Shore diving is basically diving from the shore rather than from a boat and while what happens while underwater bears no difference to boat diving, there are a number of benefits that come with shore diving. And of course, there some key safety factors to consider as well.
Starting with the benefits:
1. There some fantastic dive sites which can be found just off-shore. Some may even be within easy walking/driving distance to your location. Ask local dive schools or organisations for further information. There may be some awesome diving opportunities right on your doorstep.
2. A welcome benefit of shore diving is that it tends to be significantly cheaper than boat diving. If you are boat diving, in addition to an equipment you rent, you must pay for the captain and the dive master; you pay for fuel and other expenses.
3. You can dive according to your own personal schedule. If you are not a morning person and the thought of a 7.30 am meet-up to meet a dive boat charter horrifies you, then shore diving is your answer. You decide when to dive, you decide whether you feel like doing one, two, three or more dives that day; it is entirely up to you because you are not constrained by the schedules of other divers.
4. If you suffer from seasickness, then shore diving is definitely for you. You can skip the whole boat experience and focus on what it is you really want to do: dive!
Moving on to the factors you must always keep in mind before shore diving:
1. Wherever you are in the world, always get local information. You need to be very aware of shore conditions, particularly tides and currents, as well as fishing nets. Most dive shops will be very happy to share with you the hotspots and tips and tricks. Use this time to also establish local diving regulations e.g. do you need a flag? do you need to have a DSMB up?
2. Be aware that shore diving can sometimes be very strenuous and challenging and one needs to be in good physical condition, as you will sometimes need to walk a considerable distance with your equipment to the dive entry point.
3. Plan your shore dive before you get into the water. Check out weather conditions and be sure you have your exit figured out first. Many popular shore dive sites have ladders set up to help divers enter and exit the water - however do not count on this to always be the case.
4. Consider any navigation requirements and logistics - first of all do you have a compass and do you know how to use this underwater. Do you plan to enter an exit from the same point or is your exit different? Before entry, fix a set of reference points on land which will help you if you have surfaced far from your planned exit point. Think about how you will get yourself and your gear back to your starting location after the dive.
5. On a gradually sloping shoreline, it’s often possible (and fun) to stay on the bottom until you are in water less than a metre/three feet deep and take your fins off there. Swim on the surface if boat traffic or other water users make this a bad idea. Use your buddy to help you get to your feet and vice versa. If there’s any doubt about getting up, stay down, keep your fins on and crawl out of the water on all fours.
6. Last but not least, factor number six is make sure you secure your valuables during your dive, Be sure to leave your valuables somewhere safe unless you intend take a dry bag with you on the dive. An even better alternative is to have a friend wait for you and your buddy on land - not only will they be useful looking after your belongings, but they can assist in your return as well as notify others if you become overdue from your dive.
For those of you who have never done a shore dive before, I hope this whets your appetite to try one when you next have an opportunity and please always be safe and remember to dive within your limits.