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Best Scuba Diving in the Bahamas

Sitting in the Atlantic Ocean between Miami and Cuba is a cluster of more than 700 islands and cays known as the Bahamas. These islands are a popular spot for vacationers because of the warm weather, sandy beaches, and palm trees. These islands offer great cuisine, nightlife, relaxing beaches and of course water sports.

Best Scuba Diving in the Bahamas

Some of the country’s most popular water activities include snorkeling and scuba diving. This is because of the diverse variety of sites scattered around the cays and islands; there’s a unique experience at every turn. Below we will discuss all of our favorite places to dive in the Bahamas, including wrecks, caves, walls and big fish spotting locations!

Why Dive In The Bahamas?

The Bahamas offer the chance to experience some of the most unique dives available. With multiple walls, caves, caverns, and grottos dotted around the coast of the islands, you can experience some once in a lifetime dives. The Bahamas are also home to the deepest blue hold on record.

You are not just limited to the natural architecture of the ocean; the Bahamas are home to many wreck diving sites, a lot of which have been strategically placed to give divers the best experience.

One of the best reasons to go diving in the Bahamas is the abundance of big fish that you can see close up. You can see a number of different sharks, dolphins and sea turtles close enough to touch them! We can promise a once in a lifetime experience.

Is It Good For Beginners To Dive In The Bahamas?

The popularity of the country’s warm water and lovely weather has made it a place where everyone wants to go, not just diving enthusiasts. Beginners want to explore the distinct architecture underwater, see sharks and dolphins up close, and swim through shipwrecks just as much as advanced divers.

For this reason, beginner dives are very common all over. Purposely placed wrecks are also available just so beginners can get an exceptional experience!

Is It Easy To Get There?

Due to the booming tourism industry of the Bahamas, they have made sure they are very accessible to the world. You can catch direct flights into the Lynden Pindling International Airport in the capital city of Nassau. Airlines fly quite frequently into the international airport, where you can easily catch a local flight onto any of the islands.

Are There Good Dive Sites For Families?

The Bahamas are a very popular spot for vacationing for families. Because the country has such high demand in terms of tourism, they are well-equipped to handle guest parties of any size. Diving and scuba diving is a very popular activity, so dive schools have come out with packages and dive expeditions that the whole family can enjoy.

Diving in the Bahamas

What Aquatic Life Can You Find?

The Bahamas are a wonderful place to experience all sorts of marine life, especially if you want to see some bug fish up close. But big fish are not all you see; the dive sites are full of beautiful coral from intricate brain coral, to long and winding red finger gorgonians, and even the endangered Elkhorn. You can even find the queen conch; a Bahamian seafood specialty! You can even swim to shallow sea floors and get the chance to pick up a massive sea star and observe it up close!

When we talk about fish, one of the most abundant little fish you can see is the blue tang. That’s right, you will see many Dorys (from Disney’s Finding Nemo) swimming around the water. Oh, and let’s not forget her friend Nemo; the clownfish is also native to the Bahamian waters. If you are looking for something a little bigger, you will also be able to see the sharp blue marlin, and if you stay calm, even be able to go close to a barracuda. Finally, if you can spot the camouflage experts, these waters are also home to giant groupers.

Dolphins are also common around the dive sites. If they’re feeling friendly, you might see an Atlantic spotted dolphin swim alongside your boat. You can even get in the water and swim with these intelligent creatures to really get a feel of what they are like. The Bahamas are home to a variety of different dolphins, which include the bottlenose dolphin, striped dolphin, and Fraser’s dolphin.

The Bahamas take pride in their sea turtle population as well. Since these creatures are much endangered, you are likely going to be asked to be careful and respectful around them. You can find a few different species here that include the green sea turtle, the hawksbill turtle, and the leatherback.

Finally, the most coveted sighting in the Bahamas is that of a shark. There are many dive sites dedicated specifically to seeing these magnificent creatures swim around you. You can head over to New Providence any time of year to catch a glimpse of the huge Caribbean reef shark. If you are looking for bigger ones, head over to Grand Bahamas or Bimini to see tiger sharks and great hammerhead sharks in their environment. Other sharks you can see are the oceanic whitetip shark, lemon shark, or even the occasional, but dangerous bull shark. 

Best Scuba Diving Destinations in the Bahamas

The Bahamas are known for their diversity of dives. Whether you are looking for some advanced cave dives or beginner wreck dives, or just to look at big fish, the Bahamas have it all. Here are our top picks for wrecks, caves, and scuba diving sites for the best experiences:

Dive Sites

The Washing Machine

This extremely unique dive is a really fun way for divers to experience the Exuma Cays. It is a drift dive experience that swirls divers down because of the current and floats you back up gently over a reef before you ascend to the surface. This is one for adrenalin seekers!

Tiger Beach

Most divers are looking for a shark dive experience when they come to the Bahamas. Tiger Beach has become known as one of the best shark dives in the world. Divers are taken down 20m and stood in a large circle. Local shark handlers then feed the sharks close to the divers so they can experience the great creature up close.

Over-the-Wall

This is a dive that can be done in the day and night. The Bahamas are known for the walls and holes that can be found beneath the surface of the water, and this wall is one that should not be missed! The wall drops down a staggering 1,820m. On the way down, divers are asked to switch off dive lights under the water; once their eyes adjust to the darkness, they get a magical surprise.  Bioluminescent plankton particles light up the water around them and create an unworldly scene.

Bahamas Wreck Diving

Wreck Dives

SS Sapona

This 82m long wreck lays just a mere 6m under the water. It is one of the only concrete ships in the world, making it a unique dive. Due to its depth, the wreck is very easily accessible and also great for beginners. You can spot marine life like gray angelfish and green moray eels swimming around the ship as well.

Theo’s Wreck

This wreck was purposely sunk for diving purposes in 1982. The 80m long ship rests on its side at a modest 30m depth on the ocean floor. Because of the currents in the area, new marine life is brought to the wreck and has managed to cover the entire thing. Colorful corals and sponges that cover the surface have become home to a large number of species of fish and even have visitors like reef sharks and spotted dolphins.

Ray of Hope

This is known as one of the best dive sites that the Bahamas have to offer. It is a 60m long Haitian freighter that was purposely sunk in 2003 near one of the infamous Bahamian walls. It is truly a complete diver; you will get to do a wreck dive, a shark dive, and a wall dive, all in one tank!

Caves and Caverns

Ben’s Cavern

If you are not a tech or cave diver, but still want to experience what it could be like, this is the place to go. You get to sample what it would feel like to enter larger caves and you get an idea of what other crevasses and caverns exist in the Bahamas.

Thunderball Grotto

A scene literally out of a movie, this location has been the star spot in many Hollywood films. It is a cave that exists in a large hollowed-out rock that creates a natural skylight; sunlight beams down into the water making the colorful coral and fish seem more vibrant than ever.

Dean’s Blue Hole

This is the world’s deepest blue hole to be recorded. Its depth has been recorded at 202m; this sight is regularly used by freedivers to practice for competitions. The dive site has great visibility year-round and very mild currents making it a must-do dive for enthusiasts. As a bonus, you might spot a sea turtle swimming around the area.

What Specific Gear Do You Need To Dive In The Bahamas?

It is difficult to lug around heavy diving gear with you when you are packing from a trip. Fortunately, the Bahamas are equipped for its fair share of scuba divers that frequent for their chance to dive among the sharks and the country’s unique underwater architecture. You are most likely going to be able to rent any of this equipment very easily. With each dive site, your guide will be able to tell you what equipment is absolutely necessary, but here is a list just in case:

Compulsory Gear for Regular Dives

Additional Gear for Wreck and Cave Dives

  • Dive light
  • Dive knife
  • Wreck line and reel
  • Underwater slate
  • Extra breathing gas
  •  Dive table/dive computer
  • Thick gloves
Diving with Tigershark in the Bahamas

Is It Dangerous To Dive In The Bahamas?

Depending on the dive and your level of experience, the danger associated with these dives varies. All dives should be done with some level of caution. Experienced trainers on-site can guide you through the dangers of each dive individually. 

Wreck dives and cave dives can e more dangerous than regular dives, so make sure you have the knowledge of what you are getting into before going. Always dive with a trained expert if you are a beginner to avoid any mishaps.   

Final Thoughts 

If you find yourself in the Bahamas on vacation, don’t hesitate to go to a dive center and get a chance to visit some of the most wonderful sights available all over the world. The Bahamas are equipped for all levels of divers, so don’t miss an opportunity to try it out!

Best Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef

One of the greatest sights in the world stretches along the coast of Queensland, Australia, and is known as the Great Barrier Reef. This is the largest coral reef system on the planet. It runs for a long 1400 miles along the coast and is formed of 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands. No wonder it is on the bucket list for many scuba divers!

