Essential Scuba Diving Tips For Every Beginner Should Know
Whether you’ve started your PADI Scuba Diving Certification Course, or are looking into the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys of getting certified, this list of top scuba diving tips for beginners may help get you in the water faster, and with a lot more confidence!
We take you through some of the planning basics, including where the best dive spots for beginners are, the health and safety aspects of diving, and the kit you’ll need to ensure your underwater safety and security.
This beginners’ guide to all things scuba diving aims to answer all your most frequently asked questions and get you in tip top shape to start your underwater adventures.
If you have further questions, or want to discuss a particular topic more thoroughly, or even if you feel you’re just about ready to start your certification, feel free to Contact Us for a chat about any and all things scuba related!
For now, sit back, relax, and read on!
1. Where to dive
Whenever you plan a dive, whether it’s a buddy dive or group expedition, it is important to remember to cater to the skill-set or scuba diving level of the least qualified person in the group. While diving wrecks and reefs may sound exciting, it is important to consider the geography you are hoping to traverse.
Taking an inexperienced diver to a more advanced site, or forgetting to warn them about rip-tides and the like may cause them to panic and can lead to serious injury and death. Remember, at the end of the day, we are only visitors in the great blue beyond, and we must have the utmost respect for, and wariness of, our host.
Scuba diving is not a place to push yourself too far out of your comfort zone – stick to what you know you can handle or the ocean will chew you up and spit you out faster than you can say fishpaste!
Pro Tip: Some dive sites or diving expeditions, such as the ScubaCo Sardine Run 2018 excursion, are only open to certified open water divers with a certain amount of dives or underwater hours under their belts.
These restrictions are put in place to ensure not only your individual safety, but the safety of everyone else accompanying you on that dive. Never, ever pad your numbers or try to otherwise cheat your way into a dive the professionals have decided you are not ready for!
You would not only be putting yourself, but the entire team in danger!
Pro Tip: A great dive site with various spots catering to divers of all skill levels is the Aliwal Shoal! Check out more about diving the Aliwal Shoal with ScubaCo here.
2. Best time for diving
When planning a dive it is important to take into account not only the site and the skills level of the divers who will be accompanying you on your underwater adventure, but the time of day you will be undertaking the dive.
Check weather conditions in the weeks and days leading up to your planned dive and consult tidal charts to ascertain the best and safest time for you and your crew to undertake your dive. While certain critters may be more active around dusk and dawn, always ensure the safety of your group first and don’t hesitate to postpone a dive by hours or even days if weather conditions go south fast.
Diving at midday is always great for visibility, while diving with underwater flashlights in the early evening makes for a unique and exciting adventure, and a great bridge into night-diving, provided your crew are experienced enough to handle themselves, and you all put safety first.
3. Allocate enough time for learning sessions
No certification, no dive!
This motto will protect and ensure the health and safety of both you and your potential dive buddies. If you want to plan a dive, make sure that you and all your party members have completed the necessary certifications with ample time to spare!
You don’t want to be turned away because you were one lesson away from qualifying for your certificate do you?
Health & Safety
4. Always listen to your instructor
Your instructor’s word is law!
Whether you are just starting out and getting your certification, or are a qualified, certified scuba diver on a dive with your divemaster, his or her word is law. Establishing a hierarchy on land, and entrusting your own and the group’s safety to the most experienced diver on the team once you’re underwater just makes sense.
Especially when you need to rely on nonverbal communication, as you do on a dive, you won’t have the time or the capacity to argue with your divemaster if he or she cuts the dive short – follow their instructions always, and they’ll offer you an explanation once you are out of harm’s way.
Remember, diving is a team sport and safety always comes first. The safety of one is the safety of all!
5. Stay close, stay calm and don’t panic
The scuba diver’s equivalent of stop, drop and roll, the key to underwater safety is to stay close, stay calm and, whatever you do, don’t panic.
Keeping a level-head even in crisis could mean the difference between life and death on a dive, so keeping your wits about you is of paramount importance. Again, follow your dive master’s instructions, don’t wander off, and keep the group in your sights at all times.
