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How to safely scuba dive in strong currents

Some areas like Nusa Penida or Komodo in Indonesia have the potential for strong currents. Here in Nusa Penida, currents can make for really exhilarating dives. Currents are also a part of the very healthy ecosystem that we can see here when diving in Nusa Penida. Here are a few tips that you can use for diving safely in a current.


Diving within Your Limits

It's important to only dive within your comfort level and ability. A strong current can be physically demanding, so it's important not to underestimate it. If you feel uneasy about the dive briefing or the current is much stronger than you are used to, be sure to let your dive buddy or guide know. There is nothing wrong with sitting out on a dive if you are not feeling it!


Sheltering in a Strong Current

If you find yourself suddenly caught in a strong current, try to swim towards the bottom or any nearby objects such as a reef or wreck to provide shelter. Swimming towards the bottom can also help, as the current is generally not as strong there. If you are unable to find shelter or the current is too strong, it is best to end the dive.



Drift diving Nusa Penida
Drifting along the reef in Nusa Penida

Drift Diving experience

Keep in mind that drift diving requires experience and proper equipment, such as a surface marker buoy or reef hook. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to handling currents, so be sure to get plenty of practice.


Getting Swept Away

If the current is strong or you become separated from your group, remain calm and try not to panic. If the current is too strong, swim out of it rather than fighting against it. Sometimes currents only last for a short period of time, so you may just need to let it run its course. If none of these options work, it is best to end the dive and ascend at a normal pace.


At the Surface

If you are diving from a boat, use your surface marker buoy (also known as a "safety sausage") to signal your location. If you are not diving from a boat, signal people on the shore of your location and swim back at a steady pace, conserving your energy. When you reach the shore, try to find someone from your group and let them know you are okay.


It can be helpful and fun to complete the PADI Drift specialty if you plan to dive in areas with strong currents. As a lot of things in diving, practice makes it perfect!

For more detailed info about drift diving, you can also check our posts series about diving in currents.

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