15 ESSENTIAL TIPS TO DIVE SAFELY

It is a common sense Scuba Dive is a very safe activity, promotes well-being, its super fun and is the best way to see amazing creatures that most of the people you know will never be able to see it. However, this activity also can bring serious concern if safety procedures are not been taking seriously.

On this article we are going to share 15 Essential Tips that you can use before, during and after your dive to assure your safety and tons of happy diving days!!! Let´s go!!!

#1 – Make Sure You Have the Qualification and Skills to Perform the Dives

Most of the diving agencies require to show the proof of diving qualification for the type of diving that you are signing up, if you are PADI Diver, you can have the physical certification card, PADI E-cards or even you can simply tell your name and birth date to a PADI Shop and they will be able to find you at PADI Data Base. If you are diving in any other diving agency you should have the card or electronic card as a proof of certification.

Some other goes even further requesting to show some proof of performed dives, number of logged dives so they can have an idea about your skills, depth, time and air consumption, it helps the operators to understand if you have the minimum necessary to perform some specific types of dives or need some extra practice before that. So, prepare your skills, get your cards, e-cards and logbook if you are planning to do something out of the box!

#2 – Are You Fit To Dive?

If you are planning to take your first experience or a certification course you should have an medical examination and/or a doctor clearance in you country if you have something specific like allergies, asthma or a physical condition. You will be required to sign a medical statement before you jump in the water

If you are a certified diver, you should avoid dive if you are not one hundred percent. Keep yourself hydrated and the most important, do not dive if you have cold, flu and in particular a hangover, save some coins to get a party in the end of your trip and stay safe.

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#3 – Travel Insurance and Diving Insurance

Most of the travelers have travel insurance when travelling to other countries, some of them have travel insurance when travelling on their own countries but the minority of the diver travelers are informed about what their insurance covers.

Its good to remember that not all the insurance covers land and inwater accidents. Make sure your insurance covers both above and below the surface and it is really recommend that in you insurance are explicitly saying Scuba Diving Activities are Included.

Its vital that your insurance covers both land and water accidents especially if you are diving in remote islands. Always carry with you your insurance policy number, emergency contacts and any medical information that must be necessary in a event of accident or medical emergency.

#4 – Choose a Proper Certified Company

Make sure to spend some time doing a research. It´s important to dive with liable companies that offers above anything safety. By saying that we mean, insurance, permits to operate, good quality of equipment, well maintained, if they have cars and boat that also should be in a great conditions, along with experienced staff and customer services. If you are not comfortable with English, check if they provide services in other languages too.

#5 – Check List, Check Gear and Double Check

It will be very disappoint to arrive on the diving destination or just about diving and realize that you forgot something important like, a diving computer or your diving mask for example.

You can start by making a check list of your gear and putting everything in the table, check one by one and make sure everything in the list is there. Organize in a way that you can reach them all easily.

Once you are on the way to dive you will need to set up your gear. Go slowly, assemble and check and do double check just to make sure everything is there and working properly. If there is something wrong or you are not sure, do not feel embarrassed – ask for help from your dive buddy, guide or instructor.

#6 – Gear checked! It´s briefing time!!

Once all the gear is ready, the boat will stop at the site and the guide or instructor will get the divers together for a dive briefing. It´s really important to pay attention on the instructions no matter how experienced or confident you are.

“Plan the Dive, Dive the Plan” is all you need to remember – The instructor you tell you the diving plan, advise you about marine life, what do you need to watch out for, maximum depth, dive time, ascending procedures, hand signal and other useful information that is requested for each dive site. Follow the rules and have fun!

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#7 – Gear up! And Check Again!!! Do a Buddy Check!

Yes, maybe you are sure that your gear is fine, everything you need is there but always do a Buddy Check. It happen to forgot something essential, like open the tank valve or forgot your precious camera for example, maybe you will miss a photo of an amazing shark this time or someone will have a bad diving day.

If you don’t have your own buddy and met someone new in the boat, its a great opportunity to make a new friend, introduce yourself and check each others gear to make sure both will jump in the water without missing anything and have a great time!

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#8 – The most Important Rule – Never Hold Your Breath

First of all, we are not suppose to be there, we are adapting everything to be able to breath underwater. The air we breath underwater is a dense and compressed air, which mean that the volume can change with more or less pressure. By holding your breath the air in your lungs could expand if the pressure reduces and that could lead to an Air Embolism (where an air bubble enters the bloodstream), which could lead to a severe injury in your lungs and could even be fatal. Remember, breath always and never hold your breath.

