There are so many places to Scuba dive and so many styles of diving that each dive can seem special because you never know what you will discover underwater. But if you’re ready to add a twist to your diving or pick up some new skills then there are plenty of scuba diving specialties to choose from. Most require you to do a short course, while others like getting the Scuba Dive Master qualification require longer training. We wrote an easy guide on how to get your scuba divers license earlier. Here we take a look at the most common scuba diving specialties that will make your diving even more enjoyable and/or give your diving an additional complexity for those wanting to push themselves.
Photo By: chemsuiter
You can do night dives with just the Open Water or Advanced Scuba Diver qualification, but the Night Diver course will give you more confidence with diving in the dark. So you’ll learn communications and navigation techniques, how to handle light correctly, and you’ll learn interesting things about how plants and marine life behave differently at night.
Some dives you do as an Advanced Scuba Diver will have an element of drift diving, you’ll often learn on the job so to speak. However, if you’d like to be more confident in handling drift diving situations (which can get pretty hard if the current is drifting very fast) then a specialty diver course could be appropriate. Find out about aquatic currents, practice buoyancy control and navigation while in a fast drift, and learn how to stay with your buddy or your dive group in the face of a strong current. Anyone who’s been underwater, struggling to hold onto a rock for fear of being pulled adrift by the water will know that for serious divers this is a qualification worth having!
We wrote about the world’s best wreck dives earlier, and wrecks are something you can dive with an Advanced scuba diver qualification, but wrecks can be dangerous too and can pose their own set of challenges. In the wreck diver specialty you’ll learn about special navigation techniques, how to control buoyancy when the slant of a wreck might be taking you into deeper water without you realizing, how to survey and map a wreck you haven’t dived yet, how to use reels to guide your dive – so you can find your way out again, and special swimming techniques so that you don’t accidentally kick the wreck causing damage.
The normal depth for an Advanced Scuba Diver will be 30 meters underwater, but with the Deep Diver qualification you can get down to 40 meters (the Open Water qualification limits you to just 18 meters). In this course you’ll learn how to use specialty deep diving equipment, how to manager your gas supply and deal with gas narcosis and other safety considerations if something goes wrong at that depth. This course is great if there are some underwater walls you want to explore or wrecks you want to check out that sit at a depth of up to 40 meters.
Like land photography and videography, it never hurts to get training on how to take better photos and videos. The added difficulty underwater are things like murky water, challenging light, fast-moving water, and moving objects (like fish, swaying corals, or swimming divers). Learn how to take beautiful underwater photos and videos, and learn what equipment is best to use underwater.
While most divers go on group dives, with a dive leader who knows their way around the dive site. Other times you’ll go off from your dive group with your buddy, or go out alone with just you and your dive buddy. In all these examples it doesn’t hurt to know at least the basics of underwater navigation. It could save your life to have more in-depth knowledge, though, and that’s where the navigation specialty becomes relevant. Learn how to judge distances underwater, use your compass to navigate even if you’ve lost your bearings, and even making underwater maps. As someone who has been lost on a dive site, with just my buddy unable to find the group or the boat, I can attest that underwater navigation is the key to being a better diver.
Diver Propulsion Vehicle
Diver propulsion vehicles allow you to zoom through the water at a much faster speed than just swimming with your flippers on. This means you can get further faster, see more underwater, and cover larger areas underwater. To use such a vehicle (pictured above) you need to have special training where you learn how to use the equipment, how to plan your dive given you’ll be covering more space, and how to stay with your buddy (and communicate with them) when you’re both zipping through the water at high speeds. Plus you’ll learn safety techniques like what to do if something goes wrong with your equipment and you’re far from your boat or shore.
Most people thing of warm tropical waters when they consider diving, simply because this is where the world’s most vibrant coral life can be found. But diving in the crisp icy waters in spots like Iceland can offer some of the world’s best visibility and intriguing underwater rock formations that you can’t find in the warmer waters of the Red Sea as an example. Ice Diver qualifications will teach you about using a dry suit (instead of wet suit), how to use ice diving equipment (including the navigational line that will help you get back on top of the ice if you get disoriented), how to choose a good ice water dive site, how to work with the others on your team, and how to deal with different types of ice and problems that might crop up!
Dry Suit Diver
A wetsuit works by trapping a small amount of water between the suit and your skin that then warms up and it’s that insulation of the warmer water that keeps you warm in a wetsuit. This works relatively well in relatively warm water temperatures. But if you’re diving in colder water (see above) or even during the colder seasons in otherwise warm dive sites, then a dry suit might be more suitable. Dry suits work by keeping the water off your body altogether, meaning that even very cold water can be bearable. Like a wet suit, dry suits affect buoyancy so the Dry Suit Diver will teach you how to control your buoyancy in a dry suit, You’ll also learn how to put the suit on and off with minimal assistance, plus how to keep the suit in a good condition.
Other dive speciality courses include: Altitude Diver – say you’re diving in a lake that’s at high altitude); AWARE courses that teach you about fish, corals and conservation; Peak Performance Buoyancy – how to be better at controlling your buoyancy and conserving your oxygen; Cavern Diver; and many others!