Best Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef’s beauty is so magnanimous; it was recreated in the movie Finding Nemo. This movie brought the bright colors and plentiful marine creatures to life in such a way that no diver can resist having a look at it in real life!

The vivid coral, the fast-paced fish and the vast abundance shown are a clear representation of what you can truly find in this underwater world.  Below, we will discuss the ins and outs of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as the best places for divers to visit!

Why Dive in the Great Barrier Reef?

This is the world’s single biggest structure made up of living organisms. It is so gargantuan, it can be seen all the way up from outer space.

Its sheer size makes it a great place to visit as a diver; you are sure to see a variety of different sites within this single location. The Great Barrier Reef was named a World Heritage Site in 1981 and is also known as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

The reef is home to thousands and thousands of species of coral, fish and marine mammals. The sights make it a diver’s paradise, where they can discover new sights at every corner of their dive.

Is It Good For Beginners To Dive in the Great Barrier Reef?

With popular scuba diving destinations like the Great Barrier Reef, you are sure to find all levels of dive sites spotted along the reef. Some sites only cater to advanced divers, but there are many beautiful and colorful locations for beginners to dive, and even snorkel.

One of the best places for beginners to dive or even a place where you can learn to dive in Cairns. There are plenty of dive schools with great instructors in the area. The site does not miss out on any of the reef’s glory; you see the colorful coral, the bright fish, and even the occasional shark!

Is it Easy to Get There?

Yes. Australia has a large and thriving tourism industry, so it is very easily accessible. You can book a flight from practically anywhere to get to where you want to go. Hotels are also plentiful and you can get accommodation at every price range. Whether you are looking for a luxury vacation, or want to stay in hostels and are there purely for the dives, you’ll be able to find the right place for you.

Are There Good Dive Sites For Families?

The reef offers many good dive sites for families with expeditions that can last between 3 and 7 days. There are family tours available from beginner levels up to intermediate. Australia’s popularity with tourists and divers has made it well equipped with providing activities for families. It doesn’t just cater to strictly divers, but also families and people on vacation that want to experience the Great Barrier Reef up-close.

Aquatic Life at the Great Barrier Reef

What Aquatic Life Can You Find?

With it being one of the most complex ecosystems in the world and at such a large scale, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of different flora and fauna species. The Great Barrier Reef gets its colorful look from all the beautiful coral and tiny fish that call it home. It is truly a breathtaking place to dive, especially in terms of the aquatic life around.

The reef is home to over 350 different hard coral species. Hard coral is what gives the reef its three-dimensional structure. These hard corals are what make the reef what it is; they are colorful and provide the base for the entire stretch.

Some of the coral species include bubble coral, brain coral, tabletop coral, mushroom coral, stag-horn coral, bottlebrush coral, and needle coral. Apart from hard coral, the reef is also home to a whopping 5000 different sponges; these sponges are essential to the reef’s ecosystem, providing it with nutrients and recycling its waste.

If you’re a fan of starfish, sea cucumbers and sea stars, you will love the variety of them at the reef. The Great Barrier Reef provides that perfect home for these creatures as they feed on the waste and help maintain the reef’s ecology. Similarly, there are clams, oysters, cuttlefish and 10,000 other species of mollusks at the reef. Don’t expect these creatures to be tiny and unnoticeable; the giant clam can weigh up to 500 lbs. The species also include many squid and octopuses.

When we talk about the fish species that can be seen by divers in the Great Barrier Reef, the options are bountiful. Over 1500 different species call the reef home; you can see everything from tiny clownfish and gobies to the large manta rays, tiger sharks and whale sharks.  The beautifully blue damselfish, electrifyingly bright wrasse and the unique tusk fish are the most common species found on the reef. There are also other species that can be seen; butterflyfish, triggerfish, cowfish, pufferfish, angelfish, anemone fish, coral trout, seahorses, sea perch, sole, scorpionfish, hawkfish, and surgeonfish, to name a few.

There are plenty of sea turtles that can also be seen hanging around the reef. The 7 specific species that frequent the area include the leatherback turtle, hawksbill turtle, flatback turtle, Pacific Ridley turtle, loggerhead turtle, and the green turtle. Unfortunately, though, they are all classified as either venerable or endangered.

If you’re into spotting even larger animals, the reef is also home to dozens of species of dolphins and whales, including the humpback whale and bottlenose dolphins. The sights don’t stop there! The reef’s large varieties of flora attract the mystical Dugongs. They are large, white puffy looking creatures that are related to the manatee.

Finally, be careful of but don’t miss the beautiful variety of jellyfish that live in the area. There are over 100 different species of the stinging creatures that exist at the reef. They might be beautiful to look at, but be careful of their tentacles as a diver!

Best Scuba Diving Destinations in the Great Barrier Reef

SS Yongala

This wreck dive is of a steamship that lies 30m deep at the bottom of the reef. It is a bucket list dive for many experienced divers and is known as one of the world’s best wreck dives. This passenger ship sank during a cyclone it encountered in 1911 near Queensland, Australia. In this unfortunate accident, all 122 passengers aboard the ship lost their lives.

The ship is a coveted dive site because of how well preserved and large it is. Not only do you get to explore the greatness of the wreckage, but you are going to see a large variety of marine life in and around it. Divers can expect to see Giant marble rays, giant groupers, barracudas, sea snakes, turtles, and eagle rays, just to name a few.

Level of Expertise Required

This site is for advanced divers.

Ribbon Reefs

The Ribbon Reefs are made up of 10 individual reefs that lay at a remote outer area of the Great Barrier Reef. The reefs are relatively shallow with a range of 5m and 30m of depth. The most popular reefs amongst divers include reef no.3 and reef no.9, but the Ribbon Reefs offer 25 different dive sites along the 10 reefs.

The reef can be accessed through liveaboards from Cairns. Once you get there, you can see many different marine animals; some have become so used to people visiting that they are known as domesticated. You are likely to see groupers, cod, bream, colorful reef fish, and individual reefs are even home to golden sea snakes and even the occasional shark.

Level of Expertise Required

Ideal for divers of all levels.

Nemo Fish on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia

Osprey Reef

This isolated reef is known for its stunning visibility and uncaged shark dive opportunities. The reef covers an area of 195 sq. km and can be anywhere from 5 to 40m deep. However, the drops at this site can go as deep as 1000m, which is why this site isn’t suitable for new divers. The reef itself offers 15 different dive sites, each made up of unique caverns and trenches. It is a fun and challenging dive for an experienced diver that wants to test their skills.

Level of Expertise Required

For expert divers.

Heron Island

This gorgeous coral cay lies 50m off the shore and offers over 20 different dive sites. All the sites are less than 25m of depth, which makes it a great place for new divers to get the Great Barrier Reef experience. The cay is known for its guaranteed turtle sightings; with over 4000 green and loggerhead turtles residing there, you are guaranteed to see at least one!

You can either choose to stay at a dive resort on the nearby coast or then liveaboard to the site. There are, unfortunately, no day trips available to the cay.

Level of Expertise Required

Great for new divers.

Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay in a Great Barrier Reef that offers more than 20 dive sites with depths ranging from 10m to 30m. You can take a boat from the main island to the dive sites to experience diving along with manta rays and green sea turtles. Much like Heron Island, the only way to access the site is by staying on the island and taking a boat to the cay.

The coral cay is located 56km from the mainland and the reefs around Lady Elliot are in immaculate condition. As a special surprise at this site, you might encounter a whale since the island is close to a continental shelf.

Level of Expertise Required

All levels of divers.

Hardy Reef

Hardy Reef is a popular dive site because of its location and accessibility. It lies near Airlie Beach and is easy for anyone staying in the area to get there. A pontoon at Hardy Reef makes the dive even more popular; it gives divers the opportunity to step right into the water to discover the world underneath. While at Hardy Reef, you are likely to see groupers, turtles, batfish, surgeonfish, reef sharks, angelfish, barracuda, gropers, and coral trout.

Level of Expertise Required

Good for all levels.

What Specific Gear Do You Need to Dive in the Great Barrier Reef?

It is very unlikely that you will be traveling with a bag full of heavy diving gear. Lucky for you though, Queensland is equipped for its fair share of scuba divers that frequent for their chance to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. You are most likely going to be able to rent any of this equipment very easily. With each location, your guide will be able to tell you what equipment is absolutely necessary, but here is a list just in case:

Compulsory Gear for Regular Dives

Additional Gear for Wreck Dives

Turtle at the Great Barrier Reef

Is it Dangerous to Dive in the Great Barrier Reef?

