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15 Things You Should NEVER do on a Dive Boat – Are YOU Guilty?

15 Things You Should NEVER do on a Dive Boat – Are YOU Guilty?

Out of all the diving rules and guidelines, knowing how to behave on a dive boat is one of the most important things you can learn. And for good reason, because some of the best dive sites in the world are only reachable by boat. But diving from a boat comes with no instruction manual. You kind of have to figure it out as you go.


You don’t want to be the annoying diver on a boat that everyone avoids as if you were a prickly sea urchin or an overexcited dolphin.

So here are 15 unspoken rules of boat diving etiquette you should be aware of.

1. Overpack

Slogging around your over-bulging backpack is not only a hassle but also unnecessary. If you’re an over packer, limit yourself to what you can fit in one small bag. Otherwise, you only risk leaving and forgetting things behind. Plus, dive boats are only so big, so be considerate and keep your stuff neatly together.  

The same goes for your dive bag. While your dive kit might seem non-negotiable, consider the diving conditions. Do you really need all your equipment and accessories for every diving scenario?

2. Ignore the dive briefing

Going on a scuba diving boat trip is fun and exciting – but it’s not a joyride. Regardless of your diving level or how well you know a dive site, you need to pay attention to the dive briefing so that you’re aware of the dive plan.

A blonde dive instructor wearing a black wetsuit points to a dive site map on a screen, she is giving a dive briefing.

Your dive guide will share important information about the diving conditions (i.e., entry and exit, currents, marine life, hand signals, safety procedures, etc.). Dive briefings are also when you get to know your dive buddies, so don’t be a know-it-all and, for everyone’s safety, listen to the dive briefing.

3. Arrive late

Whether you’re being picked up at the hotel or have to make your way to the boat dock, please, don’t be late. If anything, arrive early so you have time to do the paperwork and, if necessary, get your rental gear sorted out.

You don’t want to be the one holding up the boat. It’s rude and inconsiderate. Leaving late means either shorter dives to make up for the lost time or returning later in the evening. Both scenarios are bad.

4. Don’t take responsibility for your gear

Some countries are known for offering valet diving services where the dive centre’s staff will carry, set up and wash your dive gear.

A woman diver checks the gauge of her equipment whilst opening the cylinder valve.

While all this pampering sounds nice, at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility as a diver to inspect your gear before you dive. Just say you’ll do it. Okay?

5. Use the wrong rinse bucket

Every boat will have a slightly different rinse bucket system. Generally, there’ll be a bucket for wetsuits, BCDs and fins and another bucket for regulators, cameras, masks, etc.

A woman scuba diver rinses her equipment in a tank. She is smiling and dripping water as another diver walks past.

Don’t mix them up, especially if (for heaven’s sake) you’ve peed in your wetsuit. Hey, we all do it, but be a good sport and rinse your wetsuit in the sea first.

6. Get in the way

If it’s not your turn to dive and you want to jump in the water for a swim, by all means, go for it! But if you do, make sure the dive platform is clear so you don’t get in the way of other divers kitting up for their dive.

7. Ignore the seasickness etiquette

Let’s face reality: getting seasick on a dive boat is a rite of passage for many divers. While some get over it, others learn how to prevent it.

But anybody can be hit by a sudden burst of nausea, and if you need to vomit, there’s definitely a good way and a bad way to do it.


  • Pick a quiet spot on the boat. This isn’t Broadway, and you won’t get an award for your performance.
  • Take aim. Wind and currents can throw it all back in your, or another divers’, face. Yuck!


  • Don’t throw up in the toilet. It’s not just for the splatters and smell. Boat toilets are temperamental things and can easily clog up.  
  • Don’t throw up inside the boat. There’s no need for that.

Banner showing blue spotted whale shark print dive wear, with written details of the items and "new collection" writing in pink.

8. Throw rubbish overboard

This one is one is a big one. Wherever you dive, do it with integrity. You’re in a privileged position to see remote dive sites and their unique marine life; don’t spoil them with your litter. Organic food, like food scraps, can be an exception depending on location, but never ever throw plastic into the sea.

To stop rubbish even from accidentally falling or blowing into the water, dispose of it immediately in the bin onboard. Learn more about how you can be a sustainable diver

9. Disrespect crew-only areas

Going for walkies in the crew areas is a big no-no. Like the engine room, kitchen and the wheelhouse. If you ask nicely, you’ll probably be given a tour of the boat, but otherwise, don’t go snooping around.

10.  Get dry areas wet

Larger dive boats often have an indoor, dry area. So don’t get told off for going inside with a dripping wetsuit or even a damp swimming costume. If you forget something in there, like your towel, don’t just go in and fetch it. Ask somebody (dry) to get it for you instead.

A woman scuba diver walks away from the camera on a large dive boat. She is wearing a microfibre poncho with a blue, white, and yellow print imitating a boxfish, with the Girls that Scuba logo of a woman diver silhouette.
Our Girls that Scuba Changing Robes are the perfect post-dive attire so you can quickly head to those dry areas!

11. Be ignorant of other cultures

On a dive boat, you’ll often rub shoulders with divers from different countries and walks of life. It’s important to be respectful of other cultural norms. So friendly slaps on the shoulder, changing in public or blasting your music over the phone are not to everyone’s gusto. Sorry.

12. Number ones only

Toilets onboard dive boats have delicate systems. They’re not built to the same standard as your toilet at home and a simple piece of toilet paper can block the whole system. Bigger objects, like tampons, or solids (see point number 7) stand no chance of getting flushed.

Dive boats also usually have only one toilet, so as good boat manners and etiquette dictate, keep it clean and functional.

13. Smoke in the wrong areas

Scuba diving and smoking don’t go together.


Depending on the boat’s size and rules, you may be allowed to smoke in a designated smoking area.

14. Tip, tip tipping

Rightly or wrongly, the US tipping culture is spreading to a lot of countries. But unless you’re in the US or North America, tipping is often not expected.

But if you want to tip your dive guide, a good rule of thumb is to give 10-15% of what you paid for your dive trip.

15. Ignore the rules of the boat

Every boat, captain and its crew have their way of doing things. Listen to the crew’s instructions, and if they ask you to move or do something, for the comfort and safety of everyone, just do it. Simple.

A group of women divers smile at the camera, with the boat captain smiling in the background. They are surrounded by bright blue water and idyllic small green islands.
Happy crew, happy divers!

Every boat also has its own way of securing and storing weights, tanks and dive gear. Pay attention to the system onboard and try to fit in.

What drives YOU crazy on a dive boat? What’s the most obnoxious thing you’ve seen a diver do? Let us know!

Elena smiles at the camera. She is standing on a bright white beach in a black wetsuit, and holding her yellow scuba fins above her head.

About the Author

Elena Vivaldo is a PADI instructor turned freelance SEO copywriter and content writer. She uses her 20+ years of diving experience to write stories, guides, and reviews for global websites, including World Nomads and Waterlust. She also contributes to blogs of dive centers and scuba gear manufacturers worldwide. Check out her work on her website, and follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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