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4 Reasons Why People Are Afraid of Diving (& Why They Shouldn’t Be)

The thought of being deep underwater, particularly in the ocean, can trigger fear in the bravest of souls. Our imaginations are fueled by disaster-at-sea movies like Titanic or Jaws or news footage of the ocean’s wrath during natural disasters. It can feel like there are countless reasons to be afraid of diving.

However, any regular diver or ocean-goer has a healthy dose of fear for the deep waters. As long as you channel that fear into respect for and awareness of the ocean, then you’ll have no problem becoming a safe diver. Beginner courses like our PADI Open Water Diver will equip you with all the knowledge you need to conquer your fears.

Rest assured, you don’t want to miss out on experiencing the underwater high that can change your life. So let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might be afraid of diving and why they shouldn’t stop you!


For most people, sharks are the ultimate image of a ferocious ocean predator. Even the thought of a shark encounter can prevent people from ocean activities altogether. In reality, sharks are far less dangerous than we give them credit for. To put it into perspective, you are much more likely to be injured and killed on land while driving to and from the beach than from a shark attack in the water. While we should always respect sharks as apex predators, they pose very little risk to divers. If that doesn’t ease your mind, then here are some tactics to keep in mind if you do have a shark encounter. Remember that most beginner divers aren’t quite so lucky to spot a shark!

Underwater Claustrophobia

Many non-divers fear feeling claustrophobic or trapped underwater, which may be why they avoid learning to scuba dive. However, during beginner diving courses like Open Water Diver, your instructor will teach you how to communicate and stay calm underwater, so you can confidently handle any issues that might arise during the dive. If this is one of your fears, then check out this personal account from a fellow PADI diver with intense claustrophobia. Just like her, you can conquer your fear and come out with an appreciation for your own mental strength. Just remember to always push your boundaries incrementally and always respect your limits.

Running Out of Air or Drowning

It can be scary to depend on a single source of oxygen when you’re diving deep underwater. However, with the training in our beginner Open Water Diver course, you become fully equipped to handle these situations. You’ll learn to check your scuba tank before the dive, check the air supply in the water, and lean on your diving buddy in case you lose access to oxygen. You will gain even more diving experience and feel safer underwater when you take your Advanced Open Water Diver and your Rescue Diver courses, which you can do after you become Open Water certified.

The Bends

For those more familiar with diving, the bends (or decompression sickness) can sometimes occur after an overly rapid ascent. However, this is also easily preventable. In a beginner course, your instructor will plan a safe dive ahead of time, giving you plenty of opportunity to decompress before you resurface from your dive. You will also learn how to consult a dive table and build appropriate decompression stops for a proper ascent.


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