Scuba diving is an extraordinary activity, but quite expensive. The majority of the enthusiasts prefer to do it abroad and to vary the sea bed by visiting different destinations.
As a fan of this hobby myself, I wanted to find tips on how to make diving trips at a lower cost. Here are different alternatives for using points.
Scuba diving with the Air Canada Buddy Pass and Airbnb
You can choose the crystal clear waters of Cozumel for easy scuba diving with great visibility, and the chance to see the second largest barrier reef in the world. The latter extends to Honduras and Belize, two other excellent choices as a scuba diving destination.
On the mainland, you can choose to explore the underwater caves called cenotes instead. They are found near Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The caves are quite different from each other and, in addition to stalactites, stalagmites and columns, contain some very interesting natural phenomena such as the halocline.
This mixture of fresh and salt water gives an oily effect and clouds the water. Another observable phenomenon is the underwater cloud formed by a gas. Imagine being underwater and seeing a cloud from which rocky peaks emerge. Your brain would think you are in the mountains, but you are actually in a cenote underwater.
How to get there
The previous promotion offered an Air Canada Buddy Pass with the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card. Holders of this promotion have until the end of the year to book a scuba diving trip before the pass expires. This remains a benefit of some CIBC credit card offers.
To use it, simply make a reservation by paying cash for the first ticket and apply the companion pass on the second ticket. An explanatory guide has been created to detail the process here. The pass can be used in North America including Hawaii and Mexico.
So, to go scuba diving in Mexico with a companion pass-boni according to the rate found on the previous screenshot :
|You||386 $||160,35 $|
|Your companion||free of charge||160,35 $|
Your flights to Cancun are $706 or $353 per person.
For a scuba diving trip in Mexico, choosing this type of accommodation would allow you to spend a few days on the island of Cozumel for its sea beds, and then spend the rest of your vacation discovering the cenotes in Playa Del Carmen.
This splits the trip in two rather than spending a full week all-inclusive. In addition, transportation between the two is done by ferry, which does not interfere with scuba diving, unlike a domestic flight.
When I went, I had booked an economy room with a kitchen directly on the main street at the cute Posada Mariposa hostel, which offered us free breakfast coupons for the nearby restaurant. Sometimes you just have to ask.
The complete guide to renting Airbnb with points gives several tips like using Membership Rewards points from the American Express Cobalt® Card to reimburse yourself for expenses charged to the account.
Scuba diving with an all-inclusive
Roatan Island in Honduras as well as its neighbor Utila are perfect destinations to go underwater and blow bubbles. Rich in tropical fish and colorful seabed due to the coral reef.
Honduras can be scary when it comes to security, but the remote islands of the mainland are quite safe. A ferry connects the two islands, which offer different atmospheres, but equally interesting scuba diving. Roatan is larger and more popular.
The international airport is located there. As for Utila, it is rather a relaxed atmosphere where people move around on foot, by tuk tuk or golf carts, but no cars. During my dives, I had seen several barracudas, shrimps, crabs, lobsters and turtles. I recommend this diving center.
Getting there and staying
You can store on different all-inclusive travel platforms such as Bergeron Travel, Expedia or Discount Travel and then apply reward points from financial institutions such as Desjardins BONI-dollars, NBC rewards points or HSBC rewards among others. You can also book directly on the bank’s reward page if your destination is there.
In addition, a $150 travel credit applies to seat selection, upgrades, baggage fees and airport lounges. This can be very useful for extra luggage for scuba diving!
Scuba diving with Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy
You have done the tour of the Caribbean diving destinations? You want to make a change or get a change of scenery? Why not take advantage of your points to explore the Red Sea at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt? This destination is known for its fine corals that are safe from hurricanes and tropical storms.
I was impressed by the giant morays and the excellent visibility. I also met on my way rays, Napoleon fish, scorpion fish, lion fish, etc. You may prefer to discover wrecks such as the famous merchant marine cargo ship SS Thistlegorm.
The city of Sharm-el-Sheikh is very touristic and invaded by Russian tourists. Therefore, there is a variety of restaurants and bars for lively evenings.
How to get there
Aeroplan points can be used for destinations around the world on Star Alliance member airlines. The Milesopedia guide explains in detail the fare structure and the booking method. One advantage of Aeroplan is that you can make stopovers of less than 24 hours and add a stopover of up to 45 days for 5,000 extra points.
For example, you could fly to Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt to go scuba diving and stop less than 24 hours in Cairo to see the pyramids.
Add to that a stopover in Aqaba, Jordan, to see the superb Cedar Pride wreck, the army tank or, for the avgeek, the Hercules C-130 plane wreck.
A small detour by Petra to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world, and we made the most of the stopover! Flights to Sharm-el-Sheikh (SSH) start at 40,000 Aeroplan points one way.
Marriott hotels are present in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts for your scuba diving vacation; it’s a destination
for Marriott Bonvoy points! For those who want to maximize their points, Sharm-el-Sheikh will give you a run for your money. Its hotels very economical in points.
For example, one can book 5 hotel days for 50,000 points, which is equivalent to the welcome bonus and the first three months’ purchases on the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card. A quick and easy goal for a seaside vacation.
Reimbursement of scuba diving expenses
It may be difficult to fit scuba diving activity even into a points-based travel category.
My advice: pay with a card that has flexible points and keep your scuba diving bills.
A community member recently went to Mexico and paid for her scuba diving with her HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®. When she returned, she did not see them in her expenses eligible for reimbursement with points. She made a call to customer service who asked to email the invoice. By the next day, they had applied the points to the bill.
I still have to test with Scene+ points, NBC rewards points and other bank points. The flexibility of American Express Membership Rewards points would also be possible to reimburse this expense quickly.