How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost?

It’s estimated that by the beginning of the 21st century over 10 million Americans had learned to scuba dive, with another half a million learning to dive each year. Exploring the underwater world is fascinating to many people. But just how much does scuba diving cost? Below, the nature of scuba diving and the costs of training, equipment and diving are outlined.


People have been diving for thousands of years. However, it was not until 1943 that Jacques-Yves Cousteau perfected a device called the air regulator that made diving without an air hose practical. Since then, the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) has become a critical tool for scientists and undersea work and the doorway to recreation for millions. In 1954 the first scuba diving school opened in the United States in Los Angeles and marked the start of a major recreational industry.


Realize that the cost of scuba diving breaks down into three parts. Before you can start enjoying undersea adventures lessons and certification are necessary. An accredited training course from an instructor certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) or similar organization will cost about $350-$500, including practice and certification dives. If you choose at that point to buy your own equipment rather than rent it the price tag is around $1,400. Daily rental costs range from $40 to $60 for a two-tank dive. If you have your own equipment, the cost of air ranges from $5 to $8 per tankful.


The heart of scuba equipment is the air regulator. This device takes compressed air from the tank and releases it as the diver breathes. The key thing to consider is reliability, since the last thing you want is for your regulator to fail while you are diving. A regulator (including air hoses) costs anywhere from $250 to $600. Most people rent tanks since the cost is about the same as having your own tanks filled. However, if you do want your own tanks, they cost $150-$300 apiece. To function underwater you need a mask and fins. Masks range from $40 to $70 and fins from $50 to $100. Finally, a depth gauge is a vital piece of equipment and costs $100 to $200.


In addition to the items listed above, there are several other things you need for safety and comfort. Unless you will be diving only in very warm water, a wetsuit is required to reduce the body’s heat loss (which can be 20 times faster when you are in the water) and prevent hypothermia. Wetsuits range from $100 to $300. Gloves, boots and hoods cost about $20 to $50 each. Last but not least, the diver needs to have a weight belt or buoyancy compensator. A traditional weight belt is not expensive, costing from $35 to $50. Buoyancy compensators are a newer technology that allows divers to adjust their buoyancy but cost a great deal more (from $250 to $500).


Whether to buy or rent depends on how often you plan to dive. If you plan to be a regular diver, buying makes sense. However, if you expect to dive only a few times a year, renting is more cost-effective. Safety is the first consideration. Proper gear protects your body from cuts and hypothermia. Of first importance is the air regulator. Don’t scrimp on this—it is what keeps you alive underwater. The basic equipment for scuba diving is pretty much the same anywhere, but you will need special gear for some environments. Some people looking for a greater challenge dive in caves or even in Arctic waters. In either case, safety and the special conditions call for specialized equipment and training that can run into thousands of dollars.