Going on a scuba diving trip is so exciting and having the right gear with you makes your dive so much more enjoyable and, more importantly, safe. Assuming you already have you mask, fins and snorkel, here are my other essential accessories you should have for every trip.
By far one of the most expensive but also essential piece of scuba gear you will need to buy is a dive computer. You’ll need to do a bit of research into the different types out there but mostly watches can be categorized into either conservative or liberal. Liberal algorithms tend to give you more bottom time and quicker surface times while a conservative will give you a very comfortable safety cushion where your NDL is concerned. Which you pick is up to your personal preference, age and physical fitness. Take your time to research which will be best suited to you
For all those exciting night dives, you will be needing a torch! Professional divers will have a main torch and a smaller backup torch, but if you are diving with a guide or a group – or just doing one or two night dives, then one will be sufficient. Torches are also really good for wall or wreck dives, peaking in the cracks and shadows for creatures that might be hiding! The two most important things to look at is the brightness – I’d recommend somewhere around 1000 lumens – and the run time should be around the two hour mark. Below is a handy video showing you the other important factors to consider when buying your torch.
SMB or dSMB
Getting an SMB or dSMB is really important for your saftey in diving. These little guys roll up small enough to fit in your BCD pocket or clip onto a D-ring and either inflate at the beginning of your dive and tow behing you, or they are inflated towards the end of your dive as you are at your saftey stop. Having a SMB is a requirement on many dive sites across the world so learn how to use your SMB and practice using it on your first few dives so it’s not as scary.
Having a slate is going to come in useful if you’re not sure how to hand signal something or to ask questions to your dive buddy. They are super handy if you are doing any activity such as surveys or underwater clean ups, or you just want to ask what species that tiny fish is! They come in many different sizes and styles so pick one up next time your at the dive shop.
FISH ID GUIDE
When diving in a new area, you’re going to need to pick up a fish ID book, to learn which new species you are seeing. Back on the boat after a dive, everyone will be talking about what they saw, figuring out if it was a queen parrotfish or a princess parrotfish and whether the yellow snappers were adults or juveniles. So be sure to have a slate or guide with the areas common animals so you can begin learning which species you are seeing.
Your hands are one of the main points that a diver looses heat, so if you are diving in water that isn’t tropical, gloves will make your dive much more comfortable. Gloves will also come in useful for wreck dives or on dives with strong currents where you might need to hold onto rocks to rest or complete your safety stop. Gloves will also be essential if you are on an underwater clean up where you are picking up plastic and rubbish. But gloves are definitely not used for touching coral, fish or anything that isn’t plastic.
What are some of your dive essentials to take on a dive trip?
Podcasts are one of my favourite ways of keeping up with ocean news and discovering new ocean explorers. They are so easy to listen to in the car or cooking dinner to give you your daily dose of ocean magic. Here are some of my favourite podcasts to subscribe to!
Here are six of my favourite ocean inspired podcasts!
OCEAN PANCAKE | KATT ANDRYSKOVA
Dive into conservation, sustainability and the conversation with fellow eco-warriors. Ocean Pancake is a place to learn, question and create waves of change together. Katt Andryskova works to bring people together to protect the marine ecosystems, find alternatives to plastic and find sustainable solutions. If you love the ocean, then this is the podcast for you!
MY OCEAN | OCEANWISE
My Ocean takes listeners on an adventure into the minds of some of the world’s true ocean champions and dives in to the remarkable ways they are protecting our blue planet. Each episode profiles a new personality, someone who has thrown convention to the wind and instead followed their own path to making a difference for the world’s oceans. Hosted by Alexis Brown.
OCEAN PODDY | MADS ST SCLAIR BAKER
Born in a London flat during the COVID-19 madness, OceanPoddy is a fun, unfiltered (and occasionally tipsy) podcast about the sea, hosted by tropical marine biologist & underwater photographer Mads St Clair Baker. So grab a glass of wine and get ready to dive in as OceanPoddy brings a menagerie of saltwater-lovin’ people into your daily life – and proves that it’s not all doom and gloom for our blue planet.
THE MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE PODCAST | DR CHRIS PARSONS
Marine Mammal Science is a podcast covering some of the latest scientific research on marine mammals – whales and dolphins, polar bears, seals and sea lions, manatees and dugongs, and sea otters. With some episodes only 10 minutes long, this is a really good podcast for bitesize information.
