When it comes to diving, there's no better way to learn what works well than by doing it wrong first. And after years of being a professional guinea pig in both travel and diving, Eleanor - one of our diving experts - has made enough mistakes (and crucially, learnt from them) to be able to put together a list of her favourite holiday dive tips and tricks. It's an ever-growing collection, but these are the top 20...
1. Do Your Research and decide whether to rent your kit or take your own.
Most dive shops take great care of their rental gear so it may not be worth lugging that extra bag on your trip and using theirs instead. We can help advise you on this before you travel.
2. When taking your own kit, be sure to service and personally test your gear before you leave (even if just in the bath).
There's nothing worse than discovering you have a leaky valve or free-flowing regulator on the boat ride out to your first dive.
3. Pack spare parts and a couple of trusty tools.
Extra o-rings, zip-ties, mask/fin straps, batteries, an allen key set and a crescent wrench should live in your dive bag and go everywhere your kit does. Nothing kills a dive quicker than a busted o-ring or dead dive computer, so be prepared!
4. Take a mouldable mouthpiece for your regulator (and thank me later…)
Especially if you're using rental gear, it's an easy swap and will greatly reduce jaw fatigue and post-dive headaches.
5. Take pictures of important documents and email them to yourself.
We'd recommend taking photos of your dive certification, dive insurance, travel insurance and passport. Or, better yet, create an online profile with PADI and download an E-card for quick and easy access.
6. Smile and tip your dive crew.
A good crew is there because they love diving and sharing that passion with others. Giving a little tip (general rule of thumb is $5-$10 per tank) and showing that you're having a great time will make their day.
7. Pepto, sea sickness tablets and decongestants are life savers.
For tummy issues, sea sickness and sinus problems you'll want quick access to relief.
8. Pack smart and weigh your bag.
Protect your fragile gear (regulator, dive computer, etc) by wrapping it in your wetsuit, and pack your mask, snorkel and booties in the foot holes of your fins.
9. Don't take your own weights.
This feels self-explanatory, but I've seen it happen. Every dive shop will provide you with lead weights, so thankfully you won't have to pay for extra baggage allowance to transport them with you.
10. Research where the nearest hyperbaric chamber is.
Though rare, dive emergencies do happen - know where to go and the procedure for getting there. The dive shops we work with will know where the nearest chamber is and how to get to it, so we can advise on this.
11. Travel smart and more eco-friendly.
Use refillable shampoo, conditioner and soap bottles; take reef-safe sunscreen and a reusable water bottle, and invest thoughtfully in souvenirs (adopt a coral, sponsor a manta, or buy locally crafted goods).
12. Packing cubes are a game changer.
You'll never look back after realizing the utter joy of a well-organised bag, especially for those long-haul diving trips.
13. When flying economy, pick an aisle seat near the back.
The middle seats near the tail are generally selected last, so if you're lucky you might end up with extra space for your flight.
14. Take a dry bag or box.
Dive boats get very wet, so protect your towel and phone from all the dripping divers and gear by storing them in a dry bag.
15. Defog your mask (before EVERY dive).
Also, save yourself the misery of a new mask by scrubbing abrasive toothpaste around the inside lens and rinsing well before you travel.
16. Take only pictures, leave only bubbles.
Try your best not to touch anything underwater, especially anything brightly coloured. (Those blue rings on that sweet little octopus are more than decoration, they're a warning that says I'm deadly!)
17. Change out of that wet suit.
Take a spare swimming costume and wetsuit, especially in chillier climates, if you're doing multiple dives with long surface intervals.
18. Always carry a safety sausage.
A huge orange buoy is much easier to see from a boat than a tiny head bobbing on the surface.
19. Plan your dive and dive your plan.
Discuss your route and emergency procedures before getting into the water. Know what to do if you get separated from the group and always keep an eye on your depth and air. And ALWAYS dive with a buddy.
20. Have fun!
You're on holiday and doing one of the most exhilarating activities on the planet, so make the most of it and enjoy every second.