Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

You’ve wondered – admit it – or you should have wondered – if diving at an all-inclusive resort would come out to be a better value than a self-planned scuba trip. I saw some discussion on this about a year ago, and had never even considered an all-inclusive as an option for a dive trip before that.

Now, I want to find all the details for you and for me! I love chasing down to the tiniest aspects for planning dive trips. Recently, I presented a Bonaire/Roatan trip breakdown. You can read about it here in Diving Bonaire versus Roatan // Comparing Expenses for a Week in December 2020.

The main find was Bonaire has less expensive diving but less expensive lodging, and Roatan nearly the opposite; resulting in a nearly equal trip price. Other factors such as airfare and food expense differences are detailed in that article. I’m hoping to ferret out the same type of details in this analysis. Spoiler alert; it all comes down to seven cocktails a day difference. Read on to see how the numbers compare…

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

What You Should Compare

For dive trip comparisons and decision making, first you should start with a rough estimate of the total costs of each aspect of a dive trip from airfare down to gratuities, taxi fares, food, and even drinks.

If the final figures come out close, next you look at other aspects. For instance, I might compare the quality of the diving, or the ease of the transportation, flight lengths, or whatever other considerations will help me break the tie and book the best value for our time and money. Different people’s priorities may vary, so decide your non-negotiables and negotiables.

Here are my rough estimates of expenses for scuba diving from Nassau on the island of New Providence, Bahamas, for a week in December of 2022. Please comment below if I’ve left out anything!

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

Deciding What Locations to Compare

First, I had to determine which all-inclusive resort has the best scuba diving. After researching, I chose to research Sandals Resorts, because their Sandals Royal Bahamian location boasts having better diving, even better than Grenada, Saint Lucia or Barbados. They have their own dive operations, dive masters, and dive boats instead of shuttling you to an independent contractor. I started looking at December 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022.

Prices ranged from $6,800 up to $11,000 for a week for couples, with honeymoon hideaway swim-up rooms off Crystal Lagoon topping the list. Many in that price point even feature butlers!

The Sandals listing included 32 dive sites, from wrecks to islands, to a lighthouse, no-penetration caves, reefs, a couple walls, the James Bond 007 wrecks, a plane, the Hollywood Bowl, and the famous Blue Hole.

These dive sites off New Providence are available to anyone in the area. So, the next step was to find details and costs of an Airbnb, food, rental car, and dives to make a complete comparison.

