a round-trip economy flight.

For lodging, the best strategy will be to use AirBnB and independent hotels. So, you’ll have to turn to the rewards points that can be applied to your expenses.

Aeroplan Galapagos
Galapagos 2

Australia

The obvious destination for the best scuba diving sites is Australia. It hosts the Great Barrier Reef and is an easy choice for any aquatic wildlife enthusiast.

Although you can dive on the west coast, I found the east coast more interesting. Apart from the barrier reef, I loved the surroundings of Byron Bay.

On some dives, I could see three different types of sharks, including the Wobbegong, which is typical of the area. It is also a very well organized country in terms of safety and training, which can reassure beginners and divers who have taken a long break.

Grande Barrière de Corail 2

Getting there and staying with points

It is common to consider traveling to Australia with approximately 100,000 Aeroplan points. However, it is often a trip that we try to make in business class since the journey is very long.

Here’s a complete guide on how to travel and stay in Australia with credit card points:

Egypt

Located in the north of Africa and bordering the Red Sea,Egypt offers several resorts off the best scuba diving sites in the world.

The most famous are Sharm-el-Sheikh, Hurghada and Dahab but it is also possible to do a live aboard cruise. The Red Sea is unique in that it has one of the highest salinity levels in the world. Its warm and very salty water is conducive to the development of marine corals and hosts a large marine fauna.

Égypte-2-

Getting there and staying with points

Direct flights with Air Canada from Montreal are now available for as little as 40,000 Aeroplan points in economy class for one-way travel and 80,000 for round-trip travel.

These prices are changeable becauseAir Canada flights are subject to dynamic pricing. To find the best prices with points, you have to get in early because direct flights between Montreal and Cairo are in high demand! If you can’t find affordable fares on this route, prices with stopovers are in the same range.

Plus, if you have upgrade credits, you can use them to travel more comfortably toEgyptif you fly with Air Canada!

Égypte Aeroplan

Egypt is a sweet spot for the Marriott Bonvoy™ program; prices for hotels in Hurghada are extremely affordable! Just signing up for the Marriott Bonvoy™ card would give you enough points to cover a 5-day scuba diving trip in the Red Sea.

5 nuits Égypte Mer Rouge

Jordan

Jordan is a leading destination in the Middle East and attracts tourists mainly because of Petra which is one of the 7 wonders of the world.

However, the city of Aqaba not far from Petra offers excellent diving. Clear, warm and very salty water. This Red Sea bay offers unusual dives such as an army tank and a plane wreck.

Experiencing an air hole inside a beautiful shipwreck is also what awaits you in Aqaba. To be honest, this was my favorite wreck in my diving career.

Jordanie-2-
Jordanie-1-
Jordanie
Little tip

If you arrive in Jordan from Aqaba, visa fees are waived.

Getting there and staying with points

With the Aeroplan program, it’s easy and inexpensive to plan a trip to the Middle East with 5,000-point stops. By doing so, you can discover the seabed of the Red Sea and Jordan easily. In addition, you will have the opportunity to visit two wonderful countries at a low price!

In Jordan, Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba is an excellent place to use your free night certificate at an exceptional value since these certificates are offered to Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card and the Marriott Bonvoy® Corporate American Express®* Card at the time of the renewal of these cards.

The annual fees are $120 and $150 respectively, so for a family or couple, each adult could sign up for both cards and you would earn four free nights per year to use on a trip to one of the best scuba diving sites. If you do the math, a 4-night stay would come to $570 with a handful of points.

Certificat nuit gratuite Aqaba

Iceland

People don’t immediately think of Iceland as a diving destination, but the one I did in the crystal clear waters of Silfra was one that left me awestruck.

Located in the Thingvellir National Park, Silfra is listed as one of the best scuba diving sites because it is the only place where you can swim between two tectonic plates and two continents.

Moreover, this kind of experience complements well a trip in the beautiful landscapes of Iceland.

Silfra

Getting there and staying with points

In the past, Wow Air offered low-cost flights to Iceland. Now we have fewer options in this price range, but Air Canada’s dynamic pricing can sometimes work in our favor.

Indeed, if you are lucky or plan ahead, you can get a direct flight from Montreal to Keflavik for as little as 30,000 Aeroplan points. Don’t forget to check prices in cash, bargains have become occasional compared to Wow Air’s time, but they are not wiped out.

