Hands Signals to know when scuba diving

Ask any diver what they enjoy about scuba diving. Most will describe the absolute peace and tranquility of being at depth. Some will discuss the intense pleasure of not having to speak to anyone. So… how do you communicate with your buddies, dive master and other divers during a dive? Hand signals are the most common form of underwater communication. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones to know. 

OK / Are you okay?

I'm okay, are you okay?
Are you okay? It's a question and an answer when it comes to scuba diving signals

The OK signal is the most important signal when it comes to diving. The ok is both a question and an answer. Join the thumb and index fingers while extending your third, fourth and fifth finger. The thumbs up signal indicates to go upwards or the end of a dive. 

There's a problem

I have a problem.
There's a problem and point to where the problem is.

Have your palm flat and slowly move your hand from side to side, followed by where the problem is. Whether it's equalizing, your weight belt or something else, pointing out where the problem is will help your dive master, instructor or buddy to know what the issue is.

OK and problem at the surface 

An OK at the surface is done by joining your hands above your head and can be used to signal the boat or lookout that you’re doing OK. This can also be done using one hand depending how far you are from the boat or shore. A problem at the surface is signaled by waving both hands and yelling ‘help.’ 

Thumbs up or down 







Thumbs up can signal to ascend or the end of a dive. When you see this signal, you should also signal thumbs up to show that you’ve understood it’s time to ascend. A thumbs down is used to signal that the diver should descend.

Look at me or look over there

A scuba instructor will point at their eyes then at themselves to show students that they should look at what they’re about to demonstrate. A dive master during a fun dive may point at their eyes then in a direction to show that people should look in that direction. 

Level off or stay at my level 

Used to tell other divers to maintain their depth. It’s commonly used when you’ve reached your planned maximum depth or to tell divers to hold their depth for safety reasons. Extend your palm and move it slowly from side to side horizontally. 

Buddy up 

If you’re too far from your buddy, you may be asked to buddy up. This is done by using both index fingers and placing them close together. 

Safety stop

A three minute safety stop at five meters is demonstrated by a flat open hand with your other hand below it indicating three. This means that divers should level off and start their safety stop. 


The deco signal can be done by either raising a pinky or raising a pinky and thumb. This signal is used in the event that a diver has passed their no-decompression limit and to communicate the need for an extra safety stop. 

 Low on air

Once you’ve reached 50 bar or go into the red on your gauge, you should signal to all other divers that you are low on air. This is done by placing a fist in front of your chest. 

Out of air 

In the unlikely event that you run out of air during a dive and other buddies are close by. You can signal you have run out of air by moving a flat hand across your throat which indicates your air supply has been cut off. Your buddy should then give you their alternate and you can start to ascend. 

How much air do you have? 

Your dive master and buddies may ask you how much air you have during a dive so you can adjust your dive depending on how much air the group has left. This is done by placing your index and middle finger into the palm of your other hand and tapping. To signal half a tank, form a time-out with your hands, 50 bar is done with a closed fist. Each additional 10 bar is indicated with the fingers on your other hand. 


You may be asked to stop or hold a position. To indicate this, hold a flat hand pointing forward or hold your forearm up and make a closed fist. 

Come here 

An open hand and moving your fingers towards yourself in a beckoning motion is used to signal to other divers to come here. 

Now we've taken a look at some of the most popular underwater hand signals. What's your favourite one to use during a dive?

5 Tips for New Divers

Learning how to dive is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. Once you’ve completed your Open Water Course, what’s next? Let’s take a look at some of the best tips for new divers.

Practice, Practice, Practice  

Have you ever heard of the statement: “practice makes perfect?” When it comes to diving, this is very much the case. The more time you spend in the water, the more time you have to develop your skills. Working on your buoyancy, kicking technique and air consumption becomes easier the more time you spend in the water. Practicing the skills, you learn during your course will help keep them fresh in your mind. Find a buddy or dive club and take some time during a dive or between dives to work on your skills. Try not to leave it too long between doing the course and getting yourself in the water. 


