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Dive flag and float(2)

A Dive Flag

A Dive flag warns boaters that scuba divers are in the areaA dive flag warns boaters that scuba divers are in the area. Its use may be required by law. You fly the flag from a float that you tow, except when diving from a boat. The flag may fly from the dive boat if you stay in the immediate area.

Also known as : divers flag, diver down, scuba diving flag, alpha flag, red-and-white flag, inner tube



Required features

Place HolderLocally recognized flag – Your dive flag must be either the red-and-white flag, the blue-and-white Alpha flag, or both as required by local regulations.

Staff – The staff needs to hold the flag high enough so boaters can see it, even with waves and chop present.

Float – The float needs to be buoyant enough to hold the flag and staff, and stable enough that it doesn’t flip over easily.

Line and reel – You usually tow the float, so you need a line and something to carry the line on.

Desirable features

Flag stiffener – Holds the flag open when there’s no breeze.

Optional features

Inner tube with fabric cover – This style float has the most buoyancy. You can use it for resting, and you can put accessories in it that you’d rather tow than carry. It’s also buoyant enough to hang scuba gear from, which is handy in some situations.

How to choose a dive flag and float.

Dive flag and floatYou really have two primary considerations in choosing your flag and float. The first is getting the locally recognized flag. If in doubt in a particular location, your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort can help. Failing that, get both and fly both. The second consideration is the float size. A compact staff-only float is the best choice if you don’t need the extra buoyancy for accessories because it has the least drag, especially if you’ll be towing in a current. The full size inner tube float is the best choice if you want to carry things.


  • Know the laws and follow them. Dive flag laws stipulate when you must fly the flag, how close you must stay to it, and how far boaters must stay away.
  • Don’t assume boaters will follow the law. Many boaters don’t recognize dive flags, so if you hear a boat (they’re quite audible underwater), stay down until it leaves before you come up close to your flag.
  • Don’t play Spiderman. That is, don’t try to tow a float without a reel to store slack line on – unless you don’t mind ending up in a web of your own making. (At least you have an excuse to use your dive knife.