We all have those dives that are cemented in our memories: the dives that were so phenomenal that we’ll remember them forever and will re-live them over and over when talking to other divers (or anyone who will listen!)
These special kind of dives are the reason you don your kit and hit the deep blue again and again, to try and get another experience just as good as ‘that one time’, when you had one of your ‘best dives ever’. So what made that dive so special?
We’ve put together a list of 7 key elements that can turn a good dive into a great dive, every time. If you manage to get these elements sorted (and some of course will be pot luck and entirely out of your control) then you’re probably in for a great diving experience. Pens at the ready divers, here’s how to have your ‘best dive ever’:
1. Get Comfy in your Gear
Remember that time your equipment didn’t fit well and you spent the whole dive trying to get comfortable instead of concentrating on the awesome marine life around you? Our bet is that that dive didn’t go down in your log book as the ‘best dive ever’. Without a doubt, being uncomfortable under the water can seriously detract from the enjoyment of any diving experience, and nobody wants that.
The best case scenario is that you have your own dive equipment that you’re familiar with – you’ll know where everything is, how it works and where you can attach additional gizmos and gadgets you might bring along with you. Having your own equipment means you’ll never need to worry about squeezing into a too-tiny wetsuit or wondering whether the mask you’ve rented is going to leak once you’re under water. Having your own gear also gives you peace of mind, knowing that you’ll be submerging with reliable gear that you yourself have tested. If you don’t own your own equipment or have found an opportunity to dive and don’t have your kit, spend some time with the dive operator to ensure the equipment you rent is in good condition and fits correctly. This may mean arriving earlier than normal and trying on a number of wetsuits, BCDs or masks.
Of course, regardless of what equipment you use you’ll always need to allocate a bit of time for adjustment once you reach your dive site, but this shouldn’t take any longer than a few seconds before you’re on your way to exploring the underwater universe before you.
2. Bells and Whistles: Check Your Dive Boat Has Them!
Busy boats carrying eager groups of divers can certainly add something to the atmosphere either before or after a dive. Imagine you’ve just had your ‘best dive ever’ and then have the chance to come aboard a boat full of like-minded individuals and share your excitement and discuss the finds each of you made – this situation is a total win on all fronts. Sometimes, however, a loaded dive boat can be less than ideal with divers needing to dodge weight belts and fins, catch falling air tanks and perform Matrix-worthy lean backs to allow others to move around.
To avoid this less-than-perfect experience, try to check the maximum number of divers the operator usually takes on one boat. If possible, have a chat with the skipper or watch the water for other boats from the same operator to see how many people they usually fit on each boat.
It’s also important to have a well-equipped boat that has everything you need. As a bare minimum, tank holders are key, especially if conditions are likely to be bumpy. If you manage to find out the name of the boat you’ll be leaving on, you can always check this beforehand to prepare yourself. For longer journeys, a shade solution of sorts is super handy. Having a cool box on board with drinks and a snack is an extra touch that really goes a long way. There’s nothing better than coming up from an exciting dive and having some cold liquid to quench your thirst before launching into your exciting rendition of the dive.
3. Love the Locals, Especially Local Dive Guides
Being accompanied by a friendly and knowledgeable dive guide can make all the difference when diving in an area that you aren’t familiar with. Not only will they know where to look to find hidden gems, they’ll know the best times, days and conditions to dive in that particular area and can really add to the diving experience.
4. Grab a Buddy (a Good One!)
If you don’t have the luxury of diving with someone you know and have dived with before, take the time to have a chat with the person you’ll be diving with, get an understanding of their qualifications, interests and abilities. You don’t want a dive buddy who is always getting lost or someone who spends ages taking pictures of each fish, unless of course that’s your interest too and you’ve also got a camera with you. It’s also a good idea to find out how long your buddy usually dives for – you want to be on a similar sort of wavelength to avoid either one of you having to cut your dive short. That could be cause for some serious FOMO.
5. Good Visibility Is Always a Good Idea
For many divers, good visibility = good diving, the general consensus being that even if there isn’t much to see, at least the things you are able to see you can see clearly and easily without straining through loads of swirling sand or plankton. Amazing visibility adds an extra element of wonder to the dive, and if nothing else you can always look towards the surface and enjoy seeing the bubbles you create travelling all the way up to the top. Having a clear view allows divers to truly embrace the wondrous feat of being below the water’s surface in a blue world that is so unique and breath-taking.
6. Calm Conditions Contribute to Carefree Diving
Along with visibility comes other favourable conditions for diving such as underwater currents and surges, the general underwater environment and of course surface conditions. At some sites, the sheer number of divers can detract from your enjoyment of a dive. Unfortunately it is sometimes the case that too many divers in one spot can be a bad thing. It’s not much fun to be constantly worried about following the wrong group or waiting in line to see what everyone else is looking at. A busy underwater scene can also bring with it a great deal of noise from boats up above.
In some places such as Indonesia, illegal fishing practices can disrupt the serene environment too, as many poachers make use of fishing bombs and the sound of regular underwater explosions are not generally conducive to a relaxed, enjoyable dive worthy of the title ‘best dive ever’.
7. Be One with the Beauty
For most of us divers, it’s all about the marine life, and everyone is likely to have their own favourites. For some, a dive is instantly memorable if there’s a laid-back looking sea turtle lurking in the distance whilst for others, it may be the same with any type of shark or certain fish species. However, as divers we need to remember that we should appreciate every aspect of the fascinating underwater world we get to be a part of. To see a large school of small fish swarming around you, regardless of how common these fish are, is something that many of the world’s population will never experience, and that is something to be truly treasured.
We’d love to hear what you think makes a great dive, so let us know in the comments section below!