Depending on the dive and your level of experience, the danger associated with these dives varies. All dives should be done with some level of precaution. Experienced trainers on-site can guide you through the dangers of each dive individually. Wreck dives should be approached with an extra level of caution and should only be entered by experienced divers. 

Final Thoughts 

Who doesn’t want to experience one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World first hand? Get up close and personal with bright, vivid corals and vibrant reef fish, while still getting the opportunity to see bucket-list marine creatures like whales, sharks, and dolphins. The Great Barrier Reef is just that; great!

What to Do You If You Get Separated From Your Dive Buddy

One of the most important things you learn when you are being certified to become a diver is that you should always stay with your dive buddy. Losing your dive buddy can be quite an ordeal, causing anxiety and disorientation mid-dive. In most cases, losing your dive buddy will end your dive abruptly, which no diver wants.

What to Do You If You Get Separated From Your Dive Buddy

There are many reasons why having a dive buddy is important and why losing them can be such a challenge. Below we will discuss why having a buddy is important, how to prevent losing them, and what to do if you do get separated:

Why Do You Need A Buddy When Diving?

The buddy system is in place as a security measure for divers. Buddy diving can help divers avoid dangerous situations and even get out of certain conundrums. Divers will dive in groups of two or three at a time while using this system. The main reason for this is that the group of divers can look out for each other under the water and can be helpful in the case of emergencies. You may be an extremely experienced diver, but a diving buddy can save you life in a critical situation.

Before a dive, your buddy can help you get into your equipment and gear. Together, you can discuss the best techniques and locations to enter the water. Your buddy will also be with you to determine the route and depth of your dive; this will also help you stay together during your dive. Your dive buddy can help you in case you encounter a problem with your regulator, encounter an unknown marine creature, get stuck or even just help you stay calm if you feel yourself panicking underwater. Plus, it is always great to have someone there to experience the great sites and discoveries you make underwater with you.    

How Was The Buddy System Invented?

Since the popularization of scuba diving for recreational purposes in the 1940s and 50s, regulations and safety precautions had started to be put into place. The YMCA first started the training programs for the new sport and kept the “never swim alone” rule that they had for swimming and lifeguard programs for scuba diving as well. This is because the underwater breathing apparatus’s invention had brought with it many fatal and near-death incidences when it first came around.  As the buddy system proved itself over the years to be a useful addition to the sport, it solidified itself as one of the main rules of scuba diving.

Can You Dive Without A Buddy?

Yes, solo dives are possible. Solo dives either take place partly or completely without a dive buddy. These dives can start off with a buddy, and then divers can separate for their solo dive. Solo dives can also refer to dives where other divers are not trained or equipped to be helpful in the case of an emergency; during training, a trainer is said to be on a solo dive. Solo dives are rarely done for recreational purposes as they are dangerous; you will see that most dive centers highly discourage solo dives. Most solo dives are done by technical divers because it helps them stay focused on the task and sometimes is unavoidable.

What Leads to Buddy Separation?

There are many factors that can lead to you becoming separated from your dive buddy. You should be aware of these situations so you can plan accordingly and avoid any mishaps. Below are some of the most common reasons for getting separated:

Poor Visibility

This is possibly the most common reason why buddies get separated underwater. When divers are swimming in low visibility water, and they do not keep open communication, they can lose sight of each other and get separated. Use dive lights or make noise by banging on your tank to avoid this situation.

Equipment Malfunctions 

If your dive buddy is not attentive, and you are being delayed on your route because of a malfunction or any other problem with your equipment, it is possible to get left behind. To avoid this, keep in constant contact with your dive buddy, and pick one that is reliable and attentive to avoid such a situation.

Strong Currents and Other Dangerous Scenarios 

Strong currents can push divers apart and be very dangerous. Unexpected scenarios can also separate you, like dangerous marine creatures coming in between. Be aware of what creatures you can encounter or the currents of the water you are diving; communicate with your buddy beforehand so you know what to do in case you encounter one of these situations.

Miscommunication

Clear communication between buddies is imperative. Miscommunication of dive routes, paths or any changes underwater can lead to buddy separation. Make sure you and your buddy have a clean line of communication and understand each other.

Getting separated from your dive buddy

What Do You Do When You Get Separated From Your Dive Buddy?

Unfortunately, even if divers follow all the rules to stay with their buddy, they can sometimes get separated. The first thing to remember if that happens is to stay calm. Next, follow these steps:

The 360-Degree Turn

If you notice that you have been separated from your dive buddy, slowly conduct a 360-degree turn to make sure they are nowhere around you. This includes looking above and beneath you. Keep a lookout for your buddy’s bubbles; if you spot them, you have found your buddy.

Use Your Dive Light

In a low visibility situation, try to locate your buddy with the use of a dive light. If you have pre-decided on any light signals, use them at this time to see if you get a response from your buddy.

Create Sounds

Use an underwater whistle or a tank banger to create noise underwater to get your buddy’s attention. Stop to listen if your buddy is signaling you back; if you make noise at a stretch, it may get distorted and your buddy won’t be able to locate the origin.

Only One Minute

As a rule, do not spend more than a minute searching for your buddy. This can become a dangerous situation for you. This is when you should start your ascent.

Ascend And Safety Stop

Ascend to the surface slowly, and perform a safety stop when you reach 15 feet. Once you reach that depth, release your surface marker to let your buddy know where you are in case they are already at the surface.

Surface

Ascend all the way to the surface. If your buddy is not already at the surface, look for bubbles around where you are. Call out to your buddy, but do not go back into the water. Descending again can put your life in danger, and chances are your buddy is following the same procedure.

Return to the Dive Boat

Wait at the surface of the water for the predefined amount of time, and then make your way back to the dive boat. If your buddy is not on the boat, it is a good idea to now report them as missing.

How Can You Make Sure To Stay With Your Dive Buddy?

There are standard rules and equipment that exist to ensure that you do not get separated from your dive buddy. First things first, you need to communicate with your dive buddy before the dive to make sure that both of you follow the same conventional rules and regulations for underwater communication. Second, decide and clearly communicate the dive route and depth beforehand so there is no confusion once you are under the water.

Once you dive, keep open communication with your dive buddy through hand signals. Make use of underwater slates in case there is a change of plan in the dive or anything else you want to communicate to your buddy. The best way to ensure that you will not be separated from your dive buddy is through the use of a buddy line. It is a piece of equipment that tethers dive buddies together, especially to avoid separation in low visibility dives. You can also use dive lights to communicate with your buddy in low visibility or even by tapping on tanks to make noise.

Do not lose your dive buddy

Final Thoughts

Diving with a buddy can potentially save your life in a dangerous situation, so it can be a terrifying and extremely stressful situation if you get separated. Follow all the protocol to ensure you stay with your buddy, and do not panic if you get separated; just stop, think and act in a calm manner. Happy diving!

Diving and Hypothermia – Is It Really A Risk?

Scuba diving isn’t just a fun summer activity that can be done on tropical islands alongside warm sandy beaches. Cold water dives allow scuba divers to discover whole new underwater experiences with unique landscapes and marine life all over the world.

Diving and Hypothermia – Is It Really A Risk

You might have only thought of Bali, the Bahamas, and Hawaii for dives while writing off locations like Switzerland, Norway, and Scotland. This would be a mistake. These locations offer crystal clear water with unbelievable marine life and exploration-worthy wrecks.

However, when you do think about locations like the ones mentioned above, you need to be aware of the very real threat of hypothermia. Coldwater dives pose the threat of this condition, so divers should be aware of it; what it is, how it happens, how to identify it, how to prevent it and how to deal with it if it occurs. Below we are going to discuss all these things to make sure you are well-informed about hypothermia:  

What Is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a condition in which your body temperature drops below its normal 37 C (98.6 F).  The body needs to be at this temperature to perform metabolic and body functions. Your body tries to regenerate the heat through its internal mechanisms. If your body keeps losing heat at a faster rate than it can regenerate it, hypothermia sets in.

Hypothermia has stages, depending on how low the core temperature of the body goes. Mild hypothermia can start at 35 C (95 F), which is where you can start noticing the first signs of shivering and numbness in the limbs. Moderate hypothermia sets in if your temperature drops below 32 C (89.6 F) and finally severe hypothermia at 28 C (82.4 F). In this last stage, a person can lose consciousness, which can be detrimental to their life.

What Are the Signs Of Hypothermia?

Once the body temperature has fallen below normal, its first defense mechanism is to start shivering. Shivering is the body’s attempt to warm itself.

With hypothermia, a person’s pulse starts to slow down because of the reduced circulation of blood. With a weakened pulse, a person starts breathing slower and starts getting disoriented.

The next thing you will notice is slurred speech, confusion, irritability, and lethargy. At advanced stages of hypothermia, the pulse slows to a stop and as does the breathing, causing the person to lose consciousness. 