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

Rough Breakdown of Expenses:
All-Inclusive versus Airbnb

Garden view room at Sandals Nassau Royal BahamianAll Inclusive near Cable Beach North Central NP – For Veteran’s Day, all who serve get an additional 10% off, and often there are booking specials for items like spa credits. Opening January 28, 2021.Room in Serviced Apartment hosted by Joshua Nassau – Airbnb Southeast NP Near Bahama Divers or Dive Center BahamasA Hidden Gem Nassau – Airbnb Southwest NP Near Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas
$8,006 Total per Couple$4,045 Total per Couple$3,821 Total per Couple
$300 each airfare from MCO 1hr, 15min.$300 each airfare$300 each airfare
Included$32 taxi airport transfers total$18 taxi airport transfers total
Shore Diving IncludedShore Diving PossibleShore Diving Possible
32 dive sites dive sites; wrecks, islands, a lighthouse, no-penetration caves, reefs, a couple walls, the James Bond 007 wrecks, a plane, the Hollywood Bowl, and the famous Blue Hole. Included.$139 most dives, so, 5 days is $695 plus tips $100 ($5 per tank, 2 people, 2 tanks, 5 days, $20/day) 5 days of 2-tank dives is $546 including hotel transfers each plus tips $100
The Sandals fleet of dive boats are 49 foot twin diesel Newton dive boats, 16 feet wide, top speed of 30 mph. Onboard freshwater shower and diving platform are a few of the amenities. Equipment, staff, and guidesNot sureNewtons
Balmoral Premium. King bed, en-suite bathroom, fridge stocked with wines, bottled water, juice, soda and local beer. Air conditioning, safe, telephone, wifi, iron and board, hair dryer, spa amenity kit, free wifi. In-room local beer and wine, airport transfers, free wifi, garden view.Entire apartment, walk to Bahama Divers, car on site, central air, gated, beach close. Wifi, tea and coffee.Entire home, waterfront, 3-minute walk to beach, private chef and chauffeur on Coral Harbor waterways.
Included$891 Airbnb$993 Airbnb
11 gourmet restaurantsWalking distance to groceryWalking distance to grocery
IncludedGroceries $500 estimateGroceries $500 estimate
IncludedLiquor $150 estimateLiquor $150 estimate
Included$350 car rental$350 car rental
Included$3-$10 Breakfast, $9-$15 Lunch, $12-$27 Dinner, beer $2-$4, cocktails $5-$12. $3-$10 Breakfast, $9-$15 Lunch, $12-$27 Dinner, beer $2-$4, cocktails $5-$12.
Beaches, unlimited motorized and non-motorized water sports, snorkeling, unlimited land sports, fitness center, gourmet restaurants and bars, green fees, 11 restaurants, 8 bars including some swim-up bars, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and anytime snacks. Hobie Cats, paddle boards, kayaks, tennis, diving equipment.Beaches, tours, horseback riding, rent a pedal boat, bike rentals, sightseeing.Beaches, tours, horseback riding, rent a pedal boat, bike rentals, sightseeing.
Tipping is not allowed at Sandals; specialty restaurants are included, all drinks from premium to top-rated are included. Evening attire is resort evening long pants for men, no flip flops.No smoking, pets, or parties.Free parking on premises, no smoking, pets, or parties. 20% weekly price discount.
Noseeums and mosquitoesLocal Pests all the sameNoseeums and mosquitoes
Nothing to plan is a big benefit.Everything to plan is a drawback.Everything to plan is a drawback.

Food and alcohol figures are estimated. You might spend more or less.
diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

Other Dive Package Options Through Dive Operator Stuart Cove’s

Stuart Cove’s has a section on their web site for dive packages. I spent some time looking over their figures, and speaking to Pamela on the phone.

These figures should be looked at as estimates, since Stuart Cove’s have suspended their bookings of these package deals until Covid vaccinations and travel restrictions are lifted. So, these are for rough estimates and fast comparisons of some general figures. Post-Covid rates may increase.

Orange Hill – Nothing Included

A stay at Orange Hill, a funky small hotel, includes dive shop transfers, two-tank morning dives, hotel taxes, gratuity, and service charges. That fee per person for two people is $1,144 per person for seven nights.

On-site breakfasts are $12 and dinners are $13-$25. Breakfasts would run you around $168, and dinners $280 – either on site or down the road at Traveler’s Rest. Lunches I estimate about $200, eating at Stuart Cove’s restaurant. Throw in $150 for drinks. So far, that’s about $3,722 including airfare and transfers.

Orange Hill has a freshwater pool, and an honor bar. I’ve stayed there several times myself. It’s a long-time favorite with divers.

Melia Nassau Beach – All Inclusive

A package at Melia Nassau Beach, an all-inclusive resort with six restaurants and lounges, casino tennis, golf, and water sports is around $9,580-$9,700.

Breezes Nassau – All Inclusive

Another option is Breezes Nassau, $8,244 oceanfront is the least expensive option. Included are all meals, snacks, drinks, entertainment, tips and gratuities, land and water sports, and all taxes. That’s including airfare.

Compass Point – Semi Inclusive (Breakfast)

What looks like a very interesting option is also through Stuart Cove’s at Compass Point, the accommodations closest to the dive shop. $1,642 per person for a seaview studio or $1,849 for an elevated seaview hut, of which there are only 18 huts total, and some have two bedrooms.

