For holidaymakers, scuba diving offers a completely different type of activity which may peak your interest due to your location, the party you’ve travelled with, or simply you just feel like trying something new.
In many resorts across the globe, scuba diving is readily available, and often comes with the promise of visiting off-shore wrecks, and masses of coral reef - a great opportunity to capture some unforgettable memories, and immortalise them if you happen to own a decent underwater camera.
How does scuba diving work?
SCUBA – Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. In 1943, Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan invented the aqualung, which is more commonly known as scuba. Since 1943, apparatus has evolved in a number of ways which helps a diver to tackle the challenges that they may face in open water.
From wet/dry suits to buoyancy control devices, all aspects of your scuba kit work together to keep you safe. The long and the short of it is, compressed air (usually Nitrox) is carried on your back, and attached via various tubes to your regulator.
The regulator is important as without it, you would be breathing the compressed air which would damage your lungs due to the intense pressure. The regulator also ensures that your air is only being supplied on-demand (when you need it) as not to waste it.
Pony tanks (smaller cylinders) are used for emergency situations, and carry their own regulator as a back-up in case of damage to your main equipment. A snorkel can also be carried to conserve air from your tank when surface swimming.
We’re certain you should be certified
If you love being in the water, then that’s a good start. If you love being in the open water, then it’s even better. Snorkelling is usually a good starting point to move into donning the scuba gear, and descending into the depths.
But even if you’re the most confident of snorkelers, there is still a huge gulf in technical ability needed to safely get out into open water with scuba diving. You’ll find many diving centres on your holidays which offer short 30 minute to 1 hour training sessions in full kit in your hotel’s pool – but this is still no comparison for the changing tides and currents of the ocean.
If you’re keen on having a go at scuba diving on your upcoming holiday, we’d suggest getting in touch with your local diving club for advice, like this one offered by the BSAC. They may offer courses to show you the ropes before you jet off, which could open the doors to a new hobby!
Our scuba travel insurance will cover non-certified divers up to a maximum of 30 metres, if you’re diving deeper than that, you will need to be a certified diver. Our Adventure Pack add-on will cover you up to 40 metres deep, again, on the proviso that you have appropriate certification.
Take your medical seriously
Before embarking on your dive, you’re likely to be asked a number of medical screening questions to ensure you’re fit to descend. It goes without saying that diving can become strenuous, depending on tides and currents; you could find yourself well away from your group if you accidentally become engulfed by a rip-tide.
If you have any questions, it’s always best to consult your dive leader who will be able to provide more information on what each question means, and how it can be put in to practise once you get out into the open water.
Now you’re safe, where should you dive?
There are many places which would be considered to experienced divers as “top of the bucket list dives”. Whether you’re looking to venture afar, or stick to shores a bit closer to home, this list will make you want to be donning the gear, and heading straight for the sea before you can shout backroll!
Bahamas – These crystal clear waters provide the perfect setting to explore the many shipwrecks and thriving coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea. Some notable dives include Andros Wall (27m), Eleuthera & Harbour Island are host to the most amount of shipwrecks in the area, and if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, head to Nassau for open ocean shark encounters.
Egypt – The Red Sea is home to some of the best diving sites in the world, with reefs a-plenty and even the chance of bumping into a rare dugong! If it’s a chilled atmosphere you’re in search of, head to Dahab and visit the infamous Blue Hole – one of the most famous dive sites in the world.
France – We couldn’t not include France, seeing as the father of scuba diving is native to Bordeaux. The Mediterranean sea was where scuba was developed, with many historical shipwrecks to explore, a cave network which makes the London Underground seem small, and peaks and troughs which will have you scanning the sea bed for marine life.
Indonesia – With islands in abundance, Indonesia has something for everyone when it comes to dive sites. With over 3000 different fish species inhabiting the warm waters, be sure to charge your underwater camera to capture the beautiful shimmer of their scales alongside some of the most vibrant coral you’ll ever set your eyes on!
Thailand - Richelieu Rock is famous for it’s stretch of Andaman Sea lying between the Similan and Surin Islands. It is well renowned as whale shark safari territory. The deep sea upwells the nutrient-rich water which makes it excellent for diving. The plankton blooming will attract many fish, most notably, the biggest one of all. Make sure you’ve got your Go-Pro at the ready for some excellent shots.
So get out there, get your diving certification, and book your next trip to your diving haven – it’s a whole different world under the sea. The weight of gravity is barely evident as you maintain your natural buoyancy and drift with the waves. Bliss.