The Ultimate Drift Diving Guide

Travelli - Nusa Penida Bali

For those who can do it properly, drift diving is arguably one of the most rewarding techniques in diving.
What is it?
Drift diving involves floating with the current instead of fighting it. This is contrary to what we are taught in the PADI Open Water Diver Course. We are taught to swim against the current, at the beginning of the dive, this helps to avoid having to swim against the current at the end of your dive which could put you at risk of running low on air.

Drift diving calls on you to ignore all that you’ve been taught. You instead spend your whole dive flowing with the current. Just let it carry you along. It is the most relaxed form of diving. It’s Zen-like. You don’t plan where you’re going. Well, not in detail.

Why you should try it
When done correctly, drift diving is probably one of the most relaxed forms of diving.

Depending on how strong the current is, you may not have to use your fins to propel yourself forward.

This type of diving can come in handy where currents are too strong to swim against. Even the fittest of divers would find it difficult to swim against a current at 1.5 knots and above. Dive sites with extremely strong currents, therefore, call for this type of diving. Here in Bali, we are very fortunate to have some incredibly beautiful drift diving sites around the island of Nusa Penida.

Going for a drift dive
It’s important to be cautious when going drift diving. You should only do this type of diving in a dive site that you know well. You’re not in control of where you’re going. The current could sweep you into deep water or force you under.

If you have exit points along your way, then you can perform the dives from the shore. You do need to note that you won’t be able to exit from the dive at the same point you entered from. As such, you need to factor in transport back.

You can have someone drive along while you dive and pick you along the exits.
Drift dives are however typically boat dives. They follow walls, wrecks, shorelines or reefs. Here in Bali we do all of our drift dives from our purpose built scuba diving vessel.

Gearing up
You’ll need the following gear for a drift dive:

  • Surface buoy – This can be permanent or a DSMB. If you choose a DSMB, be sure to send it up when you’re getting ready to surface so that the boat can get prepared.
  • Reef hook – Can be useful in strong currents to hold yourself in place while waiting for your transport to pick you up – be aware that reef hooks can badly damage the reefs and should only be used by experienced divers and only where absolutely necessary.
  • Jon line – Can be used when diving as a group.

Sign up for the PADI Drift Diving specialty today to get more information on safe drift diving while experiencing some of the best dive sites Bali has to offer! Have you done a drift dive? What was your favourite part?

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