This is a guest post by: Kristina Mobley
My family has been scuba diving together for years. My parents have been certified since their college years. I’ve been Open Water certified since high school, then was Adventure and Advanced Open Water certified soon after. With that said, I’m no expert, but we’re considered experienced divers.
Here are some tips that we’ve picked up throughout our years of scuba diving that I wanted to pass on to new scuba divers. Some of these you should know, especially if you’re certified, others you might not.
13 Tips for New Scuba Divers
- Get certified by a respectable organization. There are two main organizations for scuba certifications: Naui and PADI. Both are respectable and great; however, I’ve found that PADI has been the most popular for the past few years. My dad is Naui and the rest of us are PADI. Both have been great to us.
- Never dive alone. This is one of the first lessons you learn when diving, but I can never emphasize this enough. Always have a dive buddy.
- Check your weight. I’m a woman, but even I’ll admit that my personal weight changes over time. What weight I was certified with is not the same as I am now. So, keep track of your personal weight change to better understand how much weight you need on your weight belt. Even more useful, test your weights on your weight belt before going on your dive. This will save you time and hassle. You never want to have too much or too little weight and have issues with your weight belt that will ruin your buoyancy and overall dive.
- Night dives. They sound cool and they are fun. However, don’t jump the gun before you’re ready. Night dives should never be done on your own or in dangerous areas. Especially if there are strong tides or currents. I would suggest doing your first few night dives in a familiar and calm area. In a diving instructor-led group is even better.
- Happy medium. Shallow dives and deep dives are cool, but you should avoid these as a new diver. They are much harder and I would suggest being a bit more experienced before doing these. Start out easy with the average depth around 20-30 feet.
- Approved dive shops. I cannot say this enough, approved dive shops really do make the difference. I would recommend using Naui or PADI certified or approved dive shops every time. It’s like choosing between a general IT company versus a recommended/vetted and certified IT company.
- Don’t touch. Don’t touch the wildlife. You could get hurt or hurt them. A single touch on a piece of coral can kill it. You want to enjoy the underwater world, not destroy it. Learn more about how to help protect wildlife while still enjoying the dive though the National Geographic certification. I got this certification when I first started diving and it has helped give me a respectful and conservative mentality when diving- which I greatly appreciate.
- Keep calm. It’s easy to panic when something goes wrong. Once, my tank strap came loose and my air tank started slipping down my back. Be sure to stay calm, keep your breathing slow and even, and calmly notify your partner. It’s as simple as that.
- Dive Partner. Having a good dive partner is essential. Always swim close together and keep each other in sight. Get to know each other’s body language underwater and have a system for what certain signals means. Communicate well, clearly, and easily. This typically means basic pointing and using the standard hand signals, but knowing and understanding these make a difference. Also keep in mind that you can buy diving noisemakers to get your dive team or partner’s attention if you need.
- First few dives. Take it slow and easy. Don’t rush and just learn. It takes time, to get used to the buoyancy control and find out how often you or your partner need to stop to clear your ears. So take the first few dives to learn and don’t do anything fancy.
- Check your O-rings. Often forgotten when going through your pre-dive checklist, you never want your air tank seal messed up in any way. If you own your own tank, then O-rings can easily dry rot. If you are renting, then they can go through some wear and tear. Approved dive shops and dive boats typically have extra O-rings.
- Plan your dive. If you are doing multiple dives, multiple depths, or flying, then without a doubt you need to plan out your dives. You never want to put your health at risk. If you are unsure about some planning or timing, approved dive shops will help you plan out when to do certain dives and what you can’t do when you’re flying.
- Enjoy your dive. Take in what’s around you. Don’t get caught up in going from point A to point B. There’s a variety of sea life, sunken treasures, and awe-inspiring views to take in – enjoy your dive.
There are plenty of other tips I can pass on, but here are few to get you started. If you’re new to diving, be careful and keep in mind the above tips, but also have fun! Diving is exciting and relaxing. You can explore a whole new world and experience a pleasure few get to embrace. It’s a bonding time with my family and our favorite vacations usually involve scuba diving.