How to Get Into Wreck Diving: A Step-by-Step Guide

Wreck diving is an exciting and adventurous way to explore the underwater world, combining the thrill of sport diving with the fascination of history and marine life. If you’ve ever wanted to dive into this unique pastime, this step-by-step guide will provide you with the information you need to get started.

Understanding Wreck Diving

What is Wreck Diving?

Wreck diving is a type of scuba diving that involves exploring submerged shipwrecks and other underwater structures. It attracts divers who are interested in history, marine life, and unique underwater environments. Diving into the watery depths to explore the sunken remains of a ship or aircraft can provide an unparalleled sense of adventure and mystery.

The Appeal of Wreck Diving

For many divers, wreck diving offers an opportunity to combine their passions for scuba diving, history, and marine life in a single activity. Moreover, every wreck has its own story to tell, creating a unique experience on each dive. Additionally, wreck diving can offer the chance to observe a diverse array of marine life that has made these underwater structures their home.

Types of Wreck Dives

There are various types of wreck dives that cater to different skill levels and interests. Some dives only require basic scuba diving skills, while others need advanced techniques and certifications. These dives can be categorized into three main types: non-penetration, limited penetration, and full penetration dives.

Non-penetration dives are the most common type of wreck dive and are suitable for beginner divers. These dives involve exploring the exterior of the wreck without entering the structure. Divers can observe the marine life that has made the wreck their home and explore the surrounding area.

Limited penetration dives are for intermediate divers who have some experience with diving inside wrecks. These dives involve entering the wreck but staying within sight of the entry point. Divers can explore the interior of the wreck and observe the artifacts that remain, such as old machinery and cargo.

Full penetration dives are the most challenging type of wreck dive and are only suitable for experienced and certified divers. These dives involve entering the wreck and exploring the interior, often in areas with limited visibility. Divers must have advanced diving skills and be comfortable with navigating through tight spaces and potential hazards.

Preparing for a Wreck Dive

Before embarking on a wreck dive, it is essential to prepare properly. This includes researching the wreck and its history, as well as checking the weather and tide conditions. It is also important to ensure that all diving equipment is in good condition and to bring along any necessary gear, such as a dive light or underwater camera.

Additionally, divers should be aware of the potential risks associated with wreck diving, such as entanglement hazards and limited visibility. It is crucial to follow proper safety protocols and to dive with a partner or group.


Wreck diving offers a unique and exciting opportunity to explore history and marine life in a thrilling underwater environment. With proper preparation and safety measures, divers of all skill levels can enjoy the adventure and mystery of wreck diving.

Prerequisites for Wreck Diving

Basic Scuba Diving Skills

Before attempting wreck diving, you should have a solid understanding of basic scuba diving skills. This includes proper buoyancy control, mask clearing, regulator recovery, and equalization techniques. These fundamental skills will provide the necessary foundation to safely and successfully engage in wreck diving.

Advanced Open Water Certification

To participate in most wreck dives, obtaining an Advanced Open Water Certification (AOW) is highly recommended. This certification will teach you advanced techniques, such as deep diving, navigation, and night diving, which are invaluable when wreck diving. Furthermore, many dive operators require an AOW certification as a prerequisite for wreck diving.

Wreck Diving Specialty Course

While not always mandatory, taking a wreck diving specialty course is an excellent way to ensure you have the proper knowledge and skills to safely explore underwater wrecks. This course will cover various topics, such as wreck diving techniques, safety procedures, and equipment usage. Upon completion, you’ll be better equipped to handle the unique challenges presented by wreck diving.

Essential Wreck Diving Equipment

Standard Scuba Gear

For wreck diving, you will need regular scuba gear, including a mask, fins, snorkel, regulator, buoyancy control device (BCD), dive computer, and exposure suit appropriate for the water temperature. It is crucial to properly maintain and inspect all equipment to ensure optimum safety and performance.

Wreck Diving Specific Gear

Aside from the standard scuba gear, there are some wreck diving specific pieces of equipment that you should consider. These may include a dive light, a cutting tool, a wreck reel, and line markers. These items will help enhance your experience and safety during wreck dives.

Safety Equipment

When diving in and around wrecks, safety should be a top priority. Additional safety equipment may include a surface marker buoy (SMB) and a whistle or signaling device. These items can help you signal your location to your dive buddy, boat crew, or other divers, ensuring a safe dive.

Planning Your Wreck Dive

Choosing a Wreck Dive Site

There’s no shortage of fascinating wreck dive sites around the world. Consider factors such as your experience, interests, and location when selecting a site. Beginners might opt for shallow dives with easy access, while more experienced divers may seek deeper, more challenging wrecks.

Researching the Wreck’s History

Before diving into a shipwreck, it’s crucial to learn about its history, such as how and when it sank, and any local regulations or restrictions. Knowing the background of the wreck you’re diving can greatly enhance the experience.

Assessing Dive Conditions

Wreck diving can be affected by various factors such as visibility, water temperature, and currents. It’s essential to plan your dive accordingly and stay within your limits. Consult with local dive shops, experienced divers, or websites for accurate, up-to-date information on dive conditions.

Wreck Diving Techniques

Proper Buoyancy Control

Good buoyancy control is an essential skill for wreck diving. Mastering buoyancy will not only help you conserve air and energy but also protect the fragile environment of the wreck and its inhabitants. Maintaining proper buoyancy starts with correct weighting and adjusting your BCD as needed throughout the dive.

Navigation and Mapping

Wreck diving often involves navigating complex structures and unfamiliar environments. Developing solid navigation skills, such as using a compass or natural landmarks, is crucial. Familiarizing yourself with a wreck layout through research or creating a simple sketch can help you navigate the site with ease.

Penetration Techniques

For those interested in penetrating wrecks, learning proper penetration techniques and safety precautions is essential. This includes using guidelines, monitoring your air supply, and understanding the potential hazards associated with wreck penetration. Advanced training and experience are necessary before attempting these types of dives.

Taking the time to educate yourself on wreck diving principles, acquiring the appropriate equipment and certifications, and practicing good dive planning and techniques will help ensure a safe and rewarding journey into the mysterious world of underwater wrecks. Get ready to embark on a thrilling adventure that combines history, marine life, and diving skills.