Can You Go To Altitude After Scuba Diving?

Last Updated: September 14, 2022

When traveling by a plane for a scuba trip, a gap between flying and diving is required. Because you can’t go to an altitude, let alone fly, just after you’ve had a dive in the ocean.

There are multiple reasons behind this, the main one being is to avoid the severe health problems caused due to change in pressure and blood levels.

Read on to find out why going to high altitude after diving is a bad idea, along with other precautionary don’ts after scuba diving.

Why Can’t You Scuba Dive And Fly On The Same Day?

Scuba diving and flying are two of the most adventurous activities on top of an explorer or traveler’s to-do list.

You can’t dive and fly on the same day because of the difference in the compression levels. The relative compression level is determined by comparing the diving depth with the ambient pressure.

The average pressure on land or at sea level is 1 bar which is lower than underwater. As you would dive in the water, the pressure will increase at the rate of 1 bar every 10 meters because of the constant density of water.

So, when you come out on the surface, you’ll experience decompression or a sharp drop in total pressure. This relative compression is also why divers at high altitudes use dive computers to calculate and adjust the surrounding pressure level.

You should not dive and fly on the same day; however, you can enroll yourself in an altitude-diving course where you can dive in mountain lakes from a high altitude of 1,000 ft.

How Long Do You Have To Wait After Diving To Fly?

Various organizations and aqua diving clubs give different waiting periods between scuba diving and flying, depending on the number of dives, depth of the dives, and the decompression level.

  • Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI): PADI suggests a minimum waiting period of 12 hours for a single dive and for 18 hours in case of multiple dives.
  • Divers Alert Network (DAN): DAN recommends a waiting period of at least 12 hours for a single dive and 18 hours for multiple or decompressed dives.
  • The United States Air Force: U.S. Air Force has recommended a strict minimum waiting period of 24 hours after scuba diving before you can fly.

After going through the waiting periods mentioned above, it’d be safe to say that you should wait for at least 24 hours before you drive to high altitude or fly after scuba diving.

Maximum Altitude After Scuba Diving

You already know that scuba diving and going to altitude don’t go along well due to multiple reasons. However, have you wondered what height comes under the category of ‘high altitude’? Is going at an altitude of mere 10 meters also risky?

Well, going to an altitude higher than 300 meters or 1,000 ft. after scuba diving is considered to be risky because of the rapid change in compression and pressure levels.

What Not To Do After Scuba Diving

The following are some of the things, other than flying or going to altitude, that you might not want to do after scuba diving for the sake of your health and well-being.

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol can cause dehydration, which can create problems in detecting Decompression Sickness (DCS). However, you can drink a small amount of alcohol if you drink a lot of water before it.

Deep Massage & Hot Tub

It’s suggested that you shouldn’t get a deep massage or go in a hot tub immediately after scuba diving. It will increase the blood flow in your body, which can lead to the formation of bubbles. In addition, the sore muscles can result in an incorrect diagnosis of DCS.


The only problem with ziplining is the altitude level which can cause health problems. Therefore, before you confirm your ziplining activity after scuba diving, remember to ask them about the altitude height.

Summing Up

If you’re planning a dive trip and want to enjoy both the experiences of scuba diving and flying, you should schedule a long journey. These activities shouldn’t be performed in a single day.

There are multiple reasons, such as the difference in pressure levels, blood flow, and muscle soreness, implying that driving to altitude after diving is a bad idea.

There is a recommended waiting window of 24 hours to prevent any health complications, after which you can go to high altitudes and enjoy flying without any issues.

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