SPEAK UP FOR THE BLUE | ANDREW LEWIN
Speak Up For The Ocean Blue raises awareness of the variety of ocean science and conservation projects conducted all around the world. It covers so many topics including marine mammals, sharks, climate change, coastal development, plastic pollution and many more. It will inspire you to live an ocecan-friendly life through the stories and topics it talks about.
THIS OCEAN LIFE PODCAST | JOSH PEDERSON
This Ocean Life Podcast is a weekly podcast series capturing the stories and perspectives of people around the world who have based their lives on the ocean. Fishing, free diving, art, music, surfing, paddling, spearfishing, conservation, sailing, anything in the ocean. It explores peoples relationship with the water and how they have found themselves drawn to the oceans magic.
Let me know any other ocean podcasts I should listen to!
The most annoying part about diving is hair care. If only we came out the ocean looking like Ariel, dive life would be much easier! Here are some of my tips to keeping your hair in good condition!
SECURE YOUR HAIR
You’ll want either a low or high style – middle is no good as that is where your mask strap will be. I tend to do a high poytail and then tie hair bands all the way down the length which keeps my hair tangle free. Another popular option is braids, either a single or double, it keeps all your hair secure against your head. You could also just make a high bun which you can then take out in between dives, just make sure to take a spare hair band with you for flyaways and loose bits.
USE A MASK STRAP COVER
To save your hair from being pulled out every time you put your mask on or take it off, get a soft strap cover. They slip over the silicone strap and make it so much easier to remove and replace your mask. Have a look at this Girls That Scuba one here!
GET A HOOD OR BUFF
Another popular choice is a wearing a hood or buff! A hood is a good choice for cooler waters, making sure there is no movement of you hair underwater. Buffs are basically thick headbands which cover your hairline, so babyhairs don’t get trapped in the mask – I will be grabbing one for my next trip!
RINSE RINSE RINSE
This is the step to not miss. Once back on dry land, make sure to rinse the saltwater from your hair. Leaving it in makes your hair sticky and unmanageable, so a quick rinse when you can will keep it from turning into a horrible mess.
Coconut oil has many uses, but popping a little bit on the ends of your hair after your dive will help to keep the ends healthy and soft. Just rub a small amount on your hands and comb through the ends and it will do your hair wonders.
When it comes time to wash your hair, use cool water and make sure to let the conditioner soak in. Saltwater tends to make hair very dry, so try and give it some moisture back. Find a good leave in conditioner and comb it through.
The last thing your hair will need after diving all day, is a hot hairdryer. The best thing to do is to let your hair air dry but if you have to dry it, use the cold setting on your hairdryer. Remember saltwater is already damaging your hair so try to protect it by not using heat.
Got any other hair care tips you live by? Leave them in the comments below!
First of all – congratulations! Welcome to the magical world of scuba diving! You’ve just passed your diving course and enjoyed every second of it (okay, maybe not removing your mask underwater, but you mastered it in the end). Maybe you’ve decided to start doing some diving in your home town or you might be thinking of taking the next course. But to go any further, there are three pieces of essential gear that every scuba diver – even beginners – should invest in.
I think most divers would say the first and most important piece of equipment to buy would be a mask! Masks come in so many different shapes and styles so it is super important to head into a store and try them out in person. A good fitting mask should stick onto your face without any air gaps to ensure there are no leaks underwater! You can get clear, coloured or black skirts depending on your preference and with either one joined lens or split lenses, which can be fitted with prescription lenses. Pop a mask strap cover in your basket as well which protects your hair from being pulled out as you put your mask on and off!
Depending on the water temperature you’ll be predominately diving in, you can choose from open heal or closed heal. Closed heal, for warm water, slip on without any booties so are a good choice for tropical diving and travelling. Open heal fins must have booties with them, keeping your feet warmer and better for shore dives and cooler temperatures. Paddle fins, those with one continuous fin, are good all rounders which is why you’ll see them most often at dive shops. Make sure to try your new fins out before heading off on your trip, just like shoes, fins can rub and cause blisters if they are too tight or loose, so give them a wiggle, stretch your foot out and make sure they don’t hurt your feet or slide around.
And the final essential piece of equipment you will want to have with you is a snorkel which you will need at the surface before and after your dive as well as those between dive snorkels. You will mostly likely get one to match your mask and it should be flexible towards the mouthpiece so it can push out the way when on your dive. In some countries, having a snorkel with you is mandatory but I would also have one for your own comfort, especially if the water is a little choppy, you’ll be glad to have it.
So what are you waiting for? Pop into your local dive store and grab these three items to start your journey into the underwater world!
