What to expect
Scuba diving’s underwater swimming – you’ll wear an air tank so you can breathe freely.
Tasters and introductory sessions are essential, as they’ll teach you to breathe properly, float, and work with the change in pressure.
It can feel a little odd at first: we’re not used to feeling weightless underwater, but once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll find a whole new world of experiences opens up. You could go on to explore shipwrecks or get up close and personal with marine wildlife.
What you’ll learn
It may sound bizarre – but one of the most important things you’ll learn is how to breathe. Breathing feels very different with a mask on your face (and an oxygen tank on your back), so an instructor will help you learn to concentrate on taking slow and steady breaths. If you’ve ever tried yoga or meditation, and are in tune with how breathing makes your body feel, you’ll have a bit of a head start.
We’re used to seeing colourful pictures of underwater life, but light reflects differently underwater and colours start to disappear. Red will likely disappear at about 7 metres, followed by orange at around 15 metres and yellow at roughly 30 metres (though, as always there are some exceptions).
- You don’t need to be a brilliant swimmer. You’ll need to be comfortable in water, but you don’t need record-breaking skill or technique.
- You won’t be thrown straight into the sea. Don’t worry if you’re feeling unsure about open water – you’ll be in a pool first. Beginner courses are available at swimming pools up and down the country; find your nearest diving club and ask where they organise training days.
- Don’t touch anything. Once you’ve graduated from the pool and are ready to dive into nature, you’ll find an exciting world beneath the surface. It can be tempting to feel your way around, but you should always keep your hands to yourself and leave your environment as you found it. Not only will it protect the wildlife you encounter, it’ll keep you safe too.
- Get to know the signals. The British Sub-Aqua Club say that ‘divers should be completely familiar with the standard code of visual signals and should give them accurately and clearly’. Help your first scuba diving experience run smoothly by practising some of the common scuba diving hand signals before you arrive – ask your provider which signals you’ll use.
You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
- Check the weather forecast
Be safe in water:
Everyone should be able to swim 50m wearing the clothing or equipment for the activity. Non-swimmers will need additional support.
Water can be dangerous - be aware of the risks.
The category of water depends on how safe the water is. Use our waterways directory to check.
Be sure to manage the group when near water, keeping everyone safe.
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
The activity leader must have an adventurous activities permit with the right level and permissions for your group.
Where the group is entirely members over the age of 18 the permit scheme does not apply, please follow the rule 9.8 adult groups.
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
- The centre/instructor should hold one of these:
- British Sub Aqua Club - Open water instructor
- PADI - Open water scuba instructor
The provider must have public liability insurance.
Scuba diving was a great chance to be active and get used to taking deep breaths. How did people find being aware of their breathing? It may have been weird at first, but once they were used to it people may have found it calming. How did it feel to be immersed in water, surrounded by quiet? How could people prepare themselves for scuba diving? They might think about chatting on the way there, or listening to a playlist they’ve made.
Once people have mastered the basics, scuba diving is also a great way to connect with nature. What sorts of wildlife would people like to see underwater? How can people respect the outdoors when they’re scuba diving? Why is it important that people are aware of the impact they have on wildlife?
Scuba diving can often be adapted so more people can give it a go. Many centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group – make sure you give them plenty of notice.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, scuba diving is all about exploring. If you complete some basic qualifications, you’ll be qualified to visit incredible sites all over the world. Put your planning to the test (and bring your dream dives to life) by planning a trip – but make sure you’re up-to-date on the guidance on getting permits and organising trips first.
Scuba divers rely on a buddy system to make sure everyone stays safe (and has fun). It’s up to the young people to live up to their responsibility to look out for their buddy whether they’re in the pool or out in the ocean.