top of page

Age is no limit: How to get the best out of scuba diving when you're over 60.

 #Turtle #older divers #fundiving #scuba diving
Jean-Michel Cousteau with Turtle ( Natashawere)

The world's oldest scuba diver got his open-water diver certification when he was in his late 90's. Whether you are a seasoned diver and have no plans to give up your favourite activity, or if you've just discovered scuba and are completely hooked, age should not be a hindrance to your enjoyment. Here are a few tips to make sure you have a great time, in a safe and relaxed fashion.

Stay (relatively) physically fit

Even though scuba diving is not that strenuous once underwater (unless the current is strong), you still need a decent level of fitness to be comfortable. You will be donning heavy gear, you may need to surface swim, you may hit unexpected currents and have to climb up ladders back onto a big boat. To make diving enjoyable and safe, make sure you have a bare minimum level of fitness. That doesn't mean being an athlete, just an active lifestyle will mean safe and fun dives.

Check you are medically fit

Have a thorough medical checkup with a doctor before your start diving and keep them regular as you continue enjoying your underwater passion. Make sure you have regularly spaced health checkups with an accent put on the organs that can be affected by diving ( your heart, your back, your sinuses, your lungs to name but a few). If possible, make sure sure you see a doctor who specialises in scuba diving.

Know your limits

Whether you are new to diving or a seasoned diver, when you get older you need to be the one determining your personal limits. Dive professionals can help in this endeavor, especially if you are a new diver but ultimately, you need to be the one who determines what you can and cannot do. You know your body, take the time to think ahead about what you might have to lift, how far to walk or surface swim, how fit you are in currents etc. Make sure you make the time with the dive operator beforehand to go over what type of dives you will do and what they will involve, before setting out, to make sure you are comfortable with each situation. Be particularly precise in finding out entry and exit requirements (see below)

Check entry and exit requirements

The actual diving part is not a problem as you get older unless you encounter strong currents; what can be, however, is the getting in and out of the water. If you have to clamber onto a small jukung (outrigger boat) in Amed, Bali or hoist yourself up onto a zodiac in Marseille you might not feel comfortable. Ensure you check with the dive operator that you don't need to walk too far or wait for too long (in the sun/cold) with all your gear on. Find out if adequate ladders or steps are available, if there will be someone around to help with donning gear, putting on fins, passing heavy cameras, removing scuba gear in the water and a number of other small helps that make life so much easier (whatever your age).

Update and upgrade your gear

Gear just gets better and better and makes your life easier. If you started diving in the 70's you might have learnt to dive without a BCD or dive computer; even if you got passionate about it in the 80's you might still have really dated gear that is making your life more difficult than it should be. Stay tuned to all the new gear developments, more comfortable and lighter setups, better bigger computers, simpler and easier to read, more powerful fins and the list goes on.

Ask for your own guide, if you feel like it.

It's pretty common practice for divers to ask for their own guide. If you feel more free and comfortable in a one on one situation,not having to deal with other diver's desires and air consumption, then do not hesitate. Many divers of all ages are happy to pay a little extra and have the dive tailored to their wishes, ability and pleasure. If you think it'll make for a more enjoyable time, go for it.

Go for mixed groups

Alternatively, you might want to mix it up a bit . You may find that diving with a variety of divers, not just people in your same age group and dive experience group, makes it more fun. As begginers, you might have a laugh with young divers, or, as an experienced diver , you may enjoy playing mentor to a less weathered buddy. Unless you really feel comfortable with your 'old buddies group' shake it up a bit and try exploring with new and different buddies.

Be a mentor

If you are an experienced diver, remember people will be fascinated by your stories. You'll probably have dived in more places, with a bigger variety of gear, had all sorts of story-worthy hiccups that people will enjoy hearing about. You will also probably have picked up a trick and a tip or two along the way, share them !Don't shun the role of the wise older diving storyteller and mentor.

Don't let anyone dissuade you from diving (because of age or other)

Don't let anyone tell you you cannot do a dive because of your age. The final decision to do a dive always lies with the diver. Similarly don't get pressured into a dive you don't feel comfortable with. This advice applies to all ages and abilities. If conditions are difficult, it should be explained carefully (as to every diver), but the final decision should lie with you, you know your abilities. Go through all the steps with the dive operator if they insist that you cannot do it - especially if they are taking weak-bodied beginners on the same dive who probably can't handle half as much as you- and analyse where difficulties may lie. Be objective in your judgement but don't be put off by agists!

So, final verdict: have a laugh, plan a bit and carry on.

Scuba Diving is for everyone from 10 years old to, well, the oldest one is 100 years old, so ....


bottom of page