Not just a boy’s club – Women Scuba Divers make a big splash

Whale shark women scuba dive

Whale shark women scuba dive

Let’s make this clear – You don’t have to be a jock or adrenaline junkie to start diving. If you love the ocean, there’s no greater thrill than scooting around the bottom, getting close to stunning wildlife, sliding through clouds of fish or tunnels. It’s no longer a boys club too and, single ladies, you don’t have to know a bunch of women scuba divers or have a bubble blowing boyfriend to start.

It’s a great community – even for land-locked regions. There are dive clubs with events planned year round in lakes and quarries. Many put together their own trips, pooling know-how and experience to find exotic places and the best times to go. Women scuba divers are a big part of the bunch.

Scuba diving is another way to help protect the oceans too. Jacques Cousteau said, “You protect what you love.” Here’s a sweet video about the mission to help the oceans with PADI instructor, Rocio Gajon.

I’m writing this as I prepare for Women’s Diving Day on July 15th. This is the third year that PADI has organized a day dedicated for women scuba divers. More than 700 locations internationally have participated past events designed to grow the dive community. New and expert divers have come together, in all kinds of activities from high tea on the high seas to shark dives and underwater cleanups. I’ll be stepping into the sea with the women scuba divers from Ocean Enterprises in San Diego. You don’t have to be a certified diver to participate but can tag along with your snorkel and fins, get to know the local divers and learn more about diving.

2016 Women’s Diving Day in La Jolla, California:

Want to join the scores of women scuba divers?

Getting certified as a diver is the first step. I’d recommend PADI dive courses and if you can manage it, take an accelerated course over 4 – 5 days in a tropical location. Perhaps you learned how to dive ages ago and need to refresh your skills? There are courses and events for that. Being confident as a scuba diver is freeing. The skill to let go and just enjoy the underwater world comes with regular practice.

I learned in Cozumel and found the dive masters deeply invested in making me comfortable and keeping me safe. The entire PADI course is set up for security and ease. The water in Mexico was deliciously warm and startlingly clear. I was in love from the first descent – while making every mistake I could. Still, it was much easier to do my open water dive from a boat on calm waters rather than walking in, back bent with tank weight, through cold waves as my son did. There are tips for new divers in an earlier post.

Elaine Titanic pose women scuba divers wreck dive

My son Josh, photo bombing my best Titanic pose.

It doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Check out dive clubs for used equipment, even camera gear, and lights. Someone is always upgrading and happy to get something for their gear.
  • There are annual sales at dive shops and online. You don’t have to get designer gear to begin with or ever. Make sure the sport works for you before investing.
  • Rent gear. Dive shops will happily fit you with the right sizes. They’ll answer questions and find out what is best for your body shape and size. You shouldn’t worry about fins falling off or a suit that chafes.
  • Learn with a friend or as a family. Dive centers often offer discounts.
  • Dive trips don’t have to drain your bank account. Scour magazines for dive specials, ask at local shops, and join dive clubs. Watch for airfare sales too.
Spinner Dolphins at the surface, Kona Coast, Hawaii

Snorkeling with wild Spinner Dolphins, Kona Coast, Hawaii

I never anticipated becoming a scuba diver. I’m not particularly fond of high-tech sports and their expense. However, after snorkeling for decades, I wasn’t about to give up the opportunity to learn to scuba with my guy, a sea-urchin-diver-turned-underwater-photographer. Over the past eight years, I’ve managed a little over 300 dives. It started with me struggling to keep up, carrying his spare camera and sucking my air tanks dry long before he was ready to surface. That’s all in the past as I just invested in my own camera and lights – second hand – and often climb up the dive ladder with air to spare. I adore my dive buddy as well as joining women scuba divers. Legendary diver, Chuck Nicklin, is my model. He’s turning ninety this year and still leading dive trips around the world. I hope to match his record.

Here’s more inspiration about Women Scuba Divers and the groundbreakers who have helped us all become better divers.

