Can You Scuba Dive After Flying? Read This First!

Can you scuba dive after flying? The answer: scuba diving and flying don’t mix. You should never go diving right after flying and vice versa. In this post, I will discuss why it’s not advisable to fly right after or before a dive. It’s a matter of safety, so every newbie diver should read on if they are not familiar with this topic.

Can you scuba dive after flying?

can you scuba dive after flying

When you fly on a plane, your body will be exposed to a low-pressure environment. This is because of the altitude at which the aircraft is flying.

Such a condition will make you more tired and dehydrated than normal. This will increase your risk of acquiring decompression sickness (DCS) when you dive right away.

Take note that it’s not just flying you need to avoid if you want to dive. Other high-altitude activities like climbing a mountain or ziplining should be avoided.

Aside from that, you also need to observe a surface interval before flying if you went for a dive. It’s usually the same as the surface interval post-flight. Again, it all boils down to the massive pressure changes that your body has to go through.

When is it safe to dive after flying?

Generally, expert divers recommend waiting for at least 12 to 18 hours after your flight before diving. This will allow your body to re-adjust to the normal pressure level. Also, you should use this time to rest, so your body will be prepared for the high pressure underwater.

To be specific, those aiming for single dives only need to observe 12 hours of surface interval after a flight before they can dive. This is the same surface interval they need to observe before flying again.

Meanwhile, those who wish to perform repetitive dives should observe an 18-hour surface interval pre- and post-flight. This also applies to single dives conducted on multiple days in a row.

But if you want to be on the safe side, it’s always best to wait for 24 hours after flying before you take a plunge. This is also advisable if you already experienced decompression sickness before or if you came from a place with extremely different weather/climate.

So if you’re going for a diving holiday, you should factor in these window hours to allow your body to adjust. This will save you from DCS, which can be fatal, especially for those who endured long-haul flights.

Additional tips to prepare for your dive

Aside from observing the proper surface interval after your flight, you should also keep these safety precautions in mind:

  • Don’t drink alcohol. Many tourists tend to go straight to the bar for a cold pour. But if you’re planning to dive, you should ditch the alcohol and focus on rehydrating yourself. Long-haul flights are dehydrating, which directly increases your risk for DCS.
  • Get enough sleep. Diving could take a dangerous turn if you didn’t sleep well. Your body will get tired easily, and you’ll consume air faster. Ultimately, your risk for DCS goes through the roof.
  • Go for a shallow dive. Once you’ve completed the surface interval, you can go for a shallow dive to check the waters. This is advisable, especially if you’re going for night dives. Seeing the underwater topography while the sun is up will prepare you for low-light diving.
  • Check your gear. Hours before the dive, you must check if your gears are all in good condition. This way, you can rectify any defects immediately to prevent them from slowing down the dive group. After that, you’ll perform another quick check before the dive.
  • Avoid hot tubs. Even though hot tubs are relaxing, it’s not a good place to be if you have a scheduled dive within 12 hours. Warming your body tissues can increase bubble formation, which is directly related to DCS risk.
  • Say no to deep tissue massage. Many tourist divers tend to be all-out when it comes to relaxation. This includes a nice deep tissue massage to let go of their stress. However, you shouldn’t schedule this right before and after a dive. A deep tissue massage causes muscle soreness, which will affect your safety underwater.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you dive and fly within 24 hours?

A: No, it’s best to wait for 12 to 24 hours before and after you dive. This is to prevent decompression sickness due to the sudden change in pressure. Remember that high-altitude flights are a low-pressure environment while the underwater surroundings have high pressure. Subjecting your body to these extreme conditions will surely take its toll.

Q: What should you not do after scuba diving?

A: Aside from not flying right away, you should also avoid intense partying and having a massage. You should observe the necessary surface interval before doing other taxing activities. This is to give your body the time to rest and adjust to the normal pressure.

Q: Can you scuba dive two days in a row?

A: As long as you observe the proper surface interval between the dives, you’ll be safe. You should also ask the divemaster if it’s safe to dive two days in a row, depending on your expertise level.  You should also schedule the dive before your trip to avoid problems.

Q: What should you not eat before scuba diving?

A: You should avoid any alcoholic drinks before diving. Also, avoid spicy and heavy meals as this will take time to break down. Acidic fruits like lemon and oranges are also no-nos as they can mess with your gut. Basically, anything that will upset your stomach should be out of your menu for the day.

Q: When should you not dive?

A: If you’re feeling unwell before diving, you shouldn’t push through. Forcing yourself to dive at this condition will put you and your diving buddies at risk. Aside from that, you shouldn’t dive if you’re still within the surface interval period.

Final words

Can you scuba dive after flying? To be safe, you should observe a surface interval of 12 to 24 hours, depending on the type of dive and the duration of the flight. This will let your body acclimate to the pressure, so you won’t suffer from decompression sickness.