How to prepare for a dive? The basics of having a good dive

Do you know how to prepare for a dive? So that you can have only pleasure from it and nothing else. What is worth remembering and what to bring with you? After all, the point is to make the long-awaited diving trip a pure pleasure and money well spent. So how to prepare for a dive?

Diving is a great pleasure, but of course the level of this pleasure depends on many aspects. There may be worse weather or visibility, but you have no control over that. What you do have control over, however, is how you prepare for a dive and whether you take what you need with you. Today we will talk about how you can prepare for a dive even before you leave home.

How to prepare for a dive?

Preparing for a dive involves careful planning and attention to detail to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience underwater. It really is better to take the time before the trip to resolve any doubts rather than lose it already at the dive site. Can you imagine driving a few hours to your dream dive only to find that you forgot something? Not a very nice perspective, right? Preparation for diving must therefore be multifaceted. You need to prepare the equipment, the plan and yourself.

Diving according to your license

Selecting the appropriate dive site and diving type is the foremost and crucial factor for a successful dive. In case you don’t have additional scuba specializations or certifications, it is important to choose a dive site that aligns well with your existing skills and experience level. At our dive center in Costa Rica, we often have clients who want to dive sites that aren’t intended for them, just because they’ve heard they’re worth visiting. And of course I agree that we have many beautiful sites, for example on Isla del Caño, but some of them are only accessible to advanced divers.

Abc of successful diving – how to prepare for dives
Scuba diving certifications infogram

It is not that these places are dangerous in any particular way, but that they are more difficult. There may be a strong current, a lack of drop line or greater depth. All this requires proper training and experience. Otherwise, you’ll be tired and struggle with conditions you didn’t know before, and you’ll just waste the dive not only for yourself, but also for your partners. Proper training for the planned dive is therefore a key element of a successful dive here. 

Refresher training

If you’ve had a long break from diving and want to get back to it in a quick and effective way, then you should definitely think about refresher training. This is a one-day class that will remind you of the information from the diving course and again show you how to use the equipment and behave underwater. This is one part of diving preparation that you should not skip. Otherwise, instead of enjoying the underwater sights, you’ll be struggling with equipment whose operating principles have slipped your mind.

How to plan a successful dive?

The first step in planning a successful dive is choosing the right site. Consider factors such as depth, visibility, currents and marine life present at the site. Research and gather information about the location to make sure it is a match for your diving skills and interests. Next, determine the type of diving you want to undertake. Decide whether it will be recreational diving, deep diving, drift diving or another specialized form of diving. This choice will affect the equipment and training requirements for the dive.

Consider the logistical aspects of the dive. Determine the date and time of the dive, taking into account weather conditions, tides and any specific seasonal factors. Plan the duration of the dive, taking into account factors such as air reserve, decompression requirements and dive partner or group limitations. Make a dive plan. Decide what maximum depth you will reach and set dive limits. Plan any necessary decompression stops and time your dive accordingly. Communicate your plan to your dive partner, making sure everyone is on the same page.

Why is a dive plan so important?

I understand that the prospect of diving is very exciting in itself, and the thought of diving under the surface again raises blood pressure. But jumping into the water without any plan is pointless to say the least… When we lead dive trips, we always take time before the dive to do breefing and discuss the entire dive plan. What we want to do, where, for how long, what we will see and what to do in case of emergency. 

This, of course, is not so much our obligation, but a necessity and a precaution for us as guides. So that you don’t say later that you didn’t know… However, you wouldn’t believe how many customers don’t listen or simply ignore us during this breefing. Later, underwater, they are surprised or confused and lose time over simple things we discussed before jumping in. So why is a dive plan so important? To simply not waste time. The thing about many dive sites is that if you go in one direction, you’ll see everything. If you turn in another direction, you will only see sand and nothing else…

Abc of successful diving - how to prepare for dives
Diving is a partner sport

Choose the right dive parner

Choosing the right dive parner is also an important part of preparing for a dive. As in all things, bad company can spoil the best fun. This can not only spoil your dream dive, but also affect your safety during the dive. Therefore, before you propose a joint trip to someone, do a quick calculation of the pros and cons. 

