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If none of your friends or family members is crazy about scuba diving the way you are, finding a dive buddy can quickly become an issue. Whenever you feel like going on new underwater adventures, locally or overseas, knowing where to look is the key. Even if you think you know nobody, it is easier than you think to meet like-minded friends who love scuba diving. The good news is, whether you look online or in real life, there are numerous dive groups you can get in touch with. Nowadays, thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to find dive buddies wherever you are.
How to find a dive buddy in real life
In the age of social media, it almost sounds like an adventure to go outside to meet new people, right? Yet, this is how I met 95% of my scuba diving friends. I do have my preferences in ways of meeting new divers, but I acknowledge I have more experience with certain situations than others. In the end, there is no absolute recipe for success, you need to give a try to each until you find what’s a good fit for you. In my case, when it’s about meeting new dive buddies in real life, my solo dive trips and divemaster training were the moments I met most of my current scuba diving friends.
If something doesn’t work for you, don’t give up too quickly. I also had my share of bad experiences, but these negative experiences were extremely rare in the end. I think I have enough fingers to count them up in 10 years of scuba diving around the world. Scuba divers are usually lovely people, calm, and caring; it should be due to the nature of our beloved sport, peaceful but including risks. Sure, there will always be that diver who can’t help bragging about the number of dives he did or his latest high-tech piece of dive kit, but like with any group, we can’t like or be liked by everyone. And that’s ok.
Find a dive buddy at local diving clubs
Usually, in large cities or even smaller towns sometimes, where there is a swimming pool there is a dive club. With so many of them and cheaper cost due to their non-profit associative status, they are the natural answer to anyone wondering where to find dive buddies near home.
However, it isn’t necessarily for everyone. I gave it a try for one year in Paris, and it wasn’t my cup of tea. Except for the occasional Red Sea liveaboard, it was mainly about pool training every week, and all I wanted was to explore new places and practise underwater photography. I tried again when I moved to Edinburgh, went to a social event to meet people, and it just didn’t work.
However, if you are a beginner diver, it makes sense to start looking for a local dive club. Practising skills with experienced divers in a pool or a local quarry (which are both protected environments) is nothing but a waste of time to gain more experience and confidence.
As an already experienced diver, the best solution for me to meet people locally came from local online groups (see below). In Scotland, I found people to go shore diving in a new loch every weekend. I did it again when I moved to Tokyo and enjoyed diving weekends I could have never organised by myself in the first place.
Find a dive buddy at popular diving destinations all over the world
Solo travel remains my #1 way of meeting new dive buddies. What a better way to meet new people with similar interest than during your holidays by mixing solo travel and scuba diving? Today more and more enthusiastic divers whose family or friends can’t travel at the same time, decide to go on solo scuba diving trips.
Generally speaking, checking the best diving destinations in the world will help to identify the places where most scuba divers flock to. However, some of the world-class diving destinations are expensive and do not necessarily offer a good setting to meet new people. A good way to know is to look if there are any cheap hostels or guesthouses around. If you can only mostly find luxury resorts, this is usually a red flag for me as my experience showed me the crowd would be more about couples and families which are less likely to mingle.
By going to popular backpackers’ destinations which are usually the cheapest diving destinations, you increase the odds of meeting solo travellers also eager to meet new people. Besides, you will get the chances of potentially making friends internationally, which can lead to exciting opportunities in the near future.
When discussing solo travel and scuba diving, liveaboards usually come quickly in the conversation. Some people argue that it’s the cheapest solution, but when I look at the prices of most liveaboards, unless you only stay in 4-star hotels, this is far from being true. But beyond cost, the reason I shy away from liveaboards is that many groups book them.
Whether it’s a family, friends or diving club group, liveaboard people tend to mingle less, and then if it doesn’t click from the start, you stuck are with them on a boat for a week. That’s why I have always preferred staying on land where I am free to go where I want and immerse myself at the same time in the local culture.
Find a dive buddy while becoming a dive professional
When you embrace the path of becoming a dive professional, it means going through an extensive period of training with equally addicted divers. As the Divemaster training is much longer than the instructor training, it usually gives more opportunity to meet scuba diving friends who may become some of the best dive buddies in your life.
As I spent time with a class of future diving instructors in Utila, I can tell their connection was incredible. Even if the training is shorter, they go through such an intense experience together that it’s impossible not to bond, without mentioning that for many it was a career change and the hope of a happier future they were sharing.
The only regret I have from my own Divemaster training was that I didn’t stay longer. I could stay only 1 month, the maximum leave of absence I could take from work at that time. Yet, even in such a short time, the people I met during the four weeks I spent in Thailand became life long friends and some of the best dive buddies I ever had.
