Are you taking a vacation to a tropical destination? If you want to make it a trip to remember, why not do a couple of dives while you’re there? Scuba diving gives you a unique perspective of the underwater world. Getting down onto the reef gives you amazing views of the sea life that call it their home.
Scuba diving is a thrilling experience. From the second you set foot on the boat for the dive site, you’ll feel your adrenaline rise. When you drop into the water, your senses come alive as your mind and body adapt to a new environment. One dive and you’re hooked on the sport, and all you can think about is your next drop.
If you’re keen to start scuba, then you’ll need to know what to expect before you run out and book your first dive holiday. We curated all the information you need for a successful and safe dive experience in this guide.
- Understanding Scuba Diving Gear
- Part 1 – What to Do Before You Go Scuba Diving
- Part 2 – The Dive
- Part 3 – Post-Scuba Diving
Understanding Scuba Diving Gear
First, let’s start with the gear. While your scuba diving course will run you through all of this information, we want to give you an overview of what to expect from the gear requirements for the sport. The reality is that scuba diving is expensive if you take it up as a hobby.
The gear requirements come with a high one-off cost initially, and then you have maintenance costs to consider throughout the year and on your dive trips. Here are the basics of what you’ll need to equip yourself for scuba diving.
Mask & Snorkel
Your mask and snorkel are the more affordable end of your gear, but they are critical to the enjoyment of your experience underwater. We recommend looking for a low-volume mask with as little distance between your eyes and the lenses as possible.
Low volume masks stick to your face better than high-volume masks that are better suited to snorkeling. Your snorkel it’s a relatively new piece of gear, but you’ll need to learn to use it as a beginner. Most divemaster’s don’t bother using it during their dive.
The wetsuit keeps you warm when you’re down at depths of 30-feet or more. The surface might be sunny and warm, and the first few feet of water might feel like a bath.
However, get down to a decent depth, and stay there for 30-minutes, and you’ll find you’re feeling cold. An exposure suit prevents you from getting cold and ending up with hypothermia. It also prevents you from scratching yourself on the reef.
Regulator and Tank
The regulator and tank are responsible for delivering air to you during your dive. The tank will contain an air nitrogen mix that allows you to breathe underwater.
The regulator attaches to the tank, creating a pressurized system that connects to your mouthpiece and BCD. The tank is the heaviest part of your gear, and they come in different sizes, depending on how long you intend on being underwater.
The Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) is a jacket featuring inflatable ballasts. The BCD connects to the regulator system, allowing you to inflate and deflate it using a button on the vest. You’ll adjust the inflation in the BCD to make you neutrally buoyant in the water.
When you’re neutrally buoyant, your hanging is suspended in the water column without rising or sinking. The BCD is an expensive piece of equipment, and they come in different styles to accommodate what kind of diving you’re doing. For instance, a rescue BCD will be different from the design of a recreational model.
- LARGE SIZE: Unfolded size: 27.5"x13.8"x13.8", package size: 10.2"x8.7"x3.2". Easily put all your gear in one bag and fold it for space-saving storage.
- FEATURE: The mesh material allows you to quickly and easily rinse any salt water, sand, dirt or mud off through your bag while your gear is still inside. The mesh allows any water to drain and helps your gear to dry quickly.
- APPLICATION: The mesh bag is perfect for all water sports. Scuba, snorkeling, swimming, diving, surfing, etc. Store your fins, goggles, mask, wetsuit, adjusters, shoes, BCD and more. An excellent item for outdoor travel.
- HIGH QUALITY: The mesh diving bag is made of tough rubber, with sturdy zipper for durability. You need a scuba bag that won't tear or rot on the beach.
- GREAT GIFT: The perfect birthday, Christmas and anniversary gift for family and friends. Buy with confidence, support no-reason return and refund service.
- Material: Nylon with TPU
- Size: 5" (W) x 4' (L)
- Plastic Clip included
- Fits in BCD pocket or clip
- Easy to use oral inflate "Diver Below' print
- Cressi Solid Scuba Package + Mares Puck Pro Computer
- Complete Life Support BCD & Regulator System
- Jacket Style BCD
- BCD Available in Multiple Sizes
- Primary Regulator w/Octopus
Gauges and Dive Computer
The gauges give you an idea of your depth and how much air you have left in the tank. Running out of air underwater means you’ll need to rely on your buddy. Chances are they won’t have much air left wither by the time you run out.