Sharing is caring. Pin this and thanks.

PADI Women Divers Day 2017


Travel Notes & Beyond




  • I have always loved scuba diving and was lucky enough to try it for the first time 7 years ago. Last year I convinced my boyfriend into trying it. He was never too keen on the sea and was very nervous but wanted to give it a go. After his first dive he was so thrilled, he loved it! I can’t wait to take him again.

  • The main reason I love scuba diving is for the adventure, for going under water without knowing what you may see or find. The second reason is because the beautiful and unique underwater landscape. In the past years I’ve taken a lot of pictures of the marine life which I store on along with all my diving logs. It’s cool that I can also search new dive spots or even add new my own.

  • Have been Scuba diving only once – when we were visiting Egypt. It was a memorable experience. The underwater world is so magical.

    And it is amazing that you have racked up over 300 dives! Wow!

  • I’ve never tried diving and reading your post makes me think that probably I should 😉

  • Oh my, that first picture is slightly terrifying! I’ve been snorkeling before, but would love to dive into the world of scuba diving. Good to know that it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive.

    • The big fish is a whale shark and not dangerous at all! They are filter feeders and move slowly. Not really sharks, just big! Diving is a fun skill worth the effort. If I were a better underwater photographer, I’d show you more!

  • Thanks for all of the diving tips! I have never done it, but I would definitely love to try!

  • I find the underwater world so fascinating, but I haven’t been able to work up the courage to learn how to dive just yet!

  • I so wish I had known about this event, as I would have totally joined you in San Diego. I will have to participate next year. Its been too long.

  • You’ve just encouraged me to go diving in my home country (the UK)! I did my open water about 10 years ago and finally got round to doing my advanced certification in Australia last year. I am very much a ‘holiday’ diver but I know I should really make more of an effort to go closer to home! The UK doesn’t have the best conditions with the water being so murky and cold but apparently there are some amazing wreck dives off the south coast – I should really make the effort and do one!

    • We actually have pretty cold water here in San Diego, CA too but there’s a lot of life in the water. The local wreck is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen with so much color and life. Not like the warm water wrecks. I hope you go for it in the UK. Just have the right gear and tell me about it.

  • I wish wish wish I had the guts to try scuba! My husband did it in thailand on our honeymoon and loved it, but I was petrified about even snorkelling!
    Maybe once I’m a better swimmer I’ll have the confidence to try again

  • I love snorkeling, but never tried diving. In your Titanic pic, it appears you are wearing snorkel masks in addition to diving gear…is that pretty typical?

    • Yes, it’s typical but not always necessary. Having a snorkel helps when you surface and have little air in the tank. It’s easier too when getting out of the water if it’s choppy.

  • This is amazing, I’m dying to get PADI certified. I haven’t been diving in a few years but I miss it so much.

  • I would love to try diving one day! Sounds like there is a great community of women divers! Thanks for clearing up some of the misconceptions about diving.

  • I live in the Caribbean and have yet to learn how to dive. Shame on me!

  • I’ve never gone Scuba diving as I think I’d be too nervous to go that far under water, but it sounds so cool and I love your pictures! How cute are those dolphins in Hawaii?!

    • The training takes the fear away. You learn what is needed to get comfortable underwater and then the rest is just practice. I’m glad you like the pictures. The dolphin experience was one of my favorite snorkels actually. Having wild ones surface close is such a blessing.

  • This was such a cool post to read! I wish I could swim to even get a taste of the ocean! Loved how women are breaking frontiers again!

  • I’ve been thinking about trying my had at diving lately. I don’t know why, because I HATE snorkeling, but I love the ocean and it looks so peaceful. Plus I want cool underwater pictures with dolphins!

  • What a fun sport. I tried it once. A long, long time ago. It didn’t go so well. Never tried again. I wasn’t with pros though. Still, I think it’s unlikely. But I love snorkeling.

    • I stayed touching distance from my dive masters on many dives before I got comfortable. Sorry to hear about your experience but if you go with pros they won’t let you down. Snorkeling is wonderful too and there’s not all that gear to contend with.

