Scuba Etiquette 101: How to become a better diver

Because nobody likes to be stuck with that one idiot on a dive trip

Proper scuba diving etiquette goes a long way

You’re on a dive trip and you’re all excited; you don’t know what to expect on your first day. You gear up and quickly get in the water. Everything’s lovely, peaceful, serene… Then you suddenly hear a series of “tank bangs” and you spin around looking for the someone who did it because he or she must have spotted something. “This is gonna be good!”, you think to yourself. But, nope, nothing. Confused, you carry on with your dive, hoping to see a shark or something super cool. Then it comes again – the clinking and clanking noise. You look up and turn around. Nothing. To your horror, this goes on for the entire duration of the dive. All 60 minutes of it. And by the time you’re up on the boat, you just want to murder someone.


We’ve all been there. We’ve all met our fair share of idiots who know exactly what to do to irritate everyone on the boat and ruin a dive trip. But before you do or say anything, go through this list and make sure you’re not one of them. And please, for everyone’s sake, shove this piece in the face of anyone who is one of them.

Do suit up early. Especially if you know you’ll need a little more time than others with a tricky wetsuit or drysuit. It’s no fun to wait around.

Don’t be late. Again, it’s no fun to wait around. When the dive centre manager says the boats leave at 7am, don’t expect to be entertained if you show up at the jetty at 7:15am. Don’t be a world-class jerk.

Touching marine life is a big no-no

Don’t touch anything. If you like something, look at it, take a photo or two, or film it for a while. Then be done with it. Manhandling marine life or coral for any reason is unacceptable and can even get you banned from diving for the rest of your vacation when it comes to certain dive operators.

Don’t bang on your tank excessively. Unless you’re seeing something jaw-droppingly amazing every other minute and nobody else is reacting (or you’re having some trouble), please do not abuse this underwater signalling technique (or any signalling device you have, for that matter). It is extremely distracting and so very, very annoying. It’s surprising how many divers don’t understand this rule.

Don’t kick up sand. If you’re a new diver and you know you have buoyancy issues, do your best to stay well above the seabed, or away from those who will be affected, like underwater photographers (with the reduced visibility, they won’t be able to see what they’re shooting). Also, by kicking up sand you’re quite possibly destroying the homes of several marine animals. Learn more about proper trim and stay in a horizontal position rather than vertical.

Get in line if you want to see something. Animals are naturally shy, so if you rush over like a massive buffoon, it’s obviously going to swim off or hide. When someone finds something interesting, a natural queue will form and everyone will take turns looking at the creature. Be patient and considerate.

Do listen to the guide (and follow them). Always pay attention to your dive guide, whether he or she is giving a dive briefing on the boat or signalling instructions underwater. Keep an eye out for them at all times during your dive and stay slightly above them in terms of depth.

Ever been elbowed in the face by an impatient diver who couldn’t wait to get back onto the boat?

Wait your turn to climb the boat ladder after a dive. Seriously, where’s the fire? There’s no need to charge for that ladder; you will make it back onto the boat no matter what so calm down.

Use the correct rinse tanks. Don’t put your pee-soaked wetsuit in the camera rinse tank and don’t throw your GoPro in the gear rinse tank (which is probably filled with pee from the wetsuits).

Co-founder and editor of GoodVis, Sam has been obsessed with scuba diving since 2011. When she's not doing research on lesser-known dive destinations, ogling at new scuba gear, or taking pictures of fish underwater, she's either writing or stuffing her face with awesome food (or doing both simultaneously).