Whatever your reason for travelling solo - regular buddy can't get time off work, family holidays end up in family fights, or you just love time alone - the ins and outs of how to plan a solo dive holiday are not so different from planning a regular dive holiday. The main difference? You get to make all the decisions yourself. A solo dive holiday is the perfect opportunity to dust off your bucket list of places to go and critters to see, free from any objections. Maybe your regular travel buddy is a non-diver and liveaboards have been off the cards, or maybe your regular dive buddy doesn't like cooler water, but you have a hankering for donning your drysuit and dipping into Iceland's frigid lakes. With nobody to disagree with you on your solo dive holiday, the world (or at least the part of it you chose to visit) is your oyster, and you can dive to your heart's content...
Choosing a destination
The first step in how to plan a solo dive holiday is choosing your destination. And if there's always been a certain place at the top of your list that doesn't appeal to your regular buddy, now's your chance to tick it off. When you have the whole world at your disposal, it can feel a little overwhelming, but you can narrow down your options by first deciding whether you would prefer a land-based holiday or a liveaboard trip.
Liveaboard trips can be great for meeting new people and (if you're lucky) making new dive buddies, but if you're looking for a bit of 'me time,' an off-the-beaten-track luxury resort may be the better choice. Some are put off liveaboard diving as a solo traveller, fearing they'll be the sole solo diver, but many liveaboard companies run special solo diver trips where everyone on board is in the same boat (both figuratively and literally).
There are a number of dive resorts around the world that cater well to solo travellers. Dedicated dive resorts, in particular, are great for solo divers as there'll be plenty of other divers around for you to buddy with, and finding one with a similar level of experience should be easier than at a family-orientated resort with a dive centre nearby.
Similar to the liveaboard companies, some dive resorts around the world also run special weeks for solo divers, where there will be many other buddy-less divers around and single-room supplements are reduced or waived. Heading to a dedicated dive resort or one that runs a solo divers' week not only ensures you will easily find a buddy, but there will also be lots of like-minded people around to socialise with post-dive too.
Off the beaten track Vs the well-trodden road
If you're leaning towards a resort-based solo dive trip, so you can also enjoy some cultural tours and land-based exploration, then knowing how you wish to spend your holiday time can help you narrow down your choices. If you plan to be social and want to meet new people, busier tourist spots like Bali and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula are popular among independent travellers. There are plenty of options here for filling your days with interesting excursions, tropical beaches to laze on, and diverse diving on offer.
If you're looking for a more peaceful escape, off-the-beaten-track destinations and resorts may be better suited to your travel plans. Archipelagic nations with myriad islands can be great for finding a peaceful spot away from the madding crowds, and destinations like Fiji, the Philippines and the Caribbean are great for island hopping or hiding yourself away in paradisiacal peace.
Learning new skills
Travelling without a buddy can be a great opportunity to learn some new skills or to improve your current skill set. If you enjoy underwater photography, but your partner doesn't, heading off to a week-long underwater photography workshop will allow you to refine your skills and geek out with divers who share your passion. Then, post-dive kick back with a cold beer and spend the evening comparing photos and trading tips.
Another great course to take on a solo dive holiday is, rather aptly, the solo diver course. The course teaches you how to plan and safely conduct dives without a buddy, with an emphasis on gas management and equipment redundancy. Different dive agencies have different names for the course - self-reliant diver, independent diver or solo diver - and, although it's not for everyone, it's perfect for experienced divers visiting dive resorts where there is an easy, shallow house reef on your doorstep.
Less is more
Sometimes, when it comes to how to plan a solo dive holiday, less is more. The less planning you do, the more freedom you'll have. And with nobody else to protest, you can make your plans on the fly and change them whenever you please. If you're feeling particularly intrepid, simply decide on a destination and a resort, jump on your flight and see what destiny has in store for you.