My Next Adventure for 2016
There are a million other things I should be doing right now. Like actually reading for my HR class. Or putting my laundry away. Or maybe even going to bed, because I still manage to stay up too late at night. But right now I really just feel like planning my next trip. One of my favorite parts of traveling, by far, is the planning part. At this point, I don't plan my travels as much as I used to. But I get a thrill out of just literally having the opportunity to choose where I want to go. Absolutely anywhere. And then I get to make it happen, even if my budget is tight or my time is limited. I just adapt the place I choose based on travel expenses and cut down on the length of travel time. Every time I come back from a solo trip, I get a little more fearless and wayyyyy too eager to lock in another trip. I can't help it. So here's what I'm looking for:
Christmas time. Either before, during, or after Christmas. Christmas is definitely valuable family time, but Christmas has changed now that my sister and I are older. Some of the benefits of traveling during Christmas are too good to pass up - cheap flights on Christmas day, paid holidays, and escaping the winter.
Must. Have. Diving. I miss scuba diving. It's ridiculous. I miss the serenity of disappearing below the ocean's surface and all of my worries and anxieties disappearing, too. I miss the morning spent out on the dive boat, tanning on the upper deck and snacking on fruit between surface intervals. I miss being totally in awe of the tiniest details under the sea, like the baby fish darting in between the coral. The longer I go without diving, the more I fear my lifetime certification will go to waste.
Warm water. I don't want to dive in cold water. Nooo thanks. I dived in 75 degree water in Thailand and I still wore a wetsuit every time. This rules out the west coast.
That island life. I was totally spoiled on Koh Tao. I didn't expect to spend three weeks on an island, but I did. And I loved it. I want to do it again.
On this side of the world, please. I loved Thailand. I would go back in a heartbeat. But the 20 hours of traveling was brutal on the way home, and suffering from jet lag left me short a day in Thailand. I want an island in this hemisphere, in this timezone, with a 6 hour flight or less.
Cheap. As usual. I won't pay for this flight using miles. It will be out of pocket, but I will put it on a credit card to rack up even more miles for my next, next trip. The flight has to be under $600.
I just pulled up a map of Central America and the Caribbean on Google Maps, along with some of the best dive sites. I haven't done too much research yet, but these places match my essentials: island, diving, and western hemisphere. I need to check the weather during December, as it could be monsoon or wet season in some countries, and flight prices are going to vary. But here's what I've got:
Roatan, Honduras: the Bay Islands reef is the second largest reef in the world, and the island of Roatan is smack dab in the middle of it. The Bay Islands are home to every single species of marine life found in the Caribbean, including dolphins, sea turtles, nurse sharks, and barracudas. Plenty of reputable dive shops found on TripAdvisor. However, visibility can be poor during December due to hurricane/wet season.
Caye Caulker, Belize: This is a long shot because Belize is straight expensive. It is the most expensive country out of Central America, and simply eyeing their diving rates made my eyes pop. But, it is a stunning country and the diving is the best in the world. Some of the dive spots are most likely out of my experience range, but still plenty to see. Caye Caulker is Belize's main backpacking destination, so I might be able to swing it.
Bocas del Toro, Panama: I equate Panama with being cheap. Not sure if that's true, but I hope it is. You can dive on either side of Panama, either in the Caribbean or the Pacific Ocean. Weather seems to be mild year-round.
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica: I've never had much interest in going to Costa Rica because it's so "touristy," then I realized I had to stop being a snob and discover why this country has so much going for it. It is most likely more expensive than Panama or Honduras. But its diving is supposed to low-key and easy going.
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands: I'm trying to convince my dad that we should do a family vacation during Christmas. I got my love of travel from my dad - we always need something to look forward to, and that means a trip abroad! He gave me the go ahead to look into flight and hotel costs for the Virgin Islands (my mom doesn't have a passport) and they have scuba diving there, so all of my boxes are checked. I don't know if this trip will happen, but fingers crossed!
There's also some great diving in the Bahamas and Mexico, but I'm not as interested in those locations.
If the family vacation doesn't happen, I'll pick a place in September and buy a ticket in October. Or, I'll decide to save my money for a trip in 2016, but I really don't know if I can wait that long.