5 Beginner Tips for Underwater Navigation

While navigating an underwater environment for some divers is as simple as navigating a parking lot, for other divers, navigating even the most basic of locations is a problem. However, it must be acknowledged that finding your way underwater in the absence of any paths, signs, or recognizable landmarks is a difficult ability to learn.

Below are five beginner-friendly underwater navigational tips that will help you mark your path, see some amazing marine life, get back on course if you get off course, and get back to land or your dive boat safely.

Get Your Compass Settings Right Before Heading into The Water

Scuba Diving

Initial Steps: It is crucial to first go over and put into practice how to set your compass. Here are a few reminders before you enter the water, just in case you forgot:

  • Correct hold of your compass: Holding your underwater compass in front with the lubber line directly in the middle of your body is the optimal position for holding one. Make sure it is positioned flat, without any slant.
  • Set your heading: You should point the lubber line in the desired direction. The north arrow should now be squarely between the two index markings after rotating the bezel. Additionally, glance at the bezel and make a note of the number so you can get a better bearing.
  • Swimming: Swim out carefully while counting your fin kicks after you've set your compass. Make a mental note to just count one leg while you are having a stroke. To navigate directly to your destination, once more insert the north arrow in the space between the index marks.

Keep an Eye On Your Air Consumption

Scuba Diving

When most novice divers first obtain a compass, they frequently proceed to swim off as their next action. It's important to remember to monitor your air usage while you're having a blast exploring and navigating underwater. This is due to the fact that periodically monitoring air consumption can act as a turning point while submerged.

Additionally, it may be used as a more accurate measuring device than kick cycles and can provide you with a decent indicator of advancement while performing diving navigation.

Take a Reading Before You Descend

Divers Alert Network

No matter the dive site you select, it is advantageous to use the surface as a reference point before diving. You can check your underwater compass to get an idea of your movement when you set one before diving further.

Prior to touching the water's surface, you can also adjust your bearings using natural surface markers or in the "direction of the reef." Before venturing out underwater, it is a terrific approach to eliminate the worry of being lost and increase your confidence.

Learn to Measure Distance underwater 

Your capacity to gauge or anticipate distance is another crucial scuba navigational advice. The range can be determined by more experienced divers by timing their dive or by the amount of air still in their tank, though this method may not be reliable if you are swimming against shifting currents or breathing more quickly. Therefore, counting the fin strokes can be a better idea if you are a less experienced diver. However, in order to memorize the number, you will need to focus really hard.

Use Nature as Your Guide Underwater 

As you visit more dive locations, the value of natural navigation becomes more apparent. There are a lot of elements that might direct your movement when you are on the reef, including sand patches, the angle of the sun, sand ripples, reef outlines, etc.

Depth is another another helpful natural navigational aid. There are many diving spots where you may get about only by using depth when you are drifting along a reef. Keep track of important reef landmarks like a coral head, a sponge, etc. while relying on depth. These waypoints can aid in navigating.


Always have a mental image of where you are heading before you dive. Avoid strolling about the reef idly. Don't push yourself past your boundaries; instead, take it slowly and perfect your navigation. After lots of practice, you'll eventually feel secure enough to go deeper.

Have fun, dive safely, and plunge deep!

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