Buy a Mask and Fins 

A properly fitted mask and a set of fins that do not give you blisters are the difference between a good dive and a dive you would rather forget. A mask that does not leak or fog will help you be able to see the wonderful marine life while diving. Comfortable fins will help you keep up with the rest of the group and not let you get tired. As you progress, you can start buying all the other types of dive equipment. If you’re considering buying a mask and fins, get in contact with us at Aura Divers, we’ll be happy to provide you with guidance and advice about different diving equipment and where to purchase it in Muscat, Oman. 

Drink Water 

Staying hydrated while diving is incredibly important. It can decrease your chances of getting decompression sickness. Drinking electrolytes is a fast and easy way to replenish after a dive. Be sure to drink water, before and after the dive, even at the end of the day. Keep drinking water!  


Learn how to control your buoyancy

So, you’ve done your Open Water Course but still tend to swim with your arms or rise up and down? Having good buoyancy is not about constantly inflating and deflating your BCD. Mastering your breath will automatically help you with your buoyancy. Being properly weighted and reacting to changes in depth are important. Using the dump valves on your BCD will help keep you horizontal while letting air out of your BCD. Learn from other divers and your future dive guides. In addition, observe how they position themselves in the water and swim, find a role model and try to copy what they do.  


Develop your Buddy Skills

Becoming a good dive buddy takes time. Learning how and when to interact with your buddy is important. Staying close during the dive and communicating with your buddy is vital. Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for your dive buddy in case they do need your house. If your buddy needs assistance or you can see something that may turn into a problem, you have the ability to help them and reduce the risks. Check on their air consumption and make sure you’re diving within your limits. Understanding your buddy’s limits can help you adjust the dive plan.



Becoming a good diver takes time and practice. Actively trying to become a better diver is important. With more time in the water, things that were once daunting become much easier. Remember to keep  learning and developing your skills as a diver. Consider taking further courses like the PADI Advanced Open Water course or a specialty like Peak Control Buoyancy or the Deep Diver course. 

Contact us at Aura Divers if you want to learn more tips to become a better diver or about diving in Oman


Refresh or ReActivate your Scuba Diving Skills with Aura Divers

Has it been a while since you’ve been diving? Want to get back in the water but don’t know where to start?


Diver giving the all ok

PADI offers two different courses to help you refresh your scuba diving knowledge and skills: the PADI ReActivate Course and the PADI Refresher Course. The PADI ReActivate Course is a course for certified divers that want to refresh all the diving skills they learn during the Open Water Course. The course consists of online theory, confined water session and an optional open water session. The Refresher Course can be done in a few hours and before open water dives. It consists of a quiz and practicing in-water skills.

To do a Refresher or ReActivate course, you need to have an entry level certification from any organization. Whether to do a PADI Refresher or ReActive Course depends on how long you’ve been out of the water and your certification level. It’s recommended to do a PADI Refresher if you’ve been out of the water for longer than a year. If it’s been longer than 2 years’, the PADI ReActivate Course is the way to go. If you haven’t been diving since your initial course, it may be better to consider the PADI ReActivate Course. Both of these courses are useful for people that are a bit apprehensive about scuba diving.

PADI ReActivate

The PADI ReActivate Course is part eLearning where you can watch videos on how to perform the necessary diving skills.  It helps you relearn dive theory. If you have any questions, write them down and make sure to ask your dive instructor when you see them. You’ll go over the content from your initial course like: dive planning, equipment assembly and safe diving practices. With your instructor, you can do an in-water session in a pool or confined open water. During the in-water session, you’ll go over ALL the skills from your Open Water Course.


Divers during their Refresher

PADI Refresher

In comparison, A PADI Refresher Course is slightly different. It goes over basic diving practices, including alternative air source use, how to clear a mask, setting up and disassembling dive gear, and how to recover your regulator. At the start, complete a quiz which you’ll go over with your dive instructor which covers dive theory and safety practices. There is no eLearning as part of this course.



At Aura Divers, we offer both Refresher and ReActivate Courses. Give us a call to discuss which is the best for you!

