The ultimate Night Diving guide 2024

By Julius
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Group of divers at night

Want to go night diving and see the fish sleep…or hunt?

Night diving is a favorite among divers and pretty much every dive base or liveaboard cruise will offer you the chance to experience it.

However, there are some challenges involved and safety guidelines to be followed when diving in the dark.

Therefore, we created this guide to night diving in 2024 to tell you exactly what you need to get started, some equipment considerations, further tips, and tricks, as well as some suggestions for your first night dive!

What is Night Diving?

During night diving, divers take underwater torches to explore dive sites between sunset and sunrise. The absence of natural light alters your perception and makes even familiar dive sites appear new and exciting. You’ll often spot nocturnal creatures that are hidden during the day and witness the beauty of coral polyps opening up to feed.

Generally, a night dive is considered any dive conducted between sunset and sunrise.

This often means you’ll start the dive when there is still a bit of light left for orientation and end it once the sun is completely down.

Most liveaboard cruises I know, as well as the majority of dive centers offer regular night diving opportunities that are absolutely worth it!

Night diving is truly a unique experience that offers divers a new perspective on the underwater world. In most cases, you will dive at dive sites you’ve already seen during the day so you have at least a little sense of direction.

Although vaguely familiar, marine life and underwater formations appear entirely different from what you see during the day. A bit like driving a car at night where streets seem so different than during the day.

At the same time, night diving also presents its own set of challenges. Reduced visibility, disorientation, and encounters with some strange nocturnal predators are frequent occurrences. Proper equipment, sound knowledge of diving techniques, and a reliable dive buddy are non-negotiable prerequisites for a safe and enjoyable night dive.

Night diver with lights underwater
Bringing a good dive light is essential for night diving.

Why go night diving?

During the night you get to see different marine life and watch fish sleep, and diving might feel more peaceful than during the day. It’s also fun to watch the moon from underwater!

If you need good reasons to dive at night, check out the best night dive sites in the world in 2024!

Thrill and Excitement

The thrill of night diving is a primary draw for many divers. The excitement of exploring the underwater world in the dark, where even familiar sites become mysterious and adventurous, is something I recommend everyone to experience at least once!

Lightning bugs

While you should always keep your lamps on during a night dive, it can be super fun to turn them off together and watch how different liminescent creatures light up instead. Only do this when everyone knows what’s going on and if it has been included in the pre-dive briefing, of course!

Unique Marine Life

Nighttime is when many marine creatures come out to hunt, mate, or feed. You’ll see lobsters, crabs, octopuses, and more. Certain species of plankton emit light, a phenomenon known as bioluminescence, which can make the water appear to sparkle.

Some dive sites even allow you to go UV night diving!

Coral in UV light
Corals lit up by UV light underwater.

Equipment for Night Diving

Basic Scuba Gear

Like any other dive, you will need your basic scuba gearmask, snorkel, fins, buoyancy control device (BCD), regulator, etc.

For your dive computer, it’s best to use one that has a quality backlit display that can be dimmed when you are not looking at it.

Dive Lights

Of course, in order to see anything you need good dive lights for night diving.

Every diver should carry a primary light and a backup light. Some divers also use a tank light attached to their air tank for additional visibility.

You can either attach the dive lights to your BCD with a retractor or use a wrist-mounted dive lamp.

Marker Lights

For identification and safety, it’s a good idea to have a marker light or glow stick attached to your tank. This helps your dive buddy and boat crew keep track of you.

They even come in different colors!

Scuba diver shining dive torches
Even at dusk, you should turn on your dive lights.

Underwater Camera & Filters

If you want to take an underwater camera, you need specialized lighting for night diving, as well as a filter, if you’re taking an action camera.

Look at our list of the best underwater cameras for some suggestions!

Best places for night diving

Here are a few suggestions for amazing night diving experiences.

Check out our list of the 10 best night dive sites in 2024 for more!

1. Manta Ray Night Dive – Kona, Hawaii

Arguably the most famous night dive site in the world, this dive promises an unforgettable experience. Located near Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, divers basically wait at the sea floor and activate their dive lights to attract plankton.

Attracted by both the lights and the plankton, manta rays gracefully glide around divers, feeding on the plankton illuminated by dive lights.

These gentle giants perform graceful acrobatics just inches above the divers, creating an experience that is both surreal and awe-inspiring.

Diving Conditions and Itinerary: With generally clear waters and mild currents, the site is perfect for divers of all levels. Start with a sunset dive before transitioning to night diving as darkness falls. Witness the manta rays performing their ballet under the moonlight.

Diving facts for the Manta Ray Night Dive – Kona, Hawaii

Depth10-30 feet (3-9 meters)
Diving SeasonYear-round
Best Time to DiveAfter sunset
What to SeeManta rays, plankton
Water Temperature75-80°F (24-27°C)
Best forBeginners

2. USAT Liberty Wreck, Bali, Indonesia

USAT liberty wreck, Bali

The USS Liberty, a shipwreck from World War II, serves as a stunning backdrop for the colorful marine life of Bali. At night, the wreck comes alive with various species of fish and critters.

The USS Liberty Shipwreck in Tulamben, Bali, transforms into a haven of nocturnal marine life when the sun goes down.

The wreck itself is teeming with history and provides numerous opportunities for exploration. Nighttime brings out an entirely different set of critters like nudibranchs, bumphead parrotfish, and the flashlight fish, which have bioluminescent organs below their eyes. This combination of history and biodiversity makes it an exciting night dive spot.

