What Is Drift Diving


Have you ever imagined you could fly? Just rise in the air and move along the wind? Drift diving is the closest thing to flying you’ll ever have the chance to experience. This diving type means you won’t fight the current and swim against it but let it carry you instead. In this article, we’ll go through all the things you need for drift dives, and also answer all the questions about drift diving.

The Reasons To Try Drift Diving

The first and most important reason to try drift diving as soon as possible is the fact that there is no such relaxing underwater activity as drift diving. The second reason is the fact that the movement will be way easier because the current will move you along the dive site, so you won’t have to use your fins to swim, just to maintain buoyancy level, if the current is strong enough.

Where To Go For Drift Diving?

Sometimes this type of diving is basically the only one that can be done in certain areas because of the current’s strength. When the current becomes stronger than 1.5 knots, it is impossible to swim against it, so all you can do is to relax and let it carry you.

For drift diving, especially if you’re a beginner, dive only at a familiar location, or with someone who knows that dive site well enough. Remember, the current may be too strong to resist, and it could drag you into deep water in the open sea, or even prevent you from reaching back to the surface if you run into a down-current.

Another option is to do drift dives as shore dives, but you’ll need exit points all along the way because you won’t be able to get out at the same place you’ve entered the water. It is helpful to have a friend or someone else waiting at the shore to pick you up when you resurface. Most often, though, drift dives are done from the boat, near the reef, underwater wall, a shipwreck, or any other significant location worth diving in.

Drift Diving Equipment

To perform successful and safe drift dives, you’ll need the proper equipment. Here is what you must have with you:

  • The surface buoy should be the first thing on your list. It can be a permanent buoy or a DSMB (delayed surface marker buoy). With the second one, you’ll send it up once you’re ready to call it a dive for a safety stop. This will let the boat crew know and get ready to pick you up. On the other hand, if you’ll be going with a permanent buoy, this means the boat will wait there until you resurface.
  • Reef hook may not be followed by a good voice, but it is nice to have it with you for a backup. It can be used when you find yourself in a situation to grab onto something to wait for someone or something.
  • Jon Line is a good option in case you dive into a larger group.
  • Underwater signaling devices are always a good idea, especially if you’ll be diving at a location you’re not familiar with.
  • Safety gear, just in case.
  • Wetsuit
  • Dive computer, so you know your depth, water temperature, and all the other important information.
  • Dive watch, so you can track on time.
  • Dive compass, in case you get lost or to know where you’re headed to, for better orientation.
  • A whistle

First Drift Diving Steps

Before your first portion of drift dives, it is recommended to go through a drift diving course with certified instructors. The most popular place to learn how to drift dive is the PADI Drift Diver Speciality course. The only requirements are that you possess their Open Water Diver certificate and that you’re at least 12 years old.

In this course you’ll do the following:

  • Learn the most important drift diving techniques and procedures.
  • Be introduced to all the equipment you’ll use while drift diving.
  • Learn about the currents – what causes them and how they affect you.
  • Practice navigation, communication, and buoyancy.
  • Learn how to stay near other divers in the current.
  • Become certificated.

Kit Streamlining

Water currents carry an amazing amount of force with them, and it can rip off anything that comes into their way. To allow it to move easily and smoothly, it is recommended to streamline your kit. If left dangling about, currents can rip the masks off; break your suit, etc. Make sure everything is in its place and firm enough to endure pressure and lower the chance of a possible threat.

Move Your Head Slowly

Remember, unlike swimming upstream, against the current, when you move along with it, you’ll be turned the way the current hits your back, not your front. This also means that the pressure won’t be toward your forehead but to the backside of your neck and head. This also means that the mask won’t be pushed into your face and even more secured, but pressured from behind, so if you don’t secure it well and you move your head suddenly, it may be ripped off.

Keep Your Information Fresh

Always check for an update before every of your planned drift dives. Conditions may change between your dives, so it is essential to know what to expect before you enter the water. Even at the familiar locations, if the current becomes stronger and you swim with it, you may end up covering way too much of the reef too quickly, so you’ll run out of the reef before you run out of air. The lack of ability to control the speed of your movement may force you to spend more energy than firstly anticipated.

Practice Buoyancy Control

Moving along current also means the speed will be increased, which may be a bit hard to maneuver. To avoid possible collisions with other divers and underwater objects like reefs, make sure to learn how to increase your buoyancy control. Also, learn about different types of buoyancy and how to improve it.

Catching A Break


If you observe the surrounding, you’ll see many places where it is possible to stop and take a short break by getting to a place with no current. What you’ll be looking for are coral heads, pockets, or small caves in the wall… As you rest, you’d probably run into different sea creatures, so it will be worth it.

Learn From Fish

Is there any better way to learn how to get the most out of the situation than to behave like the inhabitants? By watching how fish behave, you’ll easily learn how to move by yourself and find the best place. Also, when you want to stop, simply slow your kicks down, don’t do anything fast or rush. It will only cost you energy and you won’t achieve anything.

Other Tips

Now when we’ve learned the basics, it is time to check out some other tips and tricks that will make your experience way better:

Don’t Go Alone

It is essential to have someone with you, ideally with the boat, to follow you in case something goes south. Two of the most spread ways or the following someone under the surface is by DSMB or the bubbles the diver produces while breathing.

Stay Informed

We’ve mentioned it once, and we’ll do it again because it is that important – always inform yourself about the current’s strength and direction, so you don’t end up being thrown somewhere dangerous.

Secure Your Equipment

Before you enter the water, check your equipment and make sure everything is properly tucked in and firmly locked. In case there are some loose ends, the catastrophe could strike.

Moving In The Current

What you’d want is to move as fluently as possible. Avoid using your hands and arms to move, instead, turn your head and shoulders into a “steering wheel”. If you’re looking for an example, maybe the best one is to move as close as you can to seal movement.

Keep The Pace Stabile

Don’t rush anything. If there is a need to swim, try to hit the pace of the current and simply go with the flow. Whatever you do, avoid making a furious movement as it will cost you your precious air without bringing basically anything to your goal.

Don’t Forget The Gauge!

Moving along the current means you won’t use as much air from your tank as you would in general, so you’ll have more time, but be careful not to overplay and forget to check your gauge from time to time.

Follow The Instructions

If you’re going for a drift dive somewhere organized, listen to the briefing and follow the instructions carefully, especially when it comes to re-entering the boat or exiting the water through the exit point.

Check The Depth

Some diving computers have drift diving mode, so you should set it up, and also make sure to check the depth constantly to avoid being dragged down by the current.

Globo Surf Overview

In this article, you’ve found the answer to what is drift diving question, and also some of the essential tips that will help you enjoy your drift dives fully, with all the safety aspects covered. All you have to do is grab your scuba diving gear package, run to the nearest location, jump into the water, and fly away!

More Scuba Reviews:


  1. Drift diving, Wikipedia.org
  2. Drift Diver, padi.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!