Can You Get Hypothermia in Warm Water?

Yes, it is possible to get hypothermia in warm water. Your body starts losing heat anytime its environment is colder than 37 C (98.6 F).

Due to conductive properties, heat loss is 25 times faster in water than it is in air. The process of heat loss is slower in warm water, which causes the body to skip some of the initial symptoms of hypothermia, such as mild shivering.

In warm water, if the diver does experience hypothermia, they will only notice it when it is at the moderate or severe stage. Fatigue and low motivation may occur as the first few signs, but because of the slow loss of heat, a diver may go straight to violent shivering and lack of coordination; the body temperature will have already dropped too low before the diver even notices.

What Temperature Water Gives You Hypothermia?

Any water temperature that is lower than normal body temperature can potentially give you hypothermia. This means water bodies below 37 C (98.6 F) have the ability to give you hypothermia, so take precautions through wetsuits and drysuits before getting into the water.

Risk of diving - Hypothermia

What Are The Primary Factors For Heat Loss For Divers?

There are four factors that can cause heat loss; namely conduction, convection, radiation and evaporation. However, heat loss for divers does not have anything to do with radiation or evaporation. Conduction and convection play their part in heat loss and possible hypothermia, here’s how:

Conduction

This is the transfer of heat between two surfaces of any state that are in contact with each other; heat is transferred from the warmer surface to the cooler one until they are both the same temperature. When a diver enters cold water, conduction from the diver’s body to the surrounding water starts the heat loss process.

Convection

Convection is the process of heat transferred within a liquid or gas; cooler areas of the liquid or gas sink to the bottom while warmer areas rise to the top. As conduction occurs in the water, that warmer water will rise to the top and be replaced by cooler water; thus cause the diver to lose more heat. As the diver goes deeper into the water, the water tends to be cooler because of the same process.

These two factors work in tandem, causing heat loss from divers’ bodies.

How Can You Prevent Hypothermia?

The first way to prevent hypothermia is by being properly protected from the elements. If you know you are going into cold water, make sure you have a thick wetsuit between 5mm and 7mm. For very cold and frigid water make sure you have a semi-dry or drysuit, under which you should layer appropriately. Use accessories like hoods, boots, and gloves to protect every area of your body.

Once you are out of the water, change into dry clothes immediately. Layer on clothing, with wool and fleece closest to your body; they will keep you warmer than polyester and other fabrics even if they are slightly wet.

Drink plenty of water before the dive and have a warm drink with sugar and no caffeine once you are out. Avoid drinking alcohol; there is a common misconception that alcohol will keep your body warm, but it has the opposite effect.

How to Deal with Hypothermia?

Before dealing with hypothermia on your own, decide if you need a medical professional, and call one immediately if you do. To deal with hypothermia while waiting for the professional, you need to first try to prevent any further heat loss from the body, and then reintroduce heat back in.

First, get the diver out of the water and remove wet clothing. Cover their body with dry clothes and blankets; avoid as much expose to wind and weather as you can to prevent further heat loss. Next, move the person to a warm and preferably enclosed space.

Once inside, you can use hot water bottles and heated blankets to further warm the body. And if they are able, get them to sip on a warm decaffeinated sweetened drink. Keep in mind that you need to handle a person suffering from hypothermia with care as their organs and body are in shock and vulnerable.

One thing to remember, never warm up with a hot bath or by massaging the limbs to generate heat. The body can go into shock, blood pressure can drop and the results could be fatal.

Hypothermia and Diving - Are there any Dangers?

Final Thoughts 

Though the cold shock is more fatal and more common than hypothermia, it is still better for divers to be informed about the effects of the condition. Hypothermia can be fatal if it is not identified and dealt with properly. Avoid getting hypothermia by protecting yourself from the elements as best you can before your dive, and once you are out of the water. The better informed you are, the safer you will be!

The Differences between Sidemount and Backmount Diving

While planning a dive, you might have considered opting for the side mount method over the back mount. The reason divers consider side mount over traditional back mount dives is because of the hype that has been created by those who have tried the method. Divers often feel freer and less bound by equipment during side mount dives, but deciding on the method isn’t purely on personal preference.

Differences between Sidemount and Backmount Diving

We aren’t saying the personal choice isn’t a factor for side-mount divers, just that there are other factors that come into play as well. If you are deciding between the two methods, you first have to understand the differences and why each method is preferred for certain dives. Below is a breakdown to help you understand the differences:

What Is Sidemount Diving?

Sidemount diving is the method of diving where the diver carries their cylinders clipped to their sides rather than on their back. The cylinders are clipped onto the diver right below the shoulders and go down to the hips on either side.

This configuration of equipment was originally used for advanced cave diving. The way the tanks are placed alongside the body gives divers the ability to fit through tight sections of caves with ease. You may think that tanks on the side would make it more difficult to maneuver in a tight space, but side-mounted cylinders can easily be unclipped when necessary, unlike back-mounted ones.

This form of diving started gaining traction with technical and decompression divers; the ease of movement with quick access to tanks made it easy to move around wrecks as reliable gas redundancy did for deeper dives. This growth in popularity for the method trickled down to recreational diving too, making it easier for recreational divers to get certified for side mount diving as well.  

What Is Backmount Scuba Diving?

When you think of scuba divers, you think of a person in a wetsuit, wearing a mask and carrying one or two air tanks on their back. That is backmount diving.

Backmount diving is the traditional way of diving. The gear is configured so the diver carries their cylinders on their back. It is a tried and true method that divers have been using for most types of dives.

This type of method is the most common, especially for recreational dives. For this reason, you will notice that equipment and training for it is readily available anywhere where dives can happen.  

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sidemount Diving

Though side mount diving is preferred by many, like all methods it still has its disadvantages. Here are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of side-mount diving:

Advantages

  • The biggest advantage of side-mount diving is the ability to move around freely and flexibly. You don’t have to keep adjusting yourself to maintain balance. The tanks on your side make you more streamlined.
  • If you struggle with carrying around weight on your back, especially before dives, sidemounts don’t have that problem. You can clip on the cylinders once you are in the water.
  • Easy access to valves means any kind of problem can be identified, isolated and fixed without any inconvenience.
  • You can remove and move tanks around, making it easy to move around and squeeze through tight spots.
  • You have much more balance and stability in the water because you are carrying the weight of the tanks at your center of gravity.

Disadvantages

  • Diving from boats can get a little difficult because of the gear involved for side-mount diving. The cylinders are clipped on in the water, so it can be difficult to lower them in from a boat.
  • To maintain balance underwater, you need to keep switching the regulator to equalize the gas in the tanks on either side.
  • The set up of the rig has to be done very meticulously with the expertise needed to give you the correct balance and performance underwater.
Sidemount Scuba Diving

Advantages and Disadvantages Backmount Diving

Though this is the most popular way of diving, it still comes with its drawbacks. Here are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of back mount diving:

Advantages

  • Because of its popularity and wide usage, there have been a lot of advances made with backmount diving equipment.
  • There is a lot of equipment and training that is easily available. Since the method has been around for so long, training has become much easier and works for most people.
  • You are using the unused space across your back; this is an advantage, especially during deeper dives when you need to carry multiple tanks. You don’t need to move the tanks unlike in wreck or cave dives, so it’s easier to just have them mounted on your back.
  • For boat dives, especially when the water is a little choppy, backmount configurations are a lot easier to get on and off. You don’t need to be in the water, struggling to clip on your tanks.
  • Gas is easily managed because you are breathing from both tanks at the same time.

Disadvantages

  • You are a lot less flexible in the water because of the tanks attached to your back.
  • The equipment is quite heavy; walking around with the cylinders on your back can be cumbersome.
  • If there is a problem with any cylinder, you have to render the remaining gas in it since you can’t remove it and fix the problem.

Why Would You Sidemount Dive In The Open Ocean?

Sidemount diving in open water is preferred by divers who have trained well with the equipment and find dives with it easier. Once they can figure out how to work the equipment, the freedom they get underwater is much more preferable. Sidemount diving ensures more speed and agility, and better balance is desirable, especially in decompression dives.

Is Backmount Diving Only For Open Waters?

Backmount diving is used in all waters, not just open water. Backmount diving is preferred for boat dives, but it is used in all other types of diving as well. Whether it is wreck diving, shore dives, boat dives or any other kinds, back-mount diving has been the tested way that people have been doing it since the beginning.

Is Sidemount Diving Only Good For Caves?

Sidemount diving has been growing in popularity for all forms of dives. Though the method was originally created for cave diving, that is no longer the case. Because of all the advantages of using this method, technical divers, particularly wreck divers took on the method as well. The maneuverability with this configuration has helped wreck divers get into spaces they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. 

