Diving Tips for Beginners
After getting my open water certification, I went diving in Belize where I did my first 9 dives including a night dive. I had a lot of fun overall, but not everything went as well as I thought. And I'm guessing the problems I had are pretty common with first time divers so I thought I'd share them.
First, don't futz with a camera on your first few dives. There's way too much going on to also figure out how to keep from crashing into the bottom while focusing on a moving subject.
Second, it's better to overweight than underweight. Until you're good at descending, the last thing you want is to be stuck at the surface in rough water with the boat coming close to crushing your head.
Third, spend your first dive on dealing with technical skills. Yeah the fish are cool, but you'll see them again on your next dive. And if you work on your buoyancy and breathing up front, the following dives will be much better.
Fourth, if you're struggling with something, tell your dive master BEFORE the next dive. This lets them understand and prepare for whatever delay you may cause. In my case, I wasn't making the most of my air and I was running out before everyone else. Obviously I don't want to end the dive so what I would do is ascending to 20 feet and follow everyone from above. The decreased depth gave me more air due to the expansion of the air at a lower depth. Telling the dive master before hand made it easy to signal my ascent when I needed. Had I focus on more on item 3 above, I would've been better off.
Fifth, make notes from your dives about what worked and what didn't. I asked one dive master when he stopped using his log and he said around dive 100. So yeah, the dive log might not be so useful when you're a pro, but at the beginning it's great. I recorded things like how I was progressing with my breathing, what weight worked for me, what I learned when I encountered unexpected problems, and even observations about underwater photography on my later dives.
Happy diving to all you beginners!