A Newbie’s Guide to Night Diving


For some divers, there is nothing better than descending into the darkness with a flashlight in hand to see what marine life will come out to play. While for others, night diving can be a little spooky. 

For all of you that are new to night diving and may be a little scared, we’ll give you the lowdown on why you should go, who can go, what gear you’ll need, as well as some tips to make sure your night dives are safe and enjoyable!

Why go night diving?

Diving at night can be pretty amazing, as it’s when the marine life wakes up and comes out to feed. Because it is feeding time, everything is a lot more active, and there is so much to see, you won’t know where to look! And if you are really lucky, some marine life is bioluminescent meaning you will get to see it glow in the dark. 

Who can go night diving?

Any divers that have an Open Water Certification or above can go for a night dive. PADI and SSI run night diving speciality courses that you can undertake either as a standalone course or as part of your Advanced Open Water Certification. The PADI speciality course includes 3-night dives and you will learn about marine life at night, how to enter, exit and navigate through the water in the darkness, as well as how to communicate and handle lights in low visibility. If you don’t want to commit to three-night dives, the basics of the speciality course are taught over 1 dive as part of the Advanced Open Water Certification (if you choose night diving as one of your specialities).

Note while we recommend doing the courses to give you more confidence, it is not a prerequisite for going on a night dive. If you don’t do the course, your first night dive should be with a guide, they can make sure you have the right gear, teach you the basics and help you navigate your way back to the shore or dive boat. Also, before doing a night dive you should be comfortable diving during the day, if you aren’t, then do a few more day time dives before you go.

What gear do you need?

During a night dive, you will use all of the gear you use during the day, with the addition of lights.

All divers should have two lights, a primary light and a backup light (in case the primary light fails). A good idea is also to get a tank or BCD LED water activated light which will allow people to spot you at the surface and also down below. 

Lights are also needed to light the way to the shore or fitted to the boat so you can spot your way back upon surfacing. If you go with a dive guide, then they will make sure the right sort of lights has been sourced.

10 Tips for night diving

These are the top 10 tips I follow when I go night diving, and I hope they help you to relax and enjoy your dive as well:

  1. Go with a dive guide. Not only do they know the site and can help navigate the way, but they will also make sure all the right gear is in place for the night dive. E.g. strobe lighting for the dive boat.

  2. Check the batteries in your torch before you get in the water and secure your lights to your BCD so you won’t lose them.

  3. Turn your light on before you hit the water. It is easier than having to fiddle with it underwater. 

  4. Rather than jumping into the water at pitch-black, try diving at dusk and slowly go into low light. This is much less scary.

  5. Use the descent line, that’s why it is there. There is no shame in using it and take your time.

  6. During the dive, if you start to panic just stop, relax and slow down your breathing.

  7. Dive calm and shallow sites that you have ideally dived during the day. 

  8. Because there is so much marine life underwater at night you can get easily distracted. Be extra diligent on keeping an eye on your depth and air consumption. 

  9. When signalling underwater, make sure you use your light to highlight your hands. To get someone’s attention, move the light in a circular motion, somewhere they can see, but never in their eyes. The same goes for marine life, don’t flash the light directly in their eyes.

  10. Stay close to your buddy as visibility at night isn’t the best and it is easy to lose your group. As always look around for 1 minute underwater. If you find your buddy and they are ok, you can continue the dive. However, if you cannot see your buddy after searching for 1 minute, slowly and safely start to ascend and do your safety stop before surfacing. But make sure you aren’t too close to your buddy. Just ask my husband, Dean. On one of our recent night dives, I was not aware of how close I was to him and on my ascent, I (accidentally) kicked the regulator out of his mouth. 

If you are feeling nervous about your first night dive, then don’t worry you aren’t alone. I was really scared for my first night dive. I didn’t like descending into the dark water nor did I want to be too far away from anyone in case I got lost. After I got my breathing under control I was mesmerized by the amount of sea life I saw, and before I knew it the dive was over! Doing a night dive (and having survived with no incident) actually made me more confident in my abilities as a diver. And hopefully following our tips above, will make you a more confident night diver as well!

About the Author

Amanda and her husband Dean have been certified divers since 2009. Amanda has her advanced open water and Dean is a divemaster. They have travelled the world and dived many sites in Australia, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.

Amanda and Dean have a travel blog called Scatabout which details the fun and unique experiences they have had on their world travels. You can find them doing something adventurous like scuba diving, hiking or something strange like running down the side of a building.

You can follow Scatabout:

Website: https://scatabout.com
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