Decompression divers picked up the method because they preferred the balance they got during decompression stops because of the side-mount method. Eventually, sidemount diving made its way to recreational divers as well; they felt they could move more easily and could identify problems with valves with more ease because of the easy access right under their arms.

Sidemount diving is good for most dives; plus you’re not lugging around heavy tanks on your back before getting into the water – rather, you can get into the water and simply clip on your cylinders to your sides with ease!

Backmount Scuba Diving

Do You Need Special Certifications or Courses for Sidemount Diving?

The short answer is yes, you do. Any time divers are working with new equipment or a new kind of dive, it is imperative to get training and certifications for them specifically.

The certification teaches divers how to configure and assemble the equipment as well as balance with it properly underwater. Any kind of change from your regular diving method will require you to practice underwater before you are ready to dive. Certifications also ensure that you know how to deal with problems with the specific equipment should they come up.

Final Thoughts 

Either method that you choose will work out for you, just go through the advantages and disadvantages of each method and try them out before deciding! However, if you’re looking into deep diving often, you should ditch both these methods and maybe consider rebreather diving instead!

How to Manage Long Hair When Scuba Diving

Long locks on surfer dudes and beach waves on babes are often stereotypical looks for water junkies, but have you ever thought about the work that goes into managing the hair underwater? It may be easier for surfers, but when it comes to diving, long hair can be a bit of a task to handle.

How to Manage Long Hair When Scuba Diving

Long, flowing hair on land looks gorgeous, but imagine the same flowing hair as you’re trying to swim with a mask and other gear on. That sounds pretty disruptive, messy and dangerous, doesn’t it?

Not only is it a problem during the dive, but it can also be quite a matted mess once you’re out of the water! Below we will discuss all the reasons why long hair can be an issue while diving, and what you can do about it:

Why Can Long Hair Be A Problem When You Dive?

Divers don’t purely exist underwater; they like to come up on land and live in the real world, where they want to look their best. For some, that means growing out their hair long, but what does that mean for their dives?

Long hair can be troublesome when diving because it can obstruct your view by floating into your field of vision, but that’s the least of your problems. Hair has a tendency to get caught in masks, which can cause a leak and be very inconvenient.

If your hair gets caught in the rubber strap, taking off the mask can be painful. Divers often end up ripping out strands of hair as they get free from the mask. If your hair is long enough and open, it can possibly even get caught in the first stage of your regulator. This can cause stress underwater and be potentially dangerous.

But these aren’t the end of your problems! Probably, the worst of all is actually emerging from the water with a tangled, matted mess upon your head that will have you running the other way from your hairbrush. Saltwater tends to dry out hair and when it’s floating around freely, it gets tangled up!

What to Do with Your Hair When You Go Scuba Diving?

You need to find a way to keep your hair out of the way while diving. The best way to do that is to tie it up! You can use a few different methods to do that, which we will discuss below, but the main point is to keep it securely out of the way.

However you choose to tie your hair, just make sure that it doesn’t have the potential to get loose and float around. A good tip to protect your hair and also make sure it stays in place is to use coconut oil before you tie it up; no stray hairs will get away!

Finally, there is some specific gear that you can use to keep hair in one place and avoid it getting tangled in other gear, which we will also discuss below.

How Should You Wear Your Hair When Scuba Diving?

If you are choosing to tie your hair up, here are a few styles that are effectively used by divers:

French Braid

This style is used for longer hair, usually cut in layers. The technique helps secure each layer into the plait individually, making sure it doesn’t move during the dive. A French braid can be made singularly or double depending on preference.

Pigtails

Pigtails are also used on longer hair to secure it in place but are preferable for one-length hair or long layers. These require you to make simple three-strand braids on either side of the head; your hair won’t get tangled in your gear, but it will move around a little. 

Ponytail

Ponytails are effective for mid-length to shoulder-length hair. If you have longer hair, down to your waist, the loose hair at the end of the ponytail will get tangled in your gear.

Low or High Bun

This works for any length of hair as long as it is secured properly. Buns may get loose so make sure you have tied it tightly into place. The reason why mid-height buns don’t work is that they come in the way of mask straps.

Tie back long hair when diving

Other Tips for Long Hair If You Dive

If you dive often, hair care is very important. You should look into investing in some UV protection leave-in conditioner and coconut oil to nourish your hair. The sun and salt in water are both very damaging to your locks. 

Use a generous amount of either the conditioner or oil on your hair to create a barrier when you go for your dive. If you choose the conditioner, make sure it is ocean-safe and biodegradable so you don’t harm the marine life around you.

Another practice you should make a habit pre and post-dive is to rinse your hair with fresh water. Pre-dive, do it before applying the oil or conditioner to add an additional protective layer. Post-dive, do it to rinse out any salt or debris that has made its way into your hair.

To brush your hair, get a wide-toothed comb or detangler brush so you don’t further damage your hair. Sun damage and salt can make your hair dry and brittle; you want to use brushes and combs specifically designed to reduce breakage.  

Should You Wear A Hood While Scuba Diving with Long Hair?

If you really want to protect your hair and don’t want the hassle of going through all the steps of special care, a hood is a way to go. Not only is it going to protect your hair, but it is also the most effective way to keep your hair contained.

Hoods can be purchased in many forms, so you can buy one according to your needs. They can be beanies, ones that cover your head and strap under the chin, full hoods that even cover your neck, all the way down to hooded vests that can be worn on top of your wetsuit.

Can You Wear A Dive Bandana or Headband?

Bandanas and headbands are a great way to keep shorter hair and bangs out of your way while diving. These fun accessories can be purchased in thick and thin materials of all colors and designs. They can add a splash of color to your gear, and are an effective way of keeping short layers and hair off your face. For longer hair though, consider tying up the rest of it to avoid any mess.

If you feel you have appropriately tied up your hair and it is still somehow being pulled by your rubber mask strap, you can get yourself a strap cover. Mask strap covers are made of neoprene, which won’t tug on your hair!

Manage long hair when you scuba dive

Should You Just Cut Your Hair?

Sure, cutting your hair is the best way to keep it out of the way. If you are that committed to diving, maybe this is the best option for you. Haircare and styling can take up loads of time and require some level of skill, so cutting it isn’t the worst option.

For those who want to keep their mane long though, there are many options out there, many of which we have discussed; so don’t worry, you can keep the long hair, you just need to invest some time and energy into it.

Final Thoughts 

Don’t let diving get rid of your passion for keeping your long hair. Just remember to care for it well and keep it out of the way during dives!

Differences between Diving In Cold vs. Warm Water

Summer vacations on sandy beaches, palm trees in the wind and colorful tropical fish –  all these things come to mind when people think of scuba diving. Scuba diving is considered a summer activity where you can experience warm water and see vibrant schools of fish.

Differences between Diving In Cold vs Warm Water

Destinations like Hawaii, Bali, and the Bahamas come to mind. People often dismiss places like Canada, Switzerland, Norway or Scotland as potential dive locations.

Cold water dives have a completely different experience to offer. Where you will see the expected tropical fish, turtles, groupers and rays in warm water, you might be missing the chance to see some bucket-list-worthy marine life by skipping on cold water dives.

Coldwater marine life can range from sea lions to giant octopus and even sea dragons! And, of course, let’s not forget the wonderfully mysterious cold water wreck dives around the world.

Below we will discuss the differences between cold and warm water dives; from temperature, pressure, and equipment, here’s our detailed breakdown:

Is There A Difference Between Diving In Warm Water Compared To Cold Water?

Of course, a diver is going to experience the difference between diving into comfortable 85-degree water versus frigid 45-degree water. The body goes into shock as you plunge into cold water; you can experience muscle contraction, faster heartbeat, and heavy breathing, while warm water doesn’t have these effects on your body.

As stated earlier though, diving in cold versus warm water isn’t just about the temperature, the dives themselves are quite unique. You are exposed to different marine life in cold water, and also different sites. You might not get the colorful corals and tropical fish in cold water, but you might get the chance to explore the ins and outs of a historical shipwreck.

Cold and warm water dives also require different gear. This can have an effect on the dive as well. Something as simple as adjusting your mask can be a difficult task when you have gloves on; this is not a problem in warm water dives because, well, no gloves! You’re also going to wear a different suit, and have different regulators and buoyancy controls.

Let’s go deeper into these differences below.

Are Currents Different?

Currents don’t differ with temperature; instead, they depend on the type of water body, the location, and the weather. The main cause of water currents is the wind – most currents start in oceans and seas and are pushed toward smaller water bodies, such as rivers and streams.

Is Buoyancy Different?

