The Risks of Flying After SNUBA Diving: What You Should Know

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  21.01.2023
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Can you fly after snuba? Yes, you can! But you’ll probably feel a bit tired afterward. You should also wait at least 4 hours to get on a plane since you can Snuba up to 10 feet deep.

Snuba is a great way to explore the underwater world without having to learn to SCUBA dive. But as with any physical activity, it’s important to know your limits.

Can you fly after snuba

Understanding SNUBA Diving

What Is SNUBA?

SNUBA stands for Surface Nexus Underwater Breathing Apparatus, and it’s a way for you to explore the underwater world without having to learn how to SCUBA dive. It’s a combination of snorkeling and SCUBA diving, and it’s the perfect way to experience the underwater world if you don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to commit to a full SCUBA certification.

Who Can SNUBA Dive?

SNUBA diving is open to anyone 8 years or older who meets the medical requirements. So if you’re looking for a way to explore the underwater world without having to commit to a full SCUBA certification, SNUBA diving is the perfect way to do it.

What Do I Need to Know Before I Go SNUBA Diving?

Before you go SNUBA diving, there are a few things you should know:

  • The maximum depth for SNUBA diving is 10 feet.
  • You’ll need to wear a mask, fins, and a lightweight harness that connects to a regulator.
  • You’ll also need to wear a weight belt to help you swim underwater.
  • You should wait at least 4 hours before flying, taking a helicopter tour, or driving to Haleakala after a SNUBA dive.
  • You should be comfortable breathing through your mouth for a minute before you go SNUBA diving.

How Long Does a SNUBA Dive Last?

On average, SNUBA dives last 20-25 minutes, but the length of the dive will depend on how relaxed you are and how slowly you breathe. If you need to take a break, you can always come to the surface as long as you don’t hold your breath and ascend no faster than your own bubbles.

With these safety rules in mind you should have no trouble going for snuba and getting on a plane the same day.

What is Decompression Sickness and Can Snuba Diving Cause it?

What is Decompression Sickness?

Decompression sickness, otherwise known as “the bends,” is a condition that can occur when divers ascend too quickly from deep depths in the ocean. It’s caused by the rapid change in pressure, which causes nitrogen to bubble up in the body and can block blood vessels, preventing blood from reaching the heart and other organs.

Can Snuba Diving Cause the Bends?

Nope! Snuba diving is totally safe when it comes to the bends. That’s because the air tank sits on the surface of the water, so it’s never subjected to the same kind of pressure as scuba diving tanks. So you can snuba away without worrying about decompression sickness!

What if I Fly Immediately After snuba Diving?

If you fly immediately after scuba diving, you’re at a higher risk of developing the bends. That’s because the pressure in the airplane cabin isn’t as high as the pressure you experienced deep in the ocean. So the nitrogen bubbles up quickly, potentially blocking blood vessels and leading to a fatal heart attack.

How Long Should I Wait After Scuba Diving Before Flying?

Ah, the age-old question! Well, it depends on a few factors and whose advice you’re following. The Divers Alert Network suggests waiting 12 hours, the US Air Force suggests 24 hours, the US Navy suggests 2 hours, and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors suggests 12 hours if you only dove once, 18 hours if you dove multiple times, and 24 hours for an ideal wait time.

The depth you dive also determines how long you need to wait before flying. If you dive to 40 feet, you can stay under the water for 130 minutes. At 50 feet, you can stay under the water for 55 minutes. If you dive multiple times, you’ll need to consult dive tables to determine how long you need to wait before flying.

Bottom line: the more you dive, the longer you should wait before taking off!

Because a snuba session isn’t that long and you can’t dive deeper than 10 feet, you’re fine to board a plane after 4 hours of snuba.

What Happens if You Fly Right After snuba Diving?

The Risks of Flying Immediately After Scuba Diving

  • If you fly right after snuba diving, you’re playing a risky game with your body.
  • The drastic change from high-pressure underwater to low-pressure in the air can cause nitrogen bubbles to form in your blood, leading to the bends.
  • This can cause a fatal heart attack or other serious problems.

How Long Should You Wait After Snuba Diving Before Flying?

  • The risk of developing DCS is low when snuba diving, but to be safe, you should wait at least four hours before flying.
  • This also applies to taking helicopter rides and hiking to high altitudes.
  • To be extra safe, wait until the next day before flying or taking a helicopter ride after snuba diving.

How Long Should You Wait After Snuba Before Flying?

The Risk of DCS

  • DCS is a real risk when you snuba dive, but the chances of getting it are pretty slim.
  • To make sure your body is in the best shape possible, you should wait at least four hours before you fly.
  • This also applies to taking helicopter rides. If you’re planning on taking an aerial tour after snuba diving, make sure you schedule it at least four hours after your dive.
  • If you want to be extra cautious, wait until the next day to fly or take a helicopter ride.

Hiking to High Altitudes

  • Don’t make the mistake of hiking to high altitudes after snuba diving.
  • Before you start your ascent, give your body some time to rest for four hours.
  • This will make sure any nitrogen that’s built up in your body has been removed.


  • If you snuba dived for a few hours or a few days in a row, you should add a few more hours to your wait time.
  • Even if your flight is at a low altitude, it’s still best to wait four hours before taking off.
  • Doing this will make sure you don’t get DCS and can enjoy the rest of your vacation without any issues.


If you’re looking for a unique and safe way to explore the underwater world, SNUBA is the way to go! Just remember to wait at least 4 hours before flying, taking a helicopter tour, or visiting Haleakala after your dive. And don’t forget, SNUBA stands for “Surface Nexus Underwater Breathing Apparatus” – so you can impress your friends with your knowledge! So, what are you waiting for? Take the plunge and book your SNUBA tour today!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Kauai Surf Report is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new sports with everything surfing at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2019 to help loyal readers with surfing and water sporting tips.