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Best Dive Flag for Snorkeling and Diving

Welcome to our post all about the best dive flag you can use for both snorkelling and diving. What is a dive flag? Essentially, it's a flag used on the water to indicate that there is a diver under the water around that specific point. There are 2 styles of flag, and we will cover both in this article.

Here are our top 5 choices for diving flags.

Top 5 Best Dive Flag for Snorkeling and Diving

OUR TOP PICK

This flag and float buoy that is created by Scuba Choice is definitely our number one choice for the best dive flag for snorkeling and diving.

This snorkeling buoy comes with two break down poles and you can quickly deflate it for easy storage inside of a dive bag for when you are travelling to a bunch of different locations. The flag measures 16”x20” and it has a very bright yellow base that has Diver Below printed onto it in a bright red color, so you can be sure you will be kept safe because of the sheer amount of visibility of this flag.

The base, towline attachment ring and the weight clip strap all give fantastic stability even in the roughest waters when they are being towed.

Specifications

Brand: Scuba Choice

Description: Inflatable Float and Flag Buoy

Suitable For: Scuba Diving, Freediving and Snorkeling

Standout Features

  • Flag mount and inflatable base easy to use
  • 22” buoy base that has a weight attachment strap
  • Breakdown poles allow for simple storage
  • Diver Below is printed onto the buoy base in vibrant lettering

EDITORS CHOICE

If you’re looking for a dive flag that has plenty of value for money then you are going to be pleased with the Scuba Choice Signal Floater with Dive Flag.The 12” x 11” device has a detachable flag and you can see the Diver Below lettering very easy by boaters on the surface.

The dive buoy is made with a very durable loop that can be used with an attachable towline for snorkelers and scuba divers that are on the move. 

This is an inflatable signal floater that is super lightweight and can be carried around without much worry - it’s so easy to inflate or deflate it too. The buoy’s shape, even when it’s filled with water, makes very little drag so it’s a great choice for experts or beginners.

It is made out of durable materials and it’s going to withstand continuous use well, so it’s a great choice for the price.

Specifications

Brand: Scuba Choice

Description: Inflatable Signal Floater with Dive Flag

Suitable For: Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Standout Features

  • Durable loop for the towline
  • 12” x 11” attachable and detachable flag
  • Can be inflated and deflated with ease

BEST VALUE

This is a very durable and lightweight dive flag. It has a 4 foot float pole and a 14” x 18” attachable dive flag that means that dive buoy is incredibly visible even from long distances, so it’s ideal for your safety.

You can fold down the pole to make it easier to store and move around. 

There is a highly buoyant foam attachment, and then the bottom is lead weighted to stop the dive flag from getting inverted when it’s towed.

The nylon dive flag that you can attach also comes along with a steel wire stiffener in order to keep the flag in its proper place. 

Specifications

Brand: JCS 

Description: Foam Dive Float with Flag

Suitable For: Freediving, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Standout Features

  • 14” x 18” Dive Flag
  • Float pole is foldable
  • Eyelet included for line attachment
  • Bottom is lead weighted

RUNNER UP

The Scuba Choice Palantic Torpedo Float with Dive Flag is made out of 420D nylon material on the outside, which is far more durable than the PVC that is normally used.

This means that it’s a very durable option for a dive float. It has a PVC bladder inside that is easy to inflate and you can also deflate it easily too for storage purposes. The float comes with a 7.5” x 7.5” attachable nylon dive flag too, in addition to a 60’ orange tow string.

A lot of divers have has success with this dive flag when they have attached a reel and weights for ballasts so that the flag doesn’t end up tipping over when they dive. 

Specifications

Brand: Scuba Choice

Description: Nylon Torpedo Float with flag

Suitable For: Scuba Diving, Spearfishing and Snorkeling

Standout Features

  • PVC inner inflatable badder
  • Comes with nylon dive flag
  • Luminescent orange tow string
  • 420D Nylon material

RUNNER UP

The Salvimar Covered Torpedo Buoy is yet another great choice for scuba diving, snorkeling or spearfishing. This dive buoy comes along with two different dive flags, both the standard red and white flag and the alpha flag.

This gives you a bunch of versatility and means that you don’t need to buy separate versions of each. It should be noted however that the flag size is not actually the regulation size for four of the Florida state laws, so you should remember this when you buy. It has a durable fabric cover that is going to last for a number of dives.

The sewn on rings can also be used to attach a reel, a small mesh bag or weights for ballast. There is not a lot of drag while towing thanks to the torpedo design.

Specification

Brand: SalviMar

Description: Covered Torpedo Buoy

Suitable For: Snorkeling, spearfishing and scuba diving

Standout Features

  • Clippable rings
  • Comes with two dive flags
  • A fabric cover included

Best Dive Flag for Snorkeling and Diving Buying Guide

What is the purpose of a dive flag?

