*OtterAquatics is reader-supported. When you purchase something through an outgoing link, we might earn a commission.

*OtterAquatics is reader-supported. When you purchase something through an outgoing link, we might earn an affiliate commission.

10 Mistakes That New Divers Make

Table of Contents

Your first scuba diving course is packed full of new information and skills to learn and remember.

Completing your open water course doesn’t necessarily make you a good diver but it will give all the necessary tools to become a good diver. In our experience it can take anywhere between 25-50 dives for everything to really start to click.

So to help speed things up, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things you may want to watch out for as a newly certified or less experienced scuba diver.

two buddies underwater together, or two friends on a diveboat, or preparing for a dive together

1. Forgetting The Buddy Check

This is a fundamental pre-dive safety check that should be performed by every diver. Sadly many divers decide that a simple “are you ok?’ is sufficient.

The Buddy check only takes a few minutes and is designed to review all your and your buddy’s equipment before you enter the water. This will help identify any potential problems and eliminate them before you dive.

So remember your BWRAF and keep your diving safe. To make it fun, why not come up with your own acronym. Something like “Burgers With Relish And Fries” or maybe “Big white Rabbits Are Fluffy”………You choose!!!

2. Not Preparing Your Mask

If you don’t prepare your mask before you descend then there is a good chance that it will fog up without mask defog, especially if it’s a brand new mask.

So make sure you treat the mask with an anti-fog solution before you hit the water. Diluted washing-up liquid or baby shampoo is also quite effective.

If you really don’t have any of these available then you can also opt to spit in the mask and give it a good old rinse. Not the most appealing option but you’ll often hear scuba divers saying “greener the cleaner”!!!!

photo of someone with a foggy mask or someone reparing their mask before a dive

3. Wearing Too Much Weight

If your instructor has done their job correctly then you should know more or less how much weight you need.

Although this will slightly change depending on the circumstances (Water density, Wetsuit thickness etc.).

Many divers fall into the trap of adding additional weight to assist the descent but then have major problems with buoyancy underwater.

The problem is that it’s not only you that will suffer. Normally it’s the corals and the marine life that have to bear the brunt of an overweighted diver.

4. Carrying Too Much Equipment

It is essential when diving to take along all the dive equipment needed to complete that particular dive. But many divers fall into the trap of taking all their equipment on every single dive.

So instead of getting bogged down with numerous reels, SMB’s, torches and lights, slates, pointers and cameras, try to streamline and only take what you need. This will limit the damage caused to the equipment, and make your diving way more efficient and way more enjoyable.

Also if you are thinking of taking a camera along with you just make sure that your buoyancy skills are up to scratch beforehand. You really don’t end up harming the very marine life you were so excited to capture.

photo of some fish/small marine life or someone taking a photo underwater

5. Not Equalizing Soon Or Frequently Enough

This is one topic that is covered over and over again during an Open Water course. Even so, many new divers will wait until they feel substantial amounts of pressure before equalizing.

This practice will often result in an inability to equalize. We as divers should always remember to equalize as soon as our head goes below the surface and then continue to equalize at regular intervals on our descent way before we feel discomfort or pain.

6. Not Using Your Inflator Hose Correctly

Buoyancy is an essential skill when it comes to diving. It tends to separate the good divers from the not so good.

It seems logical to think of an inflater as an “Up button” and a “Down button” but that is simply not the case.

In fact the inflator on your BCD is used to give us our desired state of buoyancy at any given depth. For example, if we are at the surface then we want to “float” so we inflate.

If we want to go down then we deflate in order to “not float” and as a result we can descend.

When we are underwater we use the inflator to regulate our neutral buoyancy by adding small amounts of air as we descend and release small amounts of air as we ascend.

This will ensure that we control our speed as we go up and down.

Literally the opposite to what you might expect.

7. Not Keeping An Eye On Your Air

photo of an air gauge close to empty

This seems fairly obvious but with all the excitement and so many things to focus on, many beginner divers forget to check their pressure gauges and rely on the guide to remind them.

We recommend that you at least check your gauge every 5 minutes or regularly after more physical, emotional or mentally challenging parts of the dive.

8. Lack Of Communication With Your Buddy

A lack of communication is another common mistake made by divers. For example, you’ll often see 2 divers heading off in different directions and losing sight of one and other. 

In an emergency your buddy is your life line and you are theirs. It makes sense to maintain visual contact and always be aware of any problems. 

To make sure there is no confusion underwater go over all the applicable hand signals before you dive and always keep an eye on your buddy’s air as well as your own. 

diving making hand signals to communicate underwater

9. Lack Of Situational Awareness & Your Environment

It’s easy as a beginner diver (or even an experienced diver) to focus on 1 or 2 specific things such as equipment or marine life and miss what’s happening around you.

Often a diver will find themselves way deeper than they thought or caught in a current and taken away from the boat.

We all want to see the wonders the ocean has in store for us but we have to remember to keep a broader awareness of everything that’s going on around us in order to stay safe. This goes to even on the boat, surface or the shore, you will be in the sun for a long time, so make sure to wear a good reef-safe sunscreen. 

10. Diving Outside Your Limit

It’s very easy to be overconfident as a diver and push yourself past your training limits. This is often a big mistake.

Most diving accidents happen because a diver is not properly prepared for the conditions in which they are diving.

Every day divers with very little training are taken into caves, wrecks, and other situations where additional training such as “diving in overhead environments” is essential and due to that lack of training accidents can and will occur.

Never think that additional training is not worth the money. Any training you do as a diver makes you a safer diver for yourself, the environment, and everybody around you.

As a rule, always have the proper training before attempting a new dive skill!

recycle a cave diving photo

Final Thoughts

So there it is. A few things you might want to watch out for as a beginner or inexperienced diver.

Just remember, it doesn’t matter how many years you have been diving, learning new skills never hurts.

Make sure you always listen to the dive briefing before diving. That way you will know the basic route, anything you need to avoid in the dive, and any dangers such as strong currents, dangerous marine life, etc.

And try not to over-rely on the dive guide. Although they are there to assist you, they often have many divers assigned to them and even the best can’t keep an eye on everyone 100% of the time as well as looking out for marine life.

So, make sure that you control your own buoyancy and air consumption. If you are unable to do so then maybe it’s time to think about a little more training.

Happy diving and stay safe!

Let us know if you can think of anything else we have missed off the list. We’d love to know what your experience is as a beginner diver.

  • Welcome

    My name’s Austin Tuwiner, a PADI Divemaster based in South Florida. With nearly 10 years of diving under my belt, I’ve accumulated the knowledge to help readers become better divers, buy their next piece of gear, and plan their dream dive vacation!

  • Join Our Facebook Group

    Feel free to ask any questions about scuba diving, liveaboards, freediving, and more, and the community (and me) will do our best to help you out.
    Join Here

  • Related Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *