UK diving is a great experience, and one slightly different from scuba diving in other places in the world, but if you are prepared with everything you need for UK diving, you'll enjoy your dive and dive day any more. Alongside our Girls that Scuba founder, who is from the UK, our Girls that Scuba members on our Facebook group give us all some top tips on things you need to scuba dive in the United Kingdom.
The Car Park is your friend with these scuba must-haves
If you are shore diving - or even if you are boat diving and having to park somewhere - the car park is your new friend and changing room. With shore diving in the UK you usually have to park in a nearby car park and gear up there. Some pieces of scuba equipment which will really help with getting changed in a car park are:
This all weather poncho is warm, fast drying and packs down small, enabling you to take it anywhere. Throw it on to get changed into your wetsuit and also use it to warm up after a session in the water or to cover up between dives. The waterproof, fleece-lined fabric is lightweight, cosy and manufactured using an environmentally friendly, fluorine-free waterproofing treatment. Fourth Element Storm Poncho £143
Dry Bag and Changing Mat
Your boot is now a scuba storage unit and is full of sand and wet equipment.. unless you invest in a big dry bag to have in your boot/take on the boat with you. You can put all your wet stuff in it after a dive and it also comes with a nifty removable changing mat - much needed when getting changed on gravel car parks. It is also a great travel bag for when you go diving outside of the UK. Apeks 100l Dry Bag £128 (Girls that Scuba membership holders get 10% off). Other up-cycle ideas for changing mats have been; IKEA bags or picnic blankets.
Big ol Tub
If £128 for a large dry bag is too much, a tub works as a great alternative to have in your boot and put all your wet dive gear in after the dive to help preserve your boot.
Diver egg - Key safe
Compact and durable "diver's egg" mini dry case, what's this for you may ask? YOUR KEYS! When you are diving from your car you need somewhere dry to keep your keys as you dive.
Once it's time to dive don't forget these
Sounds obvious, right? But, when scuba diving with a buddy or a club in the UK your cylinder rental doesn't come as standard. You can rent cylinders at your local dive centre at around £20 a time, but if you will be diving around the UK a lot it may be worth purchasing your own cylinder. You could look at a second hand cylinder - Girls that Scuba buy and sell is a good place to start, or you can look at 300 bar cylinder for £199.
Lead (weights) also don't come as standard with a dive, so its always great to have your own set. Again, you can look at second hand lead as a single 2kg lead block will cost around £17!
As on any dive it's important to have an SMB to mark where you are on the surface or during your safety stop. This is important in UK waters as visibility is not always very good and cloudy days are more common than not. You will also notice a lot of action around UK shores when it comes to small boats, paddle boarders and kayakers. A bright SMB shows everyone there are divers below. Our Girls that Scuba pink SMB is designed to show brightly and is 150cm long. Starting at £40
We all know we lose warmth from our head so its important to keep it covered with a thick hood at any time while diving in the UK! Without a hood you will get cold very fast.
Drysuit or Wetsuit for UK diving
Many divers think you can only dive in UK waters with a drysuit - and that's not true! While you do have to consider the temperature of where you are diving first, if it is above 16/17c, you can dive in a thick wetsuit with layers. A drysuit is ideal, and will keep you warm in all temperatures, but for many the price tag is too high for a few dives each year.
Most divers prefer to dive in drysuits in the UK, or anywhere else they feel cold. A drysuit is an investment, but a worthy one! You do need training when diving in a Dry suit. Dry suits are another piece of equipment to think about whilst diving and so you must learn how to use them correctly in order to have a safe and fun dive. We've written an article on everything you need to know about drysuit diving, so check that out to find out more.
It is possible to dive in the UK with a wetsuit, and we have done it many times - here is Girls that Scuba ambassador Inka Cresswell joining us on a wetsuit dive too. The key is layering up as well as only considering a minimum of 5mm wetsuit, but a 7mm or semi-dry is better. Check out our article on how to keep warm when diving.
Compact cameras are great for UK diving as they are small and don't take up any extra space! Paralenz are just about to launch their latest camera with updated view finder and the ever-awesome auto colour correction!
Throwing a wolly hat on post dive is key! Keep your head warm, and rock your Girls that Scuba beanie throughout the UK!