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How to keep warm when scuba diving

Updated: May 2, 2023

As the cold season is approaching here to dive in Nusa Penida, let's have a look at how to keep warm when scuba diving!

Some people have penguin blood (as I describe it) and can dive in 15-degree water in a shorty and laugh away the numb extremities and shivering. For most divers though, and especially lady divers (our lower metabolic rate makes us experience the cold more), managing to stay warm is a large part of having an enjoyable dive.

stay warm surface interval
Best to bring a woolly hat and a windbreaker

Here are a few tips and tricks to stay nice and toasty during your scuba dive.

1. Go to a female-run / female-owned dive centre

As previously mentioned women have a lower metabolic rate and also, arguably, more empathy toward their fellow humans. In light of this, women-owned dive centers tend to offer their divers nice warm thick full wetsuits, hoods, warm booties, hot drinks, and towels. If you are still feeling the cold, for instance when diving Nusa Penida in July in 18-degree waters, they will undoubtedly have an extra chicken vest hidden somewhere for you to borrow.

One of our heroes, Becky Kagan Schott, a hardcore tech diver who explores deep wrecks in cold cold waters ( think great lakes and ice) brought the general public's attention to the existence of heated undersuits ...and we loved her even more for it! Women like to be warm. Trust us, female-owned/run dive centre = scuba gear to keep you warm.

2. Invest in a warm underlayer or chicken vest

You probably will not want to lug your 7 mil wetsuit or semi-dry with you when you go traveling on a backpacking/adventure/dive holiday. However, a warm chicken vest (whether neoprene or fleece type like Sharskin) is easy and light to carry, and can actually double up as another warm layer when on land. It will make a big difference when diving, especially if it has a hood. A full fleece undersuit is also useful for sun protection when skin diving, is not very bulky and can be used as an additional layer on land as well.

ice diving cold scuba
Better to cover up.... Brr Ice diving

3. Bring a thermos to the dive boat

If the dive operation you go with does not offer it or if you are diving independently, bring a thermos full of your favorite hot drink. If you are feeling chilly after your first dive, a nice warm drink during the surface interval will make all the difference. Our favourite is a nice hot cup of milky sweet tea after the chill of diving at Manta Point, with delicious biscuits to dunk in it too, of course!

4. Bring a windbreaker/woolly hat/warm hoody to the dive boat

This is pretty much common sense but if you tend to feel the cold after a dive, bringing something warm to put on when you come up will mean you are all warm and ready to go when it’s time for the second dive. You may want to pop a warm hat (you lose most body heat through your head) in your dry bag and/or something to keep your upper body insulated.

With these tips, we hope you can keep yourself warm on the dive boat, or maybe enjoy a cold mola-mola sighting while diving in Nusa Penida during our cold season!

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