Desert dwelling Scuba divers have many options!

by John Flanders, Academy of Scuba

There are many folks who ask, “how do you Scuba dive in Phoenix”? Arizona is, after all, the “all beach, no ocean state”. However, those of us who dive … that crave blowing bubbles, no matter what the temperature is outside or how far away the nearest ‘mega resort’ may be, will find a place to strap on a tank and make a dive. Fortunately, Arizona is ripe with options for local Scuba divers of all levels. You don’t have to spend $3000 and take a week’s vacation to go make a dive or two.

Arizona has a well developed dive community. Phoenix is home to a tight local contingency that dive together, travel together and socialize together. This community dives, actively and locally, on a year round basis. Supporting this network of Scuba divers is over 20 dive shop locations that represent several major dive agencies including PADI, NAUI, SDI/TDI, SSI and others.

Diving Phoenix Arizona

In these economic times, not everyone has the time or money to escape the desert to go Scuba diving. Rest assured, there is still plenty of opportunities for these bubble blowing desert dwellers to head out spend some time underwater. Phoenix is home to several lakes that divers can Scuba dive. The best, and most popular location, is Lake Pleasant Arizona. Just 30 minutes North of downtown Phoenix, Lake Pleasant has multiple shore diving locations. Additionally, there are several charter boats that offer two tank boat diving for less than $60. Another fun option for experienced divers is diving the Salt River. While the Salt River may be famous for its weekend tubing events, Monday mornings make for great “treasure hunting dives”. Of course, diving rivers requires additional training and can only be done when the river currents are at their lowest.

Overnight Drive Scuba Trips

Phoenix is located close to several world class dive destinations. San Diego California, Catalina Island (just West of Los Angeles) offer hundreds of opportunities for a diver to experience the Kelp Forests, Wreck Diving, Shark Diving and more. California is a quick 5 to 7 hour drive trip and can be a nice inexpensive getaway for those who need salt water and a great dive experience. San Diego is home to Wreck Alley which is a world class wreck diving destination that attracts divers from all over the world to train and dive.Catalina boasts a spectacular marine park for shore divers staying overnight or visiting Catalina for the day. Southern California also offers “overnight live-aboards” which offer trips throughout the Channel Islands, Catalina and San Clemente. These live-aboards boast fantastic menus and austere sleeping/bunk arrangements. While accommodations may be “tight”. you are well fed and these live-aboards offer more diving for your dollar than most other weekend dive vacations.

Another option for overnight driving trips is the Sea of Cortez. Puerto Penasco and San Carlos are two popular dive destinations that are within driving distance. In the summertime, water temperatures can reach over 80 degrees in the Sea of Cortez. Dive shops around Phoenix offer trips to both locations and generally package a hotel stay with it. Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) is about a 4 hour drive trip and San Carlos is about an 8 hour drive trip. You will need a passport for both destinations. If it is your first time driving to either destination, it is recommended that you go with a local dive shop to get the lay of the land.

If you are looking for an overnight dive trip, with a little spice to it. Laughlin Nevada makes a great little excursion. Only 15 minutes away from the Lake Mohave Scuba Diving Park (at Cabinsite Point), divers can spend the day diving the sunken school bus, van and 2 sailboats in the dive park and spend the evening playing in Laughlin. Laughlin is a 4 hour driving destination from Phoenix and diving in Lake Mohave has some altitude considerations. Make sure you are trained in Altitude diving prior to diving Lake Mohave.

Exotic Dive Trips

In Phoenix, we are pretty lucky to have several major airlines servicing many popular exotic dive destinations. Many of these destinations can be reached, non-stop, out of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Others, in the South Pacific or Caribbean require an easy connection through LAX or Houston. While you can search many of these great trips online, almost every dive shop in Phoenix has 2 or 3 exotic trips per year to places like Cozumel, Turks and Caicos and Fiji. These same dive shops spend many hours research the destination, doing all the logistical preparation and ultimately escort divers on these trips.

While we may live in the desert, we are not confined to diving only 2 or 3 times per year. As a “desert diver”, we can spend as much time underwater as our personal lives allow. Continue your training, go on some dive trips, attend the many local socials sponsored by dive shops and stay active in the Phoenix Scuba Diving community.