Going diving in Hawaii for the first time. Are there any differences in eqipment, wet suits, weights ect. Will be first time diving in saltwater.Usually dive in lakes and rivers in South Dakota. Thanks for any info.

Your mask, fins, snorkel, BC and regulator will work fine in Hawaii. Be sure you rinse your gear well at the end of each diving day to prevent salt crystals from building up, and that includes rinsing/draining the inside of your BC. If you use a dry suit, you can take the inflator hose off your regulator and put the plug back in the low pressure port since it would just be a dangly hose that you won’t need in warm water. At the end of the trip give your equipment an overnight soaking in clean fresh water to dissolve any salt crystals that may have formed.

Since you will be diving in warm water I imagine you will want to use much less exposure protection than you do in the fresh water lakes and rivers at home. The amount of exposure protection you will need to stay warm depends a lot on your personal tolerance to cold, but most people would find a 3mm full length wetsuit fairly comfortable.

If you are moving from cold water exposure protection such as a dry suit or thick (6.5mm or more) wetsuit, you should expect to use much less for weights in Hawaii while wearing a lightweight wetsuit. Even though saltwater is denser, your buoyancy will be affected much more significantly by the change in exposure suit thickness and so you should expect to need much less weight to get off the surface. I usually advise people moving from cold freshwater diving to warm saltwater diving in a 3mm wetsuit to start with 1/2 the weight you would use at home and then adjust as needed. I would highly recommend doing a buoyancy check before your first dive if possible to help you dial in your exact weighting requirements.

Safety equipment that may come in handy which you probably aren’t accustomed to carrying at home include a safety sausage, a dive whistle, a small mirror, and a small dive light. If you should surface away from the boat, such items can help alert the boat crew to your location in case you can’t swim back to the boat. Otherwise a diver’s head & shoulders is kind of a small dark speck on a big blue ocean and can be difficult to see from a distance, especially in any kind of wave action.

A small dive knife might also be handy to have if there is risk of entanglement, but you can leave any big pigstickers at home. You should be aware that more and more popular diving spots are developing into marine parks, and one of the common rules in a marine park is no gloves and no knives (to discourage touching anything). I don’t know if Hawaii falls into that category or not, so by all means bring along a small knife but just know that you may end up having to leave it in the bag.

Have a fun time.