Is Scuba Diving an Expensive Hobby? Let’s Break It Down

Scuba diving is a great hobby to consider if you love adventure and love being in the water. It’s one of the most relaxing and yet exhilarating activities we do. It’s almost impossible to explain the feelings you get when diving. But, as with all equipment-oriented activities, there are expenses.  

Yes, scuba diving is an expensive hobby. You can expect to spend roughly $300 to receive your diving certification, anywhere from $200 – $2,000 on scuba diving gear, and anywhere between $75 – $150 per dive. Renting your gear instead of buying can let you scuba dive on a budget.

Keep reading to better understand the financial aspect of scuba diving, the benefits of diving, and tips for saving a few extra bucks as you embark on this new adventure. 

The Cost of Scuba Diving

Let’s break down the cost of scuba diving by learning about getting certified, scuba equipment options, and diving trips.  

Scuba Certification

Getting scuba certified means that you’ve taken and passed a scuba diving course from an accredited agency. The two most well-known certification agencies are PADI, Professional Associate of Diving Instructors, and NAUI, the National Association of Underwater Instructors. 

Requirements to take a scuba diving course include:

  • Being in good physical shape
  • Being comfortable in the water
  • Ability to swim 200 yards and float or tread for 10 minutes
  • Be 10 years of age or older. 

Again, it’s a good idea to run scuba diving by your doctor as you will also be required to fill out a medical questionnaire before you begin your course. We give you 11 reasons why you need to be certified in a previous post.

Training involves book work, written exams, pool training, and open water dives. Most courses are roughly 6 weeks long, but there are more intensive weekend courses available. 

The average cost of a scuba certification is somewhere between $200 – $400. The bookwork and exam portion of the course can typically be completed online for roughly $100 – $190, then it’s about another $200 to complete the diving part of your certification. It’s important to do your research before you choose which agency you go with, you want to make sure your trainer is highly trained. 

Certifications, however, do last for life. Should you need a refresher course at any time, many dive shops offer them. Check out this video from PADI about getting your scuba certification! 

Diving Equipment

When it comes to the cost of diving equipment, it’s all about preference. It’s up to you to decide if you prefer to buy your own equipment or rent equipment. 

There are benefits to buying your own equipment such as fit and familiarity. Having proper fitting equipment will make the dive more enjoyable and ensure there will be no leaks in your mask or wetsuit. Buying your own equipment also means that you’re familiar with each piece and should any emergencies arise, you’ll better know how to handle them. 

Though there is nothing wrong with renting equipment, especially if you’re new to diving and/or only plan on going a couple of times of year or strictly on vacation. Renting equipment also comes with the added benefit of not being responsible for the maintenance or upkeep of equipment. 

Before buying equipment consider the following questions: 

  1. How much diving do you plan to do? If you plan on diving frequently, it would probably be most beneficial to buy your own gear, while if you plan on only going once or twice a year, renting may be the more cost-efficient option. And be sure to read our post on how many dives you can safely do in a day.
  2. What type of diving will you be doing? The gear you need depends largely on what type of diving you wish to do. Basic diving involves basic gear, while more specialty diving such as caves or wreck diving may require different gear. 
  3. Do you have the storage space for diving equipment and do you want the added responsibility of maintaining your gear? If you don’t have the storage space for your gear, opt to rent; and if you don’t want to deal with the maintenance of gear, renting will again be the better option for you since it does take a certain amount of care and cleaning to maintain the quality of your gear. 

When shopping for scuba gear, it’s important to try out multiple styles and brands to ensure that you’re choosing just the right gear for you. Here is a breakdown of basic scuba diving gear. You can find more mask buying options in our snorkeling mask article. Make sure the mask you choose can handle the higher pressure of scuba though.

Scuba mask, $50 – $200. 

A scuba mask allows your eyes to focus underwater and works to equalize the air pressure as you dive deeper. A watertight fit is super important, so be sure to put the mask on, check for gaps, and make sure the nosepiece fits comfortably.

