Travel may still be widely restricted, but don't let that get you down. Sure, your idea of diving may be to hop on a plane and head toward warm, tropical water; however, there is a whole world of local diving just waiting to be explored in your backyard. Local diving may not be as romantic or exciting as drifting over crystal clear waters filled with thriving, colorful reefs and sharks galore, but diving locally is better than not diving at all. So, until the world opens up again with unrestricted travel, we will show you just how easy it is to enjoy the dive sites nearest you.
Since water makes up 71% of the earth, chances are there is a body of water near you. Ask around at your local Training Center for known dive sites in the area, ask other divers you know where they like to dive locally, or check out the Dive Site Locator on the internet’s newest, most comprehensive dive travel tool, SSI’s MyDiveGuide.
If you are on the adventurous side, why not discover your own dive site? Exploring is what diving is all about, right? All you need to do is seek it out and do your research. First, locate a body of water that interests you and determine if you are allowed to dive in it. If so, hike the area to discover the best entry/exit point. Then, try to decide if there are any special precautions such as limited visibility or currents (especially when river diving). You are only limited by your imagination. You will be surprised at how many excellent dive sites can be discovered in rivers, lakes, streams, reservoirs, springs, quarries, and more!
If you are used to only diving on vacation, surrounded by warm, crystal clear waters exploding with colorful marine life, you may need to lower your diving standard slightly. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a diving-type destination, your local diving will most likely take place in the colder, darker, murkier waters of a lake, quarry, or river. This does not mean that the diving is bad, just different. You will still feel that rush of excitement as you take your first breath underwater, feel the peace and tranquility that comes with being below the surface, and discover fish and plant life you may have never seen before.
Since diving is not a solo sport, the best way to spend more time underwater is to stay connected to other divers. The best place to find other divers is in your local dive store, dive club, or Training Center because where there are divers, there is diving. Staying involved with your local diving community allows you to hear about upcoming dive events and activities. Even if dive sites in your area are scarce, you will find that the most active divers are those involved with their local dive community.
Another great way to dive more is to expand your personal dive locker. Diving throughout the year is more accessible if you are properly equipped to do so. If you only own a travel BC and lightweight wetsuit, but your local diving requires more robust gear, visit a dive center in your area to equip yourself properly to partake local diving. If you are not properly equipped for diving in your area, you will never be able to get out there and dive. You may even need a particular type of wetsuit in the summer and a drysuit in the winter. Another great tool to have on hand that allows you to dive more is your own cylinder. If you keep a full cylinder on hand, you will always be ready to head out with your buddy, day or night.
The last and best way to get out and dive more is to have training in many different types of diving. If the only body of water in your local area is a river, you should be Drift and Current Diving certified. If your local body of water is a quarry with limited visibility, then certification in Night & Limited Visibility Diving will allow you to explore this dive site. And if your local diving only consists of more technical dives like cave and cavern diving, consider joining the world XR. SSI offers many exciting tech programs. The more dive training you have in different types of diving, the more underwater time you can log. Do not let your training level limit your ability to dive locally.
So, if the land-locked effects of COVID-19 are starting to get you down, look no further than your own backyard. No matter where in the world you live, access to local diving should not be far from home. Dust off your gear, fill your cylinder, and explore all the nearby dive sites you never knew existed.