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What is a PADI Drift Diver Course?

Some of the world's most incredible sites are drift dives, from Cozumel to the Red Sea.
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What is a PADI Drift Diver Course?

Drift divers by coral wall

Some drift dives are relaxing and others exhilarating, but you must prepare differently for both than a standard dive.

Drift diving moves divers along with the flow of the current so they can avoid swimming against it. The dive boat follows on the surface—rather than anchoring in a fixed location—ready to make a pickup downstream. The PADI Drift Diver specialty course teaches you skills to use for this “live boat” technique.


Drift diving is one of the most exciting activities in the sport of scuba diving. It is not only fun, but it also offers access to some of the world’s best dive locations, many of which can’t be explored from an anchored boat due to strong currents. Destinations like Cozumel, the Red Sea and French Polynesia are renowned for their drift dives, where divers swoop and soar on swift currents past steep walls and coral canyons filled with sharks and other large marine life.

What You’ll Learn

The underwater skills you’ll learn in this course include proper buoyancy control and navigation in a current, buddy dynamics and how to use special equipment like lines, reels and surface marker buoys to maintain contact with the boat. You’ll also learn the skills required for entering and exiting from a live boat in open water, including techniques for entry and descent in current and the importance of moving quickly when getting off and on the boat.

The PADI Drift Diver specialty course has a PADI eLearning component that can be completed independently. For the best experience, divers should consider completing their two checkout dives from a liveaboard or at a destination known for its drift diving. The minimum age for PADI Drift Diver is 12, with no prerequisites other than an open water certification.