Divers in cold water tend to be more buoyant. This is mainly because of their suit. Thicker suits and dry suits tend to be more buoyant because of their weight. Drysuits are filled with air to off-set the balance and some divers even choose to use steel tanks instead of aluminum to counter the buoyancy. 

Divers that are going into cold water prefer to wear donut wing BCDs (Buoyancy Control Devices) over the traditional jacket style. The donut wing style gives divers more space for movement, which is harder with thicker suits, as it allows more weight to be carried.

Scuba Diving in warm water

Do You Need More Weight In Warm Vs Cold Water?

Since buoyancy is affected by the suit, more weight does need to be carried in cold water. This weight can be in the form of a regular weighted belt with steel weights, a steel backplate or then steel tanks instead of aluminum. Regardless, if you’re going cold water diving, be prepared to carry more weight.

Do You Need Different Dive Computer Settings?

Dive computers are a piece of equipment that divers use to get real-time information about their depth and dive time. It helps them determine how much dive time they have left and what their ascent time will be.

Some dive computers can read water temperature as well, but they can’t read internal body temperature. This means changing the settings would not help you much. Your dive computer settings need to be changed according to the dive rather than the temperature of the water.

What Different Marine Life Can You Expect Between Cold And Warm Water Diving?

Marine life can differ a great deal from warm to cold water, and even location to location. All warm water won’t have the same marine life and the same goes for cold.

Here are some of our favorite warm and cold water sites and the marine animals that you can find there:

Warm Water

  • Dolphins in Cabo San Lucas
  • Stingrays in the Grand Cayman
  • Groupers in Florida
  • A number of different sharks in the Bahamas
  • Sea turtles in Costa Rica
  • Manta Rays in Bali

Cold Water

  • Pacific Octopus in British Columbia, Canada
  • A number of different whales in Norway
  • Sea lions in the Channel Islands
  • Sea dragons in Southern Australia
  • Neon-orange and fuchsia jewel anemones in New Zealand
  • Arctic seals and penguins in Antarctica

Is Visibility Better In Warm Or Cold Water?

There are a number of different dive sites offered for both cold water and warm water dives. The visibility of the water varies from site to site rather than temperature. Divers strive to dive in waters with the most clarity; this factor usually depends on the body of water, time of day, current and outside weather.

Warm water dive sights in places like the Maldives, Cayman Islands, and Malaysia offer great visibility. On the other hand, cold water dives like those in Iceland and Norway have dazzling, crystal clear water that any diver would love to experience.   

Scuba Diving in cold water

Do You Need Different Gear?

Cold water dives do require different gear. First and foremost, you need to get your exposure protection. You need to make sure your body does not go into shock when it touches the cold water, so layer up properly. Depending on the temperature of the water, you can opt for a 5mm wetsuit, a 7mm wetsuit, a semi-dry suit or a dry suit.

On top of a thicker suit, invest in gloves, boots and a hood. Your body tends to lose heat from its extremities first; this includes your head, hands, and feet, so make sure they are properly covered.

Another important difference in gear is the regulator. You need to make sure that your regulator is suited for cold water. You don’t want it to freeze up in the cold temperatures; that could be very hazardous. The regulator should offer environmental seals to make sure there is no hiccup at the first stage.

Apart from that, as discussed above, extra weights, a different BCD and steel tanks may be required according to your preference.

Final Thoughts 

Keep in mind that you need to stay warm before your cold water dive too! Loss of heat is a gradual process and starts before you enter the water. Once you are done with your dive, get out of your wet gear immediately, dry yourself off and put on some dry clothes. Cover your head too, and try putting on something made of fleece to help absorb extra moisture and keep you warm.

Even though you might be tempted, avoid jumping straight into a hot shower as the rapid change in temperature can have adverse effects on your body. Instead, enjoy a hot drink of your choice and warm up within! 

Best Scuba Diving in Baja California

Baja California has many different dive locations to offer. We picked six of them that we think are among the best you can find. Check out our top picks of the best scuba diving in Baja California!

Best Scuba Diving Sites in Baja California

Are you looking for your next scuba diving destination, but don’t have the budget to fly halfway across the world? Don’t get confused by the name, Baja California is not a part of California. 

Rather, it is a part of Mexico; this peninsula is a sovereign state that is dotted with mountains and has gorgeous white sandy beaches on the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful holiday destination in and out of the water. 

The 1250 kilometer stretch of land goes all the way from the US-Mexico border all the way to the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas. Because of the diverse waters that surround the peninsula, it offers endless diving opportunities for scuba divers.

Below we will discuss all the reasons to dive in Baja California, who can dive there, what marine life you are likely to see and of course, the best places to go diving!

Why Dive in Baja California

Baja California is a stunning location to go diving. Since it is a peninsula, it is surrounded by water on three sides, giving you a variety of different diving experiences. The water on the southern coast is warm all year round with great visibility from July to October.

You won’t be time-bound as you can visit the coast any time and you’ll be able to dive! Plus, the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) is known as one of the most fertile seas in the world. It offers a large variety of tropical sea life to the south and colder temperature fish to the north.

The great varieties of dive sites you can find alone make Baja California a great place to visit for divers. You can get in a quick shore dive or more adventurous deep dives. The marine life on the peninsula also makes for a once in a lifetime experience. From cage diving with Great Whites to swimming alongside Whale Sharks, Hammerheads, giant Mantas, Sea Lions, and even Humpback Whales; Baja has got it all!

Is It Good for Beginners to Dive in Baja California?

Usually, with places like Baja California where there are several dive sites, you can find diving for all levels of expertise. Since the peninsula is famous for its beautiful dives, dive centers have arranged beginner dives in a lot of areas. The most popular location for beginners to dive or even for people to learn diving in Cabo San Lucas off the coast of Los Cabos.

The environments that you can dive in there are protected and enclosed with diverse and plentiful marine life. Even though these dives are ideal for beginners, there is plenty to see even for experienced divers.

Diving with Fish in Baja California

Is It Easy To Get There?

Thanks to modernity, airports, and highways have made Baja California very accessible to the rest of the world. There are multitudes of ways you can get onto the peninsula. Let’s start with the local airports. There are two international airports in Mexico that are in proximity to Baja California, namely Tijuana and Mexicali International Airports. From here, you can take one of the airport shuttles to your destination.

If you don’t fly directly to Mexico, you can fly into Lindbergh Field Airport in San Diego, and then drive down the CBX (Cross Border Xpress) aerial bridge to Baja California. If you’re feeling more boujee, there are a few airports close by that you can take private flights to. Four minutes away from the Mexico border in San Diego is the Brown Field Airport, and in Mexico are the San Felipe and Ensenada Airports that are all available for private flights.

Other than that, there is a multitude of buses and roads that lead to Baja California within Mexico as well as from the California border. This place is not a difficult destination to reach.

What Aquatic Life Can You Find?

Probably, one of the most thrilling places to dive in terms of marine life, Baja California is home to some of the greatest marine creatures. If you’re looking for whales, Baja is the place to spot them. The coasts are home to a number of different kinds from the epic Blue Whale to the celebrated Killer Whale, you’re going to see it all. The other whale species you can find include Humpback, Bryde’s, Gray and Sperm Whales.

The Sea of Cortez is also one of the best places to spot dolphins. You can easily spot Long-beaked Common Dolphins as well as Bottlenose Dolphins, and if you get lucky, you might even see a Spinner Dolphin. The diverse waters are also home to giant Manta Rays, Sting Rays, and the majestic Flying Mobula Rays. If you get a chance, seeing this acrobatic creature in action is an experience of a lifetime. They break the surface of the water and can go as high as nine feet up, flapping their “wings” before belly-flopping back into the water.

Of course, no one goes to Baja California before spotting at least one of the triumphant shark species. You can go cage diving to see the Great Whites or swim alongside the interesting looking Hammerheads, Whale or Mako Sharks.

Another diver favorite on the coast is the chance to run into a sea lion. These creatures are fun, interactive and even a little mischievous. Don’t miss the opportunity to jump into the water with them if you get the chance.

If you still want more, Baja California is also home to the gorgeous Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, jumbo squids, and a variety of pelagic fish and tropical reef fish. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it off one of the coasts on this peninsula.

6 Best Scuba Diving Destinations in Baja California:

Loreto

Known as one of the top dive locations in the world, Loreto was once the capital of Las Californias, a region that includes modern-day Baja California and part of the western United States. Loreto is on the Sea of Cortez where it houses the Loreto Bay National Marine Park; a 500,000-acre stretch of water that is home to hundreds of beautiful fish species and underwater plants. The park is referred to as “the world’s aquarium” because of its diversity; you can expect to see whales, sea turtles, and dolphins, among the hundreds of different fish.

Level of Expertise Required:

Dolphin dives are good for all levels, even families.

Shallow dives are ideal for beginners.

