Don’t Be “That Diver” - Scuba Etiquette Refresher


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proper dive etiquette

Scuba vacation is a great way to relax, unwind, meet new people and, of course, enjoy some lovely diving. Beware though, as you can often come across “that guy” - a discourteous diver, who completely ruins the experience for everybody around. Now the tricky part is that if you take a good look around your dive boat and can’t spot that annoying guy (or gal), you are either very lucky, or it might be you! So, here are a few tips on how to avoid the most common scuba faux pas and ensure that you will fit right in on board of every dive boat.

On the Boat

Show up on time. Don't be the person holding up the boat's timely departure. It is advised that you come at least 15-30 minutes earlier, especially if you need to get fitted for rental gear. This way you won’t feel rushed, nor will you make everybody wait.

Go light on cosmetic products. Scuba diving is not really a glamorous sport. For one, not all cosmetic products, such as hairspray, makeup and cologne are ocean-friendly, not to mention the fact, that they are quite unlikely to withstand water. What’s more, strong smells can trigger motion sickness. So, it would be best if you applied your sunscreen before you join the group, and saved the rest for after the dive.

Keep your gear organized and compact. Dive boats can often be crowded with people and gear, which means that space is at premium. Keeping your equipment neatly organized and placed in the designated area will not only be a courtesy to your neighbour but also make it easier for you to find what you need and prevent your gear from being damaged.

Don’t touch other people’s gear without permission. Divers are usually generous people and will share some spare parts, a tool for repairs or defog, if you need it. However, always be sure to ask first. If you see something that you need, determine whose it is and ask whether you can use it. On a similar note, do not move any equipment that is not yours. Even if something’s on your spot, find the owner and ask them to move it themselves.

Respect the crew. Sure, you’re a paying customer, but it is nice if you acknowledge the work of the crew. Captains, divemasters and other crew members start work hours before you show up. They have to prepare the boat and equipment for the trip, so that you have a safe and enjoyable day. Treat them with the same respect you’d expect to be treated with. As for the tipping, the accepted norms may depend on the culture and business type, so ask ahead what is the operator’s policy.

Don’t try to be in charge unless the DM or crew requests your help. Nobody likes being bossed around, more so by some stranger on the dive boat. So, even if you are the most knowledgeable and highly certified diver in the group, resist the urge to take the lead. Just sit back, relax and let the crew do their job.

Pay attention during the briefings and follow instructions. Here again, even if you are a very experienced diver, you should always listen to the captain and crew when they deliver their briefing. Normally, there will be a few briefings during the course of the trip - one concerning the basic boat rules, one before each dive, and a final closing announcement on your way back to shore. Try to remember and follow all the instructions from the DM and the crew.


Don’t disturb marine life. Look, but don’t touch - this is one of the fundamental scuba diving rules. Touching, picking up and poking fish, corals and marine animals can damage or even kill these creatures, as well be dangerous for the human. Even an innocuous looking creature can have a harmful bite or sting. So, it is always best to keep your hands to yourself while underwater.

Don’t ruin someone else’s shot. If you have an underwater photographer in the group, chances are that they will spot creatures that other divers may swim over. However, if you see an underwater photographer lining up a shot, you should refrain from flailing around to see what they had found, as you can scare their subject away.

Stay with your group. It is true that the beauty of the underwater world is absolutely enchanting, however, it is extremely important not to lose sight of your group. In case you get lost, or accidentally join another group, your whole group will have to search for you and suffer inconvenience because of your inattention.

Control your buoyancy and position underwater. Having poor buoyancy skills can be dangerous for a diver and annoying for his\her companions. Nobody likes to be kicked in the face with somebody’s fin or swim behind the diver who rises a cloud of silt from the bottom, completely ruining the visibility. So, if you have doubts about your buoyancy skills, better take a refresher class before your next trip.

Sure, none of us is perfect and we do make mistakes from time to time. When you slip up though, the important part is, to be able to acknowledge it, apologize and laugh at yourself with the rest of the group.

Do you want to share any stories about “That Guy” or have some more dive etiquette suggestions? Please tell us in the comments below!

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