It’s a whole other World under the water. Salty, fluid and alive. Making up most of our Planet's surface, the Ocean is without a doubt one of the grandest things on the Earth, and it's no wonder why so many wish to spend time under the surface.
This can be daunting though, for it's stepping into a foreign environment for many so here are some tips for getting yourself into the world of Scuba Diving.
Tip #1 - Breathe
Breathe, and breath some more. Breath is key in scuba for so many reasons. On the boat or on the shore before your dive, you want to keep your heart rate down and remain nice and relaxed. Even if you’re imagining sharks teeming in the deep blue, focusing on your breath is so essential to staying chill before a dive. Once you've hit the water, regulator in your mouth and start to descend breath becomes a key factor once again. If you breathe quickly, the air in your tank gets depleted faster which results in a shorter dive, and no one wants that. Also, for limited control, while underwater your breath can assist in rising (heading toward the surface) or falling (going deeper) in the water; a breath in causes you to rise, breath out cause you to sink.
Tip #2 - Don't Go Alone
Dive with a certified dive company or a highly experienced dive master for your first few times at least. The importance of having knowledgeable people assist and lead you on the beginning of your dive cannot be underappreciated. Diving with a certified company that meets all regulations PADI, NAUI, BSAC, etc...helps ensure your safety and make a smoother and more hopefully enjoyable trip for all involved.
Tip #3 - Swim With Your Legs
Use your legs to move around underwater not your arms. This is because it conserves energy as well as creates slower and more deliberate movements. Flailing your arms around underwater to swim or obtain desired positioning underwater will use up a surprising amount of air, and your heart rate is likely to increase. Now, I've definitely done minor hand and arm movements to turn myself ever so slightly to get close to a rock or coral group but only if my legs couldn't do the job. So in short, your legs are the power source and keep slow and consistent movement which will not only relax and center your breathing but also save air and energy.
Tip #4 - BCD
Using your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) which is your jacket you wear when diving as a tool. Your BCD has the ability to inflate and deflate with the hand controls that are attached to the device. While on the boat and before you jump/fall (hopefully gracefully) into the water you will want to have your BCD partially inflated so upon hitting the water you will automatically float. As the dive group is ready to go under, you will deflate your BCD and slowly sink into the wonderful underwater world. While underwater you can easily adjust your depth by either inflating your BCD or deflating.
Tip #5 - Watch Your Tank
Be conscious of the air in your tank as well as your depth gauge. All dive equipment you use should have both an air and depth gauge and even as a beginner diver you should be comfortable with both. The deeper you go, the more air you breathe; the air compresses as the pressure increases meaning one breath can sometimes equal two at the surface in terms of air out of the tank. But don't worry, people rarely drain their tank even close to all the way after a beginner dive. If there is current, this requires more movement and exertion which of course translate to the increased air intake. The depth gauge is pretty self-explanatory, the needle will be on your depth, and for a beginner diver, you should go no more than 18 meters (roughly 60 ft.) underwater.
Tip #6 - Use The Buddy System
Always know where your buddy is. When you go on a dive trip, you will have a diving buddy. It could be your best friend that flew across the planet with you to go diving or a stranger that you only met a few hours before while getting equipment on. Regardless, while underwater they are your buddy... they are watching out for you, and you are watching out for them. A buddy is helpful for many reasons. First, if you are getting behind the group, your buddy can point it out and on that same token if either of you sees something outstanding you can show it to the other. This helps to see more underwater life that you might have missed, and it shares the experience of observing the beauty of the water world with another human and that is priceless.
Tip #7 - Breathe When You Ascend
Don’t hold your breath, especially when ascending (going back to the surface). To break it down simply let's use an analogy. If you took a water bottle full of air at the surface and began to dive underwater with it, it would begin to shrink the deeper you go. This is because, as I mentioned a bit in tip # 5, the deeper you go, the more the water pressure increases which pushes on the pocket of air in the water bottle causing it to shrink. The opposite is true as well if you filled a balloon with air underwater, let's say at 15 meters (50 ft.) it would pop well before it reached the surface since the pressure is decreasing causing the air to expand. If you extrapolate this analogy to your lungs, it becomes imperative to safety. Imagine your lungs as the ballon! This is why it is key to keep breathing since you will slowly ascend after a dive and with consistent breathes your lungs can regulate and adjust with the pressure and amount of air.
Tip #8 - Do A Pre-Dive Gear Check
Always check your gear personally before a dive. Even if your dive master that is also your life partner hands you your gear saying it's all good to go, you should still take a second look yourself, not only to continually familiarize yourself with the gear but also to have peace of mind when under the water that everything is as it should be.
To make sure you have the right gear before you dive, make sure to check out our scuba gear guide for reviews of the best scuba gear on the market!
Tip #9 - Don't Touch Sea Life
Don’t touch corals or sea life. Being a diver is mostly being an observer in the water. While moments of interaction happen through swimming with life in the ocean, it is mainly through seeing that we interact with life underwater.
Also, refraining from touching species and corals preserve them for others, yourself on later dives and allow life underwater to thrive as it naturally does.
Tip #10 - Enjoy Your Dive
Have fun! It really speaks for itself, but fun and pure enjoyment are innate in scuba diving. Being in a stunning environment with others is one of the greatest things on the planet in my opinion, and scuba diving is a wonderful tool to experience that