Whenever you intend to take a trek into the deep blue, it should be second nature to carry a dive flag along with you. It doesn’t matter what kind of body of water you plan on diving in, a dive flag is still going to increase your safety. This is especially true when powered watercraft are going to be in the area. Though this depends on the area that you plan on snorkeling in, you may not actually need to bring a snorkeling dive flag with you.

For example, if you are going to be snorkeling in a protected marine park area or in a place that’s designed for swimming, you are not going to need to bring a dive flag with you.

Some countries and states do have laws in regards to diving with a dive flag that’s recognized. It’s imperative that you look over these guidelines and laws before you make your way into the ocean for a diving session.

Going diving when you don’t have a flag or a buoy can not only cause issues for your safety, but it can also cost you money as you may get charged or fined for not obeying the laws in that area.

If you are going to be diving from a boat, then the boat should show a red and white diver down flag whenever there are going to be divers in the water. This flag demonstrates to other boat users that they should be cautious when in the area and they should look out for any divers going up to the surface.  When there are no longer any divers in the area, the flag should be taken down. 

If you are going to be diving from the shore without a boat then the risk is even higher of you not being seen by boats passing by. If you are going to approach the surface or you are going up to the surface without a dive symbol then the boaters may not see you and this could be a potentially fatal mistake as you run into a boat hull or a propeller.

One other useful thing about a dive flag is that it keeps you safe even if you resurface a distance away from your group or the dive boat. It means that you will be found more easily because you will have a bright market with you on the surface.

If you display a dive flag when you are in the water you will have more visibility and safety in the majority of cases. You should still remember, however, that when you are in the water it is important to be aware of everything around you. Some new boaters may not actually know the guidelines or laws very well or their boat could be set on autopilot and it won’t know that you’re in the water.

There are always chances that you could be face to face with a negligent boater too. If you are aware and following the guidelines, the chances of you getting into an accident are minimized. 

Types of Dive Flag

A diver down flag, which is also often known as a scuba flag, is generally used by divers, spearfishers, and snorkelers to show that a diver is in the water. This diver could be on the surface or below it. There are also two different types of diver down flags. Firstly, the alpha flag. This is also known as the International Maritime Signal Flag, and this is white and blue.

The other kind of diver down flag is a red one that has a white diagonal stripe. Both of these kinds of flags are used to indicate that divers are in the water, and it shows other boaters that they should stay away and drive slowly.

Usually the alpha flag is used in Europe, whereas the red and white diver down flag tends to be used in Canada, the United States and certain Caribbean countries. Some boats even use both of the flags to make sure that at least one of them is going to be recognized by boaters. 

How too Use a Dive Flag

The amount of distance that a boater should stay away from a diver down flag could vary from place to place. You should always check local laws before you go diving or snorkeling. PADI has a guideline that you should stay within 15 meters/50 feet of your dive flag and that boats should remain at least 30 to 60 meters/100 to 200 feet away from where you are.

Two examples of the laws of using diver down flags are as follows: 

In Michigan, the law is that divers should stay within 100 feet vertically from the dive buoy and boaters should stay at least 200 feet away from the diver down flag. On the other hand, in Florida divers must display a diver down flag and need to remain within 100 feet of it if they are diving in rivers, inlets and in navigation channels. If you are in other waters, this distance is increased to 300 feet and boats need to keep the same distances away from the dive flags. 

When you are using a divers flag or a snorkeling buoy, you should ensure that the flag is visible constantly on the surface. You may need to add weights or water inside of the buoy for ballast depending on the kind of buoy you opt for, and you need to ensure that the flag remains in an upright position. 

In addition to a diver down flag, you may wish to buy a decent quality dry snorkel and snorkel vest if you have never gone snorkeling or freediving before. You should also make sure that you remember to always rinse off your diving gear with fresh water after every time you use it. The lifespan of your gear is going to be a lot longer if you properly rinse it off and it will help to make sure that the gear doesn’t deteriorate. 

Best Dive Flag for Snorkeling and Diving - FAQ's

How close should you remain to your dive flag?

The local laws for carrying a dive flag for scuba diving, snorkeling or spearfishing can differ depending on where you are. These are the laws that will determine how close you will need to stay to your flag and how far away boaters should be from you. In certain areas of the world there are not any particular regulations or laws relating to dive flags.

In these kinds of areas you should have a look at the recommended distances suggested by local dive training agencies. For instance, PADI’s guidance suggests that you stay within 15 meters/50 feet of your dive flag and that boats should stay at least 30 to 60 meters/100 to 200 feet away from you.