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#9 – Descending – Equalize Your Ears Often and Early

As we start to descent and the water mass increase the pressure, you will start to feel some pressure in your ears, by blowing the air by your nose while pinching gentle, or moving you chin or swallowing you will be able to equalize the pressure in your inner ear.

You should repeat this process almost every meter during the descent, its better to do earlier because if the pressure increase too much you will feel pain and it will be difficult to equalize. If you can´t equalize do not keep going down, ascent a little bit until the discomfort disappear and try it again. If you can´t equalize at all you should stay in a shallow and comfortable area or interrupt the dive.

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#10 – Check Again! Check Your Air Pressure Gauge Frequently

There is nothing more terrifying than to be not be able to breath. Check you Air Pressure Gauge is one of the most important thing to do during all your dive. You need to be aware of the air in your tank when its full, a quarter or on returning pressure to return to the surface accordingly.

Your guide or instructor will periodically ask you to check and show the pressure on your Gauge but your are ultimately responsible for your own air consumption, so check your gauge as much as possible and communicate with your buddy or instructor about the air available in your tank.

#11 – Dive Within The Limits Of Your Training And Skills

There is no reason to take the risk. Dive beyond the limits of your training and skills can put yourself in serious risk. If you are PADI Open Water Diver you can dive up to 18m/30ft and you should stay within this limit. Going deeper than this, more practice and training is requested since there are big changes or the atmospheric pressure, air consumption and nitrogen absorption.

On PADI Advanced Course you will learn how to perform deep dives up to 30m/100ft and some other skills to give a fine-tune on the basics skills like buoyance control. The PADI Deep Specialty Course you will be able to dive up to 40m/130ft (the limit depth for recreational dives) and gain more knowledge about risk management in deep water and emergency stops. You will learn different procedure to perform deep dives safely. Keep diving safely within the limits of your certification and keep learning to dive safely.

#12 – Avoid Over Exertion

Go slowly, reduce your movements and relax. Scuba Diving is a very sportive activity, especially if you are performing Shore Dives. There is no need to sprint underwater, as slow as you go, the more you will see. Avoid many movements will also make your air consumption more efficient since your body now is burning less oxygen. If for some reason you are feeling tired and hard to breath, signalize to your buddy, stop and hold somewhere and take a few deep and slow breaths and rest before keep going.

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#13 – Don´t Touch and Don´t Chase Anything

For many reason you should avoid touching things underwater. First of all, we want to protect the reefs and the keep ocean the way it is without our interference so we can keep diving for many many years. Second, there things underwater that can seriously hurt you. Some corals are really sharp, some marine plants and animals are poisonous, some marine animals can bite you if they feel threatened. The best way to care of yourself is keeping your hands away from it and mastering buoyancy skills so you can hover close enough to check the bottom of the ocean without effort or touching anything.

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#14 – S.A.F.E DIVE – Slow Ascent For Every Dive

As we mentioned before (#8) when the pressure reduce, the volume of the air tends to expand and for that reason you can´t hold your breath to avoid injuries in your lungs. The nitrogen also can expand inside your body, but as inert gas it can travels all over you body tissues. Going to the surface too fast can cause what we call as “The bends” or Decompression Sickness (DCS). By coming up slowly you can give time to your body to dissipate the exceeding amount of nitrogen in your body causing no harm.

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#15 – Sharing is Caring

After dive if you are not feeling well you should share it your guide or instructor. Most of the time people feel tired because they are not used to the exertion of physical exercises. Let the your guide know how you are feeling.

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So many tips share!

There are so many more tips to share so you can assure a perfect diving trip. But with the 15 essentials we are sure that you won´t miss anything. But remember, there are a few things to consider when you are planning to go a diving trip. Make sure your flight is at least 18 to 24 hours after your last dive, it is also a good chance to dry up your gear to avoid extra fees for carrying the ocean in your bag! LOL See yaaaaa!

Your next GOLDEN WEEK destination: OKINAWA

The Golden Week is a combination of four National Holidays in Japan and it takes seven days placed between weekends. With Obon and New Year is one of the most expected and busiest holidays in Japan.

The national holidays that makes the Golden Week are: Showa Day (April 29th); Constitution Day (May 3rd); Greenery Day (May 4th) and Children´s Day (May5th).

TRAVEL TIP

Book now! That´s the Golden Tip! Everyone is planning to do or go somewhere. And that´s why you are reading this article now. Hotels usually gets fully booked, rental cars run out of cars and diving companies get fully booked very quickly.

