In my book “Uncle Cal’s Guide for New Scuba Divers” I dedicate an entire chapter to the topic of tipping in scuba diving. I feel it’s something that new scuba divers need to know about and that nobody told me about when I first started diving.
First, it should be noted that tipping is not appropriate in all locations. Here in the US, and in many places that cater to US citizens, it is expected. There are places however where is it not expected and could even be inappropriate. Check with local dive professionals if you are unsure, they will be happy to help you. For the rest of this post, we will assume that you are in an area where tipping is permissible.
Dive professionals invest considerable time, effort, and resources to get the necessary training and certifications to guide divers and maintain a safe diving environment. Tipping acknowledges their commitment and contributes to their livelihood, as many dive professionals rely on tips as a significant part of their income.
By tipping, you support the local diving economy and contribute to the sustainability of the diving industry, helping dive professionals continue their work in promoting marine conservation and providing exceptional diving experiences for future divers.
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 deckhand and the dive master are almost always working solely for tips. The current recommended tip in the US 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 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 deadlifted 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 off the same boat for an extended time, giving the tip at the end of your trip is acceptable. 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 hire a private dive guide for a boat trip or a shore dive, they are 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 by private dive guides, but not expected like they are by boat staff.
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. If you want to tip your guide, do so separately after you’ve taken care of the crew.
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. We discussed when to tip a private dive guide, and the instructor is similar. Don’t feel pressured to tip your scuba instructor, as they are being paid for their time. 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.
How much, or even if your tip depends on a lot of factors. I’ve tried to lay out some guidelines but nothing here is a hard and fast rule. Whether you are diving off your favorite dive boat, or have hired a dive guide for the beautiful Blue Heron Bridge, whether you tip or not depends ultimately on you. Take care of those that take care of you so they will be there the next time.
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