Four Mistakes Most New Divers Make Will Make (And How to Avoid Them)

It can be intimidating to try something new, especially an activity as novel to most of us as SCUBA diving, because, even though we all have to start somewhere, most people still want to avoid making mistakes that will out them as a newbie. Helpfully this anxiety can be lessened for many by simply learning what some simple mistakes diving beginners make are and how best to avoid them.

When starting out with SCUBA, it can be helpful to remember that nobody is perfect and hopefully we all are trying to improve each day. As you work on your diving skills, try not to become discouraged, keep the following in mind, and soon you’ll be diving like a pro in no time!

Succumbing to Certification Confusion

While you can always try diving without a certification, becoming a certified diver isn’t so much a goal as it is the beginning of your SCUBA journey. With that being said, choosing what certification is right for you can be a confusing process. The various acronyms can be obscure to the uninitiated and can make deciding between different certifications all the more difficult. Of course, this trouble can all be avoided by consulting with experts at your local dive shop, as a certified dive instructor can help you decide what dive course is right for you.

A helpful tip for those worried about fitting an entire certification course into their vacation is to tackle some of it at home and save more practical parts for Maui. For example, find a dive shop near you that offers PADI certification courses, and you can easily complete many prerequisites to certification before you even get to Maui. Just be sure to have documentation forwarded and complete your dives when you reach the island to become fully certified. There are even options for those that just need a refresher course!

Not Taking Direction

One of the worst things a new diver can do is to think that they have the hang of this diving thing and shut themselves off to new SCUBA knowledge. The truth is, even the most experienced divers are constantly learning new skills and are open to instruction from others. This can include tips to help improve your technique and efficiency during a dive to other health and safety features that every diver should know.

One example of an area where we are all constantly learning is discerning impending weather. The sea’s environment is always changing, which means conditions can rapidly deteriorate and become dangerous for divers in the blink of an eye. Of course, learning to read the signs that mother nature gives is a part of any divers lifelong learning process.

Straining on the Surface or Consuming Too Much Air

When it comes to new divers, there are two areas of technique that most will struggle with in the beginning: surface struggles and over-breathing. 

The first issue that most newbies will run into is overexerting themselves on the surface, which can easily hasten fatigue and decrease dive times. This is most often the result of an improperly balanced buoyancy compensator. This is a reminder that tedious work such as properly calibrating your BCD, can have a huge impact on the quality of your dives.

The second technique issue that most divers will run into is an inefficient use of air. Breathing naturally while diving is something that can take some time to master. But it is time well spent, as the better your breathing technique is the less air will be wasted and the longer your dives can be. 

One of the simplest ways to improve your breathing is to focus on breathing deep into your diaphragm, where air is absorbed by the lungs most efficiently. This may seem like advice better given to an opera singer, when in fact, breathing into your diaphragm is already a technique that free divers use to great success. And practicing this skill is helpful for SCUBA divers as well, after all, the gas you bring with you diving has to last your entire dive, so even a small increase in efficiency can make a huge difference in dive times.

Not Respecting Other Divers and Dive Sites

Nothing will make a new diver stick out like a sore thumb more than failing to practice good diving etiquette and respecting one’s fellow divers and the natural environment. This requires situational and spatial awareness that can be hard for some newer divers to maintain underwater. Yet, some disrespect can stem from ignorance, which is why the following is worth keeping in mind. 

When it comes to other divers, stay in close communication with your own dive party and give other dive parties a wide berth whenever possible. Stay out of other divers’ blind spots and keep your own dive party within sight, this is especially crucial as you will rely on hand signals for nearly all communication during a dive.

When it comes to respecting dive sites, there are some additional aspects to study. When arriving at a dive site that already seems crowded from the surface, consider switching to another dive spot nearby (if possible). Always do your best to avoid kicking up sediment off the bottom of the seafloor, as this will cause poor visibility for divers that come after you. And, of course, never ever damage or remove any coral or natural artifacts you come across on your dives.

We’re Always Here to Help!

There you have it, four of the most common mistakes new divers will make and some tips to help you avoid making them yourself. We hope you enjoyed reading and learned something new along the way. If you are looking for a dive shop for your next trip to Maui, we do hope you will consider us here at Dive Maui for all of your boat dives, shore dives, and equipment rental needs. As always, thank you for reading and, until next time, Aloha!