How to be a social diver your dive buddies will love

By Julius
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Scuba diver group

Staying true to our name, we believe that it should be everyone’s goal to be a social diver.

We all know those types of divers we never want to meet and it’s never fun around them.

Scuba diving is not just a solitary activity where you worry about yourself and nothing else but a social activity that involves teamwork, respect for the environment, and even community engagement.

Here are 10 tips on how to be a social diver —from being a good dive buddy to protecting the marine environment and following diving etiquette.

1 Become an expert diver

All divers should have the goal of becoming experts underwater.

This does not mean doing a Divemaster course or becoming a dive instructor, but simply being a good diver.

Doing so is easy but takes time.

Becoming an expert diver is easy but takes time.

Follow the rules of diving, perfect your buoyancy, and use good fin-kicking techniques. This will already set you apart from many others (unfortunately).

Follow good diving etiquette (we’ll look at that separately below) and keep your scuba gear in good condition.

Master Diver swimming through reef
Social divers are good divers!

2 Follow good diving etiquette

Good diving etiquette can make all the difference during a dive, on a boat, and really anywhere else.

As they say, it’s the little things that count most: As a social diver, it’s your responsibility to maintain a high standard of etiquette both underwater and on the surface.

General Underwater Manners

  • No touching: Don’t touch anything underwater. Not animals, the bottom, or artifacts.
  • Passing Protocol: When you need to pass other divers in confined spaces, always make eye contact and use hand signals to communicate your intent.
  • Photo Courtesy: Don’t swim into another diver’s frame while they are taking a photo. Wait for them to finish, or signal if you’d like to pass.

Buoyancy and Space

  • Keep Fins Clear: Be aware of your fins so you don’t accidentally kick up sediment, which reduces visibility for everyone.
  • Don’t stir up sediment: Stay away from the sea floor so you don’t disturb the sediment and ruin everyone’s visibility
  • Personal Space: Recognize the personal space around each diver. Clustering too close can cause discomfort and may lead to accidents.

Excellent buoyancy control isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also part of diving etiquette.

It’s never fun to be kicked by a fin or have someone else constantly bumping into you.

Respect for Others

  • Maintain a reasonable distance from other divers to avoid crowding.
  • If you’re photographing or filming, be conscious not to hog the prime spots or subjects.
  • No sudden movements: If you see something cool, don’t rush there but tell others and move slowly

When diving in a group or popular site, it’s essential to respect other divers.

If you’re into underwater photography or videography, be mindful of the time you spend in one spot so that others can also enjoy the experience.

Divemaster leading group
Leave enough space for everyone to feel comfortable underwater.

Surface Behavior

  • Use an SMB: Use surface marker buoys when necessary to indicate your position to boats and other divers.
  • Be polite and considerate on the boat, especially in shared spaces.
  • Don’t step on other people’s equipment
  • Keep your scuba gear organized
  • Don’t yell across the dive site
  • Help others into or out of the boat/scuba gear

Even at the surface, etiquette remains important.

Use surface markers like SMBs (Surface Marker Buoys) to make your presence known to boats and other divers. When you’re on a dive boat, keep your gear organized and confined to your designated area.

Be courteous, and assist others when boarding or disembarking from the boat.

3 Stay fit & healthy

Physical and Mental Preparedness

Staying fit and healthy should be everyone’s goal not just for diving reasons.

It lowers your air consumption and means your group can make more advanced dives, even those involving currents.

  • Health: Confirm that you’re physically fit for diving. If in doubt, consult a healthcare provider.
  • Mindset: Make sure you’re mentally prepared. Confidence is key, but overconfidence is dangerous.
Man doing handstand on beach
Stay fit and healthy. For your sake and that of your dive buddies!

4 Be a good dive buddy

Communication and Planning

  • Discuss your dive plan, hand signals, and emergency procedures with your dive buddy before entering the water.
  • Stay within eyesight and regularly check on your buddy during the dive.

Good communication is the cornerstone of being a reliable dive buddy. Before starting your dive, discuss your plans, hand signals, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Always share your air levels and time checks during the dive, and make it a point to know where your buddy is at all times.

Assist and Adapt

  • Offer assistance when gearing up or during difficult entries/exits.
  • Be ready to adapt your dive plan according to your buddy’s comfort and air consumption.

A good dive buddy is not just communicative but also helpful and adaptable. Help your buddy gear up and check their equipment before the dive. If your buddy is less experienced or consuming air more quickly, be prepared to adapt your dive plan accordingly. Being flexible and considerate will make the experience enjoyable for everyone.

Diving watching squids underwater
Social diving means forming a good, reliable buddy team!

5 Help others when possible

Helping each other is one of the core aspects of being a social diver.

