Useful Tips on Diving

Diving is something different to every individual but it is certainly fun and exciting.  Here you can learn about diving training, dive equipment, safety notes, where to dive in Hong Kong and other useful information.

Any Age or Health Requirements?

To go diving, you must:

  • be 10 years or older;
  • be able to swim 200 metres and comfortably maintain buoyancy for 10 minutes without any swimming aids;
  • check with your doctor if you have ever suffered from any ear, heart or asthmatic condition and significant illnesses. These pre-existing conditions may affect your safety while diving but may not necessarily reject you from the activity. Seek proper medical advice and make sure that the condition is stable and under control.

Medical Fitness

You should consult your doctor to make sure that you are medically fit to learn diving. After completing a diving course, you should have regular diving medical examination, at 5-year intervals up to age 40, every 3 years after the age of 40, and every 2 years after the age of 60.

Clearance of return to Dive-Medical Examination must be obtained from a doctor following any major injury or new illness developed after the Initial (Pre-dive) Medical Examination, or any condition requiring hospital care. If the injury or illness is diving related, then the clearance to return to diving must come from a physician trained in undersea/diving medicine.

Physical Fitness

Recreational diving may sometimes be a strenuous activity. The recreational diver should possess and maintain a level of physical fitness capable to respond to an emergency, unexpected current or heavy seas demand.

How to Learn Diving?

You need to be taught by a qualified diving instructor recognised and certified by an international diving organisation.  You should ensure your instructor has insurance coverage.  A diving course should start out in a swimming pool.

A typical diving course takes approximately 30 hours.  It consists of:

  • theory about diving equipment, physics of diving, medical problems related to diving, decompression theory, use of dive tables and/or dive computers, and dive environment (about 6 hours);
  • pool training dives, including mastery of using diving equipment, managing emergency responses, such as recovering a regulator dropped from mouth, mask removal, what to do when you are running out of air, and controlling buoyancy (about 6 to 8 hours); and
  • open water dives (4 to 6 dives in 2 days).  

A training course CANNOT be completed in less than 30 hours. If you do NOT master the above basic skills, knowledge and use of equipment, your instructor would extend the training hours. It is not safe and is NOT recommended going to dive without proper training and mastery of skills, knowledge and use of equipment.

You will be awarded a certificate if you passed the written examination and skills assessment. 

Information on local and overseas diving associations by the Hong Kong Underwater Association Limited (HKUA)Recreational Diving Safety Manual for Hong Kong by HKUA

Diving Equipment

The equipment you need basically includes: a wetsuit, a pair of fins, a mask, a snorkel, a Buoyancy Control Device (an inflatable jacket that helps you go up or down), a tank (for your air), a regulator (a tube that attached to your tank and through which you can breathe) and a gauge (a device that tells you how deep you are and how much air you have left).

You must ensure that your equipment is reliable, suitable for the type of diving you intended to do and has regular inspections and maintenance.  Here are some safety factors:

  • make sure the diving equipment fits you;
  • get your diving equipment tested and serviced annually by a trained professional at a qualified service centre;
  • re-check the diving equipment prior to a dive and look for any abnormalities;  and
  • ensure the sufficiency of an emergency oxygen supply, and the first-aid facilities be prepared and ready for use on boat and ashore.

Safety Tips

As with any outdoor activity, in which there is a risk factor, care must be taken in order to handle any unexpected situations that may occur during a dive. You should strictly follow the respective diving rules:

  • Be sure you are medically and physically fit for diving.
  • Use suitable and familiar equipment.
  • Conduct pre-dive Safety Check.
  • Dive within your limit in respect of skills, experience, depth, etc.
  • Pay attention to diving guides from dive masters.
  • Dive according to the dive plan.
  • Dive with companion.
  • Ascend at an appropriate rate.
  • Never be breath-hold or skip-breathe.

Other Dos and Don'ts of Diving:

Dos:  

  • Be a swimmer before being a diver.
  • Understand your body condition before diving.
  • Have adequate warmth protection by wearing appropriate wetsuit.
  • Always dive with an experienced qualified dive companion.
  • Request the companionship of professionals when diving in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Refresh your basic skills with instructor if you haven't dived for a long time.
  • Adapt to the local environment by diving with the companionship of professionals if you received training overseas.
  • Deploy a surface marker buoy before ascending.

DON'T dive under the following circumstances:  

  • when there is no "A" flag hoisted on a boat.
  • if the diving site is at marine vessel routes.
  • when you have contracted respiratory disease, e.g. a cold or flu etc.
  • when you are on medication (unless approved by your physician).
  • after drinking alcohol.
  • when your physical or psychological condition is poor (e.g. feeling stressful).
  • if the diving equipment is poorly maintained.
  • when you are ignorant of adequate compressed air supply.
  • during hostile weather conditions.
  • when you are alone.
  • when the maximum depth of your training or the "No Decompression Limit" (NDL) is exceeded.
More on diving safety by HKUA

Diving in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is surrounded by sea. Under the sea is a fascinating world with coral communities sheltering a diverse and exquisite range of fish and marine fauna.  Shelter Island, Sharp Island, Chek Chau, Nine Pin, Tung Ping Chau, Hoi Ha, Crescent Island, Pak Lap Tsai, etc. are some of the best diving sites in Hong Kong.  Always ask local experienced divers for information about a new dive site and any hazard before exploring a new area.

More on diving sites in Hong Kong by HKUA (available in Chinese only)More on Hong Kong's marine parksMore on Hong Kong's coral communities and the associated marine life

In case of a diving emergency as if you suffer any discomfort after a dive such as skin itching, joint pain, exceptional weakness, headache and fainting, you must immediately report it to your dive master/instructors and seek medical advice as soon as possible especially when the symptoms persist or deteriorate.

In Hong Kong, diving accidents must first be initially assessed by a medical doctor in any Emergency and Accident Department within a hospital. If recompression treatment is indicated, they will formulate the safety treatment plan for you.

Diving Overseas

Beautiful diving sites are endless.  However, you must be well prepared for the trip.  Here are some tips on joining dive trips abroad.  

  • Join only reputable dive centres and licensed travel agents for travel services.
  • Make sure you obtain a franked receipt from the travel agent for the package/group tour showing levy payment equals to 0.15% of the tour fare immediately after you have settled the payment.
  • Leave the original franked receipt at home or with a relative and carry a photocopy of it with you when you travel.
  • Choose trips with experienced instructors / tour leaders.
  • Get travel insurance which suits your own needs and make sure it covers diving accidents.
  • Check the destination requirements, diving equipment, facilities, first-aid, emergency contact, availability of a recompression chamber, etc.
  • Follow experienced local dive masters / instructors.
  • Understand environmental factors, possible dangers and difficulties, tides/current flows of individual dive sites.
  • Ensure there is a "cover-boat" whilst you are diving with a responsible boat operator on board. 
Directory of Licensed Travel AgentsTravel Industry Compensation Fund

Weather Information

The visibility of some of the diving area in Hong Kong can deteriorate very quickly, with the tide and wind.  You must be careful of the currents that can occur in certain dive areas around Hong Kong.  It is a must to check out the weather conditions before you depart for diving.

Weather Information for Water Sports
Last review date: November 2016