Diving Conditions and Itinerary: Suitable for all levels. The wreck lies close to the shore, making it an easy shore dive. Dive around sunset and explore the wreck under the moon and dive lights.

Diving facts for USAT Liberty Wreck, Bali, Indonesia

Depth30-100 feet (9-30 meters)
Diving SeasonMay to November
Best Time to DiveSunset to night
What to SeeParrotfish, nudibranch, morays
Water Temperature79-84°F (26-29°C)
Best forIntermediate to advanved

3. Fluorescent Night Dive – Bonaire Marine Park, Bonaire

Purple nudibranch
Macro photographers can find plenty of nudibranchs in Bonaire.

Fluorescent night diving has grown more popular over the years.

Using UV lights and mask filters, divers light up coral reefs under the dark of night. Shrimps, eels, and all manner of marine life reflect the UV rays in brilliant pinks, purples and greens

Bonaire offers quite a few dive sites for this kind of adventure, and the coral reefs look amazing!

Diving facts for Bonaire Marine Park, Bonaire

Depth30-100 feet (9-30 meters)
Diving SeasonMay to November
Best Time to DiveSunset to night
What to SeeShrimps, eels, coral reefs, etc.
Water Temperature79-84°F (26-29°C)
Best forBeginners

Underwater Communication & Signals at Night

During night diving, divers signal to each other either by pointing their lamp at the hand showing the signal, or by making the signal with the lamp directly. For example, by making an OK signal on the bottom with the dive lamp or illuminating the submersible pressure gauge display.

You should always discuss underwater hand signals during the pre-dive briefing so everyone is on the same page.

I find it more convenient to do the signals directly with the lamp, but beginners might prefer to point at the hand that is signaling.

Never shine your lights into the other divers’ faces directly!

Here are some more tips:

Night Diving Prerequisites & Certifications

It’s best to take a night diving specialty course from a recognized scuba training agency like PADI, SSI, iac, or NAUI. You should already be a certified Open Water Diver with at least 5-10 dives before your first night dive.

Night diving should never be attempted by inexperienced or untrained divers. The good news is that most diving certification agencies offer night diving specialty courses. Courses like PADI’s Night Diver or NAUI’s Night and Limited Visibility Diver are recommended.

Better safe than sorry

Take a dive guide on your first night dives to get some more experience before going on your own with a buddy.

The prerequisites for night diving at most agencies are just the Open Water Diver or equivalent.

However, I recommend you have at least a few more dives under your belt before going night diving so your buoyancy is good enough.

Is it safe to dive at night?

Generally, diving at night is safe for experienced divers and with the right safety procedures in place. However, reduced visibility, disorientation, and encounters with nocturnal predators can pose risks. A night diving certification and diving with a guide can make it much safer.

As with any new area of diving, it’s best to take a diving course that will teach you the right techniques, underwater communication in the dark, and safety guidelines.

Diving with a guide is recommended, especially if you are not yet super familiar with the dive site.

Always bring fully charged underwater torches with you, as well as a backup in case one goes out.

It can help to fix a static light source at the entry and exit point of the dive site so you never lose orientation.

Some tips:

Pre-dive Briefing

Always have a pre-dive briefing with your dive buddy and guide to discuss dive plans, signals, and emergency procedures.

Dive briefing on boat
A pre-dive briefing should also include a review of hand signals at night.

Buddy System

The buddy system is crucial in night diving. Always stick close to your diving buddy and frequently check on each other during the dive. If you notice a flickering of light or their light turning off completely, it’s super important to immediately check on them!

Controlled Ascent and Descent

Visibility is low, and it’s easy to become disoriented. Make sure your ascent and descent are controlled and slow to ensure safety.

Avoid greater depths

Night diving is best enjoyed at shallower depths down to about 15m max.

On the one hand, that’s where you will find most nocturnal life like sepias, octopus, lobsters, etc. On the other hand, you should stay relatively safe to the surface and avoid any dives that can bring you in close range of your no-decompression limits.

Stay Calm

Panic is the diver’s worst enemy, more so in the restricted visibility of a night dive. If you feel anxious, signal to your buddy, and ascend slowly while keeping an eye on your buoyancy.

Is night diving better than during the day?

Diving at night vs. during the day are very different experiences. Underwater photographers and casual divers usually like day diving better because there is more to see and there are fewer risks involved. Some divers prefer night diving because they find it more relaxing, peaceful, and even adventurous.

I know there are some who prefer night diving, but the majority of people see it as an occasional experience rather than what they want all the time.

It’s an adventure, similar to drift diving, or wreck diving, but it’s not inherently “better”.

In addition, it allows you to do some really fun stuff like UV night diving!

What is the best time for night diving?

The best time for night diving is usually to start at dusk or twilight with some natural sunlight remaining and to end the dive when it’s dark. This gives you a better sense of direction underwater, lets your eyes adjust to the darkness easier, and you don’t have to wait till very late at night to dive.

This is how most dive operators do it, and also the safest way.

There are some exceptions, like at Kona, Hawaii, where you dive when it’s pitch dark outside.


Night diving is fun and adventurous and you should definitely try it!

Make sure to prepare yourself and practice underwater signals at night.

If you have any questions, let us hear them in the comments!

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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. :-)

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