Mauritius is a wonderful place to discover scuba diving. There are large areas of natural coral, bursting with underwater sea life and clear underwater visibility. If you are worried about big fishes, do not fret, its very rare to encounter a big shark. If you are a novice and wish to experience a scuba dive then Mauritius is a good place to try it out. It is likely that your hotel will have regular introductory dives at the swimming pool where you get to have a try out at the pool with the scuba equipment. It would be a taster to see if you like it and then go for a further dive in the Indian Ocean .

There are 23 dive centres registered with the Mauritius Scuba Diving Association. Many are based in hotels with some independent operators dotted all over the island with a few in the vicinity of Grand Baie. Diving is well regulated and of a good standard in Mauritius. Diving is all year around with the best times ranging from October to December and March to April. The most popular dive sites tend to be in the North and West, such as Flic en Flac and Troux aux Biches where there are ship wrecks to explore but this is only suitable for experienced divers.

Although scuba diving is a safe sport it is not without risks. Get proper training. This will make you much more comfortable underwater and that is key to having a safe dive. Never dive 24 hours after you have arrived by air to your destination or 24 hours before you depart by air. If you scuba dive after taking a resort course just make sure you do not go too deep (30 feet should be the maximum). Some resorts are known to be very lax on this rule and it is to your detriment. If you go diving in caves, caverns, wrecks, etc. have the proper training for this type of dive. Do not scuba dive beyond your ability.

Although it would be tempting to book a  scuba dive through your hotel or try the first scuba dive shop you see in town, it is worth bearing in mind some basic understanding before committing yourself to a dive trip to ensure that you have an enjoyable and safe experience.

Do not book a scuba diving trip in advance over the internet without knowing anything about the dive centre or always booking with the cheapest outfit. It is expensive to maintain diving equipment, so anyone offering very cheap rates may be cutting corners.

For a dive you should be in good physical shape. You should be able to swim and take the stress of diving. A physical examination is a good idea before diving. Some studies have shown that about a quarter to a third of all scuba diving fatalities are from heart and/or circulatory problems.

Verify the PADI or equivalent qualification of the dive instructor and check that the dive shop is a member of PADI's International Resorts and Retailers Association or similar. Also always check out several dive centres and talk to the dive instructors. This is important as its essential that you can communicate effectively with your diving instructor. In Mauritius, many of the locals are more fluent in French than English. If there is a language problem, go elsewhere.

Do try to meet the actual dive instructor and try to find out the size of the group. Ideally there should be small groups and the dive shop will have other people accompanying the dive master to help and assist other members of the group. Check out if the instructions are going to be done via face to face tuition or reliant on videos. Check out the quality of the diving gear such as the diving suits, masks, oxygen cylinders and the quality of the air. Also make sure that the boat you will be travelling out to has basic emergency medical equipment and a radio. The dive master should also be knowledgeable of first aid in case things go wrong and know the location of the nearest recompression chambers.

Although you might have travel insurance that covers scuba diving, the dive shop should include insurance in the price for their introductory dives.

As you are in an island surrounded by natural coral you should consider the environmental aspects of diving. Care should be taken to avoid touching coral, if the dive shops give you gloves then you might touch things that you should not. If you are an experienced diver wishing to explore old wrecks then there could be an adverse impact to the environment as these kind of dives can unsettle the coral surrounding it.

If you are first time diver, the dive instructor will go through the basics of diving with you and have an introduction in the pool so you can try out the equipment. It is important that you do not hold your breath. Always breathe slowly and in a relaxed manner and to exhale fully. Do not take short, shallow breaths and never hold your breath. Holding your breath underwater can lead to lung injuries.

Being relaxed and comfortable underwater is key to a successful dive. If something happens, stop, breathe, think and act. Do not panic and rush to the surface. Observing this scuba diving safety rule could be key to a safe dive.

One of the key scuba diving safety rules is to always dive with a buddy. That is why it is important if it is your first dive that the dive shop has a small group and has other divers accompanying the dive master. When you do dive with a buddy, keep an eye on him/her to make sure everything is OK and hopefully they are doing the same. If something happens, that buddy can be the difference between life and death. Also carry out a pre-dive equipment check with your buddy.

Be aware of the weather conditions and the water current. If you are with a dive operator it is usually their call but you can say no if you are not comfortable.

Ascend slowly and with control, another of the key scuba diving safety rules. As you ascend you are ridding your body of nitrogen in your tissues and bloodstream. If you ascend too quickly, you risk decompression sickness. You should not ascend more than 30 feet per minute. And always make a safety stop at 15 feet for at least 3 minutes after deeper dives. After your safety stop, do not propel yourself to the surface either. Ascend that last 15 feet very slowly as well.

Plan your dive. You will hear this in your training and you should follow this advice. Prior to going under, you and your buddy should know the maximum depth you will go, the amount of bottom time you will have and how much air you will start to ascend with. Check your air supply often. You should also agree on the hand signals you will use to communicate underwater.

For more information on scuba diving check out the website of the Mauritius scuba diving association.

For Diving Centres in Mauritius.

Also check out:

PADI