The life aquatic: scuba diving and the experiential imperative

Carl Ian Cater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (SciVal)


There has been significant growth in the number of qualified scuba divers over the last 30 years, and although estimates are vague, there may be as many as 14 million qualified divers worldwide. Although centered on what may be thought of as primarily a recreational practice, it is also a very strong force for marine tourism. This is compounded by the fact that many active divers live in temperate climes, and prefer to engage in the sport, sometimes exclusively, when visiting tropical regions on holiday. A significant dive tourism industry has therefore emerged to cater for these requirements and has been subject to academic and policy inquiry. However, as this article argues, much of this has been focused on management of impacts without adequate attention on diver motivations, which can considerably inform and assist the former. Consequently this article seeks to examine this activity through the grounded perspectives of scuba divers themselves, in parallel to a categorization of leisure motivation suggested by Beard and Ragheb in 1983. However, the work seeks to note that, in addition to these categories, the scuba diving experience is also profoundly embodied, entailing a wide range of sensations and feelings, many of which may be new to the first-time diver. These are explained through concepts of embodied experience, which is a rich arena for marine tourism research inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-244
Number of pages12
JournalTourism in Marine Environments
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2008


  • scuba diving
  • motivations
  • embodiment
  • Great Barrier Reef


Dive into the research topics of 'The life aquatic: scuba diving and the experiential imperative'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this