Diving Abroad for the first time?

If you are a super diver like myself and my Scuba Diva friends, you don’t have to continue reading. But if you have scuba diving friends who get anxiety attacks at the thought of diving outside of Anilao, this is for them.

So I just came back from a live aboard diving trip in the South of Maldives. It was an amazing and fun trip except we had a few glitches on the first day of diving. After the “house meeting” with the boat manager and the divers, I picked up a few points that I thought I’d share with you. It’s nothing you don’t know actually. Sometimes we just needed to be reminded.


Scuba Yaya does not Exist

In the Philippines, we are so spoilt by our dive masters/guides who would hold our hands diving if we needed it. I know this for sure because I used to entrust my terrified sister to our DM. They would do everything from gear set-up to taking off your fins.  But when diving abroad, if you need someone to babysit you, you better bring along your own nanny (yaya).


You are a Certified Diver

You are therefore accountable to yourself. In most live aboard boats or sites with strong current, certified advance divers are the minimum requirement. And this is because you are expected to be already trained to handle strong current, drift dives, deep dives, ascend with your buddies, deploy balloon, among others. Please check the book you paid 100$ for. It is also quite critical that you understand your own dive computer.


Every Country is Different

Just as traveling to another country, we have to adapt to and respect their culture. It should be the same with diving abroad. The internet is full of information. Read ahead on what to expect of the diving in this destination. You don’t compare what you’re used to in your country and impose it there. Actually even within the Philippines, dive practice varies in different provinces. For example having to get up at 4am to dive Monad Shoal in Malapascua, or that Apo Island do not allow diving with gloves. If you think you know better than the operator, you should start your own operation.


Buddy Check System

I’m fortunate to be diving with the same people for a long time that we can communicate non standard instructions underwater, like when I needed them to stabilize me while taking photos when there’s current. Or that a busted mask strap is a funny situation rather than a sign to abort a dive. Or that dilated eyeballs means “fucking pull me out of this down current!”

But if you’re diving abroad alone and have to buddy up with someone (like I did in Jordan, Panama, and inland Galapagos), it is important to do buddy check; review hand signals, and know how their gear works. Or even if you are (diving with the same buddy), it doesn’t hurt to review once in a while.


Keep Calm and Carry On

Panic is the worst thing you can do in an unexpected situation. My worst fear is to find myself alone as I do have the tendency of getting engrossed. But instead of panicking, I’d just take a few deep breaths (1 or 2, do not finish your air)  to calm myself and trust that my training will get me through.