As a new scuba diver, there’s so much to learn. It can really get a bit overwhelming. Here are 10 important tips for new scuba divers. I wish I had known these beforehand, but it’s never too late to learn.
1. Don’t Rush to Buy Scuba Gear
If you’re anything like me, the first thing I began doing after receiving my Open Water Scuba certification was to start looking at gear. I spent hours noting gear recommendations and looking up prices. The problem is, scuba gear is truly dependent on your body and personal needs. A mask that everyone raves about may be terrible for your face. And price doesn’t necessarily make something better. And to make things even worse, some dive shops are just trying to make a sell and they won’t really help you find that perfect fit.
In my case, I bought a mask that seemed really cool but when I jumped into the water, my mask was constantly flooded. Thinking I was doing something wrong, I became really disillusioned and anxious but a great dive instructor named Robin at Stuart Cove Dive Shop in Nassau immediately caught the issue. After replacing my mask with a low profile mask better suited for narrow faces, I had zero floods for the rest of my dives.
So what does that mean for you? It means you don’t know what you don’t know. Dive a few times with rented gear so that you can see what works for you.
2. Focus on honing your skills before you take out a camera
It’s so tempting to take out your GoPro, but please hear me out….
Staying alive > cute photos of turtles
Practicing your buoyancy is super important. You don’t want to accidentally step on coral or kick your dive partner in the face. I would advise waiting to around dive #15 before taking out your camera. Although, I’ve seen people do it much sooner than that, I think it’s important to really be comfortable underwater before doing it for the gram. It also gives you time to learn photography etiquette by watching more experienced divers take photos. For example, you don’t want to chase after cute animals because they are still wildlife and can feel easily attacked. You also don’t want to be the annoying person holding the group up by taking photo #378 of a baby shark. And remember, you can always ask someone else to take your photo.
3. It’s Better to be Over-Weighted than Under-Weighted
I didn’t realize how important weights were until my air got low and I felt myself floating towards the surface. I tried exhaling and dumping air but nothing worked. I went into panic mode because I was unable to do a safety stop. Decompression sickness is real and that’s the last thing I wanted to experience. After freaking out and thinking I was going to have to run to an oxygen chamber, my divemaster explained that I just needed more weights. It could have been a lot more serious than that, so I advise everyone to be over-weighted rather than under-weighted. We live and we learn.