The Comprehensive Guide to Drift Diving

Drift diving is a type of diving technique that allows the diver to travel down and back up again without swimming against the water. The diver is taken down on a rope or buoyant device by their guide, then freed to swim around like they would in any other form of diving. Drift divers typically stay within several meters of the surface, though more advanced divers may go as deep as 40 meters below it!

This article will provide you with all information about what drift diving entails and how to get started doing it. It also includes tips for beginners so that you can master this art in no time at all!.

What is drift diving?

Drift divers are types of diver diving different from battling an incoming current. Usually, we are told to always start to dive against the current if there is one, avoiding the need for combat on the way back.

But with dive drifting, we ignore everything and spend the entire dive moving with the current. Because this is one of the most relaxing diving types and the most zenlike diving. You can’t go exactly where you want to go right away – but go exactly where the current takes you.

What is so fun about drift diving

Although the feeling of being constantly taken somewhere you don’t necessarily want to be is not one that most people can describe as fun, it actually is.

Drift diving is a unique experience because it doesn’t involve swimming at all and yet we are still moving through the water.

In many drift dives, you will need to try and swim along with the current and maintain a position parallel to the surface.

Drift diving isn’t for beginners

While drift diving is a fun experience, it isn’t for everyone especially beginner divers, given the high risk of equipment failures and getting lost.

Drift diving is always done with a guide, your best buddy when you go drifting, who will take care of all the technical issues such as diving equipment, line management, and communication.

How do I start drift diving?

The first rule of thumb of drift diving is to never dive with a stranger. You should always find someone who is experienced in it and ask them if they can mentor you on this activity!

As you progress, your guide will be able to make sure that your equipment is working properly as well. That said, there are some simple steps you can follow and tips to become drift diving certified!

Prepare the basic diving equipment you will need for drift diving. Surface marker buoy is a must bring dive gear as you may not be surfacing on your entry point. You may not need a lot of weight since you have to stay close to the surface and be prepared with just enough air to make it back on site. Your guide will tell you how much is needed so that they don’t worry about whether you will get back to the surface safely.

You can’t drift dive if you don’t start your day early, especially if you are going out with a boat. The current tank is usually ready in the morning, making it ideal for drifting in the afternoon. Drift diving isn’t recommended for those just trying to have fun at night.

Find a good dive guide

This is especially important if you are new to drift diving. He’ll make sure you have the right gear and help you get oriented when you’re underwater. After a few dives, it’s fun to go out on your own so that your guide can relax too!

You should find someone who knows the area well and who has experience with drift diving. They can help you master the art of drifting, as well as explain marine life in their area!

Best drift dive sites

There are drift dives available in various locations all over the world. Drift diving in an incredible way to see marine life and drift with the current of the ocean.

Hawaii offers drift diving opportunities for tourists from all over the world, who want to experience a new activity while enjoying Hawaii’s famous sunshine and warm waters.

Drift diving in Hawaii is a popular activity for first-time drift divers and experienced drift divers. There are around 20 drift dive spots in Oahu, the most famous drift dive site in Hawaii. The best drift dives at Waimea Bay offer an excellent chance to relax and get close to corals, turtles, and tropical fish!

Drift diving from the Big Island to Kauai offers drift divers an excellent chance to drift dive over a stunning drift dive site.

After a 30-minute drive from Waimea, drift divers can enjoy drift diving around Pokai Bay. This drift dive spot is close to shore and has shallow waters with abundant marine life.

Expert tips for drift dives

When drift diving, you will face various obstacles. If your guide tells you to hold on the line and drift with the current, make sure that you don’t drift too far from where they are.

Don’t drift dive if no one has ever dived there before as you may encounter strong currents, down currents, debris underwater, or poor visibility conditions. Drift diving for the first time can be thrilling as well as terrifying!

Remember, drift diving is not for everyone. Here are top tips from scuba diving experts on your next dive trips:

Do a drift diving specialty course

Do the PADI Drift Diver courses and learning how to handle currents by professional students. When you get that perfect technique it’s going to be worth traveling the world to go for drift diving if the conditions are right. Take the PADI drift dive course to get an insider’s look at currents from professionals. Do this course to learn how to get confidence in dives.

Surface Marker Buoys

Every member of a crew and preferably every diver must bring an SMB to the event on any dive. These requirements may be extended to divers of all abilities. In many locations, however, carry an inflatable ‘safety sausage’ (SMB) is enough: The current can always go unexpectedly without a warning, and being able to notify the boat crew if your diving plan changes is important and may even be life-saving. SMBs are essential for drift diving and are essential in keeping an eye on current.

Check the current

Surface currents are not always a clear indication of the current’s motion at depth. It can get very straightforward by clear coral reef water because all the fish point to the north. So the current must run from north to south. Other indicators will be seaweed or lose sections of rope or particulates drifting along the shore. Check the direction before descending is usually a wise decision especially in clear water so check the direction of the current before descending.

Don’t fight the current

When being pulled out off the reef swim straight through the current if it is coming back. When you’re in a mild current the slow flutter helps keep the body still but with high current the swimmer goes backward. If you should swim against the current keep you from rising as high and as horizontal as possible without having excess exertion. Don’t try to defeat the ocean. Don’t win.

What gear does a drift diver need?

The drift diver has to have the same equipment as for normal dives plus a few extra things. It will be primarily a pair of gloves. Another required requirement during drift dive is surface – marking buoy. Plus a whistle is helpful when sailing on choppy water and you need immediate attention. It also helps in making sure people have somewhere to start. A whistle is also an excellent sign to stop in order not to become caught in the current.

Correct weighting

If you are overweight you will use more air in your jacket which means your jacket’s surface area will be bigger than what’s needed. Your legs might be pulled down and it will be difficult to stay horizontal. Correct weighting is important all divers are aware of but not many people can see how the overweight can influence you underwater. You have to be careful that your legs may drop and get crushed.

Reef hooks

At some sites, hooks can be used but need careful use. They can have a life-like impact on the reef. Hooks are hotly contested by dive groups but they can be a real safety help. You always have to hook up something without damaging the coral or plants. Don’t use them for digging or damaging coral.


You shall learn to use various surface markers buoys and floats with lines and reels. Ask a professional PADI instructor or dive center to list the accessories necessary for you to get the very best results in your drift diving experience. Ask your instructor or team member to help.

Stay close to the reef

Staying a metre away from the reef or ocean floor is likely to reduce the negative effects on your body. Being too far away from the water means you may end up travelling faster than other members of your team and risk being pulled out into sea if your speed is much dwindling.


The greater surface area that you present is the higher its effect will be on your body. If you swim upright you are much further pushed from lateral than if you’re standing on a platform parallel to the reefs or the bottom.


The drift diving experience is not for everyone. We’ve listed the gear and techniques that you’ll need to be successful in this type of underwater adventure below, but before we get into the specifics, it’s important to cover a few key points first: what drift diving entails and how best to prepare your body for such an intense challenge.

Drifting involves swimming up current while fighting against strong currents as well- so there are some safety precautions you should take beforehand (such as surface marking buoys). It also helps if you know where you’re going!

The ultimate drift diving guide above has all the information on drift dives from around the world with plenty of helpful tips along the way.

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