Mentorship and Guidance

  • New Divers: Offer advice or mentorship to new divers. Your experiences could provide valuable insights for them. However, please don’t lecture them either.
  • Skill Sharing: If you have a special skill, like underwater photography or navigation, offer to share these skills with interested divers.

Newcomers to the diving community often feel overwhelmed. Offering guidance and sharing tips can go a long way in making them feel welcomed and supported.

Mentorship doesn’t have to be a formal or regular arrangement; even casual advice can have a big impact!

For example, I was once on a diving boat at a new dive site and the group coming from the water stopped just to explain to use the particular currents at that dive spot.

This way, we were prepared for it and not caught up like others going in.

Proactive Assistance

  • Gear Check: Always offer to help your buddy or other divers with gear checks. A second pair of eyes can catch what one might miss.
  • Situational Awareness: Be aware of divers who might be struggling with current, buoyancy, or navigation. Offer assistance when needed, such as helping them readjust their weights or providing directional guidance.

Proactive help is invaluable underwater, where even small problems can become serious if not addressed. Whether it’s assisting with gear assembly or helping a diver in challenging conditions, your active assistance can make a big difference.

Scuba divers descending in pool
Help each other and stay close during your dives.

Emotional Support

  • Encouragement: A few words of encouragement can boost the confidence of divers who are anxious or new to a particular dive site.
  • Celebrate: Celebrate the achievements of others, whether it’s reaching a milestone number of dives or successfully navigating a tricky part of a dive site.

Sometimes, the support needed is emotional rather than technical. Being encouraging and positive can contribute to a more enjoyable and less stressful experience for everyone involved.

Fear of scuba diving is never fun and sometimes, a few words of encouragement can make a huge difference!

6 Prepare for your dives

Location: Familiarize yourself with the dive site in advance. Know the conditions, the hazards, and the interesting spots.

Equipment: Make sure your equipment is in good condition. Your dive shop can help inspect or service your gear.

Being prepared is the first step to being a good social diver. Nobody wants to wait because divers got lost or had no idea what was going on.

Even if you follow a dive guide, everyone should be on the same page.

Scuba gear setup
Your equipment is your responsibility!

7 Protect the environment

No-touch Policy

  • Refrain from touching, picking up, or disturbing marine life and corals.
  • Maintain buoyancy to avoid accidentally making contact with the environment.

Leave No Trace

  • Carry any trash or debris you find back to the surface.
  • Use eco-friendly products for cleaning and maintaining your gear.

As divers, it’s our responsibility to protect the aquatic ecosystem. Just remember this rule from your Open Water Diver course:

Take pictures. Leave only bubbles. Keep the memories.

Go Eco-Friendly

  • Opt for environmentally friendly products whenever possible—from biodegradable soap to clean your wetsuit to reef-safe sunscreen.
  • Recycle as much as possible

Here are more tips for sustainable diving practices!

Participate in Conservation Activities

  • Join clean-up dives, coral planting efforts, or citizen science projects.
  • Advocate for marine conservation through social media or community events.

There are many ways to help protect the environment actively. Some favorites among divers are beach-clean ups and underwater trash collecting.

Don’t wait for others to organize it, just go out and do it!

8 Get involved in the community

Sharing Knowledge and Experience

  • Offer tips and advice to less experienced divers when appropriate.
  • Share your experiences and favorite dive sites with the community.

Social divers can give back to the community by participating in forums, or the local community and sharing their knowledge.

Join a dive club

Clubs are a great way to become more socially active and share a hobby. There are dive clubs in every major city.

Dive instructor with students
Dive clubs are great for socializing and diving.

9 Respect local communities & customs

  • Local Customs: Take the time to understand any local customs or traditions related to the sea or diving. This can range from taboos to customary practices.
  • Dive Shop Etiquette: Every dive shop or boat might have its own set of rules. Be sure to understand and respect these as you would the general rules of diving.

If you are diving in a different country or cultural setting, being culturally sensitive is a critical aspect of good diving etiquette. Always be respectful of local customs and practices, as well as the specific rules of the dive shop or boat you’re using.

No dogs allowed on beach
Even if you don’t agree, please respect local customs and rules.

10 Have fun!

Having fun and enjoying a dive is very contagious!

Enjoy the experience and be genuinely happy to dive with other people. This will make everyone’s dive SO MUCH BETTER!

Scuba diver smiling at water surface
Having fun is the best you can do on a dive!
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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

©2024 Social Diving. All rights reserved. The content presented here is the exclusive property of Social Diving and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Social Diving.

Social Diving is your #1 online source for scuba diving, scuba travel, water sports, learning, and having fun in and under water. We have scuba online articles, review plenty of (scuba) gear, and regularly post travel guides around the world.


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