Recreational Diving

Recreational diving using self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (or scuba) offers opportunities for travel, family fun and friendly interaction with the environment. Scuba diving allows oneself to enter into the wonderful and colourful world of coral seas, which are plentiful and within easy reach in this part of the world. In pursuing recreational diving, travellers should have a basic understanding of possible problems associated with diving.

Are there health risks?

  • Divers need to be aware that during diving, there are often rapid changes in ambient pressure under water which in turn cause medical problems. The main risks of diving are decompression sickness, blockage of blood vessels by air, pressure injury to sinuses and the middle ear, panic and disorientation. External ear infection may occur.

  • Some medical conditions, such as flu, injury or pregnancy will temporarily restrict diving. With flu, swelling or blockage in the Eustachian tubes or sinuses may prevent adequate equalisation of these air spaces with the water pressure, causing pressure injury. Injuries to joints and muscles may not only reduce diving ability but also increase susceptibility to decompression sickness.

  • Be careful with medications which may cause drowsiness or fatigue or affect the heart rate. Consult you doctor when in doubt.

  • There is no upper age limit for participation in scuba diving, provided a diver is healthy and fit and has no disqualifying medical conditions.

How are they prevented?

  • Be aware of the health risks of diving;

  • Keep physically fit;

  • Consult your doctor and have a pre-dive physical examination if you have the following conditions :

    • a history of heart or lung disease;

    • an unexplained loss of consciousness or blackout;

    • a history of nausea or vomiting;

    • shortness of breath;

    • asthma;

    • diabetes;

    • the use of medications;

    • repeated trouble clearing air spaces.

  • If you join diving tours, choose reputable firms with properly maintained equipment and experienced diving instructors;

  • Plan your dive to avoid overexertion;

  • Always check the breathing apparatus and equipment carefully before use;

  • Abstain from alcohol;

  • Dive in pairs;

  • The most common injuries reported involved pressure-related injuries to divers' ears and sinuses. To avoid these, remember the following :

    • Test the ears and sinuses by equalising prior to entering the water;

    • Descend and equalise in a feet-first position; it is easier than head-first;

    • Descend at a slow, steady pace and keep up with your clearing manoeuvers, e.g. Valsalva manoeuver (pinch the nose and blow gently with your mouth closed);

    • Do not continue to descend and forcefully clear if you experience difficulty-stop your descent if you have ear or sinus pain;

    • If you do experience pain or discomfort, ascend until it is relieved;

    • Breathe normally during free ascent.

  • Recognise and avoid beautiful but dangerous marine organisms e.g. Portuguese man-of-war, lion fish, stonefish, stingrays, moray eels, sea urchins.


Last revision date: 10 October 2012