"1467195_774782182564074_8553797623816396540_n" by Kenny Mitchell via Flickr Creative Commons

Snorkeling tours are generally an afternoon or day trip arranged through a private operator or your hotel or cruise ship. At times you can get a discount or free tour if you purchase the excursion at the same time as your flight and book your rooms. Dive tours are generally arranged in packages combining hotels, meals, and dives. Many resort hotels have their own dive master for this reason. Certification courses can also be included in the package, or are the complete package. The basic 4-day certification course from PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, varies in price depending on where you take it. Utila, Honduras and Koh Tao, Thailand are said to have the cheapest dive certification courses in the world. If you go with an operator run out of a luxury resort in the Caribbean it is going to be much higher. If you want to take a course in your local pool, if you don’t live near the ocean, the price will likely fall somewhere in between.

Scuba Diving Tour Operators

Aggressor (http://www.aggressor.com, Tel. +800-348-2628)
Fleet of luxury live aboard dive yachts that offer tours of the Galapagos, the Caribbean, South Pacific, and other exotic locations around the world.
Ecologic Divers (http://www.ecologicdivers.com, Tel. +800-899-8004)
Belize based dive and snorkel operator that covers the country’s world renowned dive sites.
Gap Year Diver (http://www.gapyeardiver.com, Tel. +44-0845-257-3292)
Aimed at students taking their gap year. From those who want everything from just a foray into diving to those who want to become full fledged dive professionals.
H2O divers (http://www.h2odivers.com, Tel. +316-2152-1329)
All sorts of Mediterranean dive packages, from courses to hotel stays.
Oceanic Society Expeditions (http://www.oceanic-society.org, Tel. + 800-326-7491)
Snorkeling and diving trips all over the world and often meeting up with research groups to participate in studies.
Regal Diving (http://www.regal-diving.co.uk, Tel. + 44-01353-659-999)
UK based operator with packages on live aboards, resorts, and certification courses in destinations all over the world.
Undersea Hunter (http://www.underseahunter.com, Tel. +800-203-2120)
High quality boat operator with live aboard dive trips to Malpelo Island, Colombia and Cocos Island, Costa Rica.

Do-It-Yourself Options

Snorkeling on your own, without the help of a tour operator is quite easy. As long as you have a mask, snorkel, and fins, you can step right out from the beach and explore the nearby reefs. Plenty of good snorkeling is done right off shore.

Diving without a dive operator, although not recommended, can be done for advanced divers only. Self-guided dive tours are possible though. You can get a group together and hire a boat, or take your own boat, to take you to whatever dive site you wish. You must have your own equipment, but many advanced divers do anyway.

Avoiding a package operator and piecing together your dive trip on your own is often done as well, particularly if you are on a tight budget and don’t mind basic accommodations. For instance you can show up on an island or town, find a cheap room, and then sign up for a dive with an operator the same day. This is often done in Southeast Asia and Latin America and will generally be the cheapest way to get in the water.

Click here for Preparing for Your Scuba Diving Trip