Last updated November 21, 2022
As the gap between male and female scuba divers’ tightens—with 32% of the diving industry now made up of female divers, instructors, photographers, conservationists and even those who catalog shipwrecks—it has been amazing to see women come together as an ever-expanding community of underwater lovers.
My passion-project-turned-business, Girls that Scuba, is the world’s largest community for women passionate about scuba diving.
I started it in 2016 to inspire more women to consider the sport when working as a Divemaster (and the only female member of staff) on a liveaboard in Micronesia.
Now our global community is 700,000-strong, with experienced scuba instructors and full-time ocean activists through to the courageous, the curious and those who have never even put on a scuba mask.
We can attribute increasing female interest in scuba diving to numerous factors.
First and foremost, scuba diving is empowering. Not only does diving push you out of your comfort zone (for most of us, it takes a certain amount of courage to face the fear of breathing under the water!), but there is still the aspect of breaking through the proverbial ‘boys club’ mentality.
Only recently have brands even started making diving equipment specifically for women and wetsuits bigger than a size 12. Shocking when you consider that the average UK female is a size 16.
Feeling comfortable with body size and shape is just one of the challenges that women have to face when getting underwater, which is part of why I created Girls that Scuba – to offer space for women to come together to discuss obstacles on being a female in a male-dominated industry.
Another benefit to scuba diving is that it tends to take us to beautiful, sun-kissed corners of the world, where you can find idyllic beaches and islands surrounded by crystal clear waters just begging to be explored.
And if you are among the many solo female travelers “wanderlusting” their way around the globe, coming together as part of the diving community is a fantastic way to find like-minded friends to travel with.
Scuba diving certainly takes travelers off the beaten path and over time will influence the types of trips you take. For example, wellness travelers looking for luxury will love the diving opportunities in the Maldives, while those newer to the sport might see a dedicated scuba trip as a perfect opportunity to learn.
Every year, Girls that Scuba runs dive holidays to the Red Sea Jordan, a favorite among newer divers as there is a balance between land and underwater excursions, the sites we dive at are accessible to all levels, and equipment is taken care of, meaning guests can relax and enjoy the ride.
More experienced divers will likely take themselves off to Flores, Komodo Island or Raja Ampat – all in the lesser trodden paths of Indonesia – and those with specialist skills will love diving with sharks in Costa Rica or cave diving in the cenotes of Mexico.
Another aspect is the environmental benefit. Ecotourism is an unavoidable element of scuba diving. It’s impossible not to want to make a difference. Especially once you’ve experienced the connection that scuba diving gives you to the ocean.
Being surrounded by marine life has increased my appreciation for water conservation, ecotourism, sustainability, environmentalism, and other eco-friendly practices. My aquatic experiences in the ocean have made me (along with many of the other women in our conscious community) make much better daily decisions that support the future of our seas. It’s important to do small things. Even if you don’t think it will make a difference. Practicing sustainability doesn’t have to make a large impact in order to make a difference.
For example, the awareness of the consequences of single-use plastic is heightened. Especially when you are physically collecting plastic from the water to properly recycle and/or dispose of it. Experiences like this have inspired me to carry a plastic straw and keep reusable shopping bags in the trunk of my car. It might not seem like much. But I can rest assured that the next tourist in Cancun who finds a plastic bag in the sea will not have me to blame.
A WasteFree World
In fact, after seeing the devastating amount of plastic first-hand, I was inspired to create A Waste Free World. A Waste Free World is an online shop offering plastic-free alternatives to beauty, baby and bathroom brands. The goal is to make going plastic-free a little less daunting.
What’s more? Should you take your scuba diving experience to the Advanced Open Water level or beyond, you can further qualifications by booking ecology-focused courses. The courses will equip you to navigate the seas as an expert ecotourist.
One example is Coral Propagation. You can give back to the ocean by “planting” new reefs in the ocean. This helps restore the coral reefs that have been destroyed by hurricanes, humans, pollution, and other causes. Another is Megafauna Weeks where you can learn how to support the ecology for gentle giants such as whale sharks and manta rays.
Finally, there are also incredible health benefits associated with scuba diving. While you might enjoy the sensation of feeling weightless as you move through the water during a dive, your muscles work harder than they do out of water due to the resistance.
The more you dive and swim, the more your muscles lengthen, build strength and develop endurance as well as flexibility.
Steady, regular breathing is essential when diving to conserve and optimize your air consumption. This inevitably has a positive impact on your parasympathetic nervous system, reducing heart rate and calming the mind.
As mentioned, most dive destinations tend to be in warmer parts of the world. Warmer climates offer a healthy dose of sunshine. Which can only do great things for your body, mind and soul.
If you are brand-new to scuba diving and need advice, looking for fellow females to dive with, hoping to take your skillset from recreational diver to studying biodiversity or planning the trip of a lifetime by joining a dedicated scuba diving retreat, I’d encourage you to join women making waves at Girls that Scuba.
All photos courtesy Girls that Scuba
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