Believe it or not, there are more ways to go diving than on a boat! Not everyone has access to a boat, be it a personal craft or charter, nor does everyone always want to fork over the fees associated with charter boat diving. Shore diving is a great alternative that is often overlooked for many reasons. Maybe you're not sure where shore diving is permitted in your area. Or you're not sure you can battle the waves and make it past the surf zone. Or, you just don't like the dirt and sand that, many times, come with shore diving. There are many excuses as to why shore diving is not at the top of most diver's lists, but if you follow these 10 tips on how to best go shore diving, you'll be enjoying a whole new world of diving opportunities in no time!
10 Tips on being an awesome shore diver
Tip 1: Plan your dive before you arrive!
Boat diving is pretty simple: they drop you off the boat in a great diving spot and you dive. With shore diving, you'll need to be a bit more prepared by researching the site beforehand. Where can you park? What is the terrain? How far will your surface swim be? If you do a quick read-up on the site first your dive will be much more enjoyable. A great resource for finding shore diving locations and about each one is at shorediving.com.
Tip 2: Learn how to ditch the surf
The majority of shore diving happens along a beach; and where there is a beach, there are waves. Some big and some small. If you know how to get through the waves properly, shore diving becomes a sinch. Here are our steps to getting through the surf zone easily:
- Timing is everything! All waves come in sets, so time your entrance into the water between the sets.
- DO NOT put your fins on before you enter the water! Hold them in your hands until you reach waist deep water, then take turns with your buddy (using them for support) slipping them on using the "figure 4" method.
- With your fins on, proceed to walk backward through the surf until you reach the "break zone."
- Keep your BCD deflated.
- When a wave comes, face your buddy, lean your shoulder into the wave (never face the wave head-on) and duck yourself as far under the wave as you can.
- Once you're in chest deep water and almost past the break-zone, inflate your BCD and start kicking like crazy to finish getting yourself on the backside of the surf zone.
Tip 3: Rinse right after the dive
Most beaches have showers so make sure to rinse your gear off before you store it back into your car. If there are no showers you can purchase your own "rinse shower" to carry in your car with you or bring two-gallon jugs of fresh water. They will warm up nicely in the car while you are diving.
Tip 4: Bring a mat
Lay a "gear mat" near the trunk of your car so that when you return from your dive you can strip off all of your gear without having it lay in the dirt/sand and get all dirty again.
Tip 5: Scout the site first
Before lugging all of your heavy gear down to the beach/shoreline, do a little recon first. Walk down to where you want to enter and check the surf, make sure it's not too big. Check the diving conditions and make sure it's going to be a good place to dive that day.
Tip 6: Have an alternative site in mind
There are days where the surf may just be too big at one site but more manageable at another. Or, a huge amount of kelp or algae may have taken over the site you had in mind. Having an alternative gives you more options and allows you, as a diver, to stay safe and not attempt something you shouldn't just because you don't want to lose out on your dive day.
Tip 7: Wear booties!
This may be a no-brainer to some, but many folks who live in more tropical regions where the water is nice and warm may be accustomed to wearing full-foot fins. Yes, they may be easier to slip off and on and be less bulky, but in these warmer regions also comes hot sand. It is possible to burn the bottoms of your feet by walking across hot sand so wearing booties to protect your feet is a must! They will also protect your feet against any rocky, uneven entries as well.
Tip 8: End your dive at the shoreline
Plan your dive to leave enough air to basically swim yourself all the way to shore. This will save you from a long surface swim back, making the dive much more enjoyable. Also, by following the sloping shore back up at the end of the dive takes care of your safety stop without having to just hang out in mid-water.
Tip 9: Carry a knife
Alongshore you will typically encounter more fishing line than when out boat diving. Always be prepared to untangle yourself from it by having either a dive knife or sheers on hand and in an easy to reach place.
Tip 10: Have fun
Yes, there can be a lot of moving parts to shore diving but don't let that stress you out. Go out with someone who knows the ropes and is an experienced shore diver first for a few times. Then practice, practice, practice. The more you dive from shore, the easier it will get until it feels like second nature to you. Just go slow and have fun!