Hello my lovely mermaids,
When I first breathed underwater it was strange, a little scary and honestly took me a few moments to relax my mind and feel okay. I don’t think I will ever forget the moment I first jumped into the ocean and started descending, and if you have taken your open water course, you too will know this feeling. I hope the course taught you just how capable and strong you are. And I hope you have many more diving adventures in your life.
We all want to have cute clothes that make us look and feel good, and that is no exception for diving! I’ve found some gorgeous brands that make ocean inspired swimwear, wetsuits, leggings etc etc to make your dive wardrobe that much cuter.
EXCEL WETSUITS X OCEAN RAMSEY
In collaboration with Ocean Ramsey, Xcel Wetsuits sell wetsuits, rashvests and leggings with ocean inspired prints including whale shark, tiger shark, water ripples and dolphins! Xcel Wetsuits use lots of eco initiatives including using recycled plastic yarn and repurposing old neoprene – you can read more about the steps they are taking to become more sustainable on here. Check out their Ocean Ramsey Collection and follow them on Instagram @xcelwetsuits.
LILJA THE LABEL
A Finnish swimwear brand with the cutest style one and two piece sets, there are so many styles, colours and patterns and best of all they are ethically made in Bali! Have a look at their full range at Lilja The Label or click on their About Us page to read all about the production and sustainable steps they are taking.
One of the most popular dive leggings are from Waterlust – with many different ocean patterns and styles, it will be tough to pick just one. Waterlust also dontate 10% of their profits to the related cause, so when you buy something cute, you’ll know some money is going to research – find out more at Waterlust Causes. Their instagram is @waterlust and their full collection can be found on their Waterlust Website.
STAY WILD SWIM
Hello swimwear made from regenerated ocean plastics! Founded by Natalie Glaze & Zanna van Dijk, this London based company is eco-consious is everyway possible – carbon neutral shipping, no plastic packaging and making every piece in their London warehouse ensuring a real wage for the workers. Beautifully designed double layered bikinis and swimsuits, these swimwear pieces really are worth the price tag. Head over to their website www.staywildswim.com and follow them on instagram @staywildswim
Started by Mads St Clair Baker, Nü Wave stocks swimsuits, sports bra & leggings, beach towels and rash vests. My favourite is the whale shark one piece but there are so many cute designs! Follow Nü Wave on Instagram @nuwave.co and check out her online store at www.nuwave.store
What are some of your favourite ocean brands? Share them below!
Learning to dive has been number one on my must-do list for a very very long time, for years actually. I had THE BEST time and super happy I waited to do it on the Great Barrier Reef. It was much more enjoyable diving in the warm tropical waters as I get cold easily so the thought of getting into cold water and getting out into a cold climate just wasn’t for me. I had previously done an introductory dive in the UK and I would recommend to do one before diving in and paying for the whole course – diving is not for everyone. This is my experience of the PADI Open Water Course with Pro Dive Cairns and I loved every second of it.
The day was finally here! I had been waiting for y e a r s to get under the ocean and see what I have been missing out on so I practically jumped out of bed that morning. After an intro talk we did some classroom work, watched some videos, went over the theory of diving, safety bits and pieces which was all very interesting and a vital part of diving but I was eager to jump into the water.
The first of two pool training sessions begun after lunch where we all picked up a wetsuit, a BDC (buoyancy control device), a mask, a snorkel and fins. After doing the mandatory swim and float tests, I wriggled into the wetsuit and set up my gear.. and took it apart and set it up and took it apart and set it up.. you get the point. Understanding how to work the gear is the most important part of diving (after breathing of course) so we ran through all the little bits and what goes where and so on until we were each comfortable with our gear. This set up remained with us for the whole trip as it is important to be familiar with how your personal set up works.
It was a long stride into the pool and then we were all breathing and floating and learning that if you laugh water comes into your mask and blinds you and that this is a no laughing sport (joking – its so hard not to laugh and smile!). So we were taught how to clear our mask of water, breathe correctly, control our position in the water, equalise the pressure in our ears etc. The first day was a lot of fun and doing it with friends made it even better.
The second pool training session started off day two and we went through the skills from the previous day, focusing on our buoyancy control. We practised an out of air situation, emergency ascent methods and breathing with a broken regulator (mouthpiece) which I hope I never have do again – it is quite scary to think about that happening while I’m diving.