  1. Experience and Certification: Look for a dive partner who has a similar level of experience and certification as you. It’s important to have a partner who is trained and competent in handling various diving situations.

  2. Communication and Compatibility: Choose someone with whom you can communicate effectively and comfortably. Clear communication is essential underwater, so ensure that you can understand each other’s hand signals and have compatible diving styles and preferences.

  3. Trust and Reliability: Dive with someone you trust and feel comfortable with. A reliable dive partner will prioritize safety, follow diving protocols, and be there to assist you in case of any emergency or unexpected situation.

  4. Skillset and Confidence: Consider the skillset and confidence of your potential dive partner. Look for someone who has the necessary diving skills, such as buoyancy control, underwater navigation, and emergency response, and who demonstrates confidence in their abilities.

  5. Prior Experience Together: If possible, choose a dive partner with whom you have dived before or have some familiarity. Having prior experience together can enhance communication, coordination, and understanding underwater.

  6. Similar Goals and Interests: Find a dive partner who shares similar goals and interests. Whether you both enjoy underwater photography, exploring wrecks, or encountering marine life, having shared interests can enhance the overall dive experience.

  7. Safety Awareness: Ensure your potential dive partner prioritizes safety. Look for someone who pays attention to details, follows dive protocols, and demonstrates a responsible attitude towards diving.

Proven and working diving equipment

This is another aspect of dive preparation. Remember that it is important to choose equipment that is properly fitted, well maintained and meets your specific diving needs. Once again, I’ll bring up the example of how you drive a few hours to your dream dive only to find that the equipment doesn’t work. You didn’t check it beforehand, so now you can only watch others dive. That sucks, but it’s only your fault.

Equipment, despite controls, sometimes just breaks down or stops working at the least appropriate time. It’s called the Murphy’s lawAnything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time. When you accept this that it will happen, you have more control over such cases. You just have to assume that something can go wrong and you have to be prepared for it. Do you know how many times on our boat with clients we found that something suddenly stopped working? Or that a diving tank had a small leak, and when we got there it was already empty. It just happens, so prepare spare equipment, tools, O-rings, in a word, duplicate everything. 

Abc of successful diving - how to prepare for dives
How to prepare for a dive? Checked and workig diving equipment

Prepare yourself physically and mentally

Diving is supposed to be a pleasure. You don’t do it to regret it, but to have a flow of dopamine, which means happiness. If you don’t feel comfortable with the planned dive then just let it go or change the plan. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. If the partner does not suit you – thank him for the proposal and explain that this time you will not be tempted. If you don’t like the place, suggest another. If you feel internally that you are not ready, ask for help in preparation. Go to a dive center or find a good dive instructor and do refresher training. 

You are certainly familiar with the slogan: don’t drink and drive. In diving we could also say: don’t drink and dive. Really being under the influence of any drugs and trying to dive is a tragic idea. As a dive center, we will not allow anyone we suspect of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs on the boat. But also the hangover is an exclusionary factor here. Believe me that being hungover and diving is anything but fun. If you had a great party yesterday, relax today and go diving tomorrow.

How to prepare for a dive? Let’s recap

Diving is a pleasure. It’s experiencing another world and, in some sense, meditation. It’s like enjoying a fine scotch or wagyu steak. You don’t want to do it too fast, in the wrong place or with the wrong company. Plan your dive to suit you and remember that your safety and enjoyment of a day spent on the ocean are most important.

costa rica divers instructor

PADI MSDT #384513


Peter "Pedro" Sawicki

My life has always been linked to sports commonly considered extreme. I once fell in love with big wall climbing, just as I am now in love with scuba diving. I climbed mountains, explored caves and took part in exploration expeditions. Through these experiences, I saw a large chunk of the world and learned a lot. Now I have been a professional diver and a scuba instructor for many years, and Costa Rica has become my second home. Check also my expedition project:

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