In Okinawa could not be not different. Every year thousands of people is really looking for the Golden Week holidays to go warm up a bit after the winter and Okinawa has an excellent temperature and the weather usually is pretty awesome and this time of the year. The temperature top 25C, sunny days, warm and flat sea making Okinawa the most wanted touristic and dive. So, do not let to plan your trip later, plan now, book now and guarantee you place in the sun.

If you need more tips to plan your trip, please feel free to dig in our website, there are more tips to help you to book and decide your next step.

GOLDEN WEEK DIVING

Yes! We still have plenty of space so far, but not for too long. That´s why you should get in contact and book your dive right now. Most of the dive sites are open and there are opportunities to dive pretty much in all the great sites around the island.

The wind usually blows from the east which makes the sea on the west coast glass-flat! Awesome, flat, blue and warm! What a combination huh?!

Many people would prefer to come pre GW or after GW, but still a bit busy on the week before and after. It doesn´t matter when you come you should book in advance all the services you need.

Diving courses is less likely to be available during the Golden Week holiday due to the number of divers that is looking for get salty after winter. We recommend to come a week after when everything starts to get a bit calm here, less crowds in the dive sites and more space to practice. But still, you can book now and start you training before that.

For beginner divers we really recommend to dive in Sunabe, Maeda and Minnajima. After that your skills might be better to experience more challenging site like Manza.

For experienced dives our first recommendation is definitely Manza and that will prepare you for Cape Hedo, Zanpa and the most wanted, USS Emmons. With you are seeking adventure we would love to take you by the shore to see Mermaid Grotto and Horse Shoe.

In both cases Kerama Islands is a good call to have a day trip and relax, long boat navigation and spending a day in the blue sea cannot be a difficult life right? Definitely not!

We hope to hear from you guys very soon!! It will be a great Golden Weekend! See yaaa!!

We answer the 7 most frequently asked questions about Scuba Diving

Are you interested in diving? That idea sounds really interesting, right? After all, the benefits of diving are many! Diving relieves stress and tension, helps to improve breathing capacity and tones muscles. It also promotes a feeling of relaxation to the body, thanks to the balance and the sea breeze, essential factors for this well-being. The contact with nature and marine life is capable of providing us calm, peace and tranquility, you can bet! So, if that’s what you’re looking for, you can be sure that this article is for you. Today, you will know the 7 most frequently asked questions about Scuba Diving, so that might help you to clarify everything that may be making you insecure to make that decision. Let´s get started!!

#1 – Who can dive?

Pretty much everyone can dive, but let´s be bit more specific about that answer.

As a PADI 5 Star Diving Resort we are following all standards and guideline from PADI, which is the most reliable and recognized diving agency in the world.

For the very first experience of the littles ones, kids from 8 year old already can start diving through the PADI Bubblemaker program, it is a very fun program which will introduce in a pool or pool like condition not deeper than 2m – it´s great chance for the kids to blow bubbles by scuba diving.

With 10 year old they can start with the first steps towards the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification.

Scuba Diving is a great family program too, through scuba diving the kids will learn more about the nature, how to protect the environment and develop a better environmental awareness.

There is not age limit for Scuba Diving, however, all the participants need to fill it up a Medical Questionnaire. Which means that if you have any answer “Yes”, you must go to see a Doctor and get a Medical Clearance before you sign up for the course.

Scuba Diving is for everyone! Kids, adults, elders, couple, single, family or friends. It doesn´t matter how old you are, once you started, you will fall in love for ever!!

#2 Is it dangerous?

Scuba Diving is very sportive and adventure activity and such as involves some risks.

Nevertheless, if you get a good training in a reliable diving shop with well-trained professionals, use quality equipment with adequate maintenance and keep the basic safety rules, scuba diving is extremely safe and fun. You´ll fell like you belong to a new world!

Serious diving shops that provides quality services makes the experience like no one does, sometimes could be a bit pricy but safety comes first, think about that, be sure you are choosing the right company before you close de deal.

Not only safety rules, but also, there are different levels of training that will prepare divers for the most diverse situations, environments, sea conditions and diving styles.

Keep your skills updated is really important, you can jump from Open Water Diver to Advanced Diver, prepare yourself to perform Night Dives, Deep Dives, Cave Dives or Drift Dives, but you also can keep going forward to become a Rescue Diver and be ready to help or prevent any incident or accident that might occur around you.

By participating of a proper training, keep your skills updated by performing dives regularly, keep the basic safety rules, locals rules, pay attention on dive briefings and respecting the ocean your safety is guaranteed.

