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Shore diving

Diving from the shore in Thailand
Reef scene with butterfly fish and diver, Thailand
Interesting underwater scene, Ko Tao, Thailand
Above: Diving from the shore in Thailand
  • Diving from the shore in Thailand
  • Reef scene with butterfly fish and diver, Thailand
  • Interesting underwater scene, Ko Tao, Thailand

There’s nothing quite as exciting, as walking straight into the water and disappearing beneath the waves. In fact there are many of us who simply love this type of diving, due to the ease and apparent simplicity of the method.

A real attraction of shore diving is that in almost all cases, you’re practically at the dive site already. There’s no time wasted travelling to your destination on a boat, you know exactly what the weather is like (at your dive site) and you have numerous visual points of reference. All you have to do is select your entry/exit points.

Shore diving however, can vary widely depending on your location. For example there are very few places in Thailand where shore dives are possible, unlike Egypt where it is more common to find world class dives sites within easy distance from the shore. Most of us might envisage a gentle sandy beach, which immediately becomes hard underfoot in the water, followed by a well-placed drop off point in the water. Often though this is not the case, in fact sometimes you could be wallowing for ages through shallow water or even stepping off a rocky ledge. It is for this reason that we seek the expertise and knowledge of local dive centres and operators. They always know the best access points to sites in their area.

The fact that they have the local knowledge makes accessing the dive site that much easier. However, you shouldn’t forget your own responsibilities as a diver to think and prepare for the type of diving you are about to embark on. Also, it’s worthwhile remembering that access to some sites might require a little walking with all your equipment on. Equipment is heavy, which is a reminder that it is your responsibility (and no-one else’s) to make sure that you are fit enough to dive.

There are very general guidelines you should consider before shore diving, that apply no matter where you are:

  1. A good previous nights rest is essential, and then you can arrive early. This avoids anxiety and the consequent worry of whether you’ve forgotten anything. It also means you get a feel for how the trip is organised and are able to ask any questions you may have in a relaxed unhurried manner.
  2. A good breakfast is a good idea (however, don’t eat a huge breakfast if you’re going to be diving 10 minutes later – you need time to digest the food to prevent the possibility of stomach cramps occurring.).
  3. Make sure you are going to be warm enough, traveling to/from the dive site.
  4. Ensure you know what the weather, tides, currents and visibility is like at your dive site. Your dive centre will know this, but do you?
  5. If making your own way to the dive site, think about where you park your vehicle: is it close to the entry point, is it blocking someone’s way, is it parked safely?
  6. Take plenty of water. It’s easy to forget how quickly you dehydrate if you are geared up and having to wade out to a dive site.
  7. Equipment up close to the vehicle. You don’t want to be making numerous trips back and forth.
  8. Ensure that hoses and gauges are secured, so you don’t end up dragging them along the ground.
  9. Make sure you understand exactly where you’re entry/exit points are. It could be that a little to the left or right makes entry/exit considerably more difficult.
  10. If you are being directed to an entry/exit point then ask why specifically there?
  11. Always listen to dive briefings. If you are uncertain, ask. Remember that divers have their own language, so make sure you understand it.
  12. When you are ready to enter the water, there are various methods. The most common ones are either to walk out and put your fins on in deeper water, or put your fins on close to the edge and shuffle backwards. At the end of the day it comes down to your own preference and experience.
  13. Never enter the water, even the shallows without first partially inflating your B.C. You can’t always see below the surface and there may be a hole or a sudden drop.
  14. Always plan your dive and then dive your plan.
  15. It is extremely easy to drift on a shore dive. Be aware of the current and how quickly you are moving.
  16. Remember it is easy to surface and be further along the shore than you thought, so always note visual points of reference of your intended exit point. Taking a compass bearing is even better.
  17. Ensure you are familiar with the procedures of deploying an SMB (surface marker buoy), if you are using one. This could be the only way of indicating to a boat (or shore), your surfacing location.
  18. Again, how you exit will differ depending on your preferences and experience. If with a guide, they will advise of the best method. Sometimes, if the water is calm and the exit route is a gentle slope, you can literally walk out of the water and make a very graceful exit. Alternatively, you may need to ride the waves in, with maximum physical exertion to propel you onto the beach. Some dive sites are so well organized you may even have steps in place.
  19. Usually, when you finish a shore dive, as soon as you exit, you would make your way to your vehicle before taking your equipment off. This may be different depending on your location.
  20. Remember the 24-hour rule. Don’t fly within 24 hours of diving.
  21. Also remember that the effects of continuous multiple diving are still not an exact science. If diving over a prolonged period, take a day out in the middle. And consider erring towards shallower dives toward the end of your diving holiday.

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