  • What fun you have! I tried to dive once many many years ago but I wasn’t with pros and was scared. My mask didn’t fit right and kept filling with water. So I swam to the boat and hung out. I never tried again.

  • Elaine, I love how passionate you are about diving! And good for you for calling out that this kind of activity doesn’t just have to be for the guys. You’re such an inspiration! I’ve only snorkled, but I’d like to give scuba diving a try!

  • I agree with you scuba diving is an amazing experience. I was so scared of it but when I tried it I understood why people love it. It is amazing you have done more than 300 dives. Once you start you want more and more it is addictive.

    • Thanks, Chysoula. If my guy wasn’t a diving addict I would never have learned. I tag along on his trips and suddenly here I am, 300 dives later. It’s truly addictive as the underwater world teems with such interesting critters and encounters. I’m a sucker for wildlife.

  • You don’t have to be a jock lol. Good to know! Maybe I’ll try someday.

  • Didn’t know there was a Women’s Diving Day, that’s awesome. I feel nervous if I leave it too long between dives so keen to get back in the water soon.

    • I just heard about the Women’s Dive Day this month. You are wise to think about a refresher course or a practice dive with an expert before signing up for anything too demanding. It’s worth it!

  • (Also, I worked alongside Flip on the Nat Geo boats and his dad is just as legendary as Flip is!)

    • That’s so cool that you worked alongside Flip on the Nat Geo boats. He’s amazing and I have his big whale book signed. Heading off to Palau with his dad, Chuck, for his 90th in another month!

  • I was terrified on my first dive, but I have some dive master friends and I always say that if I go again it would be with them. I loved it, but I have panic and anxiety issues to get over first!!!

    • I love that you still got in the water. The panic can subside as you get more fluid with the breathing and buoyancy, I’ve found. I had terrible ear issues and they’ve gotten better even though I make dive trips only a couple of times a year.

  • Wish I could learn how to swim first so I can progress to scuba!

    • That’s a good idea but there are also some cool options where you walk into the water wearing a weighted helmet. I’ve seen them in Cozumel and it’s a great option. You get a taste of being in the underwater world without all the gizmos to worry about managing.

  • Wow, I love that PADI has organized a day dedicated for women scuba divers – what a fun girls trip, and awesome way to connect with likeminded females who share the same interests. I still have to actually get my certification, though I’m hoping it’s not too far off!

  • How fun. I would have loved that. My son is on scuba kick right now, constantly begging to learn.Ha.

    • My son learned when he was about 14 on a buddy discount with a good friend. It made it more fun for them and more economical for me. He’s 21 now and still dives when he can get in warm waters. It’s a skillset for a lifetime.

  • I didn’t know there was a women’s diving day, but I should have known. I have never been diving, but it does look very cool.

    • This was just the third year for the PADI Women’s Dive Day. We had a blast and I’m sure there are other ladies days through the year at dive centers. I love my dive buddies M & F &___.

  • So amazing! Sounds like such a great group of women divers! My husband and I often talk about learning to scuba dive as I would love to go on more beach vacations! I dream of diving in Egypt as I’ve seen some pretty amazing posts there! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard! – Stumbled

    • Thanks, Lolo. It’s a great couple’s sport. I would never have learned if it hadn’t been for my boyfriend and we’ve been traveling to dive ever since – nearly 9 years. He’s uber-experienced having been a sea urchin diver but now we just enjoy the critters and take pictures. Love doing that together.

  • Scuba diving is something amazing. That feeling when you can go and explore the whole other world under water. This is such a lovely and inspiring post.

    • Thank you, Anete. I can’t tell you how much I love exploring the underwater world. It’s truly an alien environment and having wild creatures interact, curious and close is a wonder. I can’t get enough!

  • Hahaha the photo of you with your son is adorable! This seems like so much fun and definitely makes me wanna learn to swim so I can go scuba dive and snorkel too!

