The Extremes of Diving

There are millions of leisure divers, average people who undertake the sport for the fun, the experiences, and the challenges that it provides.

Most divers have heard questions regarding diving records. If you’ve ever struggled to answer them, consider this your cheat sheet.

scuba diver approaching whale shark in galapagos islands
There are millions of leisure divers, average people who undertake the sport for the fun, the experiences, and the challenges that it provides. But as with any sport, there are always a few participants who go to extremes, venturing beyond what the rest of us even imagine possible. The following list includes some of the most extreme dives ever completed.

Deepest Dive
The deepest dive on a standard, open-circuit scuba unit, verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, was to 1043.30 feet (318.25 m). Nuno Gomes completed the dive in Dahab, Egypt in June 2005. Although the total dive took just over 12 hours, the descent took only 14 minutes.

Another diver, Pascal Bernabé, supposedly went to 1,082 feet (330 m) off the coast of Corsica in July 2005, but Guinness did not verify this dive due to insufficient evidence.

Deepest Wreck
Leigh Cunningham and Mark Andrews set the record in 2005 with their amazing 672-foot (205 m) dive to M/V Jolanda (sometimes spelled Yolanda) off Ras Mohammed, Egypt. A popular dive site for recreational divers, the wreck starts in the shallows of a coastal reef, but the majority of the ship has slipped into a drop off. Cunningham and Andrews managed a dive to the wreck in only 205 minutes, of which only 6 were spent of the wreck itself.

Deepest Cave Dive
Nuno Gomes also completed the deepest cave dive in Boesmansgat, South Africa. The 1996 dive took him to 927 feet (282.6 m), and as the cave’s entrance is considerably higher than sea level, the decompression demands were the equivalent of 1,112 feet (339 m). The entire dive took 12 hours and 15 minutes.

Longest Cave Dive
The longest caves ever undertaken are in Florida, and are completed as part of the Woodville Karst Plain Project, which aims to map Florida’s vast network of submerged freshwater caves. In 2007, Jarrod Jablonski and Casey McKinlay undertook a single dive from Turner Sink to Wakulla Springs State Park, a whopping 7 miles away. Using underwater propulsion vehicles, the dive took just over 6 hours to complete, but due to the duration of the dive and the depth of 300 feet (91 m), they needed to decompress for 14 hours before surfacing.

Longest Single Dive
Depth is impressive, but what about the longest time spent under water? Sean McGahern spent 49 hours and 56 minutes at the bottom of the sea off Malta in 2013. The dive was done in relatively shallow waters in St. George’s Bay, and McGahern managed to drink, eat and lounge in a sun chair chained to the bottom of the bay during the dive. He also spent time clearing the ocean floor of trash and discarded beach chairs.

There you have it — the next time someone asks you how long a person can stay underwater on scuba, you’ll have an answer. This is by no means an exhaustive list of every noteworthy, record-breaking dive, and we’re bound to have missed a few. Let us know your favorite extreme dives!