Beach Diving is just making an entrance into the water from the sand. This is one of the more commonly talked about controversies in our local dive community. This is even more complicated than the Chevy vs Ford questions. Some people have already chosen a side and cannot be swayed. My hopes are that with some fair and honest discussion Beach Diving can be evaluated and entertained by the others as an option when going diving in our local waters.
First lets talk about the definition of Beach Diving. For this purpose, we are only talking about specifically making an entry and an exit from a common sand covered beach in general. There are other shore entries and exits that would be more specific techniques in regards to rock, pebble, and other more specific sites. What we are trying to address is more the beach vs boat diving decision in general.
Here are some benefits of learning how to dive off of the beach:
- It is usually less costly - somethimes its just paying for parking and sometimes you can park for free
- The hours of access are many times more flexible so you can work it into your schedule easier
- Some sites are available 24 hrs a day
- The total commitment in time to do a dive can be greatly reduced vs going out on a boat. So you can do more than just dive that day.
- You can see most every fish or animal from a shore dive that you can see from a boat dive.
- Because of all the things above you have more opportunity to dive. This gives you the opportunity to become a more frequent, followed by becoming a more comfortable diver, and a safer more experienced diver. This allows you to have more fun, more adventures, and more stories.
Here are some of the problems and solutions with beach diving:
- Problem - Beaches sometimes have surf conditions that are challenging.
- Solution - Learn the various techniques to do entries through the surf from someone that is experienced with surf entries on scuba. Make sure you also get site specific techniques from someone that dives that location under various conditions. Learn how to assess conditions based on reports and more importantly by learning how to assess conditions when on location.
- Problem - After assessing conditions it is decided that conditions are big, harsh, extreme, etc....
- Solution - Know when to decide that it is not a good day to dive this site. Know your limitations. Have another site as an option where the conditions might be more favorable as a plan B, or go to the true Plan B. Go have Breakfast. There is always another day to dive.
- Problem - "Beach diving doesn't have good visability"
- Solution - I have found things are more exciting when you see them all of a sudden. :) Come on you are diving?
- Problem - "Beach diving is not as nice as boat diving"
- Solution - Keep going diving off of the beach or boat and incredible dives will show up. Since you will be able to dive more off of the beach because of reduced cost and time commitments it is only logical that your opportunities to have more great dives would increase as well, and come on you are diving. The others would probably still be in bed?
That said. Beach diving may not be for everyone. It is just a shame when someone misses out on one of the great natural resources right where we live because they were given misinformation or inadequate training. Beach diving it is not difficult when done properly. It is all about judgment and technique. I cannot tell you how many people have come to me that have never done a beach dive or very few. Then after they have been diving with us and realize that they can do it too. They dive more and they have more fun.
For those that are curious I am an avid beach diver, and the answer is Ford!
- Jeff Mills PADI Course Director, DAN Examiner