Scuba diving depths and how deep can you go as an experienced scuba diver

Scuba diving isn’t all about depth and how deep you can dive. It is instead about what you get to see when you dive.


What are common depths for experienced scuba divers is a question often asked. It's not as deep as some might think. It is somewhere between 20-25 metres on average. Diving isn't just about how deep you can dive. But is instead about what the dive is about. If the dive is to go to a particular wreck and it just so happens the wreck is at 40 metres (131 feet), that will be the dive depth. This is of course subject to certification level and experience.


Who this article on experienced scuba diver depths is aimed at

I know the question about what are common depths for experienced scuba divers is asked quite often. But it's usually asked by people who are looking to learn to scuba dive. Or by beginner scuba divers.

If you are already an experience scuba diver you are unlikely to be asking this question, if that makes sense.

The reason to set this scene is so that the content of this article is appropriate to the audience. I am therefore assuming that you have either not dive before, or you have limited dives under your belt.

If I have this wrong, then I apologise now. But I hope you enjoy this article in any event. Please feel free to comment below, as I'd love to know if it's been pitched correctly.

Having clarified who I think you are, let's take a look at the importance of depth and scuba diving.

The importance of depth and scuba diving - Scuba diving depth factors

In an article about how deep you can dive with an open water certification, I clarify a few factors that are important when it comes to going deeper underwater.

Deep diving factors are as follows:

  • The deeper you go, the more air you consume.
  • When you consume more air as you go deeper, your air will run out more quickly.
  • The deeper you dive the fast the build up of nitrogen in your body and tissues.
  • The more nitrogen you have in your body and tissues, the longer you need to decompress as you ascend.
  • The deeper you go and the longer you spend at depth, the more chance you have of going into a decompression stop dive scenario.
  • Once you go beyond 30 metres (100 feet), the more chance there is of getting nitrogen narcosis.
  • As you dive deeper, you become heavier (or less buoyant) and you need to compensate for this with more air in your buoyancy control device.

All of the above factors are learnt in the theory of scuba diving when you first learn. However, there's a big difference between reading about something or having it explained, compared to experiencing it for real.

Experience in scuba diving gives confidence

Many of the above deep diving factors are learnt by experience. For example, buoyancy control is mastered with practice. It's important to be good at buoyancy and to be totally comfortable with how your buoyancy control device works before you go too deep.

Secondly, the more experienced you are as a diver, the more relaxed you'll be. The more relaxed you are, the less air you will consume. As noted above, the deeper you go the more air you consume, which is due to the pressure changes.

If you are an anxious diver because you're a beginner, you will soon consume your air even at shallower depths, let alone when you go deep.

For example, I remember diving in Plymouth in the UK with a couple of divers. One diver I remember was overly showing off before we went in about how many dives he'd done and how qualified he was.

But when we entered the water and went to around 30 metres (100 feet), it soon unraveled that he had panicked and ran his air down very quickly.

I'm still not entirely sure what happened and how much diving he really had done, but it proves my point. His running low on air very quickly how to spell spoilt the dive for the rest of us, as we all came back to the surface together after about 10 minutes.

How deep is too deep?

When I say 'too deep' I mean more than 18-20 metres (59-66 feet). See below for the depths of newly certified scuba divers.

Scuba diving is a dangerous sport and the statistics show that it's even more dangerous than skydiving. This is why it's so important to get trained properly and to take things slowly with scuba diving.

If you are new to scuba diving, please take this advice...slowly build your depth up and don't go rushing in to going too deep too soon. There's plenty of time to go deep.

But even then, only dive deeper if there's something at the depth you've chosen that interests you. Don't dive deep just for the sake of it.

What are common depths for experienced scuba divers

It's difficult to know what the most common depths are for experienced scuba divers, so it's better to answer this question with what depths the various scuba diver qualifications can dive to.

Beginner scuba divers to open water or ocean divers

When beginner scuba divers are learning to dive, their depth is restricted to usually less than 10 metres (33 feet). However, usually the first dives are conducted in a swimming pool or in very shallow 'safe' water.

When I say 'safe' I mean in an area of water which is free from currents and where the water visibility is excellent. Somewhere in the Caribbean or in the Great Barrier Reef would be okay.

This is until you have been certified to scuba dive to the first level, which for PADI is Open Water Diver and for BSAC it is Ocean Diver.

An Open Water Diver can dive to 18 metres (59 feet) whereas an Ocean Diver can dive to 20 metres (67 feet).

More experienced next level divers

As you gain more experience, either as a PADI diver, a BSAC diver or with one of the other diving organisations, you are likely to take further qualifications. At the same time you will build up your dives and therefore your experience.

With experience you can dive deeper. With PADI the deepest recreational dive limit is 40 metres (131 feet), whereas for BSAC the depth is 50 metres (164 feet). To be able to dive to these depths you should have done at least 50 dives perhaps even 100 dives beforehand.

But also you'll need to hold the appropriate certification level. Which for BSAC is Dive Leader to dive to 50 metres and you need to obtain the Deep Diver qualification with PADI. But before you'll be able to do the Deep Diver course, you first need to have a PADI Adventure Diver rating.

What are common depths for experienced scuba divers

Based upon the above information and from my experience with scuba diving over the past many years, I'd say the average depth for experienced scuba divers is somewhere between 20-25 metres (66-82 feet).

The reason why it's not that deep is because the majority of dive sites are best explored in the shallower depths. Like on coral reef systems in places like the Caribbean or The Great Barrier Reef.

What is considered a deep dive?

As already mentioned, the limit for recreational scuba diving is between 40-50 metres (131-164 feet). However, in my opinion, which is the opinion held by many experienced scuba divers too, is a deep dive is considered to be a dive that is in excess of 30 meters (100 feet).

Once you exceed 30 metres, the no-decompression time limits reduce significantly. Your air consumption increases significantly. And you open yourself up to the possibility of nitrogen narcosis too.

I've been scuba diving now for nearly 30 years and done hundreds of dives. I have also dive deep to in excess of 50 metres (164 feet). But now I'm happy to dive to less than 30 metres and preferably to around 18-20 metres.

To me diving at these depths is safer and the dives are longer.

A random question that is asked in common with the question about experienced divers and how deep they dive is 'Can you scuba dive to see the Titanic? '

Let me answer this question for those that want to know.

Can you scuba dive to see the Titanic?

Can you scuba dive to see the Titanic

Some people who are looking to learn to scuba dive ask 'can you scuba dive to see the Titanic'.

Considering the Titanic sits at a depth of 3.8 kilometres (2.37 miles) or 3,810 metres (12,500 feet), you'll probably understand now that after reading this article, no you can't scuba dive to see the Titanic.

The only way to see the Titanic is by diving in a specially designed submarine instead.

I hope you enjoyed this article about what are common depths for experienced scuba divers

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or types of scuba diving (or specifically about what are common depths for experienced scuba divers), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!


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