  • Inspiring. My sister loves to dive but I have always been too scared to give it a try. I need to get over that!

  • I imagine swimming in such a different world than the one we are used to must be an incredible experience. I’ve never tried diving myself, partially because it seems expensive, and also because I’m not a very good swimmer to begin with. After reading your post though, I do want to at least try one of these days. Maybe I’ll take a course or excursion if I ever take a cruise. Looks like such a blast!

  • Elaine, one of these days we need to put together a NATJA girls go diving trip! Great story! I shared across all my channels.

  • I like the way you said that… it truly does seem like a wonderful community to be apart of! I’m actually quite terrified of the ocean. When I was a little girl I went snorkeling in Mexico and had a jelly fish sting me in the face leading to some serious problems for awhile so it’s a definite fear of mine. Trying very hard to get over it though! Maybe one day I’ll even have the courage to go diving! 🙂

    • Oh, Jamie, You have every reason to be scared after that experience. I’ve been very lucky to not get close to jellies. They scare me more than sharks! Diving isn’t for everyone but should you get the chance, I’d go for it – with lots of guidance and slowly. You wouldn’t regret it. Thanks for sharing and I hope you’ve recovered from that encounter fully.

  • 300 is a good number… I haven’t opened my count in dives yet 🙁
    I am keen to do this activity some day in life when I overcome the fear. Underwater world really fascinates me.

    • It took me quite a long time to get comfortable in the deep and with all the equipment. What a joy now though. Like any technical sport or skill there’s a point of transcendence, if you’re lucky, and then it becomes easy and automatic. I hope to do this for the rest of my life.

  • Scuba diving always has its charm. I got my open water license a few years ago..time to hit the ocean again and feel its charm!

    • So glad to hear. That’s the furthest I’ve been certified but I’ve had the chance to do much more. I tag along with some expert divers probably more than I should have! I hope you get in the water again.

  • I earned my PADI certification in Thailand and I’m far from being a jock or adrenaline junkie. Everybody in my course was female, so I didn’t realize that there was a diving boy’s club. Thanks for spreading the word since I agree with you that everybody should learn how to dive.

    • Wonderful, Mindi. Also cool that you learned with a group of women. I’ve always been in a mixed bunch but on more technical or challenging dives have found fewer and fewer women. We are so lucky to have learned. Hope to be bubble blowing with you one day!

  • I love snorkelling so much and I have always wondered if I should take it to the next level. I always thought that diving was really expensive too so it’s nice to know that it’s not as bad as i thought. Doing the PADI course in Cozumel sounds really appealing too since I love Mexico. Might have to put more thought into it…

    • I hope you get the chance to try diving, Cindy. There’s something about floating deep in the water world that’s so exquisite. I was an avid snorkeler for decades before and loved that too.

  • Love that you incorporated videos too! Makes me want to try even more!

  • I think water adventure is an equalizing experience for everyone and I agree these kinds of events make it easier for those who haven’t tried to be more comfortable with friends and others that can lend a helping hand or instruction when your dealing with the unknown underwater world.

    • That’s a great way to phrase it, Noel. Diving is an equalizing experience. The Women’s event was an easy way to explore the sport with a bit of support and we were a varied group of all ages and skill levels. There was a lot of help and acceptance for whatever we were able to do. Thanks for the comment.

  • I didn’t know there is a Women’s Diving Day, but I knew diving is no longer a men’s territory. While I can understand your passion for the underwater world, I have to say that I don’t share it. For me it’s kind of terrifying to be under the water, perhaps because I am claustrophobic. I do snorkel however, but that is more because I want to keep my husband company. I think you are going to have a lot of fun at this meeting. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thanks, Anda. It was a lot of fun and I met some wonderful women. I can imagine that being claustrophobic makes diving hard. I only mastered it by going very, very slowly and diving with a very patient group as I made mistake after mistake. It took me about 25 dives to start being comfortable and my ears still cause me problems occasionally. Keep snorkeling!

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