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When you’re away for a “dive cation,” you try to take advantage of every single moment you have. You find yourself diving in the morning, afternoon, and late at night, but what is the limit for the number of dives? How many scuba dives per day?
There’s no specific number as to how many times you can go scuba diving a day. The answer depends on many factors, like the depth and duration of your dive. Overall, it’s safe to limit the number of your daily dives to no more than five times.
Keep reading to find out more about how many dives you can do in one day, the precautions you need to take, and whether it’s possible to dive more than five times per day.
How Many Scuba Dives Per Day?
Technically, there’s no specific limit to the number of dives you can do per day. As a recreational diver, you can dive four times a day. This number may increase to five times per day for shallow dives. The most important thing is using a dive computer or table to track your dives.
Overall, everything depends on the amount of nitrogen in your bloodstream and muscles. All divers are prone to something called “decompression sickness,” which can be really dangerous, sometimes even life-threatening.
The more daily dives you make, the more you’re likely to develop decompression sickness. This makes one wonder, what is decompression sickness? And how can it be harmful?
Decompression sickness, also referred to as “the bends”, happens when divers rush to the surface after finishing their dive. Sadly, it can cause tissue and nerve damage. Even more dangerously, it can cause paralysis and death if the nitrogen bubbles are in the brain.
In fact, there’s even been a reported case of death caused by decompression sickness. So, what causes it?
Basically, when you go scuba diving with compressed air tanks, you breathe in oxygen and nitrogen. Your body uses up the oxygen it needs, but the nitrogen, however, gets dissolved in the bloodstream and remains there.
When the diver doesn’t take enough time to ascend slowly, this could result in bubbles forming in the blood, which is highly dangerous. Not to mention how painful the bubbles accumulating in the muscles can be.
That said, the amount of nitrogen inside your body varies depending on many factors, including:
- The dive’s depth
- The duration spent at the maximum depth
- Number of dives already done on that day
- The time between each dive and the following one
- Number of dives done in the previous day
A dive computer, also known as a decompression meter, is a modern take on the dive table. Instead of keeping track of every dive’s depth and duration manually, the dive computer does it for you. It’s an essential device to have as a diver.
It monitors the depth and time information, then applies this info to a decompression model to give you exactly how much dive time you have left. It does that by tracking the dissolved nitrogen inside your body while diving.
Dive computers come in two different styles: console or wrist mount. Console dive computers connect to the regulator and have digitized large screens. Wrist-mount dive computers, on the other hand, are more compact but are still easy to read.
The essential information provided by dive computers includes:
- Diver’s depth
- Dive Time
- No stop limits
- Ascent rate
- No stop time remaining
- Emergency decompression
- Water temperature
- Maximum depth
- Previous dive information
No Stop Limit
No-stop time or no-stop limit is the time a scuba diver can spend at any given depth without having to stop for decompression while surfacing.
No Decompression Limit
No-decompression limit is the amount of time a scuba diver can spend at any given depth. Unfortunately, the more you dive per day, the less your tolerance for nitrogen becomes.
That’s because as the dives go by, your body is more tired, and therefore, it takes longer to eliminate the excess nitrogen inside the tissues.
How Long Should a Single Dive Take?
When calculating your dive time, it’s a wise thing to round up to the next five—especially if your dive was particularly exhausting or cold.
For example, if you dive at 66 ft for 22 minutes, then your actual time would be 25 minutes. Adding the “being more cold or tired than usual” factor, you should round it up to 30 minutes.
On average, a single dive takes between 40 to 70 minutes. The number depends on how much time it takes for you to empty your air tank. This, in turn, depends on some factors, like:
1. Your Depth
Obviously, the deeper you dive, the more air you consume, and the sooner your dive ends. That’s because as the pressure increases, the air compresses inside the tank and becomes less in volume. Therefore, you consume more air as you dive deeper.
2. The Tank Size
There are different air tank sizes available, depending on the region you’re in. This controls how much your dive takes. An average beginner diver can empty one air tank in about an hour at 33 ft deep.
Contrarily, professional divers can easily double up this time using the same air tank. They do that by breathing and buoyancy control. Additionally, they’re able to minimize their movement underwater.
3. Breathing Rate
Naturally, the faster you breathe, the more air you consume. After all, your time underwater is limited by the amount of air you have. That’s why divers train to breathe slowly and be more relaxed.
4. Underwater Conditions
It’s not always clear and calm underwater. A drop in visibility can cause the diver to get nervous and consequently breathe faster. Additionally, ocean currents require more effort causing divers to kick harder and use up more air.
5. Diver’s Size
A person’s size and muscle mass control the amount of air breathed. That’s because bigger bodies need more energy. Consequently, an overweight person or a muscular one consumes more air than an average-sized person.
How Long To Wait Between Two Dives?
You should give your body time to work on eliminating nitrogen between each dive and the next. This waiting time is often referred to as surface interval time (SIT).
Your SIT depends on the depth and duration of the dive. Generally speaking, it must be at least ten minutes. If you fail to wait for this amount of time, you should consider the following dive as a continuation of the previous one.
That said, you can use a diving compression table to determine exactly how much you should wait between two consecutive dives. This kind of table makes use of extensive research on repetitive diving and its medical impact.
The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) created its own diving compression table based on the U.S. Navy. This was after adjusting it to fit recreational divers. These tables make it easier for you to determine the amount of residual nitrogen in your system.
The table uses letter grouping from A to L, with L representing the highest amount of residual nitrogen in your body.
Here are the three tables NAUI created:
Table #1: End of Dive Letter Group
This table exhibits how much residual nitrogen you have inside your body according to the time and depth of your previous dive. It also tells you how many minutes your stopping interval should be every 15 ft.
Table #2: SIT Table
This table demonstrates the amount of time you should wait and rest between two dives. As shown in the table, the least amount of waiting time is ten minutes.
Table #3: Repetitive Dive Timetable
This table provides maximum dive times for repetitive dives. The data will depend on your letter group and dive depth.
Safe Ascending Tips
Ascending safely and properly takes more time than you think. For the ascending process to be harmless, you need to be aware of the following tips:
- Start ascending early, preferably with enough air left and while you’re not too tired
- Stop for three to five minutes for every 16 ft
- Agree with your fellow diver before beginning to ascend
- Ascend at a rate of not more than 60 ft per minute if you’re in a deeper level than 60 ft
- Ascend at a rate of not more than 30 ft per minute if you’re in a shallower level than 60 ft
- Maintain your concentration, and ascend as slowly as possible, especially the final 20 ft
There’s no doubt that diving can be overly exciting, especially in exotic locations. However, don’t overlook the importance of your safety and health. Go to as many dives as you like a day as long as you’re following a diving table.
You can go diving up to four to five times per day, but keep in mind that you should take proper resting time between dives. In addition, always keep your dive computer within reach to closely monitor your time, depth, and all the essential data.
Finally, whether you’re a professional or recreational diver, remember that your safety should always be a priority.