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Is Scuba Diving Expensive? (2023 Cost Estimates)

If you are interested in learning how to scuba dive, you might be wondering how much it costs as a hobby.

Scuba diving opens you up to all kinds of new experiences.

There truly is no experience quite like it.

However, scuba diving has a reputation as a pricey activity with lots of ongoing costs. 

But that’s not exactly true.

While there are some ongoing costs associated with scuba diving, they might not be as much or as frequent as you expect.

On the other hand, you will spend money on a fairly regular basis as a diver.

This makes it a more expensive hobby than, for example, hiking or birdwatching. 

In this article, we’ll break down where payments crop up while pursuing scuba diving as a hobby and if those are manageable for the average person.

This should help you make a decision if you are thinking about learning how to scuba dive. 

What Are The Costs Associated With Scuba Diving? 

happy scuba diver with equipment camera

The costs of scuba diving generally fall into a few main categories.

The biggest ones are scuba diving certification and gear.

These are usually the biggest expenses because scuba diving is a highly specialized hobby.

You need the right tools to enjoy the activity and of course, stay safe — especially if you are out in the ocean.

You will also need to budget for tank boat trips and any travel costs to get to dive sites.

Luckily, scuba diving is a relatively affordable hobby for many people.

Rental options expand the potential for new scuba divers even further by drastically cutting costs.

While it definitely costs money to safely and effectively get into scuba diving, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.


So what is scuba diving certification and why do you need it?

This is an important question that you really should know the answer to.

Scuba diving has plenty of rewards but it is a serious and potentially dangerous activity.

Possessing the skills and knowledge to safely dive is essential.

Becoming diving certified simply means that you have taken a course to learn the basics of the sport and how to use the equipment.

It also proves that you are in good health and do not have any physical conditions that would stop you from being able to dive safely. 

You will need to pay to become diving certified.

But you don’t technically have to have certification to dive — though you do to go on any official trips with a guide or dive leader.

Without the proper certification, you will have far more limitations in where, when, and how you can dive.

This alone can make scuba certification worthwhile.

You can legally dive without scuba certification.

But it is not a good idea.

Scuba diving without the proper education can be extremely unsafe, especially if you encounter unforeseen circumstances.

Being educated on proper safety and equipment use could save someone’s life, especially your own.

So, bottom line: your best choice is to cough up the time and money to get your diving certification.

This ensures that you can enjoy the sport as safely as possible.

It also opens you up to a lot more diving possibilities, since you can go to better locations and with groups! 

Certification Costs

There are three parts to becoming a certified diver. And yes, each part costs money.

The first part is an online test to determine your basic knowledge about scuba diving, safety regulations, and underwater conditions.

This will usually run you in the range of $185, though costs might vary depending on where you live. 

Second, you will need to take an in-person class in a pool.

This usually runs in the range of a few hundred dollars.

This takes place with an instructor who ensures you can put proper safety, swimming, and equipment practices into action.

The third and final part of scuba certification might cost you the most, depending on where you live.

That is because it takes place in an ocean.

If you live on the coast, this might be a cheap and quick trip down the road to the nearest beach

On the other hand, if your home is solidly landlocked, you could be looking at a long, expensive trip to get your final certification.

Factor in travel costs if you live far from any certification locations.

While costs vary depending on the program, type of gear, and location, there are some generally helpful figures.

Certification programs can cost $200 or even a few hundred more. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something for $250-350.

This cost generally covers the scuba course itself along with the pool portion of your training. 

You can also find online options, usually for a couple hundred dollars.

If you take online certification classes, you will still need to pay for separate in-water training and open diving portions.

Open dive certification tends to cost varying amounts depending on where you are. Expect anywhere from $250-325.

In all, be prepared to spend up to $650 or even a bit more to get your scuba diving certification.


After your certification, you will need gear.

Necessities include a mask, snorkel, and fins. Budget at least $250 for these.

Once you factor in a dive computer, scuba regulator, and BCD (buoyancy compensator), expect to pay at least $1,000.

Other pieces of equipment such as wetsuits, dive bags, and the like are less strictly necessary. 

It’s in your best interest to pay for high-quality gear rather than what’s cheap.

You should be able to trust your gear with your life.

You don’t need to spend large amounts on accessories, but the main components of your scuba gear should be trustworthy pieces of equipment.

Thankfully, there is no need for you to buy all your own gear at the start.

You can rent much of the gear you need.

This is great for people who aren’t sure scuba diving will become a long-term hobby.

Make sure you want to continue scuba diving before purchasing all your gear.

You can start with a snorkel, mask, and fins of your own, building from there.

In the meantime, enjoy learning to scuba dive without any pressure that you “need” to feel or perform a certain way to justify your new hobby.

For many of your dives, you will need to rent a boat or take a boat ride to get to the location.

Tank boat dives can cost from $80-150 depending on your location, but the lower end is more common.

Scuba diving is less expensive during off-seasons when more discounts are offered. 

How Much Does It Cost To Rent Scuba Equipment? 

Renting scuba equipment is much cheaper than buying your own.

Of course, this comes with the drawbacks that you don’t get to pick your gear and must take what you can get.

A set of rental scuba gear usually costs $50 or less for a single day.

This makes it far more affordable than purchasing your own equipment.

Sometimes you can find discounts if you rent equipment for longer periods, like a week.

Occasionally you will find other specials or deals depending on the season or location.

Operators will even sometimes bundle the cost of the rental equipment and tank boat dives, though this isn’t very common.

Should You Buy Or Rent Equipment?

If you have the funds, you should buy your scuba equipment once you’re relatively sure you plan to do it often.

Scuba diving is not a cheap hobby but it is accessible for most.

There is no sense in shelling out the initial costs for high-quality equipment that just gathers dust over the years.

This makes rentals a perfect option for beginners.

Rentals are a great way to save money while working through your certification, pool exam, and open dives.

Deciding to rent or buy your equipment is a personal choice.

The main factors you should weigh include your budget, how much you plan to dive, where your dives will be located.

You have to determine whether owning your equipment seems a worthwhile investment.

If you won’t get sufficient mileage out of your equipment, renting will save you far more money.

If you plan to scuba dive quite regularly, though, then rental costs add up pretty quickly.


Scuba diving isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t fit everyone’s budget.

But more and more people are finding scuba diving to be a relaxing, engaging hobby.

People find new perspectives and form beautiful memories under the water.

Scuba diving enables you to see underwater worlds up-close and personal in ways most people never dream about.

Now that you know the options you have to get started, you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Just remember to take your time to learn as much as you can.

This helps you stay safe but also gives you a profound appreciation of this sublime activity.

Scuba diving brings you into another world full of underwater flora and fauna, unlike anything you’ll see on land.

With a bit of time, effort, and some money, scuba diving is a fantastic hobby that rewards and inspires.