When you’re on a scuba dive, you want to enjoy your day, not worry about tipping your diving service. While it’s normal to tip at a restaurant or for services provided, many people wonder what the correct etiquette is for tipping on a dive.
Should you tip at all? When should you tip? How much is acceptable? Should you tip your instructor, the boat crew, the captain, or everyone?
The good news is that you can have the information you need to tip properly by following a few rules of thumb prior to your dive.
If you want to keep your cool instead of scrambling on deck and keep your instructor and boat crew happy, here’s some advice to give you a smooth tipping experience.
Tipping for Scuba Diving
Just like you would tip a restaurant waiter or your hairdresser, you’ll want to tip when you dive.
If you take a group trip or a liveaboard, check to see if any gratuities are already included in the total price. That way, you’ll know upfront if you need to tip or not.
Of course, if you’ve had a spectacular experience or had a dive instructor who went the extra mile, a tip to express your appreciation is typically welcome.
Sometimes it’s unclear whether gratuities are included or otherwise expected. If you’re in doubt and don’t want to take a misstep, you can always just ask.
Do You Tip a Dive Instructor?
A dive instructor is a paid professional who has logged hundreds, if not thousands of dive hours and completed many hours of studying to pass an instructor exam.
Depending on your skill and experience level, your dive instructor trains you in the art of scuba diving. Dive instructors also determine your competence as an underwater diver, assist with questions and potentially lifesaving knowledge.
Even though you’ve paid for the course, it’s usually appropriate to tip your dive instructor. It’s always a good idea to show that you appreciate the help with a little gratitude.
Keep in mind that many instructors, owners, or operators probably make their living from selling the course and dive costs. If it’s a small, individual team or the owner helps out with the dive or drives the boat you’ll want to throw a little extra their way.
Should You Tip Your Dive Guide?
You’ll want to tip your dive instructor, the crew on the boat, tank handlers, captain, or any other staff members who helped with your dive.
Tip your dive guide as a matter of principle. If your guide went above and beyond to give you extra attention, instruction, or covered you if you forgot essential gear, consider showing your appreciation with some extra cash.
If you’re on a long trip or diving every day, it’s best to tip daily instead of in a lump sum at the end. That way, the people who helped you the most will benefit from daily tipping. It also avoids a situation where the crew thinks that you’re trying to avoid tipping them.
In locations with a lower cost of living such as Fiji or less popular Caribbean destinations, you can tip $5 – $10 per tank, comparable to 10-20% gratuity in a restaurant.
How Much to Tip Scuba Guide?
Now that you’ve determined the need to tip your dive guide, you’ll want to tip the correct amount.
Here’s where it can get a little tricky.
Check how much your diving costs. The cost can differ in price range based on the area and the location where you choose to dive. In general, it’s a good idea to tip $5 – $10 per dive. Another way to think of it as tipping per tank.
Broken down, that’s about the equivalent of tipping 10-20% based on the level of service provided and how your experience went.
Keep in mind if the operator is a large or a small one. A little extra something might not make much difference to a big company, but it might just make a smaller team’s day. It’s also beneficial to keep good relationships within the diving community.
How Much Do You Tip Boat Crew?
Even if you don’t actively see all the crew members helping, keep in mind that there are a lot of behind-the-scenes actions that go into your diving experience. For instance, someone might fill tanks, book a daily excursion for you, do mechanical or custodial work, or rinse out your gear when you finish. Some of these people might staff the boat while others might work from an office onshore.
If you complete a 2-tank dive for $70, the crew would get $7 – $11 in tips per tank or $10 – $20 for the total 2-tank dive.
If you book a liveaboard, which is larger than a 2-tank boat charter, this can cost you a bit more. It’s customary to tip a minimum of 250 – 350 USD for a week liveaboard trip.
If your boat is staffed by Europeans, they are likely used to less gratuity, since tips are already included in the total cost. If you’re diving in a remote location, it’s likely that tips represent a large chunk of your crew’s livelihood.
It’s always best to keep cash on hand since most crews prefer cash. This makes it easier to divide tips up among the crew, especially since many crews usually don’t accept credit cards.
Often boat captains and boat crew split gratuities among the group. Other operating companies might divide tips between all onshore and in-water staff. That’s why it’s a good idea to include both onshore and in-water crews when you tip.
How Much to Tip Dive Boat Captain?
Did the captain go out of the way to make you feel welcome? Did he turn the boat around because you left your gear behind? Maybe your mask strap broke, and the captain lent you his extra mask. It’s possible he needed to delay the dive to ensure a quick repair to a regulator before you could take the plunge.
If the captain made your trip extra special or offered you personalized accommodation, make sure to leave a 10-20% tip. You can give this in cash to the captain or the divemaster, who will make sure that it’s divvied up among the crew.
My unbounded love for the oceans and everything it has to offer motivated me to pursue my passion and become a professional scuba diving instructor.
I keep reading, exploring, and learning more about scuba diving and the underwater world all the time, so I’m excited to share my knowledge with fellow scuba enthusiasts and hopefully contribute a little to your development as a diver. I want people to fall in love with the oceans with as much passion as I have. Read more about me here.