Airlines, bloggers, cruise lines, and resorts flood our inboxes daily with travel contests and sweepstakes. The prizes are always tempting, but it’s tough to figure out which giveaways are worth your valuable time (and contact information) and which you should demote to the spam folder. To up your odds of scoring a free vacation, we’ll feature one travel contest each week – and say why it’s worth your while.

Contest: Sponsored by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and Queensland Tourism, this trip is a diver’s dream: Seven nights, including accommodations and coach airfare, for two in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, diving’s Holy Grail, which spans 1,400 miles of some of the world’s most stunning underwater scenery. The trip features three nights onboard the dive ship Spirit of Freedom and the opportunity for 11 dives, as well as a day trip to the Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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Ease of Entry: Moderate. The contest is based on receiving your actual PADI certification, not just signing up. What’s involved in getting certified: Completing coursework (the e-Learning online option is easiest), five protected water dives and four open water dives at a PADI dive center; total cost for certification is around $500 to $800, depending on the dive center. That’s doable in as quickly as three or four days, according to PADI’s website, but you’ll have to act fast. How about using the holiday weekend for a last-minute diving vacation?


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Value: About $4,500 per person.

Odds of Winning: At the time this post was published, your chances were 1 in 16,809. PADI’s California headquarters, which handles processing of certifications as they come in from its dive centers, is loosely predicting the winning certification will come sometime around September 6.

Deadline: No deadline – just as soon as the 20 millionth certification has been processed.

Details: To register, go to www.padi.com. The contest is open to first-time divers or experienced divers looking to get another level of certification.

Verdict: If you’ve been putting off getting certified, the promotion is a great incentive to finally sign up. If you live close to one of PADI’s 6,000 dive centers worldwide, even better. Dive on in!

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