Scuba divers are always curious about how deep they can dive. Planning a scuba trip to the great depths of the ocean? How far can you go before your air runs out? Let’s look at some basic facts so that you can plan your next adventure.
So, how deep can you dive? The answer to this question is different for each diver.
There are many factors that make it possible to go deep or not: the type of scuba diving suit, if you’re using a mask or full face mask, the experience of your instructor and yourself, as well as environmental conditions like current and visibility.
Let’s take a look at some records around the world:
The depth limit for scuba diving
The depth limit for scuba diving is set by the diver’s certification level. At each certification level, you can go deeper than at the previous one. For example, if you are an Open Water Diver (OWD) then you can dive to a maximum depth of 18 meters (60 feet). If you have gone through additional training and obtained a more advanced dive certificate such as Advanced Open Water Diver or Divemaster then your maximum depth will increase to 30 meters (98 feet).
As with all things related to scuba diving, certification is important for safety reasons. Before we get into the reasons why it’s necessary in this case let us take a moment and look at what exactly it means to be certified as a Scuba Diver?
How deep can you dive without decompression?
If you only use air, the maximum depth for a recreational diver is 40 meters (130 feet). You will have to spend no more than 18 minutes at that depth to avoid decompression sickness. If you are using nitrox (a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen), the maximum depth for recreational diving is 50 meters (160 feet). You can spend up to 22 minutes at this depth without having to perform any additional decompression stops.
To go deeper, it is necessary to earn additional certification levels.
In general, it is necessary to earn additional certifications in order to dive deeper than your initial certification. At depths less than 100 feet (30 meters), there is no need for additional certification. However, if you wish to dive deeper than this, then you must earn an additional level of certification. This can be done by completing the requisite training program and passing a special test with a certified instructor or examiner on dry land before being allowed underwater.
The following certifications allow divers up to 100 feet (30 meters) underwater:
- Open Water Diver Certification: This is the most basic type of scuba diving certification available and allows divers access up to 130 feet (40 meters). It requires two pool sessions lasting two hours each and one open water session lasting four hours total — all within 24 hours of taking the course — as well as passing a written exam consisting of multiple choice questions about diving theory and procedures.
Pressure doubles with every 33 feet.
Do you wonder how deep you can dive before your body starts to feel the effects of the pressure? The answer is somewhere around 50 meters. That’s because the pressure doubles with every 33 feet (10 meters), so at around 50 meters deep, it would be four times as great from where you started.
So what does this mean for scuba divers? Well, if you’re traveling deeper than about 30 meters, your gauge needs to read in atmospheres instead of feet of water. This is because one atmosphere means a certain amount of pressure on any given surface area—one atmosphere just happens to be equal to about 1 kilogram per square centimeter or 14 pounds per square inch (psi). A typical diving regulator operates at a constant 3 bar (45 psi), but that’s only true at sea level. As you go deeper into water and increase pressure on your regulator and tank, they need more gas in order to operate properly and keep supplying air at 3 bar through their valves.
Deeper dives require enriched air (or Nitrox) mixtures.
If you want to go deeper than 40 meters, you need to breathe a mixture of oxygen and other gases. Deep dives are also called “technical” dives because they require technical diving training and equipment. These include:
- A deep dive computer that provides real-time decompression information.
- An underwater communication device (DC) so you can talk with your buddy underwater.
- A backup air supply (spare tanks).
You will also need an enriched air nitrox mix for breathing underwater, which can extend the time you spend in the water by up to 50%. This is because it reduces the amount of nitrogen absorbed into your body tissues during each dive, allowing more dives per day without needing a surface interval between them.
Dive computers are an almost essential piece of equipment for any deep diving activity.
Dive computers are an almost essential piece of equipment for any deep diving activity. They keep track of depth, time and how much air you have left in your tank. Even though dive computers are a good idea for all sorts of diving, they aren’t necessary for recreational diving. Dive computers can be expensive but some are available at much lower prices than others.
Solo diving is beyond your certification levels
Solo diving is strictly forbidden. It’s also not allowed to dive beyond your certification level, which means that if you’re certified to dive to 60 feet (18 meters), you can’t go deeper than that without taking the advanced course. If you want to explore the ocean depths in a safe manner and ensure that there are people around to help if anything goes wrong, take a buddy or an instructor with you underwater.
PADI sets the standard for recreational dive training worldwide. They have very strict standards when it comes to deep diving and earning certifications at different levels.
If you’re planning to scuba dive in a recreational capacity and want to take it up a notch, you may be wondering how deep you can go.
Once again, the answer is fairly straightforward: there’s no set limit or boundary for recreational diving that’s recognized by any governing body or organization. A recreational diver is defined as someone who dives recreationally; they are not required to have any certification other than their certification card from their training agency (such as PADI).
However, if you want to get certified as an instructor-level diver (or master diver) with PADI, then there are certain requirements that must be met before applying for these programs:
After Open Water Certification
Once you have earned your Open Water Certification and can safely dive up to 60 feet, then you can consider taking an Advanced Course and going deeper.
You will need to take an advanced course in order to go below 100 feet. The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course is a natural next step for divers who have completed the basic open water certification and are interested in learning more about diving. This program is designed for both new divers interested in advancing their underwater skills as well as experienced divers looking to expand their knowledge and horizons.
To be eligible for this course, you’ll need:
- To be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver (or equivalent), with at least 15 dives logged on your logbook within two years of starting this training.* To be able to swim 300 meters easily and comfortably in deep water.* A willingness to learn more about diving via classroom sessions and hands-on experience under supervision of experienced instructors
If you’re just starting out as a scuba diver, then it’s important to remember that anything beyond the safe limits of your certification level can be dangerous. Always take a buddy underwater, stay within the confines of your training and equipment (and don’t forget about decompression sickness!), and most importantly – have fun!