So, keeping an eye on your gauges is important. Most rental regulator systems come with analog gauges for the readouts on the depth and air pressure in the tanks. However, when you make the step into buying your gear yourself, you’ll have the chance to buy a digital dive computer.
The dive computer attaches to the regulator system in the same manner as the analog gauges. However, it records much more data than the gauges. The dive computer measures many aspects of your entire drive, allowing you to download the data to your laptop for syncing with your logbook.
You have options for onboard dive computers or wearables. There are dive watches that do everything the onboard system does and more, including measuring your blood oxygen and nitrogen levels and your recovery rate.
They are expensive pieces of equipment but worth the investment if you decide to take diving as a serious hobby.
The weight belt is a nylon belt with a stainless steel buckle. You attach weights to help you sink in the water, compensating for your body’s buoyancy and the exposure suit.
The BCD allows you to adjust the buoyancy in the water, allowing you to account for the weight belt to reach neutral buoyancy.
Fins come in various models, from split-fins to hinge models and more. Your fins should have an open-heel design to allow you to wear dive booties when fitting the fins. The fins should have a soft foot pocket that doesn’t place pressure on the top of your feet when finning.
Some divemaster’s find they don’t need to use finds at all. If you’re diving at a site will easy current conditions, you could get in the water and just drift, without the need to do much finning at all. You’ll find that when you master the buoyancy control of the BCD and the drift, you don’t need to fin at all.
The dive knife comes in handy when you encounter fishing lines off the reef that you can cut away to improve the environmental conditions. Dive knives are convenient but not required like the others mentioned above.
Do I Need to Buy Scuba Diving Gear Before My Trip?
No, most scuba diving charters offer gear rentals at the site. However, rental gear like wetsuits, masks, and fins come in various states of useability.
The last thing you need is to get down to the bottom of the dive site to find that your mask is leaking because of weathered skirting.
If you think there’s a good chance you’re going to take up scuba diving for the long term, you can start by buying your “soft gear.” The soft gear is your mask, snorkel, exposure suit, and fins. Buying this gear isn’t as expensive as you think.
Part 1 – What to Do Before You Go Scuba Diving
Before you head out o the boat to the dive site, there are a couple of things you’re going to need to take care of.
Get Qualified by a Certified Dive School
First, you’ll need to get qualified by a certified dive organization through a dive school. If you have a few months to the trip, you can usually find a dive school in any city that will teach you’re the basics of scuba diving and safety before you head out for the trip. This way, you don’ have to spend two days learning the basics in the pool when you could be out on the reef.
However, if there are only a few weeks to the trip, you can always book with a school at your vacation location., Many hotels offering scuba diving trips also provide training courses.
Typically, the training has a theory session and two or three pool sessions. The theory is easy enough, but the pool work is the main focus. You’ll learn techniques like clearing your mask if it floods underwater and buddy breathing if you run out of air.
After you complete the training, the school registers you on the international database for the organization they represent. C-Mass and PADI are two of the leading scuba diving organizations qualifying divers worldwide.
With a recreational divers license, you can dive up to 40-feet. If you want to go deeper for specialty dives, you’ll have to continue your training with the advanced diver’s course.
After that, you have options to train as a rescue diver and move into formal qualifications as a divemaster, where you can teach other people.
Go to the Doctor for a Dive-Specific Checkup
Before you go for your dive trip, you’ll need to visit the doctor for a checkup. The do9ctorswill check your blood pressure, heart health, and lung capacity. If they find you in good health, they will clear you to dive using a special medical form that you’ll give to the dive charter.
If you don’t visit the doctor, you’ll find it challenging to get a dive school or charter to take the accountability and l9ioability if something health-related happens to you during your training or on a dive.
Book Your Dive with a Certified Dive Charter
When booking your dive trip, make sure you sign up with a reputable, recognized dive charter. The smaller dive charters might seem like a great deal, but they’re likely to let you down.
The established charters have the right staff and systems to ensure you get as many dives as you want each day.
Pay Attention During the Dive Plan Briefing
When you’re trained and ready to hit the water for your first dive, you’ll meet with your divemaster for a dive briefing.
During the briefing, the divemaster outlines the “dive plan.” The dive plan tells you where you’re going, the specifics of the dive site, what to look for in sea life and terrain, and the total dive length and time underwater, including bottom time.
