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Scuba Diving Solo: Here’s How to Do it Safely

Table of Contents

Scuba diving is a safe and special sport that has something for everyone. It lets you explore areas of the world that are unseen by most people.

When you take a course the first thing an instructor teaches you is to never dive alone (besides not to hold your breath). 

While this is true when you first start out diving a lot of people do solo dive and do it in a safe and responsible manner.

There are some nuances that one should follow and you will need more training but it can be done safely when proper producers are followed.

Why Solo Dive?

There are a few reasons one may want to solo dive.

  • Photographers – You spend a lot of time in one place and others dive want to move on. Also With no people, there is a better chance to disturb the environment and you get can get all the angels.
  • Spearfishers / hunters – Like photographers, spreaos and lobster hunters want don’t want people in the way. Though we really do recommend having a buddy for this activity.
  • No one else – Sometimes you want to dive and there isn’t anyone to go with. This is common as people have lives and why should you waste a beautiful day inside?
  • Peace and quiet – My favorite reason is that I feel that I have the ocean to myself, you can go at your pace, look at what you want, and do as you please.

1. Take a Course

Rescue Scuba

9 Tips for Solo Diving

Solo scuba diving can be safe when you are trained, cautious, and keep some things in mind that you normally may not have when diving with a buddy.

It does not matter the scuba diving agency but this will go through all the steps and train you for diving alone.

Usually, there is a minimum number of dives needed to take this course. If there is not I still would say you should have over 100 dives in different environments before solo diving.

2. Have a plan and don’t waiver

As with any dive, you will make a plan before you go out. With solo diving, it is no different except that you have no one to keep you to that plan.

You will want to have your dive time and maximum depth all laid out and try to stick to this plan when you change the plan on the fly this is when issues arise. If possible go over it with someone that knows where you will be diving.

3. Know Your Limits

A lot of people think more highly of themselves as divers than they are, be humble. Do not push yourself and during my solo dives even when not in overhead environments I follow the rule of thirds.

Here it is if your need a refresher, one-third of the gas supply is planned for the outward journey, one-third is for the return journey and one-third is a safety stop reserve in case of an emergency.

4. Redundancies are a must

Teagan

Even when diving in groups on a shore dive during the day I always carry an extra scuba mask, a flashlight, an SMB, compass, a whistle, and a dive knife.

This may seem like overkill but it has got me out of a pinch multiple times. Currents change, visibility could drop, mask strap snaps, you come up in an unexpected place, etc.

When solo diving you will want all these things as well and a spare tank or at least a pony bottle. Be prepared for the worst.

5. Keep Fit

Not all divers are the pillars of health and the weekend diver may be in decent shape but not the best. If you have any underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, recent illness, obesity, etc. it may be best to dive with a buddy in case something were to occur. When you have these issues your likeness of an incident rises.

6. Let someone else know your plan

Share your plan with a buddy, coast guard, or whomever else that should be notified. In the event of an emergency, you want someone looking for you, this is also why you should stick to your plan.

7. Have all your gear maintained

A leaky o-ring means you will lose air throughout your dive. A broken dump valve could lead to an uncontrolled ascent. Making sure your scuba gear is in tip-top shape reduces the chances of an accident and put your mind at ease. It doesn’t take much time either.

8. Double and Triple check your gear

Normally you do a buddy check before you dive and we all have forgotten to open the air or put on our weight belts from time to time. Double and triple check you have everything and it is all in the right place.

9. Familiarize Yourself With the Dive Site

This is especially key if you have never dived there before. Ask around to others that have dived there, and see if you can get your hands on a map of the site. If you have a slate take notes on it for the dive.

What are the hazards, where are boats going by, and where is the best place for a safety stop?

What are common issues that arise when solo diving?

Equipment Failure
Scuba diving equipment failure happens and you just need to be aware of what the most common things that can happen. This is why we prepare and have redundancies and plans if something was to go wrong.

Entanglement
This usually happens when going into areas with an overhead environment like a cave or a wreck. But what happens in open water and has happened to me is getting entangled in a “ghost net”. 

These nets and fishing lines are ones that get caught on something and the fisherman just cuts them to save time and lets them adrift.

It is one of the most common types of plastic waste in the ocean as well. I always carry a dive knife for these types of situations.

Disorientation
Getting disoriented happens much more on a solo dive as you don’t have a buddy to reassure you. You then start to panic and use more air and things can go from there. If you are doing a deeper dive you could possibly get nitrogen narcosis.

Running out of Air
Running out of air during a dive is something that happens more than you think. That is why a backup supply and or a pony bottle are good things to carry. If you do start to run out of air stay calm and follow your training.

Is it Illegal to Dive Alone?

No, it is not illegal to dive alone. There are no rules or laws that restrict you from diving alone. But that does not mean it is a free pass to deep dive in the sea whenever you like.

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  • 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!

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