shore-diving

Shore Diving Tips & Tricks

by: Chris Keon

During our diving careers, we often find ourselves looking for any suitable location to hit the water. The call of the subsurface environment draws us in and leaves us looking for new and exciting places to see. For this reason, we may take rides on boats, we may walk into the water from beaches, and we may even find artificial (man-made) entry locations all in an effort to experience the next dive. In many instances, shore diving is both convenient and simple. Throughout your diving career you will probably do a lot of shore dives. These dives are great because you are in charge; there is no boat to wait on, and no long boat ride to the dive site. The dive may require only you and your dive buddy.  Here are some tips and tricks to make your shore diving adventure more enjoyable!

Research the site

Research everything that you can about the site. Aerial photos (Google Earth), tide and weather reports, and news/magazine/internet articles are great ways to get to know the site. Knowing a site can help you better prepare for a possible dive. You may need extra equipment, or items to assist your movement from a parking location to the actual dive site. In many cases, first-hand site knowledge may even help you determine your best entry point into the water.

Conduct an on-site survey

Once you have arrived at the site, take the time to plan/discuss with your dive buddy the following things:

  1. Identify any potential hazards at the site, i.e. visible hazards in the water and on the shore such as steep or uneven walkways that you may need to cross to transport your gear. Similarly, look for any visible obstacles blocking your entry point that may hinder your ability to safely begin your dive.
  2. Find and plan your entry and exit points. Make sure you and your buddy discuss the best options for entering and exiting the water.
  3. Find a suitable place to stage your gear. Make sure your gear can be positioned, assembled, or stationed as needed in a safe manner. You do not want to accidentally damage your equipment or need to cancel a dive because something was dropped, damaged, or misplaced.
  4. Locate and identify a reference point on the shore that can be easily seen from the water. This action will help you locate you entry/exit point from the water. It also establishes a visual reference point for yourself and your buddy if you need to surface at any point during the dive.
  5. Observe water conditions like the height of the waves or how choppy the water is out past where the waves are breaking. Many shore dives may require a surface swim to get to deeper waters or to an actual planned dive site. If surface conditions are bad, you may be forced to swim through them. Make sure to monitor any factors that may make water entries and exits unsafe.

Plan your dive

Use all of the information that you have obtained to this point in your dive planning process. Always remember to plan for and discuss what you will do in the event of an emergency.

Entering the water

At a quarry, pond, or lake it may be easier to walk your gear down to the water and get geared up in the water. In some locations, you have to assemble and tote your equipment from your vehicle to the water ready to dive. Plan for what works best as the safest action for you and your buddy.

So now that you are finally in the water, enjoy the dive for which you have done so much planning!  If you are an “Air Hog” like some of us then maybe it will be a two-tank dive to see everything you wanted to see. Once your dive is coming to an end, let us talk about your exit.

Preparing to exit

Once you are on the surface, locate your shore reference point. Use your compass to get an accurate heading.  Depending on the surface conditions and the amount of gas you have you may want to descend and follow that heading back into shore. If conditions are good, you may also choose to perform a surface swim back to your exit point.

Exit

Remove your fins in the water so you can easily exit the water without tripping all over yourself. Assist your dive buddy and exit together.

If this was your final dive for the day, remember to log your dives and save all of your researched information for future dives at that site. You can also share it with friends, your dive club, or your local dive shop so other divers can experience that same wonderful dive. Use these same tips & tricks for all of your future shore dives and I am sure you will have a blast!


Chris Keon – Founder/Owner – Synergistic Solutions International Maritime, LLC
Divemaster – Air Hogs Scuba – Garner, NC

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8 replies
  1. Dave Potter
    Dave Potter says:

    Working in Guam and a new diver, I did 13 ocean shore dives [all with an instructor leader.] Some thoughts to add to your story are a] unclip your fins straps for much easier putting on while floating in deeper water. b] Crossing surf line at a reef opening or cut, make a good mark of the spot so you can find it returning. Miss the crossing like I did, then cross the reef on your back so the tank hits the coral in the surf – not your knees. c] If your snorkle isn’t in your mouth, make sure it has a slip over attachment. I lost mine the first time I got a little surf face-on thanks to the other style retainer. d] Fill your vest by mouth to save tank air. e] Wear sturdy gloves to survive grabbing coral when surf surge hits. e] Beware of surf increasing after you’ve swam beyond it to start your dive. The return swim through bigger surf can be quite an experience; I know! f] Be very cautious about walking across wet coral if wearing smooth soled dive boots. It is like ice! Falling with gear on your back hurts; I know. g] Inexpensive dive knife will probably develop rust after first or second dive.

    Reply
    • Rob
      Rob says:

      Quit touching the coral! Your hands, knees, and especially your tank are damaging the reef that took hundreds of years to create! You should be properly trimmed to avoid hitting the reef.

      Reply
  2. paul seldes
    paul seldes says:

    don’t forget to add “local intel” on the dive site. For example, at the Blue Heron Bridge in Florida, there is a swimming area where scuba divers are forbidden to use their regulators.

    Local info such as dive flag requirements/use, no-take areas, hazards, and must-sees are just some of the things that a local diver or LDS can point you towards.

    Reply
  3. Avi Ratica
    Avi Ratica says:

    I think you should come Dive the Blue Heron Bridge with Blue Heron Bridge Scuba and we would be happy to show you around.

    Reply
  4. John Mahoney
    John Mahoney says:

    I liked when you talked about the importance of planning for an emergency when diving. It makes sense that remembering to do this can help save your life. I can see that making sure you have a professional with you can help you get the tips and instructions you need to make sure you have fun and stay safe.

    Reply
  5. Roy Cabalo
    Roy Cabalo says:

    Absolutely Love Blue Heron Bridge!! Great great place for people to dive and learn to dive and yes, research your dive site. The currents at Blue Heron can be very strong.

    Reply

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