• Study the site and plan the dive, get as much information as you can from maps, charts and online. If you haven’t dived the site before - try to talk to someone who has. 
  • Carefully chose your exit and entry points. Be aware that the water line, and sea conditions can change significantly during your dive so try to have an alternate exit point in case you can’t use the one you planned.
  • Check weather and surf reports a day before your dive, and an hour before. Weather and ocean conditions can change very quickly, particularly in Ireland.  During the dive be wary of any changes in wave action or ambient light, which can indicate an approaching squall.
  • Bring a non-diver for assistance in getting in and out of the water. Let them know your dive plan and who to contact in case of emergency. Explain the basic hand signals to them (OK v Help Needed). 
  • Make sure you get ready carefully and methodically - don’t rush. Gear up at the same time as your dive buddy to avoid possible overheating. Do your buddy check before you enter the water.
  • Make sure each diver has a Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) so that if you get caught in an unexpected current, your shore-support can see you and call for assistance if required.
  • When wearing heavy scuba gear it is very easy to fall over on loose stones, or algae covered rocks so if entering via rocks rather than a beach, test your footing before committing to a step.
  • When entering from a beach, wade out into the water wearing everything but your fins, until you're about chest deep. With your BCD inflated and your mask and regulator in place, put on your fins.
  • It is very easy to get knocked over by even a small wave when wearing heavy scuba gear. Always have your mask on and your regulator in your mouth when approaching waves, so if you do get knocked down, you will still be able to breathe and see. 
  • If there are waves, plan how you will get beyond the surf line. As any surfer will tell you, waves travel in ‘sets’ and carry most of their power on the surface. If the water is deep enough you can submerge and head out under the waves. Otherwise observe the pattern of the wave sets and aim to get out beyond the surf line during the lull between sets (while wearing your mask and regulator).
  • Waves break in water slightly deeper than their height, watching them will give you an indication of depth and the location of reefs.
  • Before submerging establish some visual reference points on the shore to assist in locating your entry / exit area when you surface.
  • Surge, the to and fro movement of water caused by wave action, can make entering and exiting the water more difficult. If you are clear of any dangerous rocks or reefs then don’t waste energy trying to fight surge as it will usually return you to where you were initially. 
  • If the dive site is some distance from the beach / surf zone, use your snorkel to breath once you have safely passed through the surf zone. 
  • Surface with enough air to comfortably make it back to shore and pass through a surf zone. Remember that exiting the water can require a lot of hard work so make sure you have enough physical energy left as well.
  • If exiting via a beach, the easiest way to avoid the surf zone is remain under it. Get negatively buoyant, and if possible swim underwater all the way to the edge of the beach.
  • If waves are breaking in shallow water, wait for a lull and swim through the surf zone quickly with one hand stretched out in front of you. Remember to hold your mask as waves hit.
  • When exiting, keep your mask and regulator in place until you are safely on shore. Make sure your BCD is inflated. If it’s calm, swim until you can comfortably stand in the water. Remove your fins and walk out slowly - be prepared for the sudden extra weight of your gear once it is out of the water.
  • If there are waves, backwash or surge all the way to the shore line,  the easiest option might be to crawl out on your hands and knees.