10 rules of scuba diving every diver should know

By Julius
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Take pictures. Leave only bubbles. Keep the memories.

Scuba diving is a fun activity, however, we always need to follow the rules of safe diving.

Here are the 10 rules of scuba diving every diver should know and adhere to. If you do, you will be safe throughout all your dives and reduce the risk of accidents and emergencies.

1 Always keep breathing

This is arguably the most important rule in scuba diving and the first one most people learn. It’s also one thing your instructor will repeat over and over and over…and over..and over…again throughout your beginner course.

In our Discover Scuba Diving courses, we like to say: “If you remember just one thing about scuba diving, then let it be: Diving is fun, and never hold your breath!

Diving is fun, and never hold your breath!

By breathing continuously, you prevent overexpansion of your lungs during ascending which could lead to barotrauma, injuries, and worse.

Normal, rhythmic breathing also improves your buoyancy and reduces air consumption.

2 Never dive alone

In recreational scuba diving, we always dive in a buddy team. Always. No exceptions.

The buddy system greatly reduces the risk of accidents and fatalities in scuba diving and it is also more fun than diving alone.

I simply let the numbers speak for themselves:

86% of all divers were alone when they died

Why divers die” report 2016

Yes, certain agencies and dive schools offer courses on “solo diving”, however, I strongly advise against diving solo ever!

Certain countries like the Maldives even ban solo or solitary diving by law altogether.

3 Stay within the limits of your training

It is important to stick to the limits of your certification level, as well as the generally accepted limits of recreational scuba diving.

Here is a little refresher on the depth limits imposed by most training agencies:

Non-Certified (with an instructor)6m18ft
Junior Open Water Divers ( max depth = age)14m45ft
Open Water Diver / CMAS*20m65ft
Advanced Open Water Diver30m100ft
Advanced Open Water Diver + Deep Diver / CMAS**40m130ft
Technical divers40m+130ft+
The generally imposed depth limits in recreational diving

Note: These limits apply to recreational diving only, and differ in technical and freediving)

4 Take pictures, leave only bubbles, keep the memories

This is as much a rule, as it is good diving etiquette. We do not touch or take anything from underwater unless it obviously doesn’t belong there.

This refers to both animals and items, rocks, or other non-living things.

The only exception here is plastic and other harmful trash that you should definitely take with you and throw away after the dive.

Take pictures. Leave only bubbles. Keep the memories.
Don’t enrage the turtle! Get your feet and hands off the reef!

5 Dive only when you’re healthy

This should be common sense but is especially important when scuba diving:

Only dive when you feel healthy to do so and never when you have a cold.

Being sick not only makes diving in (cold) water very unpleasant, it can also block your sinuses which prevents you from equalizing properly underwater.

Scuba diving trip packing list

6 Don’t ascend too fast

Stick to the ascent rates taught in your Open Water Diver course to reduce the risk of getting Decompression Sickness (DCS).

If we ascend slowly, and the pressure around us gets lower, the Nitrogen can be released from our body in a controlled manner.

Take a 3-5 minute safety stop at 5 meters depth on every dive to make your ascent even safer.

In case you are confused as to why the pressure changes, here is a refresher on the most important scuba diving gas laws.

Here is a little refresher on the ascent rates:

Depth RangeAscent rate (m)Ascent rate (ft)
Below 10 meters / 30ft10m / min30ft / min
10m – 6 m (30-18ft)5m / min15ft / min
5m – surface1-5m / min3-15ft / min
The recommended maximum ascent rates.

7 Plan the dive – dive the plan

The foundation of every fun and safe dive is thorough dive planning.

Plan ahead and when you’re underwater, stick to it. This way, you and your dive buddy know exactly where to go, how long to stay, and how to react if there is an emergency.

Plan your dive. Dive your plan.
It’s a simple rule.

8 Check your gear

Check your dive equipment before every dive and make sure it is safe to use and set up correctly.

Do the same for your buddy during the buddy check and familiarize yourself with how it works.

Two divers doing buddy check at Social Diving
A buddy check is a must before every dive.

9 Constantly monitor your instruments

Throughout your dive, you should always know your depth, dive time, and tank pressure. You would not want to be out of air on your safety stop, right?

Therefore, it is super important that you constantly monitor your gauges and instruments like SPG (submersible pressure gauge) and dive computer.

Dive Guide hovering underwater
Checking your instruments while waiting is always good practice.

10 Always have fun

I know this one seems out of place after all the technical and safety rules from above.

But the truth is, having fun is the reason why we go diving in the first place. Plus, it increases your safety during a dive:

Having fun will make you more relaxed, consume less air, communicate more with your buddies, have better buoyancy, and pay more attention to your surrounding.

We see this all the time with first-time divers. If they are excited to go diving and really want it, they are always much better than those, who don’t really want to be underwater.

So enjoy your time underwater and appreciate every minute of it. 😃


That’s it. These are 10 rules of scuba diving every diver should know, in my opinion.

Of course, there are many more rules and regulations we need to follow as scuba divers. However, if you stick to these 10, you will be a safer diver and a better buddy.

If you feel like you want to refresh your diving skills, go and check out our Scuba Review course which you can do in person or online!

Was there anything I missed or do you think I should add? Let me know in the comments!

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃



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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.



  1. It makes sense that you should stick to your certified limits. My husband and I decided that we want to start scuba diving lessons next year, so I wanted to know some tips once we start training. I really appreciate you helping me learn more information about scuba diving! We’ll keep these tips in mind once we find a place where we can start lessons.

    1. Hi Kate 🙂

      Thanks for your comment. Enjoy your journey to becoming a scuba diving and always happy diving!


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