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#3 Marine life are dangerous?

A straight answer is a NO, there are not, but they could be! Let me explain that.

Most of the time you will be surrounded but tinny little and colorful fish, sometimes swimming with a beautiful turtle, inside a school of bigger fish or even swimming with rays and sharks. The only rule you have to remember is “DO NOT TOUCH OR CHASE”.

No marine life represents immediate threat or danger to scuba divers, however, by touching some of them you can put yourself in danger because some of them are poisonous and could seriously hurt you. Corals can be poisonous as well, so make sure you have sharped buoyancy skills before get yourself to close.

Most of the animals will run away as soon as you approach them, it happen with turtles, octopus, most of fish or even sharks doesn’t want to be bothered by our noisy fin and bubbles. After many hundreds years of predatory fishing, some animals might think about us as a threat and they will run or hide as soon as possible.

Some other behaviors are self-defense behavior, let´s put this way, imagine that someone try to hold you or touch without your consent. What would you do? Exactly!! Some animals, like a beautiful and peaceful turtle could just simply bite your curious finger!

But what about sharks? They are dangerous right? The answer still “No”. The sharks a like any other animals in the sea, just doing their things, searching for their favorite meal and sometimes a bit curious about us, but we are not even close to be shark food, we are not inside to the food-chain of any marine animal. We are the Apex-predator in the ocean. Just follow this 3 simple rule, just observe, don´t touch and don´t chase. In general, any animal would feel threaten if being touched and chased by a unknown-being, and that includes YOU!

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#4 How long can I stay underwater?

To breath underwater and stay as long as possible we need to adapt our body for it. We use a equipment called SCUBA, which literally means – “Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus“.

This equipment consists in 3 main parts, the cylinder or tank, that could made of aluminum or steel, a BCD – Buoyancy Control Device, and Regulators that allows you to breath the air from the cylinder.

To control how much air you have consumed underwater we have a SPG – Submersible Pressure Gauge, that works almost exactly like the fuel gauge in a car. You just need to check very often and make sure to return to the surface before your SPG get in the red (reserve).

But you might be wondering, how long does the air lasts underwater?

Well, that will depend mainly of 2 factors:

  • You air consumption;
  • Depth;

Your air consumption is directly related with your breathing control, stress levels and healthy habits. A good example is from people who practice cardio activities more often, like running, swimming or yoga, usually they have a better breathing control rather than someone who works 6 days a week sitting in a chair and does not practice any activity.

But is the depth that affect the most on your time underwater. Every 10m underwater, the atmospheric pressure increase in 1 atmospheric pressure, which we call as 1 atm.

Here in the surface we are under 1 atm pressure, which is our atmosphere made of air, once 10m below the surface now we are under 2 ata (Atmosphere absolute), which means that the air and water atmosphere now are together making pressure in the top of our heads!

Now, all that pressure is affecting the air inside our cylinder making the air more dense, so every time you breath now, you are inhaling more molecules of the air.

If you are going to perform deep dives for example, you are going to be under effect of 4 ata, which means that you are consuming 4x more air than if you are in the surface.

Another thing that you will learn when taking your diving course is that during the dive we need to respect the no-decompression limit.

You must be wondering what is this ?!

Non-decompression limit is the maximum limit of time that we can spend at each depth to ensure the safety of our dive. Unlike what many imagine, when we dive we breathe air, which is composed of 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. When we breathe air under pressure our body absorbs nitrogen and is therefore called inert gas.

Our body has a nitrogen limit that it tolerates and in order not to have decompression sickness we need to dive within that limit. But don’t think this is super complicated.

In the past, we had to do various calculations to plan and monitor our dives, but today there is the dive computer, which does this alone and warns us of the times during the dive.

#5 Which are the equipment used when Scuba Diving?

Above we have mentioned the SCUBA meaning and 3 the main parts of this equipment. Which is the cylinder, BCD and regulators. Let´s go a bit further to see what else we have to bring with us in our underwater adventure.

Every gear we use has its own purpose and it is an essential equipment. Obviously the cylinder contains the most important thing, the air. The BCD will help you not only to hold the cylinder in your back but also you help to neutralize your weight underwater or float in the surface. The regulator will reduce the full pressure inside the cylinder and provides you breathings on environmental pressure point. Connected with the regulators you will find the pressure gauge to control the amount of remaining air, an alternate air source to share air with someone in trouble underwater and another hose connect with your BCD to help you to add air when its necessary to control your buoyancy.

