Is Scuba Diving Scary?

Is Scuba Diving Scary?

Scuba diving is generally not scary unless something goes wrong while diving. In fact, once you are in the water, it can be soothing. If you are someone who is normally scared of the unknown, suffers from claustrophobia or aquaphobia, or you are worried about seeing a shark while diving, then yes, even the thought of scuba diving can be scary.

This is a question that we get asked frequently and it usually comes from people who are interested but have never been scuba diving before.

While the most accurate answer is a very subjective one, we can give a broad answer to the question, is scuba diving scary?

In this article, we are going to talk about the most common fears that people face when they are interested in scuba diving for the first time.

We are then going to talk about how you can overcome some of those fears. Finally, we will discuss whether or not scuba diving is dangerous.

So, let’s get into it.

4 Reasons Why Scuba Diving Can Be Scary

Now that we have answered the question as to whether or not scuba diving is scary, I think it is time for us to look at a few reasons why scuba diving can be scary for some people. 

Maybe some of the things on this list apply to you or maybe you are just curious as to why some people find it scary to scuba dive.

Either way, here is a list of reasons why scuba diving can be scary for some people. We will then discuss these reasons in a bit more detail.

  • Thalassophobia. 
  • Fear of the unknown.
  • Claustrophobia.
  • Fear of drowning.

What is Thalassophobia?

Thalassophobia is an irrational fear of large bodies of water such as oceans or large lakes. Within this phobia, people can have different fears.

One person could fear drowning while another might fear what he can’t see. I like to think that Thalassophobia triggers certain fears.

Twin Diver along a line above a wreck

Fear Of The Unknown

This is a fear that you will see play out when people are on the boat just before they are about to jump in the water.

With that being said, there are some people who can start to become anxious just by thinking about it.

It’s the fear of not being able to see what is at the bottom.

It is also the fear of not knowing what exactly is swimming around in the ocean. Once people get themselves to jump in and they get to see what is underneath the water they lose this fear in most cases.


Studies have shown that up to 10% of the population suffers from some form of claustrophobia. Some cases are mild while others suffer from severe claustrophobia.

Not everyone experiences claustrophobia in the same way.

In the most severe cases, just the thought of being underwater for extended periods of time can trigger anxiety and/or panic.

In mild cases, once the person is in the water and feels trapped, it will trigger claustrophobia.

For some people, being underwater is no problem at all. They might have a problem with the gear. They can get a feeling of confinement when they put on the wetsuit, goggles, and the regulator mouthpiece.

Fear Of Drowning

The fear of drowning is called aquaphobia. It is a rare fear but it is still one that can throw a lot of potential scuba divers off the activity completely. 

For people who suffer from aquaphobia, even just the thought of swimming in a pool can cause anxiety. So, when they think about scuba diving, this can increase their anxiety levels quite significantly.

Aquaphobia is an irrational fear. This means that you can overcome it. You can achieve this by exposing yourself to your fear. 

Young scuba diver showing thumbs up

How To Overcome Your Fear Of Scuba Diving

Look, we as people are all scared of something. It could be physical fears, psychological, or even emotional fears but at the end of the day, there are things that we can do to overcome our fears.

More specifically, here is a list of things that you can do to overcome your fear of scuba diving.

  1. Embrace Your Fears
  2. Expose Yourself To Your Fears Slowly
  3. Take the PADI Discover Diving Program
  4. Watch Scuba Diving Videos (Visualisation)

1. Embrace Your Fears

The first thing that you want to do is tell yourself that you know you are scared. Basically, you want to embrace those fears.

Once you embrace your fears, you can create a plan to overcome them. Now, the first thing I always recommend doing is seeking professional help. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you.

As I said, everybody is scared of at least one thing.

Once you have embraced your fears, you are ready to move on to the next steps.

2. Expose Yourself To Your Fears Slowly

You can expose yourself to scuba diving by signing up for a course. If you are open about your fears, the instructor will know how to instruct you with those fears in mind.

Remember, most of your training will be done in a pool, at least in the beginning.

With all of that being said, the best thing for you to do is sign up for the PADI Discover Diving program. It is a once-off, one-day, one dive program.

The reason why I say that you should sign up for the PADI Discover Diving program is because of the way this program gets you ready to go out into the water.

3. Take the PADI Discover Diving Program

You will start off by doing your theory and your briefing in a room. After that, you will then move to the swimming pool where you will learn how to use the equipment.

This is great because you will have someone with you every step of the way.

Once you are done in the swimming pool, you will go for a dive in relatively shallow waters and in a safe environment.

If at any point you feel like you can’t carry on either in the swimming pool or just before getting to open water, you can simply pull out but again, you will have someone with you every step of the way.

4. Watch Scuba Diving Videos (Visualisation)

You don’t have to watch it all! It’s really good to fall asleep to though!

The more you visualise something the more comfortable you will become with it.

One of the best ways to overcome your fears of the unknown especially when it comes to scuba diving is to watch as many videos of scuba divers as you can.

I know this might sound kind of silly. However, there is a reason why I say you should watch scuba diving videos.

It is so that you can become more familiar with what you might see once in the water.

If you have a fear of the unknown, there is absolutely no harm in familiarizing yourself with the ocean from the comfort of your own home.

While watching these videos, try and see what the scuba diver sees rather than looking at the scuba divers.

Is Scuba Diving Dangerous?

We have written an article discussing whether scuba diving is dangerous and I highly recommend that you go and give it a read. In that article, we cover everything in-depth.

For now, I can say that scuba diving does have its risks. However, so do most other activities.

The two most important things that you can do to avoid these risks are to always follow the buddy system by having a friend with you and to always stick to the guidelines of your certification.

Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!

Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.

Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:


Diver Alert Network (DAN)

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Scuba diving opens you up to an entirely new world. You will see things that you have never seen and in some instances, things you never knew existed.

Being a little scared of something new is normal.

As I mentioned in the article, you should expose yourself to diving as it is the best way to get over your fears.

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Is Scuba Diving Scary? FAQs

Paul Fulbrook

Paul Fulbrook is a writer, scuba diver, ex-science teacher and marine biologist. He has a passion for coral reef biology, diving on coral reefs and writing about diving. He also loves cats and his children (sometimes).

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