Sand Falls

This is a deep dive with some very unique sights. The site gets its name from a vertical granite wall covered by a cascade of sand; the falling sand resembles a waterfall, giving the site its name. Once you are at this wonderful cliff that is decorated with sea fans on crevices, you can look down and see beyond infinity. It feels like you’re floating above a never-ending drop.  

Level of Expertise Required:

Recommended for advanced divers.

Los Islotes

This site consists of two large rocks upon which live colonies of sea lions. These playful creatures are a joy to swim with; they are known to come and interact with divers, pulling on their fins and curiously looking in their snorkels. Not only that, but the shallow dive also features a number of reef fish like angelfish, surgeonfish, and parrotfish. Orange cup corals make this site colorful and interesting to dive.

Level of Expertise Required:

Great for beginners.

Aquatic World in Baja California

The Salvatierra

This was an ex-World War I landing ship that was converted to a Mexican ferry. The ferry hit the Swanee Rock and sank to 20 meters below the water in 1976. Fortunately, no one from the hundreds of passengers on board lost their lives.

The ship is 70% intact, though it is not recommended to penetrate the wreck as it can be unpredictable and dangerous. Though you can’t go within the wreck, it has become home to a variety of marine life, including eels, Angelfish, Scorpionfish and groupers.

Level of Expertise Required:

All levels can dive here since the wreck cannot be penetrated.

Cabo Pulmo Coral Reef, Rocky Reef, and Caves

With the efforts of locals, this 20,000 year-old-reef has banned all fishing. The area is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site and its Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is known as the most successful reserve in the world.

Cabo Pulmo isn’t the best destination as a well-rounded vacation; however, it is a great place for diving enthusiasts. The reefs are home to many colorful fish and sea creatures, but the real sights are the magnificent Humpback Whales, Manta Rays and Bull Sharks. If you’re lucky, you might get to see the occasional Orca that swims by these waters. 

Level of Expertise Required:

Snorkeling is available for beginners, diving is available for the more experienced.

Gordo Banks

This is a pretty deep dive that starts at 35 meters at its shallowest. The bank has a few different jumping-off points that all offer the chance to see some amazing marine life.

If you get off the boat at Land’s End or Neptune’s Finger, you are likely to see Sea Lions, Reef Sharks, and Barracudas that swim along with the interesting rock formations. If you make the hour-long trek to the main area of the bank, you get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim amongst Hammerheads and Bull Sharks, and maybe even get to see the gravity-defying Flying Mobula Rays.

Level of Expertise Required:

Recommended for experienced divers.

What Specific Gear Do You Need To Dive In Baja California?

It is very unlikely that you will be traveling with a bag full of heavy diving gear. Dives in the Pacific Ocean are mostly done on liveaboards, some exclusively, so it is pretty easy to rent them to get to the site.

Thankfully, Baja California is frequently visited for scuba diving. You are most likely going to be able to rent any of this equipment very easily. With each location, your guide will be able to tell you what equipment is absolutely necessary, but here is a list just in case:

Compulsory Gear for Regular Dives

Additional Gear for Wreck Dives

Baja California Reef

Is It Dangerous to Dive In Baja California?

Depending on the dive and your level of experience, the danger associated with these dives varies. All dives should be done with some level of precaution. Experienced trainers on-site can guide you through the dangers of each dive individually. Wreck dives at the peninsula should be approved with an extra level of caution and should only be entered by experienced divers.  

Final Thoughts 

Just a few hours from San Diego, you can enter the magical world of Baja California. Most spots on the peninsula and the surrounding islands offer great hotels and overall holiday experiences, but this place is best for divers. The variety and kind of marine life that can be spotted around make this a bucket list destination for scuba divers of all levels of experience.

Best Scuba Diving Destinations in Hawaii

Hawaii offers endless fantastic scuba diving destinations. We compiled a list of what you need to consider, where to go and what gear to bring. There certainly are many more locations to scuba dive in Hawaii than what we list. Feel free to add your own to the list in the comments!

Best Scuba Diving Destinations in Hawaii

If you enjoy scuba diving there is a good chance that you have either been to Hawaii or have it listed as one of your future to-visit destinations. Hawaii includes a chain of exotic islands that offer fantastic scuba diving spots.

You will find thousands of species of fish and corals to explore and miles of reefs on the ocean bed. You will also discover sparkling clear waters and a variety of lava caves that will keep you fascinated for days.

Why Dive In Hawaii?

Hawaii offers a ton of scuba diving options to explore while visiting the islands. You can go from fishing with the Galapagos sharks to incredible adventures through the natural lava caves and rock formations under the ocean. The marine life in the region is well protected, away from human intervention. You will find an abundance of wildlife that you won’t see anywhere else.

Hundreds of diving operators and guides are scattered throughout the archipelago. Most popular dive sites can be reached from the capital city, Honolulu. Each island in the region is home to diverse ocean life and you can also experience the local culture which is quite different from what you will find in the mainland U.S.

Every island on the chain offers its own flair and provides different options for diving. Hawaii is also a great place to achieve diving specialty certifications, especially when it comes to wreckage, night time and deep-ocean diving.

Is It Good For Beginners to Dive in Hawaii?

The best thing about Hawaii is that it offers so many diving options that there is something for everyone. Whether you are new to diving or an experienced veteran, you will find the perfect scuba diving spot for you in the archipelago.

There are plenty of diving schools, guides, and shops that provide complete gear and support for first-time scuba divers. As long as you avoid diving locations specifically for veteran scuba divers, you will have fun and learn to scuba dive in a friendly environment.

Is It Easy to Get There?

Honolulu is the biggest city in the region and most divers make it their first stop. Daily flights run from all over the world to Daniel K. Inouye airport and you can easily get there in a matter of hours from North America.

For those of you who prefer to avoid flying, you can also get a cruise to the capital city. Cruises run from the west coast, western Canada and many ports in Australia.

Once you get to Honolulu you can hire a ferry to your destination island. Several operators run ferries between the island chains on a daily basis.

Diving in Oahu Hawaii

Are there good dive sites for families?

Hawaii is known as a favorite holiday spot for many families. The ideal time to visit is between April to June and September to November. During these times the place is not too crowded and the water is warm enough for scuba diving with your family.

It has luscious white sandy beaches, thick jungles, exotic wildlife, snow-topped mountains, and volcanoes.  Hawaii offers a perfect holiday trip with a world waiting to be explored on the island and under the sea. It is an ideal location for family vacations.

What aquatic life can you find?

Hawaii offers a large variety of unique fish, corals and marine life under the sea. You will find plenty of reef fish, lobsters, octopuses, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins, and sponges while scuba diving.

The islands have different species of sea turtles include the giant green sea turtles. If you go deep, you will find humpback whales, spinner dolphins, the famous monk seals, sharks, rays and squids as well.

Best Scuba Diving Destinations in Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands have earned the admiration of scuba divers from all over the world. They offer some of the top diving sites in the world. There are more than a dozen excellent diving sites in the region.

O’ahu

O’ahu offers several diving spots for new and seasoned divers. The wrecks of YO-257 and San Pedro are great places to explore and scavenge.

The Atlantis submarine passes through the area and you can interact with its passengers. The more popular spots include the Makaha Caverns and the Electric Beach.

Maui

The island offers exciting marine life to see. You will find eagle rays, green sea turtles and schools of reef fish. You may also find the state fish of Hawaii, the lagoon triggerfish which is known by its local name, humahumanukanuka’apua’a’.

Other diving spots include the Molokini Crater which is a 30-minute boat ride and the wreck of St. Anthony.

Kauai

This small island in the archipelago has been given the name “The Garden Island” because of its lush gardens and miles of undersea corals. It is one of the oldest islands that were settled by humans and you will find a host of underwater marine life including sea urchins and dolphins. The most famous diving spot is known as three fingers.

Molokai

This is an all-natural island that is home to local fishermen and farmers. Molokai has more than 40 dive sites and three different diving schools that can meet all your scuba diving needs.

You will find Galapagos sharks and hammerheads away from the coast as well as colorful parrotfish and darting triggerfish in the water. Fish rain, fish bowl, and deep corner are the most popular diving spots.

Diving in tropical corals in Hawaii

Hawaii

A great way to enjoy the islands at their fullest is to try the manta night dive in at Kona. Every night, the divers’ lights attract a host of stingrays and plankton that they feed on. It is a serene, beautiful sight that cannot be described and only experienced in person.

The main island in the chain is also popular for its underwater volcano caves, Hawaiian fish, sea turtles and a variety of eels. Top diving spots include Kona, Two Step, Keauhou and Mile Marker 4.