But even using all of it, you still need more gear to make the fun real. It would be nice to be able not only to breath but actually see something right? For that reason we use diving masks that allows you see all the beautiful things underwater. Personal opinion, buy yourself one as soon as possible, the silicone of the mask eventually will shape on your face and it will be very comfortable to use and water leaks won´t happen very often. You can also add snorkel, it will be very useful on surface swimming from the shore or save some air while in the surface.

We also need a pair of fin or flippers, depending on where you come from. This equipment will help you with propulsion. With all this weights on you, without fins you won’t go anywhere, in fact, good fins helps to stabilize your body, provides easy movements and maneuvering. Make sure you find the one that fits better for you.

The suits, it can be a wetsuit, a semi-dry or a dry suit, it will depend on what is the water temperature on the location that you are going to dive. Some places are so warm that you won´t need one, but we also recommend to use something like a rash guard because the suits not only prevent heat loss but avoid scratches when too close to rocks or corals.

In temperature around 29C a 3mm will be just enough, from 26C until 21C, a 5mm wetsuit can do the job, less than 21C you can use 7mm or add layers like a hood vest. Most of the divers would go for a semi-dry suits that reduce the amount of water inside the suit. But if you dive in cold places you would love to have a very good dry-suit with a thick inner-garment that keeps your body dry and warm. Prepare you pockets for it!

And the last but not least, the weight belt. Despite of all the weight you are carrying, you won´t be able to sink without this equipment. But attention here, do not dive overweighed, that can leads you to some accidents and increase your air consumption quite a lot. You will learn on you very first course (PADI Open Water Course) how to set a proper weight based on the gear you are using and your body weight composition.

You still can add some extras like a diving computer, flash light, knifes, camera, inflatable devices, gloves and boots. Just remember to not carry unnecessary things.

#6 Do I need to have my own gear?

Well, do you need to have your own clothes? Do you need to have your own shoe? Do you need to have your own car? All these questions follows the same principle.

Yes, you can rent equipment to avoid the hassle of carrying, cleaning, maintain and storage the gear. However, owning your own gear bring much more benefits so, instead thing negatively, let´s see the side positive here.

Your own suits fits perfectly on you and doesn´t smell like anything that you wouldn´t know what it is, if you know what I´m saying? Despite I truly believe that serious companies wash their rental gear properly, after a few years on diving industry we had some experience about how some companies would take care of it. Some people don´t like the idea of using the same clothes, or shoes that other people are using, which makes a lot of sense to me, so think about the suits like your own clothes, specially those ones with more contact with your skin.

Owning your own BCD also provides much more comfort. Every time you rent a gear you never know which kind of gear you are going to have, if its well maintained or if there is pockets or d-rings for your extra gear. By owning your own gear you will know exactly where everything can be placed, the adjustments or where is located every single part of it.

The regulators, that is the part with more concerns. Again, I truly believe that serious companies would do the best to provide a quality gear to their customers, however, the reality is not always what we expect. Make sure you choose a good company who cares about well-being. Let´s see why.

The 2nd stage of the regulator is the one that you are going to put inside your mouth, if your renting this gear how many people also put inside their mouth? lots right? maybe more!! Does the companies actually do a proper cleaning between customers? Well, the serious companies does!

Especially now that we have to be careful due to the COVID-19 the companies need to take a extra care to make sure they will offer quality gear. However, owning your own equipment you don´t have this problem, all you need to do is to make sure you do overhaul properly according to the makers.

and the same applies to all the gear you are going to use, after all, it all up to you if you want to have your own gear or rent every time. After a few times renting you already spend the amount of money of a brand new quality gear. Think about that!!

#7 How do I start o Scuba Diving?

If you only want to have an experience underwater you can start with programs like “Discovery Scuba Diving“. On this activity the diving instructor will show you some very basics skills and take you to a really nice tour underwater in conditions like a pool. It is super safe and super fun!! Just note that this is not a diving course, but it can help you to take your next step.

If you are have decided that give the next step, you are going toward to PADI Open Water Course. This is the most important course because its here that you will learn all the concepts, basics diving skills, safety skills and develop all the knowledge to become a great diver. Just make sure that you are choosing the right company with great professionals.

As a certified Open Water Diver you will be able to go up to 18m depth safely, you will be able to dive by yourself with anyone holding you all the time, you will upgrade your vacation and see things that probably most of people you know will never see.

If you want to now more about Scuba Diving Programs, courses, tours or even planning a tour in Okinawa, please feel free to get in contact. We will be very happy to help you to find your way to the ocean.

By Otávio Munefiça – PADI Instructor