4 Reasons to Try Scuba Diving If You Haven’t Before

A man, underwater on SCUBA, flashes the double shaka or "cool" sign.
Doesn’t this guy look happy? Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

Why Should I Care?

Close your eyes and take a deep breath, filling your lungs, then letting it out slowly and controlled. Do you feel better than you did before that breath?

Scuba diving takes that feeling to the extreme.

Seriously. It’s like meditation that’s actually fun. There’s science behind this that we’ll get into later.

You may have seen people on the internet saying “OMG I JUST GOT CERTIFIED AND SCUBA IS THE BEST YOU HAVE TO TRY IT”— (I mean, I kind of agree but…) that sort of enthusiasm is way too overwhelming for me.

I wouldn’t call diving life-changing, but it is a valuable experience to have under your belt whether you go just once or start taking an annual trip. Maybe you’ll even experience an earthquake. Whatever happens, you’ll surface with plenty to talk about.

Let’s really dig in to what makes scuba diving a valuable life experience.

4 Reasons to Try Scuba Diving

It’s challenging.

Diving comes more naturally to some people than others, but no one immediately understands buoyancy perfectly. Most people have trouble with mask skills, and many have trouble achieving neutral buoyancy. I’ve been diving for 10 years and I’m constantly refining my skills. Especially since buoyancy changes depending on your gear, your attire, your breathing rate, and other factors.

It’s meditative.

This doesn’t usually happen immediately, but once you’re comfortable with the sensation of breathing through a regulator, the sound of your bubbles is very calming. It’s like taking a walk through a forest, but there are colorful fish swarming around you.Plus there’s the mammalian dive reflex that slows your heart rate. Seriously, it’s a real phenomenon, backed by science. When you hold your breath and submerge in water, your body responds in a few ways to decrease your oxygen needs. Your heart rate slows down, having a calming effect.

It gets you out into nature.

There is no better way to appreciate natural beauty than to go be out in it. Not on your phone or your computer or in a nature documentary, but in real life. Being out in nature reduces anger, fear, and stress. It boosts your immune system, helps you sleep, and improves your mood.Being land-based creatures, we usually think of nature as being forests or grasslands or mountains, but being in the ocean works just as well. Freedivers claim that diving deeply feels like a hug from the ocean. Your perspective changes, making your troubles feel smaller and the world more stunning.I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. — Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It’s fun!

Given my fear of heights and lack of superpowers, diving is the closest experience to flying I will ever get. Hovering over the reef, I feel like Captain Marvel surveying the world below. Descending down to the bottom at the beginning of the dive is the perfect opportunity to pretend to skydive. If you’re feeling silly (and are over sand so you don’t hurt any coral or other creatures), you can slow-mo jump off the bottom to begin your ascent, just like Iron Man. Embrace your curiosity and childlike humor. Most fish look really silly. Have you seen the buck teeth on a parrotfish? Or the adorable big-eyed smile of a pufferfish? Enjoy the experience, joyfully.

How Do I Start?

What makes most people hesitate to try scuba diving even if they want to is the cost. If you go all out— buying your own gear and doing a full certification course on some beautiful tropical island— you’re looking at several thousand dollars. But that’s not the only way to do it!

You don’t need to get a certification to try diving. A Discover Scuba course takes a single day, for maybe a couple hundred dollars. There is a little time in the classroom and a little time in the pool to teach you how to be safe, and then you get to go on a real dive or two! This is a great way to test out the experience if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy it.

Or maybe you do want a full certification, but as cheaply as possible. Dive shops almost always have rental gear for you to use. And you don’t have to travel to a tropical island to see cool stuff. Many of my scuba friends learned how to dive in chilly lakes in the midwest! You still get the gist of the experience that will convince you to save money for a dive trip.

If you’re not worried about the cost, then the world is your oyster! Find a place you think looks fun and interesting to dive, contact a dive shop there, and plan a vacation. Most dive shops now offer the classroom portion of the certification online so you can maximize your dive time for your actual trip.

Just Go For It

By now you should be sufficiently convinced to at least try scuba diving once, even if you’re not sure you want to get certified. Remember:

  1. You’ll feel accomplished
  2. You’ll be happier than meditating on the floor in your bedroom
  3. You can experience a new natural world
  4. You’ll get a smile on your face

The experience will be one you remember the rest of your life.

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