Are You Breaking these Subtle Etiquette Rules?


It’s easy to recognize the big scuba etiquette gaffes on a diving trip – like not showering, being the loudest and / or drunkest person on the vessel, or tuning out the dive trip operator with the loud, vocal assertion of “I’ve dived here before so here’s what you need to know!” We covered these in a previous post, “Don’t Be the Diver Everyone Wishes Would Fall Overboard.”

But are there small things you’re doing that are causing your other diving party members to cringe?

You betcha. And it might just be because some divers are ultra-sensitive, or it might be because there are some actions that are so second-nature that it’s hard to realize how it could affect others in your group.

So stay mindful of these easily forgivable (but still annoying) habits, actions, or inherent traits that can unintentionally cause other divers to deny your invitations to the after-party.

Ask to Board the Boat

Yes, you paid for the diving trip, and obviously you need to get on the boat in order for the trip to commence. But nevertheless, it’s considered maritime courtesy to ask permission to board a vessel, especially if it’s your first time on the boat.

Besides, if you get there early, the crew may be making last-minute preparations, and may need the extra deck space to be fully prepared for your arrival.
Which brings us to…

Don’t Be Late

You may be the most considerate person on the boat. You might keep your dive gear within a 2’ ft. cluster on the deck, pay rapt attention when the captain is giving instructions, and even help everyone else in and out of the water.

But if you’re late to the boat, and make everyone wait to launch, your inconsiderate tardiness will be everybody’s first impression of you — and first impressions can be darn hard to shake off.

So save yourself the stress of recovering your reputation as an awesome passenger, and arrive a few minutes before departure time. Your fellow divers will thank you — or at least not single you out as “The Person Who Made Everyone Wait.”

This goes for gearing up and getting in the water too — don’t make your fellow divers bob around on the surface while you leisurely gear up.


These days, it’s considered bad form to smoke cigarettes onboard a boat, and even though you’re outside, the folks next to you will not appreciate the puffs in their vicinity. If you’re a smoker, check beforehand to see if smoking is allowed on the vessel (it’s not in some cases), and if so, look for a time or area of the boat that’s well away from the other passengers.

Watch the Fins

This is an easy action to forget, because when you’re finally underwater, you’re excited and not necessarily paying attention to how your movement affects others — and that’s completely understandable.

But when you do descend or explore in the company of others, try to keep your movements slow and deliberate, to ensure other divers in your party aren’t struggling with visibility (or getting a swift fin-kick to the face.) Underwater photographers are particularly annoyed by fins stirring up the sand and ruining their shot.

Let Others Board Before You

When everyone’s surfaced and there’s a line to get back on the vessel via a ladder or ramp, follow the old maritime etiquette rules — elderly and children first. After all, there really isn’t much of a pay-off for being the first person to get back onboard.

Tip the Crew

This is an obvious element of a diving trip, but it’s always a good thing to keep in mind. Many divers attest that 10% of the trip cost is standard if the crew was good, and 15% is warranted if the crew was exceptional.

Just know that your global region will dictate whether tipping is encouraged, or frowned upon, so if you’re going someplace new, ask in advance if tipping is standard before you book your expedition.

Bonus Tip: If the tour company representative says “Well… it’s not standard, but it is encouraged…” that means that Yes, tipping is standard etiquette.

All in all, as long as you’re mindful of everyone else on board, (captain, crew, and fellow passengers), your instincts will ensure you remain in good company. Stay conscientious, and you’ll ensure you’re NOT the topic of discussion on ‘most annoying divers’ over drinks at the bar that night!

Feeling a Little Rusty or Just Want to Build Your Skills & Confidence?

If it’s been awhile since you’ve been diving or you want to improve your skills and feel more comfortable on your next dive trip, consider taking a refresher or advanced course. In just a short time, you’ll be ready for your next dive adventure.

Scuba Toys offers year-round courses so call us at (972) 820-7667, visit us online or swing by our shop in Carrollton, Texas!

Any other etiquette suggestions you want to add? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Article Name
Are You Breaking these Subtle Etiquette Rules?
While most of know how not to be the most obnoxious diver on a trip, we still don't want to break these more subtle scuba etiquette rules.

3 responses to “Are You Breaking these Subtle Etiquette Rules?”

  1. Susan R. says:

    Spray sunscreen – use it downwind!

  2. John Goetz says:

    Too much hostility or public display of affection between couples – keep the fighting or romance off the boat

  3. Max S. says:

    If you’re in a foreign country, don’t complain about the locals, their customs, food, lodging, etc – just enjoy seeing how another culture lives – especially within earshot of the crew who is working hard for you to have a good time

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