6. Study your location and environment before diving
As part of your dive planning stage you will familiarize yourself with the location of your dive and the associated environment.
Doing so, and making sure the rest of your group does so, goes a long way toward ensuring the relative health and safety of the group on the dive.
Fitness & Training
7. Make sure you’re fit enough for diving
If you are not fit enough to dive today, you can be tomorrow if you put your back into it!
Just like in any other sport, you may need to train in order to prepare yourself for diving. Maintaining your fitness is of the utmost importance in order to be able to get the most out of your diving experience.
For more information on how you can best up your fitness levels specifically for diving, Contact Us here at ScubaCo for more tips and training schedules!
8. Practice your diving and be patient
We’ll say it again – the great blue yonder is not the place to push yourself beyond your own limitations. Yes, in order to progress and improve you will need to gradually push yourself out of your comfort zone, but you need to be able to do this as safely as possible.
Practice your diving and be patient – pushing yourself too far too fast can result in serious injury or even death!
9. Practice natural buoyancy
Practicing your natural buoyancy will go a long way toward helping you feel more comfortable and weightless on a dive – even with kilograms worth of kit strapped to your back.
If you were the kid at swim class who never could master the starfish float, now is the time to practice! Think of your body like a giant balloon, and envisage how your lungs full of air are helping you stay afloat and buoyant under the ocean – much like a fish’s swim bladder!
While there are multiple factors to consider when maintaining buoyancy on a dive, including the weight of your kit, your natural buoyancy, the decreasing weight of your tank as you use your air, etc. etc. – managing and best understanding your own natural buoyancy is the first step toward precision buoyancy control on a dive.
10. Do practice dives in a diving pool
Doing practice dives in a diving pool is a great way for you to get a feel for maintaining your buoyancy and ascending and descending in a controlled manner without the added pressure of actually being out in the open ocean – think of it like riding a bike with the training wheels on.
Scuba Diving Gear
11. What you’ll need as a beginner
Dive kit you ought to buy yourself from the get-go:
The Mask: The very first thing you need to worry about kitting yourself out with is a mask. Gone are the days of the single, oval-paned dive mask. Nowadays you get a wide variety of masks designed to suit your individual face shape!
While you can always hire gear when you’re just getting started, spending some money on a proper, fitted mask may make the diving experience all the more pleasant from the get-go.
The Snorkel: “Wait, what?” We hear you say, “I need a snorkel for diving?” – yes, you do! Snorkels are used to preserve your air supply when you are floating at the water’s surface.
The one piece of equipment we reckon it’s okay to skimp on, you won’t be using your snorkel even half as much as any other piece of your kit, so, while comfort is always key, you can cheap out on your snorkel – get any old one and be done with it.
The Flippers/Fins: If you’re going to play in the fishes’ playground, you’ve got to look the part!
Fish have fins for a reason, it’s the easiest way to generate momentum and move underwater. You’re looking for comfort, a good, solid fit, and efficiency in your first pair of flippers.
Generally, the bigger and stiffer the fin, the stronger and fitter the diver needs to be in order to use it effectively. If you are on the smaller side, or are not as strong, stick to a smaller, more flexible flipper.
Pro Tip: If you can’t wiggle your toes, the fins are too small and you won’t be able to generate the maximum amount of thrust underwater.
Don’t skimp on your flippers – the right pair can make or break your diving experience!
Your Wetsuit/Drysuit: Your wetsuit is probably the biggest investment you’ll make right off the bat, and can also make or break your diving experience.
The right wetsuit will fit snugly with no gaps, but not so tightly that it restricts movement or hampers your breathing.
Dive gear you’ll be able to hire/borrow from the company through which you’re doing your PADI Certification:
– Dive Computers
– Dive Tank/Bottle
12. Choose a dive center to take courses and practice diving
There’s nowhere better to undertake your certification than ScubaCo! Contact Us to sign up today!
At the end of the day, diving can be costly hobby, but the adrenaline rush of exploring a world human’s were not actually made to experience is a rush like no other!
Once the scuba diving bug has bitten, there’s no getting out of the ocean’s salty clutches, and we guarantee you’ll be back for more! (and more! And more!).