You really don’t want to skip it but as the name suggests, they are essential for our safety. Safety stops, even though not always necessary, give our bodies extra time to slowly release excess gases, like nitrogen, built up during a dive.

3 ways to pass time - Orca Scuba

So how do we survive them? These 3 seemingly endless minutes can be gruelling and so here are a few tips to help pass the time while completing a safety stop.

1. Play games

3 ways to pass time - Orca Scuba

There are several underwater friendly games that you can play with your buddy to help pass the time.

  • Games such as Rock Paper Scissors and Thumb Wars are perfect because you don’t need to speak to each other in order to play them.
  • Another game that can be played underwater is “chicken”. The aim of this game is to try and hit your buddy’s hands before they can move them away, if they do then they get to try and hit yours and the person with the most hits wins (just bear in mind that everything moves slower underwater even your reaction time).
  • You and your buddy could also show off your bubble blowing skills by blowing bubble rings with your mouth or with your hands (make sure you have practiced this beforehand before trying to impress anyone as bubble ring blowing is a fine art and takes hours of practice).

“It is also vitally important that you discuss the rules for any games you might play underwater before the dive as it may create mass confusion if you and your buddy are not on the same page.”

2. Reflect on life

3 ways to pass time - Orca Scuba

Safety stops are a perfect time to reflect on your life so far as there are no audible distractions. You can spend those 3 minutes thinking about any accomplishments and memories that you are proud or fond of and decide whether or not you are exactly where you want to be. You can also think of the future and goals that you might want to reach. You can say to yourself “by the time I’m on my next safety stop I will have achieved…” and maybe think of simple and easy ways to achieve this goal.


Try to only give yourself one goal to reach at a time to avoid task overloading and be realistic. While completing your safety stop you may find it easier to make decisions or think of things that may be bothering you as you might see things from a different perspective (I know I do). I find that underwater I have a clear mind and can think freely with no distractions.

3. Practice skills

3 ways to pass time - Orca Scuba

Practising your skills during a safety stop is extremely helpful and beneficial especially if you are a beginner diver. It’s the perfect opportunity to focus on buoyancy skills such as the hover because you cannot bump into or harm anything as you are, most of the time, in mid-water. Try using a visual reference such a line or your buddy, if you have nothing else, to see how you move with each inhale and exhale (you look super cool if you can get it right without sculling). You could also practice efficient fin kicking without using your hands. For example, you and your buddy can try turning in circles without the help of your arms or try moving backwards with your fins while maintaining your 5m depth. Another skill you could practice is breath control. Take this time to really think about your breathing and try to control it. Try your best to inhale slowly and control your exhalation. Instead of simply sighing your air out try and make it last and if you concentrate enough on your breathing you may even improve your air consumption.

There’s a lot of things that one can do to pass the time while waiting for your body to decompress and I hope that these ideas will help. Whether you want to be silly or serious try to use those 3 minutes wisely and not waste your time underwater. It is a privilege to breathe underwater, let’s appreciate every minute of it.

If you’d like to practice these methods of passing time on during you next safety stop, please contact us here to book your next dive holiday.