Do you have to have a dive flag for snorkeling?

This largely depends on the area you plan to go snorkeling in. In some areas you may need to carat a dive flag for snorkeling whereas in others you may not. If you are going to be going snorkeling in a protected marine park area or in a designated swimming area then a dive flag is not going to be needed.

If, however, you are swimming in certain other areas, a visible dive flag may be required for divers and snorkelers for safety reasons. You should always check the local laws before you get into the water to snorkel, just to make sure that area will allow you to swim without a dive flag or not. 

What does a diver down flag look like?

A diver down flag, which is also known as a scuba flag, is usually used by snorkelers, spearfishers and divers to show that a diver is in the water. The diver may either be on the surface or below it. At the moment there are two kinds of flag in circulation.

First of these flags is the alpha flag, also known as the International Maritime Signal Flag, and this is white and blue. The other kind of flag is the red and white diagonal stripe fag. Both of these kinds of flags are used to indicate that there is a diver in the water, and that all boats should stay away and use a slower speed. 

From where does the dive flag originate?

The red and white dive flag was created by Denzel James Dockery in Michigan back in the 1950s. The red color came from the Navy’s red ‘Bravo Flag’ which signifies danger, and he then sewed a horizontal white stripe across the flag. After some time, Dockery realized that his is the same design as the national flag of Austria so it was then changed to a diagonal white stripe from the top left to the bottom right instead.

The states slowly began to adopt this flag and began to pass laws that would make it mandatory to have this flag on dive boats. This red and white flag is currently known as the international symbol for scuba diving. 

How do you tow a dive flag?

There are a number of different ways you can tow a dive flag. Some divers would rather use a spool or a reel that they can hold while they are divers. With this method, the diver is able to reel the line in and out as they need to.

Some divers will clip or secure the line to them if they are going to be at the same depth for quite a while. The issue with this is that it can be dangerous if the line ends up getting entangled or accidentally pulled by a boat.

If you are snorkeling, you can hold the flag line in your hand or it can be secured onto your person. When spearfishing, you can set up a system that will let the line be reeled in or out when you are diving down to catch fish but the dive flag will remain at the surface, in order to keep your hands free.

What is the size of dive flag that you should use in Florida?

Florida passed a new law back in 2014 regarding dive flags. This new law states that ‘all divers should prominently display divers down flags or buoys in areas in which diving occurs; requires vessel operators encountering divers down buoys to take specified actions; prohibits divers down buoys from being used or displayed onboard vessels.

At the moment, the Florida law specifies that divers display the red and white diver down flag that’s square or rectangular, and it should be at least 12”x12” or 24”x24” if it’s displayed on a dive vessel. The width of the stripe needs to be 25% of the flag’s height.

How far away from the flag do you need to stay if you see a displayed diver down flag while you are boating?

The amount of distance that you need to stay from a diver down flag can vary from country to country. You should also double check with the local laws before you go snorkeling of diving. PADI has a rule of thumb that you should stay within 15 meters/50 feet of your dive flag and that boats should remain at least 30 to 60 meters/100 to 200 feet away from you.

In Michigan, you will need to display a diver down flag and will need to stay within 100 feet of it when you are going diving in rivers, inlets and navigation channels. In waters elsewhere, the distance is 300 feet and boats will need to keep the same distances from flags.

How do you correctly display a dive flag?

The law for individual state and international laws may differ in regards to showing a dive flag properly and the distance to stay from them. In the majority of waters, you will need to display a dive flag on a vessel whenever divers are going to be in the water, and you will need to remove the flag from its position whenever the divers are not in the water or when the vessel is underway.

Certain places also ask snorkelers and divers to carry their own diver down with them when they are in the water, as this will make them more visible to the boat traffic passing by.  The type and size of flag will also differ depending on region.

What does a red flag with a diagonal white stripe signify?

A red flag that has a diagonal white stripe is also known as the international symbol for scuba diving. These flags are designed to show people that are boating that a diver or divers are in the area.

They are most commonly referred to as the diver down flag, and the red and white flag is either displayed on a dive boat or it’s carried into the water while scuba diving, snorkeling, freediving or spearfishing. The red and white flag is generally a square or a rectangular shaped flag that has a pole that you can attach to a boat or a float buoy. 

What does the blue and white alpha flag signify?

This is an international maritime symbol flag. It’s also known as the A flag, and this shows the presence of a diver in the water in that area. The flag also demonstrated to other vessels that there is a danger of collision. If a vessel has displayed this flag, it could also mean that the maneuvering could be limited because there are divers in the water. This kind of flag is used more often in Europe and the British Commonwealth.

This flag is also not used in the United States, Canada, Italy or in Caribbean countries that follow American diving practices.

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