Things to consider when night diving

Night diving is an extremely exciting type of diving. Night diving offers a glimpse into a word that changes drastically when the sun sets. The opportunity to see creatures that you would never see during the day come out at night. When you dive during the day, you’re able to see much more around you, which probably means you don’t focus on any one area for very long. Night diving is different; it allows you to focus your attentions in the area your light is illuminating. Anything outside the area of your light beam, you can’t see and don’t focus on. That means your focus and concentration is on a much smaller area allowing you to see much more.


For some, night diving may sound scary. Not being able to see everything around you may be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t focus on what you can’t see, focus on everything you can see, which is transformed at night. Colors become more rich with your light and critters come out at night that are amazing. Night diving does require some special equipment, higher skill levels, and different procedures.


Preparing for a night dive

Preparing for any type of dive is essential, but when night diving, preparing can be invaluable. It’s important that you’re completely comfortable in the water and that you’re skilled in buoyancy control is top notch. You should also be very familiar with your equipment and know where everything is.


You can also prepare by diving the site during the day. This allows you to become familiar with the area and type of reef, ledge, or wreck you’re diving. Choose an area with easy entry, calm conditions, and shallow water. If possible, arrive at the dive site before dark and become oriented with your surroundings.


Equipment needed

There is some extra equipment required to night dive safely. Dive lights, compass, and strobes to mark the anchor or other prominent points are all used on night dives. Some dive operations also require a light to be mounted on the valve or first stage, such as a cyalume stick. A cyalume stick is plastic tube filled with chemicals that glow when mixed together. To mix the chemicals, the stick must be bent to break the partition between the chemicals.


Every diver must carry two dive lights, a primary dive light and a backup dive light that is used if the primary light fails. The primary light is usually a larger, more powerful light. The backup light is usually smaller and can be stowed in a BC pocket or on your harness. There are a variety of dive lights on the market that can be used as a primary light. Some lights use standard C cell batteries and others use expensive rechargeable batteries. Backup lights are smaller and many times use AA batteries. For a primary light, use a brighter halogen type bulb or an HID system. Backup lights can be halogen or LED. If you want to really enjoy night diving, the more light you can afford, the more you’re going to see.


A compass should also be carried and used during a night dive. Knowing where you are and how to get back to the boat or entry point is essential. Learning how to use a compass successfully underwater can make night diving much easier and safer.


Strobes can also be used to mark the boat anchor or mooring, anchor line, or any prominent objects. Strobes blink on and off and can easily be seen underwater. Strobes can make night diving much safer and helps to calm more nervous divers. Staying within sight of the strobes throughout the dive can ease your nerves and helps you to know exactly where you are.


Using your light to communicate

Your light can be a great communication tool. There are several important signals you should know before going night diving. Make sure everyone in your group understands these signals before diving. The three basic signals are OK, attention, and distress. When giving the OK signal, move your light in a circular motion, making a circle. If you want to get your buddy’s attention, quickly move your light back and forth (left and right). If you need to signal distress, rapidly move your light up and down. Knowing these three signals can make your night diving safer and more enjoyable.



Generally, there is no more risk in night diving than diving during the day. Becoming familiar with the dive site during the day, using the proper lights, and planning your dive conservatively can make night diving as enjoyable and fun as day diving. Always monitor where you are on the dive site. Use your compass and reference it often. Knowing where you came from and where the boat is creates comfort and makes night diving more relaxing.


Having good buoyancy control and staying with your buddy is also important. You don’t want to be floundering over the reef with bad technique. Keeping in sight and close proximity of your dive buddy is also important. You’re probably going to have to stay in closer contact than you would on a daytime dive because you can’t see as far at night. You also need to communicate with your buddy. Periodically, give the OK sign to each other. This keeps you together and reassures one another you’re paying attention.


Make sure you always carry at least two lights. If your primary light has a problem, you can switch to your backup light. If you’re near your buddy, you can use his light until you’ve turned on your backup light. If you continue the dive, realize that if your backup light fails, you’re then relying on your buddy’s backup light to get you back to the boat. Prior to diving, always check your lights to make sure your batteries are in good shape. Change batteries after use and keep an extra set with your dive gear.


Avoid touching the reef or marine life at night. Many creatures feed at night and you wouldn’t want to stick your hand in a hole with a hungry moray eel. Take your time swimming over the reef and pay close attention to what’s going on. Many fascinating creatures come out at night. You never know when you’re going to get that rare sighting of some great creature. There is know need to rush and end up somewhere you don’t want to be.



Night diving is a fantastic, exciting, and rewarding side of diving. Don’t rule out a night dive when the opportunity arises. With the proper skills, equipment, and knowledge of the area, night diving is as safe as diving during the day. With all there is to see and experience at night in the sea, night diving can take you to new places and reward you by building your experience and confidence.