What to Expect on Your First Scuba Dive

Samuel Blake
Written by Samuel Blake

To many beginners, scuba diving can seem like a great adventure.

But it’s a different matter when they actually go down into the deep.

Putting your face into the water to breathe can seem counterintuitive.

Suddenly, learning to dive might not seem so appealing.

Most people have absolutely no idea what to expect when they enrol for a scuba diving course.

The following information can make you better prepared.

You Learn Scuba Diving In “Baby Steps”

As a new scuba diver, you will never wear the full set of scuba gear and leap off a boat into the deep blue sea on your first scuba dive.

As a dive student, your first dive will be at a controlled dive site like a pool or shallow bay.

At least one area of the dive site will be shallow enough so that you can stand up.

Before ever entering the water, the instructor will explain how the dive gear works, and will also tell you about the safety techniques.

Most probably, the first skill you will learn is breathing through a scuba regulator with your face in the water. It might feel a bit weird at first.

Breathing Through a Scuba Regulator

You will be asked to put your face in the water and inhale.

This is not a typical human behaviour, and so, it’s completely normal to be a little hesitant at first.

Put on your dive mask and practice breathing through the scuba regulator above the water until you are comfortable with mouth-only breathing.

Then, lower just your face into the water while exhaling fully through the regulator.

You will soon begin to breathe in automatically.

The most important thing is to exhale fully after each breath.

This prevents divers from hyperventilating and feeling starved for air.

The Noisy Underwater Environment

If you have done your research you have probably read about the silent, relaxing underwater world.

This is not completely accurate.

Breathing underwater can be surprisingly noisy.

Once you get accustomed to breathing underwater, you will start to tune out the bubbling sound of exhalation and the comforting whoosh of air as you inhale, but at the beginning, the sounds are surprisingly loud!

Sound waves travel more quickly in water, and reach the diver’s ears almost simultaneously.

This can be confusing at first, but after a few dives you will adjust to this, and will hardly notice it.

Underwater Vision

Most scuba masks cut off a diver’s peripheral vision.

At first, this can be disconcerting and may make some divers feel slightly claustrophobic.

Don’t worry!

New divers will quickly acclimate to their limited field of vision.

The blind spots can be annoying at first, but after a few dips, you will become aware of exactly where the blind spots are and will learn to turn your head when you need to see an area which is out of your field of vision.

If you cannot see you instructor, simply look left, right, up and down and you will find him.

Just remember, the physics of underwater light transmission have a magnifying effect.

Objects appear about 33% closer than they actually are.

However, most experienced divers do not even notice the magnification because the brain quickly adjusts to the difference.

A good way to speed the learning process is to reach out and touch objects such as the pool floor, pool wall, or your dive buddy.

This will teach you quickly how distant these objects really are.

But never touch corals, fish, or other aquatic life.

Weightlessness and Freedom of Movement

One of the best parts of scuba diving is the feeling of weightlessness.

Scuba divers can fly up, down, left and right.

You will love this freeing sensation.

The trick is to relax into the weightless feeling of the water and let the water and your buoyancy compensator support you.

Don’t fight the water.

At first, you may feel the need to move to stay in position.

Try to be as still as possible and enjoy the freedom from gravity.

It’s like being an astronaut!

The Density of Water Restricts Movements

Water is of course, denser than air.

You will feel the resistance when you try to move quickly in the water.

This might exhaust you quickly.

Underwater movements, including swimming and arm motions, should be slow and controlled.

Once a diver accustoms himself to the resistance of the water, underwater movements become an exercise in forced relaxation.

It Is Normal to Forget Skills, Hand Signals, and Other Instructions

The underwater environment is a completely new world to you.

On your first dive, your brain is working hard to adjust to the feeling of weightlessness, the magnification of the water, underwater breathing, and all the other aspects.

There is a lot of information to process, and sometimes instructions that seemed clear on the surface like the hand signals get pushed to the back of a new diver’s mind.

It’s okay!

If your instructor has to bring you to the surface to explain something again, don’t feel bad.

Be patient with yourself and enjoy the new sensations.

It is a new, delightful world down there!

You Might Need to Pee

The human body reacts in unusual ways to the underwater environment.

For instance, you might feel the need to pee when your body is surrounded by cold water.

The body speeds up the synthesis of urine, leading to the need to urinate underwater.

On ocean dives, many divers simply pee in their wetsuits, but when you are learning to dive in a pool, or using a rental wetsuit, you have to hold it.

Don’t worry, needing to pee underwater is completely normal in scuba diving.

If the need becomes too great and peeing in your wetsuit is disgusting to you, simply end the dive.

About the author

Samuel Blake

Samuel Blake

My name is Samuel Blake. I am the founder of this scuba blog. I have been a diver for over 5 years. I care about helping you choose and decide on the best diving products.


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