Snorkeling vs scuba diving: which is better?

The long debated question: scuba diving vs snorkeling, which is better?

Snorkeling is a popular activity whereby the person swims at the surface with a mask, snorkel and fins. While diving, you have added equipment including a BCD (buoyancy control device), tank, dive computer, wetsuit and weights. Using this equipment, you can go down to a given depth. On a Discover Scuba Dive, the maximum depth is 12 meters, Open Water Divers can reach 18 meters and Advanced Open Water Divers can plunge even further to a depth of 30 meters. 


Snorkeling in Muscat

Snorkeling at Daymaniyat Islands

You can snorkel with little experience of being in the water. Whereas, diving can take some theory and practical experience before getting the hang of it. If you aren’t confident in the water, you can wear a life jacket to keep you afloat while you snorkel. It’s also possible to gain experience snorkeling to build your confidence before going diving. You don’t require a certification and snorkeling can be done nearly everywhere. On the other hand, diving requires you to get certified and when you dive in a new place you should ideally dive with a professional diver to be on hand at all times to act as a guide. 



Scuba Diving around Oman

Scuba Diving in Oman

To start scuba diving, it’s important that you have the right equipment and perform pre-dive safety checks. You need to learn the theory behind diving safely and then put it into practice. For instance, how to perform safety stops for three minutes at five meters, conduct buddy checks, and be able to remain neutrally buoyant. While this sounds complex, divers from their second dive are able to do this successfully. 



Diving allows you to immerse yourself in the underwater world for an extended period of time. Most snorkelers can get tired easily and will remain in the water for shorter than an average dive. While it takes longer to start to dive and is more expensive, the rewards are immense. When it comes down to it, when comparing snorkeling vs diving, it will mostly depend on personal preference. 


At Aura Divers, we’re here to help you with all your diving and snorkeling needs in Oman. Contact us for more information or to book. 


A whale shark swimming close to the surface

5 types of sharks you can dive with in Oman

5 types of sharks you can dive with in Oman 

Diving with sharks is an amazing experience. Most sharks are scared of humans and will swim away as soon as they see us. You can spot up to 10 species of sharks around Oman but let’s take a look at some of the most popular: 


blacktip sharks in Oman
Diving with blacktip reef sharks in Oman

Blacktip Reef Shark

The blacktip reef shark is a very skittish shark which poses no threat to humans. They can range from 1 to 3 meters in length. One of the most popular sharks to see while diving in Oman, you can find them at Seahorse Bay in Bandar Khayran and throughout the dive sites at Daymaniyat Islands



Whitetip reef shark while diving in Oman
A whitetip reef shark swimming

Whitetip Reef Shark

The whitetip reef shark is the most common shark to be found around the Arabian Gulf. You can usually spot them resting in caves. These sharks hunt at night so during the day, it's easy to find them resting in dark places. Average length is roughly 1.25 meters. 



Leopard shark at Daymaniyat Islands
A zebra shark at Daymaniyat Islands

Zebra Shark

Zebra sharks, otherwise known as Leopard sharks, live at Daymaniyat Islands. They are truly beautiful, with a long slender body, and an equally long tail. You can find them while resting on a sandy bottom. Leopard sharks eat clams, fish eggs, and shrimp and pose no threat to humans. 



A whale shark swimming close to the surface
Whale sharks in Oman

Whale Shark

Whale sharks are actually not whales at all and are actually a type of filter-feeder shark. From July to September, it’s common to find whale sharks at Daymaniyat Islands and Al Fahal Island. You can spot them while diving and snorkeling as they use their mouths to filter plankton from the water and remain close to the surface. 


Oman Bullhead Shark

The Oman Bullhead Shark lives around the central coast of Oman and Pakistan. The average length is 56cm. The chance of seeing an Oman Bullhead Shark while diving is very rare, but some divers have reported spotting these majestic sharks during a dive. Sadly, they caught as bycatch by fisherman and as a result, their population is significantly declining. 


Seeing a shark during a dive is an exhilarating experience for even the most accomplished diver. So what are you waiting for? Book your dives today