Lanai

This island is popular for its underwater caves and volcano tunnels. Here, you will find unique vertebrae including sea urchins, crabs, lobsters, and corals. Top diving spots include Cathedrals I and II.

Molokini Crater

The Molokini Crater is a dive site that is more suitable for experienced scuba divers. It lies about 2.5 miles off the shore of Maui and offers abundant sea life including giant sea turtles, coral reefs and sharks.

Hilo

The dive site is located on the east side of Hawaii’s Big Island. It is not as popular as Kona that lies on the western side. It offers some great dive locations that are more suitable for experienced scuba divers.

The Kilauea volcano lies close to it which is quite active. Hilo offers unique underwater terrains including hot spots and caves. You will also find spinner dolphins while scuba diving here.

Niihau

Niihau offers clear waters and abundant marine life under the sea. You can also explore its large underwater caves and impressive vertical walls that run for miles and covered with corals.

Haleiwa

This is another spot favored by more experienced divers. It lies about three miles off the coast and is a popular spot if you want to see sandbar sharks or Galapagos sharks. If you are really lucky, you may even find a tiger shark near the coast.

The best way to enjoy the sharks at this site is with cage diving or snorkeling tours. However, you may also go scuba diving in this area but make sure to keep an eye out for unexpected surprises.

What specific gear do you need to dive in Hawaii?

For scuba diving in the popular Oahu, Maui and other islands, you can get away with the 3mm neoprene full wetsuit, tanks, and regulators. If you visit during the winters, you may want to come with the 5mm full wetsuits.

Most equipment is also available for hire or purchase through local shops. Hawaii has a booming scuba diving industry and plenty of businesses supply divers with the necessary gear.

See Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles when diving

Is it dangerous to dive in Hawaii?

Hawaii is one of the most popular scuba diving and snorkeling locations around the world. Tens of thousands of divers visit it every year. It offers plenty of diving spots that will suit scuba divers with different levels of experience. As long as you go scuba diving with a group and hire local guides you should be ok. Make sure that you scuba dive near the coast where they have plenty of coast guards.

However, there are certain risks to scuba diving in Hawaii. If you attempt to explore a more dangerous location or go scuba diving in areas with sharks, it can be dangerous.

Final Thoughts

Hawaii offers exciting opportunities for scuba diving fans from all parts of the world. There is a world of exotic marine life, lava caves and coral reefs that you can discover under the sea here.

It is a great place for snorkeling or diving with family or a group of friends. There are more than a dozen islands that offer scuba diving spots for beginners and expert divers.  Whether you are new to scuba diving or a seasoned veteran, you will have fun and create many great memories scuba diving in Hawaii.

Do you have more questions or something to add? Share your Hawaii Scuba or Snorkeling experiences by leaving a comment below!

How to Properly Maintain and Store a Wetsuit

If you’re a water sports enthusiast, chances are you have dropped a couple of hundred bucks on a wetsuit. These suits are made of foamed neoprene; they are specifically engineered to be protective underwater.

How to Properly Maintain and Store a Wetsuit

They provide thermal insulation, UV protection and are strong enough to defend against mild stings from marine animals as well as possible abrasions from coral and sharp rocks. This garment is a necessary piece of equipment that must be worn during water sports especially during dives.  

Since wetsuits are such a necessity and also so expensive, it is imperative to care for them so they have greater longevity. Like all equipment, wetsuits also require some special handling; this includes how we clean them, dry them and store them.

Below we discuss all the details on how to properly store and maintain your wetsuit so you can make use of it for the longest possible time:  

How Does A Wetsuit Deteriorate Over the Years?

Apart from regular wear and tear a suit endures over time, there are some factors that can affect the lifespan of your suit. Neoprene may be a tough material, but there are natural elements that can damage it quite quickly, so you need to make sure that you are storing it in the correct place.

Sunlight is the enemy of a wetsuit. A brand new wetsuit can breakdown in a matter of weeks if it is left out in the sunlight. UV rays weaken neoprene and so does the heat. Under no circumstances should you dry a wetsuit in direct sunlight; put it in a shaded place with plenty of air.

Salt, minerals, and bacteria tend to crystallize over time. Just like any other equipment that you take with you during dives, a wetsuit should be properly rinsed after to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged. Bacteria in the water can also grow fungus, making your wetsuit smelly and slimy.

A scrunched up suit left in a gear bag will start to deteriorate; neoprene needs to be stored properly or it compromises the structure. Lastly, you should be careful about what type of cleaner you are using to clean your suit. Neoprene needs very specific, approved cleaners otherwise it can start to break down.

Depending on the quality, how you care for it and the frequency of use, a wetsuit should last anywhere from 4 to 10 years or more.

How to Best Maintain a Wetsuit While Diving

Maintaining your wetsuit includes everything from wearing it, cleaning it and storing it. During your dive, there are many sharp rocks and jagged surfaces that can damage your suit. To keep your suit for as long as possible, try to avoid abrasions while you are underwater.

Wetsuits need to be properly rinsed after every dive. This is the bare minimum you should do to maintain your suit. A thorough freshwater rinse should rid your suit of all rubble, minerals, and salt.

After rinsing, hang your suit out to dry in a shaded, open air space to ensure it properly dries before you store it. Never put your suit in a washer or dryer; this will instantly ruin the neoprene of the suit, compromising the structural integrity.

Properly drying scuba wetsuits

How to Properly Clean a Wetsuit

When you are out of the water, rinse your wetsuit thoroughly with lukewarm fresh water. After that, make a very mild solution of baking soda (or wetsuit shampoo) and warm water (not hot, as hot water can cause your suit to become rigid). Soak your suit in the solution for 30 minutes, and then turn the suit inside out and repeat.

While the suit is soaking, take that time to clean the zipper and Velcro patches. Use a toothbrush to scrub along the zipper and on the patches. Also, move your zipper up and down to free any possible dirt that might have lodged itself in.

After the soak, rinse the suit again thoroughly. Turn the suit inside out again and rinse it once more. Inspect the suit for any leftover dirt or salt and rinse that area again. Dry the suit by hanging it on a thick hanger with all the zippers open to ensure it airs out properly; put it to dry somewhere that has plenty of air and no direct sunlight.

How Do You Best Store a Wetsuit

You can store your wetsuit in a few different ways depending on how quickly you will use it again. If you are diving the next day, fold your wetsuits arms in at a 90-degree angle, gently fold it in half, and then lay it flat on your dive bag so it’s ready to go.

If you plan on going diving again in a month or so, hang your wetsuit on a thick hanger and put it in your closet. If you have no dives planned for a while, place your wetsuit on an extra thick hanger and store it in your closet. If you have space, lay the wetsuit flat in your closet, or with a gentle fold with nothing on top. Keep in mind that neoprene can get permanent creases if it is folded too harshly.

Where Do You Best Store a Wetsuit

Wetsuits need to be stored in cool, dark and dry places. Store your wetsuit in a closet or garage that has a controlled climate. Direct sunlight can damage the neoprene pretty quickly, and light can have the same effect over time. Heat is also quite effective in breaking down the material, so make sure it isn’t hot where you store your suit.

If you have cars in the garage, avoid putting your suits there. Car emissions can also damage neoprene.

Does Color Impact Storage and Maintenance of Your Wetsuit?

The color of your wetsuit doesn’t really matter in the way you maintain and store it. What does matter is the material.

Though almost all wetsuits are made of neoprene, some linings and mixed materials can vary. Nylon, Skins, and Flex materials all vary in their structure; understand these materials to further care for them and your wetsuit.

Does Thickness Of Your Wetsuit Impact How You Store And Maintain It?

Thicker suits require a little extra soak time compared to thinner wetsuits. Where you can get away with 15-20 minutes of soak time with thinner suits, give thick suits the full 30 minutes on each side.

While storing, thicker suits require thicker hangers. They are heavier, so you don’t want the thinner hangers to stretch out or crease the suit. 

Storing booties, gloves and hoods for diving

How to Maintain and Store Gloves, Booties, Hoods

Anything that is worn on a dive needs to be thoroughly rinsed with fresh water to remove any salt, minerals, and dirt. Anything left behind can cause crystallization and fungus.

Soak the accessories in a similar solution to the wetsuit, and then scrub with your hands to dislodge any dirt. Turn the gloves and hood inside out and continue soaking.

Place them in separate mesh bags and hang to dry in a cool dark place with air. To store, you can lay your accessories flat on the floor of your closet for long-term storage or in the mesh bags for a next day dive.

Final Thoughts

Since scuba equipment is so expensive in general, when you add up the cost of each individual component, it can rack up quite a bill. With a few simple steps you can make your wetsuit last through many dive seasons, so why not make the effort? Wetsuits keep you warm and protected while snorkeling, scuba diving, and even surfing, so care for them properly and protect them back!

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