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A Guide to Boat Diving

Many divers may think trundling off the shore is the only way to dive. While shore diving is more accessible for many divers, boat diving provides access to otherwise inaccessible areas.

You get to far-off places and experience marine life you would not usually see from the shore. Take Cocos Island, for instance. No shore diving there.

But if you have never dived off a boat, it could be an intimidating, new experience. This guide will cover everything you need to know about boat diving, including the different types of boats, essential equipment, tips, etiquette, and more.

What is Boat Diving?

Boat diving is the act of scuba diving from a boat; yes, it is pretty self-explanatory.  Boat diving requires some additional considerations compared to shore diving or pool training. There are lots of different types and sizes of boats, and all have their differences and nuances, but with proper planning and preparation, you can have an incredible experience and look like a pro as you do it.

What are the Different Types of Boats for Diving?

MSY Ilike liveaboard | Infinite Blue Dive TravelThere are many different types of boats that you can dive from. We will first cover a small boat like a dinghy or a zodiac. These are usually used for day trips and shallow diving. These boats have smaller engines and can only go certain distances, but they are also more affordable and easier to use. In some places like the Philippines and Indonesia, these are dual-used for fishing and made of wood or fibreglass.

Larger boats are usually used for liveaboards or large groups of people. These are where you stay on board for multiple days while diving and have a kitchen and places to relax when you are not with the fish.

Liveaboards tend to be more expensive than other types of diving because they require more staff members (e.g., captains) and equipment such as full kitchens, compressors for tanks, gear, etc.

There are all sorts of dive liveaboards. Some are purpose-built for diving, while others have been repurposed and renovated to accommodate scuba divers. For example, most dive vessels are steel-hulled motor yachts in the Maldives and the Pacific. In Thailand, dive liveaboards, on the whole, are repurposed fishing boats. In Indonesia, your liveaboard cruise will likely be on a handcrafted, traditional Phinisi yacht.

What is Different About Boat Diving and Shore Diving?

Besides walking into the water and setting up your gear on land, there are some other key differences, which include:

  • Accessibility– Shore diving is often the only option for divers in certain areas. Some places do not allow boats, it is too shallow to have boats, or there are just no boats around.
  • Convenience- The location of shore dives makes them easy to get to, so you don’t have to travel far from your hotel or resort to dive on an island. Boat diving, no matter the distance, takes longer.
  • Equipment-  This is a tricky one. When you dive from the shore, you must suit up and lug your gear to and from the water. When diving from a boat, you only have to slip on your BCD and tank and hop in. Though someone else or maybe even you must carry your gear to the boat.
  • Cost- Boat dives are usually more expensive than shore dives because they require renting a boat and paying someone else’s gas costs (although some places offer free boat access).

What are Some Tips for Boat Diving?

You need to take extra precautions when boat diving to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips:

  • Check the weather- The best time to go diving is when there’s little or no wind; you can usually find this information on websites like Weather Underground or Accuweather.
  • Stay hydrated- It’s easy to forget how much water you’re drinking when you’re out on the water all day, so make sure that you bring enough water with you and drink it regularly throughout the day (if possible).
  • Watch out for currents- They can be strong in some areas, especially if there have been recent storms or heavy rains. If there are any signs of dangerous currents while boating, don’t dive until they’ve subsided.
  • Wear Sun Protection- Pack proper exposure protection and carry extra layers for varying water and air temperatures.
  • Be wary of the boat- Ascend a few yards from the boat and only swim towards it from the surface when you are sure a crew member has seen you. Also, make sure that the boat is stationary when approaching it.
  • Bring only the essentials– because all boats have limited space.
  • Giant stride or Backroll-  Use a giant stride or backroll to enter or go up and down the ladder for entry and exit.
  • Be respectful- Be respectful of other divers and follow proper etiquette for a boat dive.

Diving from Liveaboards

liveaboard dive deck | Infinite Blue DIve TravelLiveaboards are boats that are permanently out at sea and serve as a home base for divers. They typically have several cabins, bathrooms, dining areas, and even bars on board. Liveaboards generally stay in one location for an extended period, so you can dive from them every day if you want to (or even multiple times per day).

The top benefit of diving from liveaboards includes the convenience of having everything available at your fingertips without having to travel back and forth each day between your hotel or resort and the dive shop or boat dock. They also allow you to do multiple dives per day if desired without worrying about transportation between sites (and possibly getting seasick).

Boat Diver Etiquette

When you’re on a boat, there is a lot of etiquette to follow. You don’t want to be someone who’s not paying attention and accidentally knocks over someone’s tank or ruins their dive by stepping on their mask.

Boat diver etiquette is an essential aspect of boat diving that every diver should be aware of. It involves following specific rules and guidelines that ensure everyone on board has a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when boat diving:

  • Be punctual– Arrive on time for your scheduled departure. If you’re running late, let the captain or the dive operator know as soon as possible.
  • Respect the captain and crew- The captain is responsible for the safety of everyone on board, so it’s essential to follow their instructions at all times. The crew is there to help you with your gear and answer any questions you may have, so treat them with respect and kindness.
  • Don’t hog the space- Be mindful of your personal space and that of others. Don’t spread your gear all over the boat, and avoid obstructing passageways or staircases.
  • Keep it clean- Boats can get dirty quickly, especially with wet gear and food and drink spills. Clean up after yourself and dispose of trash in designated areas.
  • Be considerate of others- Keep noise levels down, especially during early morning or late-night dives. Respect other divers’ personal space and avoid touching their equipment without permission.
  • Be prepared- Bring everything you need for the trip, including water, snacks, and necessary medication. Don’t rely on others for supplies; make sure you have enough cash to pay for additional expenses.
  • Follow local customs- If diving in a foreign country, familiarize yourself with local customs and rules. For example, in some countries, it’s considered rude to point with your feet or to touch someone’s head.
  • Be eco-friendly- Respect the marine environment by not touching or harassing marine life, avoiding littering or throwing anything overboard, and using reef-safe sunscreen and other products.

By following these simple guidelines, you can help make boat diving a positive experience for everyone involved. Remember, good boat diving etiquette is polite and ensures a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone on board.

Why Do You Want to Scuba Dive on a Boat?

Solmar V | Socorro | Dive tender | Infinite Blue Dive TravelYou might want to scuba dive on a boat for many reasons. The first and most obvious one is an adventure. You can go anywhere. You don’t need to worry about getting lost or stuck in traffic or crowded beaches. There are no maps or GPS coordinates required. Just hop into the boat and start exploring.

Another excellent reason for choosing this type of diving is that thousands of sunken ships are waiting for you in the ocean, and each has its own story. If you love history (or want some good stories), this kind of diving might be right up your alley.

The convenience factor should also not be overlooked either, especially if traveling by land isn’t always easy for some reason (perhaps someone has trouble walking long distances). Scuba diving from boats makes things easier. Plus, there’s no need for carrying heavy equipment like tanks.

How Do You Enjoy Your Time on the Boat When You’re Not in the Water?

When you’re not diving, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your time on the boat. Make it a day, and have fun.

  • Socialize with other divers and crew members
  • Relax in a hammock or lounge chair
  • Sightsee as you sail through scenic areas like Bimini or Nassau, Bahamas
  • Read a book or play cards

Boat diving offers divers a unique and exciting way to explore the underwater world.  Whether you’re diving from a small boat or a liveaboard, the many benefits of boat diving make it a worthwhile experience. So grab your gear, hop on a boat, and start exploring the ocean’s depths.

We have been operating, diving off, and taking other divers on dive boats for twenty years. If you have any questions about dive liveaboards or day diving from boats, do not hesitate to contact us.


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