Why Do Scuba Divers Dive Backwards - The Junk Liveaboard Thailand
These scuba divers are going to fall backwards otherwise they'd just fall into the boat!

Why do scuba divers dive backwards? Because otherwise they’d fall into the boat! Haha. This is the popular punchline of this joke and meme that salty divers laugh about in a bar, or at their keyboards on the internet. But where does the joke come from and how truthful is it for scuba divers? Let’s jump in (backwards of course) and find out why do scuba divers dive backwards, and the reasons for doing so!

Why Do Scuba Divers Dive Backwards?

Firstly, scuba divers dive backwards because it is usually the safest way to enter the water, minimising the impact of the water on the glass of your mask to prevent it from shattering.

Why Do Scuba Divers Dive Backwards
This meme is popular on Facebook and Reddit

Advantages Of Backward Roll

Gravity!

All of the scuba equipment can be cumbersome and awkward. It is especially back-heavy with the scuba tank or cylinder generally sitting on your back. This means you have a natural tendency and gravitation pull to fall backwards. It is then usually easier to fall with gravity and dive backwards off the boat and into the water.

Less Impact from the Water

Another reason why scuba divers dive backward is that the tank/cylinder will break the water first and allow you to enter the water smoothly. If you fell on your front, then your mask made of glass will hit the water first and have the chance of breaking and shattering into your face. If you fell on your front, then the force of the water will also probably push the regulator out of your mouth.

Boat Size

Scuba divers will also dive backwards into the water due to the size of the boat that they are jumping off from. A tiny inflatable rib (Rigid Inflatable Boats), Zodiac, or speedboat, may not have enough space for a diver to stand up, put on their equipment, and then jump feet-first into the water. This is when rolling backwards off the boat will be the safest and easiest method. In these scenarios you will usually already have the equipment on when stepping onto the small boat (usually off a larger boat or pier), then you will sit down on the edge of the boat, put on your fins, mask, and regulator, and once you have the OK sign, you will tip backwards to hit the water.

It’s Easy!

Rolling backwards from an already seated position with your equipment on also minimizes the amount of movement on the boat. Walking around a crowded boat with a heavy tank and long, awkward fins can be dangerous if you slip or trip accidentally. If you are already seated with your equipment and it is safe to roll backwards into the water, then this is much easier than walking around and jumping in feet first! Remember, scuba divers are lazy and we much prefer to conserve our energy for diving!

Read More: Rolling backwards off a RIB in my review of The Junk liveaboard in Thailand

How to Conduct the Perfect Backwards Roll while Scuba Diving

  1. Get into the boat with your equipment on (except fins)
  2. Sit down on the edge of the boat and put your fins on
  3. Put your mask and regulator into your mouth
  4. When the boat captain or boat operator gives you the OK sign, then use one hand to hold onto your mask and regulator against your face
  5. You can use your other hand to hold your mask strap securely against the back of your head
  6. Tip backwards and roll back into the water!
  7. As soon as you pop up from the water, kick back away from the boat.

Scuba Divers Falling Out of the Boat

So there you have it, if you’ve been wondering why do scuba divers dive backwards when entering the water, it is due to safety and gravity reasons! At the end of the day though, those jokesters have it correct. If us scuba divers did roll fowards, we would just end up in the boat flat on our face!!

Emma was initially terrified of the deep ocean but dived into scuba diving in 2013, and hasn't looked back since! She worked as an underwater videographer for several years and is now a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. She currently runs a dive shop on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand and is the founder of Down To Scuba.