Despite the fact that humans were not designed to venture below the waves, we adapt surprisingly quickly to the ocean's depths. While our first dives may carry a hint of apprehension, the more we dive, the more relaxed we become, making already amazing experiences even more magical. Yet, achieving a zen-like state beneath the waves requires practise. So, without further ado, read on to discover the world's best underwater skills that you can hone to evolve into a better and more relaxed diver.

diver is swimming over the reefs surrounded by the blueish of the sea


One of the most important skills a diver can learn is buoyancy control. Good buoyancy control translates to stability underwater, less exertion and better gas consumption, as well as preventing damage to the reef and marine life. While many newer divers simply dump all the air out of their BCD and let their weight belts do the work, make it a habit to stay focused on your buoyancy until you reach your desired depth. Once you are below the surface, use your inhalations to control the speed of your descent. Should you begin to descend too quickly, even when inhaling, add a short burst of air to your BCD.

Throughout the dive, make similar small adjustments to your BCD anytime you change depth to maintain that feeling of neutral buoyancy. This also applies to your safety stop. Rather than slowly count down the seconds, use this time to practice hovering. Keep practising controlling your depth with your lungs until it becomes second nature, and you will start to feel more controlled and relaxed throughout your dives.

Scuba diving Man scuba diver in Underwater cave Sea life Coral reef Prickly alcyonarian

Natural Navigation

For many people, driving around a big unfamiliar city can be daunting. Yet, when you drive around a big city that you are familiar with, it's easier to stay relaxed. Knowing where you are and where you want to go makes life a lot easier, and it's no different underwater. When it comes to mastering the art of underwater navigation, simplicity is key.

During the Open Water and Advanced Open Water Diver courses, student divers are taught basic compass skills. However, you may have noticed that not that many dive professionals use a compass. Instead, they opt for natural navigation.

Paying attention to the position of the sun, your depth, the direction of currents and any distinctive natural features along the reef is just as effective as a compass and less stressful.

Not only is natural navigation one of the world's best underwater skills to master, it's also easy to practise. If you want to improve your natural navigation techniques, chat with your guide before diving, as some sites are more conducive to practise than others. A one-way drift dive along a wall will not be as helpful as a shallow out-and-back coral garden dive...

Reading the Current Conditions

Contrary to popular belief, some of the world's best underwater skills start out of water. As dive boats approach sites, looking at the surface conditions can give clues on the direction and strength of the current. Mooring buoys are particularly useful when it comes to judging the current. These usually consist of a float with a trailing rope at the surface and another rope disappearing down into the blue. Look to see if the rope is being moved by the current. If it looks very straight, there's a good chance the current is pulling it in that direction.

Once you have descended, pay attention to the current. For out-and-back dives returning to a boat on a mooring line, start with the current in your face so that when you turn back the current comes from behind you.

You can also gauge the current's strength around a corner by looking at the fish ahead of the turn. If they all face one direction and are swimming hard to keep their position, there's a reasonably strong current. Conversely, if they swim in all directions, there should be very little current as you round the corner.

Swimming Backwards

Utilising your fins to swim backwards, instead of relying on your hands to push off the reef, is another of the world's best underwater skills - one that can save both yourself and the reef from injury or damage.

Adopting the mantra that less is more, keep in mind that the aim is to move backwards just a few metres, and this finning technique will not create as much propulsion as when swimming forwards. Begin with your legs straight behind you, heels together and toes pointing in opposite directions (think Charlie Chaplin). A common mistake is overexertion, trying to pull your legs towards your body by bending your knees. It's more efficient to keep your legs straight and gently moving your feet apart. Repeat this motion, gradually gaining momentum as you inch a little farther from the reef.

Two divers underwater among corals and fishes in the ocean

Being A Good Buddy

While you're focusing on becoming a better diver, it's important to not overlook your buddy. When you and your buddy function as a team underwater, both of you become safer, more relaxed divers. A good buddy team sticks together and communicate regularly throughout the dive. Before the dive, have a chat so you both know what each other wants to see or to get out of the dive. During the dive, if you do see one of your or your buddy's bucket list creatures, signal to your buddy before exploring further as a team.

Among the world's best underwater skills, being a good buddy is often overlooked, yet it's the easiest skill to improve: talk to your buddy before, during and after the dive.