Find a dive buddy at ocean conservation volunteering projects
While I have little ocean conservation experience, only twice in Scotland and in Greece, volunteering on a project where scuba diving skills are required would be definitely something I’d like to try. I can imagine that beyond the bond created by scuba diving, the passion for protecting the ocean might be even stronger.
A popular option these days is to help out coral gardening projects. These volunteering experiences are rarely free. While we could call out voluntourism, the paid activities are usually one of the rare sources of funding these projects get. Do your due diligence accordingly to check how serious and reliable the organisation is and what kind of output it already got.
Other marine conservation projects may involve identifying and counting populations of marine animals. I had a short glimpse at this kind of project in Alonissos, Greece, with Mediterranean dolphin species. I can tell you is that it requires a lot of focus and this is not easy as you stay long hours at sea watching the surface of the water.
Whenever I can get more experience about this and whether it helped me to meet new awesome dive buddies, I will update this section. If you did participate in such a volunteering project, don’t hesitate to share your experience in the comments.
How to find a dive buddy online
In the years 2000, web 2.0 was a game-changer for the diving community when the first forums appeared. Then, later social media offered a new and more flexible way to connect with people by sharing content about the things we love. In the meantime, all the people who started blogging also created opportunities to get in touch with fellow divers.
Today, the definition of an online dive community can be as blurry as the people gathering around a specific hashtag such as #scubaddict on Instagram. While social media have also brought new problems especially in the travel sphere, it creates a broad new palette of opportunities to get in touch with people who share the same passion for diving.
Find a buddy thanks to online communities
Scuba diving online communities take today many different forms. Here is a quick summary of the types of groups you can find and how they tend to work:
- Scuba diving forums: the two references are scubaboard.com and thediveforum.com. Launched respectively, in 2010 and 2012, the first one tends to be more American divers and the latter British and European divers. On the Dive Forum, the section “looking for buddies” is active, but it is mainly UK related. On Scubaboard there is no “dive buddy” section, but there are often group trips organised through the forum, mostly in the Caribbean.
- Facebook groups: The group function of Facebook allows anyone to create a forum on any super specific topic. No matter if 3 or 3000 join, you will have the same features, which is pretty cool. Scuba divers quickly understood the advantage to create groups catering to their specific interest or location. Besides, by staying inside Facebook, you don’t have to log into another website, and you can easily get notifications. Some said it would be the death of the traditional online forums, but the truth is, they are still around. Some of the most popular Facebook groups can have then of thousands of members all around the world. Unfortunately, these large groups tend to be the ones with more spam. Try to look for groups with a few thousand people or even a few hundreds, it is usually a bit quieter and conversations are more relevant. This is how I found my dive buddies in Scotland and got all the info I needed about shore diving in Hawaii.
- Reddit: the scuba directory of Reddit (r/scuba) kind of works like a forum too but the atmosphere is so unsupportive that I wouldn’t recommend going there to look for a dive buddy.
- Diving blog communities: As diving blogs became quite a thing in the 2010s, some bloggers offered their readers a space to ask questions and socialise by sharing their pictures and videos. Most of these community are on Facebook, but some have developed their own forums on their website.
- I created one support group with fellow English-speaking French divers to help international divers scuba dive in France.
- I also have one general scuba diving travel group, one in English and the other in French, for readers to ask questions.
Find a dive buddy on social media
Beyond groups that are set up on websites or Facebook, social media just allows you to get in touch with virtually anyone. This is easier on Instagram or Twitter as most profiles are public and open.
Go through profiles you like by clicking on a hashtag that is appealing to you such as #shorediving or #drysuitdiver (the more specific, the better) and let you be surprised by who you will be able to reach and may end up diving with.
If you apply basic politeness rules and do not turn into a stalker you will be surprised how easy it is to talk with other passionate divers (you have no idea how many friend requests I receive without even a message saying hello, obviously these get deleted).
Note about booking a single diver trip online
In parallel, with the rise of online travel booking, some travel agencies started to specialised in trips for single divers. For the same reasons I explained about liveaboards, personally, I wouldn’t book ahead any trip where I would potentially be locked up with people I wouldn’t click with.
However, don’t hesitate to write emails to scuba diving centres directly explaining you are travelling alone, and they will be surely more than happy to help with recommendations. They usually take care of pairing up people according to experience and skills, but the worse case is actually the best, the divemaster or the instructor becomes your buddy!
Do you want to learn more about how to travel as a solo scuba diver and finding dive buddy on the way? Read these articles:
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