The attractive part is the smaller size of the facility, the colorful funky vibe, and what could be better than a walk on Love Beach?! The bright Junkanoo-colored huts and waterfront pool look like great fun.

Complimentary deluxe continental breakfast is offered, and there’s a poolside bar, swim-up bar open until 7:00 p.m. They have a restaurant that is open for lunch. Rooms feature air conditioning, microwave, toaster oven, and refrigerator so you could prepare your own simple meals.

Huts have queen or king-sized beds, patios, and a variety of balcony setups. Compass Point is located two miles from the airport! Of all the options; this would be my choice for semi-inclusive. I’m coming up with an estimate of about $4,514 for Compass Point, airfare, lunches and dinners.

My consideration here would be is the extra $500 worth it for having breakfasts available. We could do the Cuban habit of wrapping up some breakfast meat and bread and cheese for a sandwich later, and grab a piece of fruit. I think staying there with a pool and swim-up bar means we would spend more on drinks than staying in an Airbnb without a bar.

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

Airbnb / VRBO Nothing Included

Going it alone in an Airbnb or VRBO and cooking all your meals is going to cost you about $4,000 for the week. Is it worth an additional $5,500 for someone else to cook all our meals and mix all our drinks? For us; that savings means we can take an entirely different second trip – two for one.

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

Other Dive Package Options Through PADI Dive Resorts Listings

PADI has links to some resorts that offer dive packages. I’ve put the price per person, then doubled for two people and added in airfare food and beverages for a rough estimate of the cost for these locations in December.

These are for seven nights, including 10 to 12 dives per diver.

Seven days, per diver, including diving:
Sandyport Beach Resort – $1,618 pp – no meals = $4,486
Chub Cay Resort & Marina – $3,133 pp – no meals = $7,516
Comfort Suites Paradise Island – $1,594 pp – breakfast included= $4,438
Compass Point Beach Resort – $1,909 pp – breakfast included = $4,908
A Stone’s Throw Away – $1,854 pp – breakfast included = $4,958
Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach – $2,170 pp – all inclusive = $4,940
Melia Nassau Beach All Inclusive – $5,129 pp – all inclusive = $10,858

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

Final Estimates: All Inclusive versus Semi-Inclusive versus Airbnb

All Inclusives
Viva Windham
to Sandals
Semi Inclusives
Compass Point to
Comfort Suites
Non Inclusives
Airbnb, Airbnb, and Orange Hill
$300 flight$300 flight$300 flight
Diving IncludedDiving Included~$600 five 2-tank dives
$4,138 – $7,406
per couple avg
$3,284 -$4,438
per couple average
$891 – $993
per couple average
Included$20 airport transfer$350 car rental
Included$480 eating out,
$150 drinks
$500 groceries,
$150 drinks
Included$100 dive gratuities$100 dive gratuities
Very expensive
Maybe cook a bit
Cooking, driving, no pool
($3,722 for Orange Hill
with a pool, eat B&D there.)
Nothing to plan
Security, Amenities
Less expensive,
nicer than some hotels
$4,738 to
$8,006 total
$4,654 to
$5,808 total
$3,191, $3,293, $4,422

In all, your choices become so much clearer with some numbers to compare.

For $4,738 you can go all-inclusive; not a bad price. That’s $1,547 higher than an Airbnb and cooking all of your meals. Or, $773 per person more for no cooking, no driving, no grocery shopping, and whatever other water sports you wish to indulge in after diving all morning.

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

The Big Variable: Apres-Dive Drinks

Here’s the huge variable: I think my estimate of $150 for alcoholic beverages is a bit high for some couples, so that number could change. Additionally, it’s probably far, far too low a number for other couples. Five nights of three beers each at $5 a beer is $75; or, $150 for two people. That’s what I set in the budgets above.