Islande vols

So a card like the American Express Cobalt® Card is a great tool for a strategy where sometimes it’s better to pay in cash and sometimes in points; with the 5 premium points per dollar you can earn at the grocery store, it goes up really fast!

Then, to stay in Iceland, the most economical way is to camp! Moreover, you will be overwhelmed by its breathtaking views!

The island of Hawaii

Around Big Island, along the Kona coast and near Honolulu, there are some great dive sites. These places are easily reachable, which makes them very popular in Hawaii.

Most people visit Hawaii for its beautiful scenery and divine beaches, but the reefs and volcanic formations make Hawaii one of the best scuba diving sites in the world!

Hawaï 4

Getting there and staying with points

Again, Aeroplan points can be a great way to travel to Hawaii. When you aim to fly on a partner airline with Aeroplan points, the pricing is fixed and the strategy more predictable.

Currently, direct flights from Montreal are suspended so you will have a stopover in Toronto/Vancouver.

Even with dynamic pricing, it’s possible to find good prices in points on Air Canada flights. If this is the case, you will have to turn to United.

However, availability is not always present with partners so we sometimes have to use tools like ExpertFlyer to help us find them.

YUL-HNL Aeroplan Fr

Since the changes in the Marriott Bonvoy® program, award points seem to have exploded in Hawaii. Thus, a mix of Marriott Bonvoy® points and travel points will be favored.

Indeed, there are occasionally great deals on AirBnB where it is conceivable to rent a condo unit or even a well located villa.

The island of Bali

This very famous island in Indonesia has a lot to offer to its visitors both on land and in the sea. With its paradisiacal landscapes, there are several places that rank among the best scuba diving sites.

More precisely in Tulamben, it is possible to explore the wreck of the USAT Liberty which ran aground there after having been the victim of Japanese torpedoes during the Second World War. What I liked about this dive is that it was full of life and that you could access it directly from the beach. Therefore, it is also very suitable for those who prefer snorkeling.

Bali Tulamben

Getting there and staying with points

As detailed in this article on Bali, it is often more economical to fly to a hub in Asia and take a low cost airline to Bali. Indeed, Bali is connected to a multitude of major cities.

Moreover, Bali is a goldmine for the use of Marriott Bonvoy™ points. They are everywhere on the island and are very inexpensive.

The island of Sipadan

The island of Sipadan is located off the coast of Borneo, Malaysia. A coral reef has formed all around the island and it is extremely rich as an ecosystem.

Of all the destinations I’ve visited, Sipadan easily ranks among the top scuba diving sites due to its diversity and abundance of life; more than 3,000 species of fish have established themselves in Sipadan’s waters.

The dives are of the “wall” type and are therefore suitable for all levels. Moreover, you could make trips at the same place but discover many different aspects by simply changing the depth of your dive.

Diving

Getting there and staying with points

Just like Bali, the best way to get to Sipadan is by a hub to Asia. As it happens, we took a flight to Kuala Lumpur before taking Air Asia to go to Kota Kinabalu and Tawau where we took a boat to Sipadan.

On our end, we stayed at a resort that focused on scuba diving and we used travel points to cover expenses.

The Maldives

The Maldives atolls are a paradise for lovers of beautiful landscapes but its seabed is even more so for lovers of scuba diving. The most popular places are in the South Ari Atolls or in the Hanifaru Bay Reserve.

Indeed, the Maldives are very often in the eye sight of divers, because the life in the reefs is very abundant all year long; without looking too hard, we were able to see an array of manta rays during our trip on the local islands.

In addition, there are several inexpensive excursions to encounter whale sharks; most guides see them on a weekly basis! Contrary to popular belief, the Maldives are very affordable.

Maldives Whale Shark
Maldives Whale Shark

Getting there and staying with points

We have a full article detailing the strategy for getting to the Maldives with Aeroplan points. The best tip is to build an itinerary where the destination is Southeast Asia is Singapore by positioning the Maldives as a stop. This way, you will lose less points and be able to visit two regions!

Maldives

Then, accommodations on the local islands can be made from a multitude of independent hotel choices on Booking.com.

On the more luxurious side, I highly recommend using your Marriott Bonvoy™ points; you can easily find a room for under 50,000 points and even use a free night certificate like at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa!

The strategies

Points for travel or cash back? Here are my two strategies with credit cards:

This post is also available in: FR

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