In my upcoming book “Uncle Cal’s Guide for New Scuba Divers” I have an entire section on tipping because it’s an important thing for new divers to know. I’m not going to go over everything I cover in the book, but consider this a quick “cheat sheet” for when and what you should expect to tip in different situations.
On a dive boat
Absolutely. You should come prepared to tip the staff on a dive boat. Most dive boats in the US go out with a Captain, a deck hand, and a dive master. The Captain is paid to be there and the tips are usually not shared with him. On the other hand, the deck hand and the dive master are almost always working solely for tips. The recommend tip is $10 per tank. So on a 2-tank trip, each person should tip $20. If they go above and beyond the call of duty, you of course can adjust your tip accordingly. Personally, I had a boat crew help me in rough seas by letting me shed my gear in the water and they dead-lifted it onto the boat and put it in my seat for me. They got an extra tip.
If you are on a dive trip and diving the same boat for an extended time, it is acceptable to give the tip at the end of your trip. The amount though remains the same. For a week-long excursion at a dive resort where you dove one 2-tank boat each day for five days, the recommended tip would be $100 per person. (5 2-tank trips = 10 tanks * $10 per tank)
Private Dive Guide
Possibly. If you hired a private dive guide for a boat trip or a shore dive, they are being paid to be there. In every case I know of, the dive center you hired the guide from pays them to guide you. Tips are always appreciated but not expected like they are on a dive boat.
If you are hiring a dive guide to go with you on a dive boat, the tip to the boat crew is still expected and will not be shared with the dive guide.
All of that having been said, if your dive guide goes above and beyond the call of duty, tips are always appreciated. If you really liked what they did, in addition to a tip, make sure you drop the dive center an email or phone call letting them know what a great job your dive guide did.
There is no standard tip for private dive guides in the US. Trust your gut on whether you should tip them, and if so, how much.
Maybe. As with a private dive guide, an instructor is being paid for their time, therefore, don’t feel pressure to tip. If an instructor goes above and beyond of course tipping is a great way to acknowledge this and express your thanks. In addition to a tip though, please, contact the dive center and let them know.
Speaking personally, I’ve had everything from no tip at all, to great bottles of Rum, to very generous cash tips. In every case – including no tips – I met new people, made new friends, and played a small role in someone’s dive adventure. It’s always worth it to me.
Cal “Uncle Cal” Evans