Shallow vs Deep Diving

What is considered a deep dive? Different divers have different ideas about when a dive is considered a deep dive.

Shallow vs Deep Diving

It’s common for divers to seek deep dives over shallow dives, most divers have probably experienced being on a dive boat and the dive master asks the entire group if they have a preference, deep or shallow and most of the group shouts out “as deep as possible”. Though deep diving can be awesome some divers might not be aware that it significantly reduces bottom time and requires a longer surface interval. Whether it’s the thrill of going deep or simply being able to brag about the depth it seems to be most divers first choice.

What is considered a deep dive? Different divers have different ideas about when a dive is considered a deep dive. An Open Water Diver is certified to dive to 60 feet / 18 meters and an Advanced Open Water diver is certified to dive to 100 feet / 30 meters. As part of the Advanced Open Water course a student must complete a deep dive to 100 feet / 30 meters, so for an Advanced Open Water Diver any depth greater than 60 feet / 18 meters is considered deep. Usually, a deep dive is considered to be a dive between 100 feet / 30 meters.

There are many creatures that can be seen at deeper depths that can´t be found at shallower depths. On tropical reefs its common to find healthier coral reefs at greater depths due to less sun and human waste damage exposure. Another factor is commonly wreck dives are found at very deep depths and always attract many interesting marine animals.


A shallow dive is usually between 30 to 40 feet. Diving this shallow has many benefits such as increased visibility and dive time is limited only by air consumption. On a deep dive your bottom time is limited because of nitrogen absorption, additionally air consumption increases at depth because of ambient pressure. Due to more rapid air consumption at greater depths it is important to closely monitor air gauges ad to allow a greater air reserve at the end of the dive. Deep diving is also only for Advanced Certified divers.

On a deep dive your bottom time is very short while on a shallow dive you´ll have a much longer lasting dive. Another benefit of shallow diving is the reef and fish appear much more vibrant and there tend to be more fish to see, on deep dives the colors disappear as you go deeper.

Which is better? Both Shallow diving and deep diving are great and have there benefits. I personally think that the perfect depth is between 50 to 60 feet, just in-between shallow and deep. I find that most creatures seem to like this depth.

Although I too enjoy the thrill of a deep dive, I hope I´ve given you enough comparisons to try both and not limit yourself to just one depth.

Picture credit: Google Images