  • Oceanic Cyanea 2 Window Mask, on Amazon. Oceanic Cyanea mask is easy to use, silicone seal and comfort, and a ski goggle style strap that is easy to use. 

Scuba fins, $60 – $250. 

Scuba fins are going to help you navigate the waters. When trying on fins make sure they fit snugly without causing any pain. If you’re a strong swimmer, you can opt for bigger, heavier fins while others should opt for a smaller, lightweight fin to avoid overexerting your muscles.  

Wetsuit, $60 – $650. 

A good wetsuit is important when diving as it works to insulate your water by keeping water out, and natural heat in. A wetsuit should fit snugly with no gaps at the arms, legs, crotch, or neck. 

  • Cressi Wetsuits come in numerous styles, fits and colors on Amazon. The Cressi wetsuit can be used in any water temperature, pre-shaped legs improve flexibility, and sleeves have an inner ring seal to provide tightness. 
  • AquaFlex Scuba Diving Suit for men and women in 5mm thickness. Amazon.The AquaFlex diving suit is super flexible and offers a great fit for any body type, no bunching at the joints allows you to move more comfortably, and inner material is soft making the suit easy to put on and take off. 

Scuba BCD, $350 – $1,000. 

A BCD, or buoyancy compensator holds your gear, makes carrying your tank easier on you and helps you float on the surface. A proper fitting BCD is snug, but not too tight and is comfortable to breathe in. Any straps, pockets, or buttons should be easily accessible. 

Dive computer, $150 – $1,300. 

A dive computer monitors your depth, dive times, tank pressure, logs your dies, and more. The most important tip when choosing a dive computer is that it’s user-friendly. 

Regulator, $225 – $1,600.

A regulator is an extremely important piece of equipment to have because this is the piece of equipment that converts high-pressure air to ambient pressure air so that it’s breathable. The regulator you choose needs to feel comfortable while you’re wearing it, and it should also be comfortable while you’re breathing even while out of the water. 

Snorkel, $30 – $90. 

A snorkel isn’t completely necessary, as its main function is to conserve air in the tank while you’re on the water surface, so it’s up to you if you choose to invest in one. Read Why Do Scuba Divers Wear Snorkels to help decide whether you want to use one. If you do want to purchase a snorkel, you can keep it pretty basic, just make sure the mouthpiece is comfortable. 

  • Phantom Aquatics Dry Snorkel Amazon. The Phantom dry snorkel dry top tube seals while underwater, has a comfortable angled mouthpiece, and extra large self draining chamber. 

If you choose to rent your scuba gear, the cost can vary greatly. While some dive companies include the rate in the diver fee, others don’t. If you’re paying a separate fee for diving equipment, you can expect to pay roughly $150 – $250. 

Diving Costs

The cost of the dive depends largely on where you plan to dive, what company you dive with, and the duration of your dive. The following diving prices are not exact, but roughly what you can expect to spend at the following locations. 

Diving spots in the United States do not tend to include the cost of equipment rental in their prices, while international diving is typically more of a package deal to include rental. When trying to decide where to dive, it’s important to check specific location’s websites or to call them to better understand what is and is not included in the price. 

Popular spots to dive in the United States:

  • California. For a one tank dive expect to spend between $100 – $150/person, and for a two-tank dive $200 – $250/person. If you’re diving alone, private diving fees can apply. 
  • Florida. A one-tank dive in Florida can cost between $50 – $80/person, a two-tank dive typically costs around $65, and a three-tank dive about $90. 
  • South Carolina. A dive in South Carolina can cost anywhere between $80 – $120/person, and most dives are two-tank dives. 
  • Hawaii. Hawaii has tons of options when it comes to dives. Several dive spots in Hawaii offer a first-timers dive at about $130/person, a two-tank dive will typically cost between $114 – $185/person, and a three-tank dive roughly $150 – $170/person. 