However, if your sundowners include three cocktails at $10 each for five nights; your $150 each is more realistically $300 each. Add on your arrival and final nights, and now you’re up to $440 or so for two people. Three drinks…

So, let’s take that $773 per person, which is now actually $628. And let’s figure drinks are $10, and with tax and tips, $12 each. Divided, that gives us 52 drinks each. That sounds like a lot, seven drinks a day.

Figuring a cold beer after diving, a fruity cocktail upon arrival at the pool, another swirly drink at the swim-up bar, a glass of champagne while you get dressed for dinner, a glass of wine before dinner. a glass of wine with dinner, a fancy coffee drink after dinner; that’s seven drinks. If you plan to have a few shots while dancing the night away… you are past the break-even point.

Now we are down to the exact same decision on whether or not to purchase the drink package on a cruise. There’s a break-even point. You just have to figure out where it is.

We have found that the most budget-friendly and cost-effective dive trips can happen on a cruise ship! Be sure to read: 8 Reasons You Just Might Love a Cruise Ship Dive Trip.

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

Some of My Resources:

These are just a few of my sources. I scoured several airfare aggregators, and same with hotel, Airbnb, and dive shops. I looked up local expenses and even restaurant menus. Feel free to add worthy resources in the comments below!

Don’t forget that in many destinations, sunscreens with toxic ingredients are forbidden. Stay reef- and human-safe with Stream2Sea shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, mask defog, sting relief in biodegradable sugar cane resin tubes. Use my code “DeepWH” to take 10% off your entire order.

Stuart Cove’s Hotel Packages
PADI Travel Diving in Nassau (New Providence)
Bahama Divers
Dive Center Bahamas
Dive Center Bahamas through BestOnTravelNetwork to see rates
Sandals Royal Bahamian
PADI Dive Resorts Listing – 6 in Nassau (New Providence)

diving an all inclusive resort, Diving An All-Inclusive Resort Compared With a Self-Led Airbnb Scuba Trip

We Don’t Go Anywhere Without:

  • Stream2Sea Reef Safe SPF 20 or 30 mineral, regular or tinted sunscreen, mask defog, shampoo, conditioner, rash guards and more reef-safe supplies. Use my code “DeepWH” for 10% off. The packages are biodegradeable – not just recycled and recyclable.
  • Cycle Booty Citrus Cleanser and Post Ride Cream.
  • Crisis Medicine Tactical Casualty Care Course knowledge so we can help ourselves. With code “DeepWH” you save 20% on the TC2 course
  • MyMedic Individual Bleeding Control Kits, this link and my code “DeepWH15” will save you 15% on your purchase. We take ours everywhere.
  • North American Rescue CAT tourniquets. Use code “MAY25” for 20% off through midnight on 5/31/20. This is a huge savings!
  • Airbnb, “Kimberly gave you up to $55 off your first trip.”
  • Airbnb says, “Deep gave you up to $415 off your first adventure.
  • Uber gives you $2 off your first three rides.
  • Travelex is our trip insurer – click for a free quote.
  • Girls That Scuba – members discount card for all things diving.
  • REI Co-op for great sports equipment and travel clothes.
  • Sailo for $100 off your next boat rental! Discount Code: “KimWa1”
  • PierShare to rent your dock out or rent a dock.
  • BoatUS for your boat towing insurance! Code: “HEWAF88”
  • RoadId for $5 off your cycling/running/kayaking/travel id.
  • Dazer Ii Ultrasonic Aggressive Dog Deterrent Repeller Dazzer – keeping dogs at bay while we cycle.
  • Guardline Security Wireless Driveway Alarm – alerts us when someone approaches. Less expensive directly from the company.
  • Thank you for using my links – your price does not change, but they may gift me a small percentage of your sale in return for my mention, which allows me to continue to bring to you fun content.
  • AD: affiliate links used.
  • Thanks Bill for being the Best Dive Partner Ever!

What to Read Next: 7 Items for Dive Boat Survival – The Prepared Diver

Updated November 5, 2020


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