Scuba diving is a richly rewarding activity for adventurous water and nature lovers, but it’s not quite as easy to take up as many other hobbies or sports. You need to attend a dive school first and learn all about the techniques, equipment, and safety information involved. This typically takes three days or more of instruction from a teacher certified by either the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) or Scuba Schools International (SSI).
Your instructor will cover a lot of ground, and it’s a lot to take in—most of it entirely unfamiliar to students at first. The following scuba diving tips for beginners highlight some of the basics that are important to safely enjoying your dives. Read them over, but make sure you’re paying attention in dive school, where you’ll get a lot more advice and details.
Enjoy the depths!
Advice for Novice Scuba Divers
- Practice swimming and yoga for at least a few months before you take up scuba diving; this helps prepare you by teaching you better control over your body when it’s in the water, as well as control over your breathing, and it also gets you in better shape for diving
- Learn about the pros and cons of PADI and SSI certification and pick the one that’s right for you; then, choose a dive school carefully, reading reviews, looking for a low student-to-instructor ratio, and checking out the facility to make sure it looks clean and professional
- Rent equipment at first, but be prepared to invest in quality gear if you’re going to stick with diving; once you have your own equipment, read up on proper care and don’t neglect it
- Study the conditions and underwater life you can expect to encounter in any location where you intend to scuba dive; also, do some research on the recommended skill and experience levels for potential dive destinations
- Get informed about nitrogen narcosis too, including the causes, symptoms, prevention, and what to do; every diver will experience it at some depth
- Regulators often get knocked out of your mouth; practice reaching around toward your lower back and getting a hold of your regulator until it’s a well-ingrained movement
- Don’t bring underwater cameras on your first few dives; they’re distracting, and you should stay completely focused on the dive until you’re more experienced
- If you suffer from seasickness or other forms of motion sickness, it can affect you underwater too; take a preventative before you dive
- Pee as much as you can as close to dive time as you can; people tend to have to go more and more often while underwater for a while
- Thoroughly check all your dive equipment before submerging; pay attention for things like jumping gauge needles, air that smells or tastes a little funny, air leaks, broken buckles, and visible signs of damage, and make sure your inflator hose and weights are properly attached
- Remember to breathe slowly and calmly, staying relaxed to conserve oxygen and stay in control of your motions and emotions; underwater panic is a leading cause of bad scuba diving experiences and injuries, and also contributes to an estimated 1 in 5 diving deaths
- Keep breathing at all times; never hold your breath
- Always keep an eye on your gauges, but stay alert to your surroundings too, including currents and the behavior of fish and other aquatic life
- Stay close to your guide at all times and follow directions
- Keep some open space between you and all other divers; it can be cumbersome under the water, especially for novices, so make sure everyone has room to clumsily maneuver without bumping into anyone
- Don’t hesitate to let your guide know when your oxygen is running low; beginners generally use it up considerably faster than more experienced divers
- When it comes to underwater life, look but don’t touch
- Never go scuba diving under the influence of alcohol or any drug that can affect your bodily control, awareness, or judgment
- Don’t dive with a cold or sinus infection, either
- Familiarize yourself with the dangers and best practices associated with diving and flying