We also got to try on lots of different brands and models of fins/masks/snorkels – there are a lot of options out there! Having a mask that fits you correctly is so so important, we were shown how to fit a mask properly and which mask we should get for our face shape. Post-lunch there was time to look around the store and purchase anything we would need for the boat – I ended up buying a mask/snorkel set, fins and boots and I l o v e them. They do take up room in my suitcase but I plan on doing a lot more diving so having my own gear makes me a happy diver.
Then came the final classroom session and the final exam. The multiple choice questions were fairly easy and with all the course material you can’t fail. With theory training complete it was time to take to the ocean for our first reef dive!
I was up super early and ready to get diving, the boat left at 7am and we headed out to our first dive site on the outer reef. The purpose built dive boat had about 20 students and 5 instructors on board and there was still lots of room – everyone is really friendly and making friends is so easy. Three hours, one breakfast and one safety briefing later we were gearing up for the very first dive and let me tell you jumping into that water was incredibly exciting. This dive was fairly short as expected and we stayed knelt down on the sand but as we were all equalising, practising our buoyancy and doing a few skills a small spotted ray swam past – our instructor pointed and we all just stopped to watch it float on by. The second dive was similar to the first but we did get to do some swimming around the reef, adjusting our gear and getting used to moving in this completely new way – zero gravity is fun!
We ended the day with a snorkel around the shallow side of the reef as the sun was setting. There is so much so see from the surface so even if you aren’t a diver then still grab your fins and head out into the ocean – you will be amazed at the creatures you spot. We saw a white tipped reef shark resting on the bottom about 8m below us and we carefully followed a turtle as it gracefully went on its way.
Moving to a different location each time allowed us to see so many different types of dive sites from bommies and swim throughs to huge coral walls. Dives three and four allowed us to explore the dive sites more fully and gave us time to look around as they were slightly longer and not as much training was done. By the end of the fourth dive I was feeling so much more confident in the gear, my buoyancy and the way I was moving that I could almost not think about it – almost. We surfaced as certified open water divers and celebrated by filling out our log books, eating lunch and having a quick nap before the next dive. It’s true when they say all you will be doing is eating, sleeping and diving on a liveaboard.
The first dive without the instructors went well and we didn’t get lost or run out of air so I call that a success. We even went through a little swim through which up until that point I did not want to do any cave diving – but I loved it so I will probably do that at some point. I also learnt that navigation underwater is slightly more difficult than on land but we found our way back to the anchor rope without having to surface.
At this point in the trip we were offered to become further certified to Adventure Diver, so of course I said yes, and so our remaining four dives were also training dives. This involves doing a night dive, a deep dive and two elective dives which were photography and naturalist.
The night dive was a highlight as I was pretty nervous about jumping in after dark and the dive brief did not help with talk about getting eaten by sharks and disappearing forever. With a torch and a glow stick attached to our tank so we could see each other, I hesitantly jumped in and we descended down the rope together. We stuck with the same site from the previous dive so I had a slight understanding of where we were going but it was still quite difficult to navigate – I would have definitely be lost and still out there if the directions were left to me. Surprisingly it was not as scary as it was made out to be and we could see quite a lot with all our torches. There was a significant lack of fish around with only the larger fish in the open water and close to the boat lights on the surface but we did get to see a nudibranch and a huuuge hermit crab. There were no shark sightings unfortunately as it would have been awesome to see one patrolling the reef but it sure was an awesome dive anyway.
The earliest dive so far started at 6.30am which was also our deepest dive. After learning about the added risks of deeper diving (narcosis, decompression sickness, oxygen toxicity – sounds scary right?) we descended down a huge sand slope. I got to 27 meters all too soon and I just wanted to keep on going, there was so much more to see. The colours you are able to see also change with depth so my red fins were now a weird brown colour as the red light is filtered out through the water.
Our final two dives were the photography and naturalist training dives and for these we moved a lot slower, looking more closely at the animals and trying to get some photos – it is a lot more difficult than you think trying to get still images when there is nothing holding you in one spot. These last dives were my favourite dives, I felt sure of how I was moving and breathing and felt confident in both my own and my dive buddys abilities. There is for sure a whole lot more to learn and a bunch more courses yet to be taken but I cannot recommend diving highly enough to anyone. It has been the best course I have done in anything, having studied the marine world for a few years it was amazing to be able to see it for myself. And what better place than the reef of all reefs.
A huge thankyou to the team at ProDive Cairns and to my instructor Rafi, they were all amazing.
If anyone is a little bit more interested in the specific locations or other info I’ve included a few extra information bits below.