5 False Fears about Scuba Diving

Last Updated on May 2, 2018 by Janet Frost

As a scuba diver your friends and family consider you unbelievably brave and questionably sane. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about sharks I could afford a trip to the Great Barrier Reef.  Certainly scuba diving involves some inherent risks, and requires diligence to safety practices.  Sadly though a few false fears keep many people away from trying this amazing sport. I understand the natural concerns and I want to allay some of these false fears about scuba diving.

Here are the top 5 false fears I have encountered:

#1 False Fear-Marine Wildlife Attacks

Blue Corner Palau
Blacktip sharks were resting in the current as we hooked on to watch.


Didn’t you ever see Jaws? Aren’t you afraid of sharks (eels, stingrays, etc)?
It is true that many underwater critters can be dangerous if handled or harassed.  All outdoor sports require a level of informed precautions.  Hikers and campers in Yellowstone avoid fresh food and food waste that attracts bears.  Divers know that chum (bait fish) in the water will attract sharks.  When I hike in the North woods, I consider it a rare treat to spot wildlife.  Wildlife, whether in the woods or underwater fear humans and consistently skitter away.  Yes I have seen sharks, yes I consider it a treat to see them. I keep a very respectful distance.  Actually, I think it is the sharks that determines that distance.

Don’t Touch

False Fears about scuba diving
Stingray with Cobia armada



Several years ago the wildlife expert Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray.  This was truly a freak accident and honestly Irwin, known for “wrestling” dangerous wildlife, often disregarded common sense precautions. Stingrays, beautiful and graceful creatures never attack unless severely provoked.

Many underwater animals use toxins and barbs for protection.  All reef life is incredibly fragile. Divers know never to touch. Some dive regions actually prohibit divers wearing gloves in order to discourage the temptation to “touch”.


#2 False Fear-Claustrophobia

The second most common of the false fears about scuba diving refers to claustrophobia. People fear the sense of all that water pushing down on them.  I understand this misconception, after all certification classes teach the effects of the water pressure at varying depths. In reality, diving gives you a sense of weightlessness.   As a matter of fact the sport plays a significant role in veteran rehab therapies. Given proper training and gear that fits well, scuba diving is wonderfully relaxing.
Although purchasing your equipment adds up, I cannot overemphasis the importance of well-fitting gear. Neoprene wetsuits feel tight and awkward when dry, but as soon as you dip into the water they are like sleek seal skin.

scuba diving
Janet over the edge in Grand Turk

#3 False Fear-Swimming

Concerns around swimming ability, while valid, are also false fears about scuba diving. Yes you do need to swim a short distance for the certification test. However this swim can be done with mask, fins and any stroke you prefer. It certainly does not require a competitive swimmer’s ability. While underwater, the “swimming”  involves kicking with fins, no arm movements and no worries about breathing because of the regulator with fresh air.



#4 False Fear-Physical fitness

People worry about their level of physical fitness but are often embarrassed to voice it. If you suffer with a chronic illness you should check in with your physician about diving.  Heart disease, respiratory issues and diabetes require special considerations but may not be deal breakers.  The more common fear is about weight.  As with any physical activity, it is easier and more comfortable if you are not dealing with extra weight.  But this should not keep you from diving.  This takes us back to well-fitting equipment. I have encountered divers of every shape, size, age and gender. Underwater all that matters is your diving awareness and skill not your shape or size.



#5 False Fear-I Hated Snorkeling

Believe it or not, I find scuba diving far easier than snorkeling. Snorkeling requires a degree of coordination that I don’t seem to possess.  I am forever dipping too deep and filling my snorkel and lungs with seawater.  I have never mastered the blowing out water trick.  When diving, breathing is far more natural and secure feeling. Snorkeling can reinforce false fears about scuba diving.

false fears about scuba diving
This guy hides in plain sight in the rubble


Rocking and floating on the surface will always be the worst spot for nausea.  Just a few feet below the surface the water calms down.  In addition, snorkeling prohibits you from really seeing the teeming life up close.  So many critters crawl and hide on the ocean floor that you cannot see from the surface. Please don’t let a disconcerting snorkeling experience keep you from scuba diving.

One last piece of Scuba Diving advice:

If you took that “resort/cruise course” years ago but never felt comfortable, there is a reason why.  Those courses are typically not thorough or presented well enough to create a comfort level.  Take a full PADI course at your local dive shop.  Using your local shop will give you support people.  Often these shops will have group dive trips that are a great way to improve your comfort level and skills.  If you really want to try scuba diving, commit to working past these false fears about scuba diving. Commit to the expenditure of time and money up front for proper training and equipment.  If you make the commitment, I promise you will discover a life-changing and lifelong passion.

Don’t let false fears keep you from your dreams


Go! Learn things underwater…..

Pin it for later


7 thoughts on “5 False Fears about Scuba Diving”

  1. I chickened out when I have presented the opportunity to Scuba Dive but I might be willing to give it another try. My biggest problem is that when I get
    overwhelmed when I snorkel. The combo of fish, forced breathing through a snorkel, and being in a different world that gives me a panic sensation every time I do it. I’m not sure how I’d react being fully submerged.

  2. Very interesting – I’m trying to decide whether to try diving when we are in the ABC’s for two weeks next month. I love snorkeling, but I hate doing it – if that makes any sense. Putting my face in the water freaks me out and I really have to concentrate on breathing and not getting water down my snorkel . . . and I’m a little claustrophobic and susceptible to nausea. (Oh, and overweight.) All of which made my spouse recommend I try diving! And now you seem to recommend the same. Maybe I’m really just a chicken, but now you have me thinking I should at least try it!

    1. I absolutely recommend you try it. It surprised me how much more comfortable I felt diving over snorkeling. The worst nausea problems are almost always on the boat or on the surface (which is all snorkeling is). Once you go down even just a few feet most people’s nausea improves. Also you can see so much more diving than snorkeling. I assume you mean Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao by the ABC’s. If so, Bonaire is all shore-diving which can be very fun but a little tricky. There are some wonderful spots there though. Aruba is mostly wreck diving and not much as far as reefs. I have not been to Curacao but I know several friends who say it is wonderful. Good luck to you and I hope you end up feeling comfortable enough to try it.

  3. Hello …

    There is a very nice article posted on the PADI website about a fear & scuba diving in conjunction with Ergotherapy.


    It´s about a specialized dive school in Amed Bali Indonesia called NO FEAR DIVING

    I had some serious fears about scuba diving & then I did my Open Water Course with them.

    It was just awesome & I wanna reccomend this dive school to anyone with fears about scuba diving.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.