The dive plan ensures that everyone knows where they are going and what they are doing. It outlines the safety stop procedures and the protocols for returning to the boat. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask your divemaster any questions you have regarding the dive.
Remember the saying, “Plan Your Dive, Dive Your Plan.” This proverb will keep you safe during your scuba diving experience.
Double Check Your Gear and Always Complete the Buddy Check
Before you head to the boat, complete your gear check and have your buddy double-check it for you. They’ll turn on the air and press the clear valve on the regulator system to ensure that the air is flowing. You’ll do the same for them. After testing the air, close it until you reach the dive site.
Join DAN and Take Travel Insurance
Before you ever even think about booking your trip, make sure you sign up with DAN. The Diver Alert Network is a scuba-diver-specific medical emergency group.
If you get the bends from failing to complete your safety stop, or something happens to you during the dive, DAN will send emergency air rescue to you anywhere in the world.
Keep Your Information On Hand
Remember to have all your important medical information filed with the dive charter before you head out onto the boat.
If there’s a situation where you’re unconscious, the charter can hand the medical team the vital information they need to save your life.
Part 2 – The Dive
When you get in the water, make sure you adhere to these tips.
RULE #1 – Don’t Hold Your Breath
Never hold your breath when scuba diving. This could lead to an embolism where air enters the bloodstream, and you die instantly from a stroke underwater.
RULE #2 – Dive Alone, Die Alone
Never go diving without a buddy. Those that dive alone die alone. Pay attention to your dive buddy and divemaster at all times.
Remember to Equalize During Your Descent
As you descend to the bottom, equalize your ears. Stop and wait until you equalize before descending too quick. Dropping without equalizing could perforate your eardrum, damaging your inner ear.
Control Your Breathing and Watch Your air
Keep your eye on your air gauge and control your breathing. With the right breathing technique, you can get up to an hour or more of bottom time at 30 to 40-feet.
Don’t Fin – Drift
Don’t waste your energy finning around the reef. The divemaster will drop you at one point of the reef where the current drifts you across the terrain, from one side to the other. So, if you have the right neutral buoyancy, you shouldn’t need to fin.
Sit back, cross your feet, tuck your hands to your chest and hang in the drift. You’ll dee the top divemaster’s never fin, and they always seem to have their feet crossed. Drifting instead of finning conserves your energy and air, giving you more bottom time.
Look Don’t Touch
Don’t touch anything on the reef. Even if you’re wearing gloves, you could end up damaging the reef and the coral polyps. Keep your hands tucked to your chest at all times and enjoy the view.
Remember the Safety Stop
The safety stop is critical of the ascent back to the surface. You wait suspended in the water column 15-feet from the surface at the safety stop and hang there for five minutes.
This time gives your body a chance to remove as much pressurized nitrogen from your blood as possible. If you don’t adhere to the safety stop, you’re going to end up with a condition known as “the bends,” or formally known as “decompression sickness.”
In this case, the nitrogen literally starts bubbling in your blood, leading to a potential pulmonary embolism or stroke if you don’t receive immediate treatment.
The only treatment for the bends is time in a hypobaric decompression chamber, and there are only a few of those available in areas near dive sites.
That’s why it’s so critical to have a DAN membership, so they can airlift you to the nearest hospital with the right equipment to treat you.
Keep Your Head Out of the Water
Keep your head out of the water when you’re at the surface. Make sure you stay alert to the people around you, the boat, and oncoming boats.
Put your mask around your neck
When floating on the surface, pull the mask around your neck, don’t leave it on your head. A strong wave could knock it from your head, causing it to sink to the bottom.
Part 3 – Post-Scuba Diving
After you complete the dive, it’s time to wrap things up and monitor your health for a safe post-dive experience.
Do the Debriefing and Complete Your Log
After the dive, gather with your dive team and listen to the divemaster debriefing. Complete your dive log information and ask when you’re going out next and when to gather for the dive briefing.
Tell Someone if You’re Not Feeling Right
If you’re not feeling right for any reason, tell your dive buddy or the divemaster. They will monitor you for any signs of decompression sickness.
Wait for 24-Hours to Fly
Wait for 24-hours after you reach the boat from your last dive before you think about stepping on an airplane.
You need time to dissolve the nitrogen from your bloodstream before entering a pressurized environment.
Failing to adhere to this rule will mean that you could start suffering the symptoms of decompression sickness on the plan, which is a great way to ruin your honeymoon.