Popular international dive destinations: 

  • Indonesia. Dive trips cost anywhere from $75 – $165+/person. 
  • Australia. Roughly $120 – $380/person. 
  • Mexico. One-tank dive trips start around $70/person, while two-tank dives start at around $90/person. 
  • The Bahamas. Diving trips in the Bahamas are anywhere between $120/person – $190/person and up. 

Why It’s Worth The Money: Benefits of Scuba Diving

Like so many hobbies, scuba diving is beneficial to both your body and mind. Check out this list of ways taking up scuba diving could improve your mental and physical health. We have more on how scuba is a good workout at that link.

  • Stress relief. The slow and deep breathing techniques you learn when scuba diving mimic meditation. Scuba diving also requires divers to focus on what they’re doing, which in turn takes their mind off of other things. There is also the added benefit of calming underwater surroundings. 
  • Saltwater and sun. Exposure to saltwater can cause dehydration, which leads to more water consumption, which leads to the replenishment of cells. Likewise, exposure to the sun creates Vitamin D which results in a higher absorption of calcium keeping bones healthy and strong. Sun exposure also increases endorphin production in the brain. 
  • Respiratory system. The breathing techniques you’ll learn, exercise your heart without putting pressure on it. 
  • Fitness. Scuba diving is both an aerobic and anaerobic workout, and since you’re underwater you get the added benefit of not adding stress to your joints. 
  • Reduces blood pressure. Typically your blood pressure will spike a little bit at first because of adrenaline and/or cold water, but once your body gets used to the water, you begin to relax, and your blood pressure drops. 
  • Muscle strength. Your muscles have to work harder underwater; the more you dive and swim, the more strength you gain in your legs and core. 
  • Visit new and exotic places. You can scuba dive in cold or warm climates, though people typically prefer warmer climates which leads to visiting new, adventurous locations. 
Exotic locales with beautiful reefs and marine life can be explored once you buy scuba equipment and become certified
Visiting beautiful reefs can make priceless memories

Things to Consider Before Scuba Diving

Taking up a new hobby, especially one as adventurous and pricey as scuba diving can be a big decision, and there are a few things you should consider before taking the plunge. 

  1. Is your health good enough for diving? While there are a lot of health benefits to diving, there are certain health conditions that prevent diving from being the best hobby to take up. If you suffer from asthma or have certain cancers, diabetes, epilepsy, are pregnant or post-partum, or have certain physical disabilities, you may want to reconsider scuba diving for your personal health and safety. 

Even if you don’t suffer from any of the health conditions listed, it’s still important to consult with your doctor before you begin scuba diving to make sure your body is up for it. 

  1. Are you comfortable in the water? You don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer to go diving, and you’ll learn all the safety tips and techniques during your certification class, but it is important that you’re at least comfortable in deep water. 

The more comfortable you are in the water the easier it is to remain calm and confident while diving, and the more you can focus on your surroundings while diving to successfully keep away from marine life. 

  1. Can you meet the financial costs? While it’s not illegal to dive without certification, it’s certainly not advised. It’s important to learn all the proper techniques and safety rules before you dive. And while there are options when it comes to gear and ways to save money, you still want to ensure you’re buying or renting high-quality gear to keep you and/or others safe on dives. 

Scuba diving can appear costly upfront, but ultimately it’s your safety that matters most.  

And finally some scuba humor

Final Thoughts  

Scuba diving is a great hobby to consider for its many health benefits including stress relief, exposure to the sun and salt water, improving muscle strength, and the opportunity to travel to new and exotic locations. 

Before diving consider any health concerns you may have and consult with your doctor before you begin diving, consider how comfortable you are in the water, and whether or not you can financially commit to scuba diving. 

Costs associated with scuba diving include getting your scuba certification from an accredited agency, purchasing diving equipment including a mask, wetsuit, fins, a scuba BCD, diving computer, and regulator, or if you prefer to rent equipment, and the dives themselves which can vary greatly in cost depending on where you want to dive and the type of dive you’re interested in. 

If you’re ready to financially commit to scuba diving, know that diving is a great form of exercise, an excellent way to relieve stress, and a wonderful way to create new memories and meet new people from all over the world. 


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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