7 Tips for Shore Diving for Beginner Scuba Divers
In our video on making the most of a scuba diving trip to Grand Cayman, we mentioned taking advantage of wall diving and trying out different dive shops. Another thing we mentioned is the value of doing as much shore diving as you can. So, from the Bahamas to Grand Cayman, what are the benefits of shore diving? and how can you make the best of your shore diving experience?
Why Shore Dive?
If you’re diving from a boat, you have to pay for:
- The captain
- The dive master
- Any other miscellaneous expenses
This results in typical two-tank boat dives running somewhere between 80 to 120 dollars. With shore diving, if you have all of your equipment, normally you just have to rent your tanks and weights.
You are on your schedule
If you’re not a morning person and the thought of a 7:30 boat meetup on vacation horrifies you, then shore diving is a great option for you. You rent your tanks and weights, and from there YOU decide what dive time is. If you feel like doing multiple shore dives a day, it’s completely up to you as long as you are fully-equipped.
You can visit dive sites that boats don’t serve
Some dive sites are close enough to the shore that they are easy to swim out to, yet so close that it doesn’t make sense to take a boat there.
7 factors to consider when shore diving as a beginner
Local dive shops will most likely be happy to share any hotspots, tips, and tricks with you. However, what’s most important to find out is what the local regulations are about shore diving. Some questions to ask include:
- Is shore diving even allowed in the area?
- If so, do you need a flag?
- Do you need to have a DSMB up?
- What are the regulations?
A dive shop can give you all of this insider information, so make sure to check in with them. Also, make sure to check conditions frequently, especially in regards to current.
When planning a shore dive, before you get in the water make sure you know how you are going to get out, whether that be swimming back to shore or using a ladder or stairs. Basically, before you jump off a pier that has no ladder in sight, make sure you have an exit strategy.
Once your exit is planned, you can go ahead and plan your entry. If the shore dive is from a beach, you’re probably just going to be walking in from the sand. If you are at a particularly popular dive site, there might be multiple entry points provided.
Why does fin selection matter if you’re diving from ashore? To protect your feet while you’re entering and exiting the water. If you’re diving from a beach and the Sand is soft, there’s no problem using full foot fins and entering and exiting the water barefoot. However, if you have to walk across crushed coral or shells, you absolutely want to be wearing scuba diving boots and have open heel fins to ensure that your feet are protected.
Established shore diving sites typically have benches that you can set your gear up on, put it on, do your buddy checks, and get in the water. After your dive, you can take your gear off and know that it’s secure. If you are more remote, you can use a tree branch or the trunk of your car. It’s really hard to put a set of scuba gear down on the sand, put it on and get to your feet- so, if you are shore diving from a beach one option would be to put your kit on in shallow water if conditions allow it.
Some questions that you should ask yourself are:
- Are you going to enter and exit from the same point?
- Are you going to do a one-directional shore dive? Meaning you enter the water at one point, drift with the current, and exist somewhere else?
If you choose to do a one-directional shore dive, you will have to consider how to get you and your gear back to your starting point once you have exited the water (usually where your transportation is parked)
You are still going to need to leave your keys and wallet somewhere unless you take a dry bag with you, which aren’t always reliable. So, for this reason, it’s important to find a place where you can secure your possessions. The most typical solution would be to lock everything in your car, but that doesn’t solve for car keys which can’t be taken into the water with you. So, always have a plan as to where you are going to secure your valuables.
While boat dives are fantastic ways to dive sites that you wouldn’t be able to from the shore, like the wreck of the USS Kittiwake; shore diving is a great way to see the lesser-visited sites that can’t be accessed via boat. Additionally, it’s a way to make your diving vacations more cost-efficient.