UV Night Fluorescent Diving And Best UV LED Lights For Recreational Divers

UV Night Diving

Have you ever seen those cool pictures of coral and fish under black lights? No, it isn’t just some gimmick to enhance social media clicks. It’s called UV night diving, or fluorescent diving, and is one of the new activities divers are interested in.

Dive shops everywhere are beginning to stock UV torches to keep up with the demand. Look on the schedule of dive centers around the world and you’ll see they are adding night dives just for UV diving. It is getting to be a big thing.

But, what is it?

We’re going to answer that exact question. Also, we’ll look into how you can get started and the best places in the world to experience UV night diving.

What is UV Night Diving?

UV Night Diving

We divers are a pretty creative bunch when it comes to naming. You have cave diving which is diving in caves. Wreck diving, which is diving in wrecks. You also have ice diving, which is…wait for it…diving in ice.

So, you can probably guess from the name that UV night diving is diving at night using a UV light. But, why would anyone want to do that? Diving at night is scary enough as it is when you have bright flashlights. Why would you want to go with a less bright UV light?

The short answer is because it’s pretty cool what you can see. The longer answer, because there are tons of fish and coral which chemical compounds in them. These chemical compounds light up in unusual ways when you shine a UV light on them.

Just as you can dive one spot during the daytime and then go back at night to see something different. So too can you go to that same spot the next night with a UV light and see it as an entirely different world.

UV lights are on a spectrum between 10 and 400 nanometers (nm). When you shine these lights on coral and certain types of fish, it causes them to emit light and crazy colors. Or, in more scientific terms, to fluoresce. If you are interested in the technical aspects of what fluorescence is, you can read this.

Marine biologists and researchers have been using this technology for quite a while. Until recently though, the technology was too expensive for recreational divers to use. But, new advancements in the technology of UV lights have completely changed this. Dive centers around the world are beginning to offer UV dives as part of their regular schedule. You can even purchase a UV light for yourself to make your own UV night dives.

Let’s take a look at some of this technology.

What Are The Best UV Lights For Recreational Diving?

UV Night Fluorescent Diving

Because UV night diving is so new for recreational divers, the market for UV dive lights is still lacking. But, there are still a number of great options on the market from reliable manufacturers.

The three lights we’ve listed here represent the best the market currently has to offer. But, be on the lookout as there will certainly be improvements each year with new releases.

1. Tovatec UV LED Light

Tovatec UV LED Diving Light
  • Great for recreational sport diving including as a...
  • Waterproof up to 328 feet
  • Comes with a limited 1-Year warranty

Tovatec is a well-regarded manufacturer of dive lights and adventure lights. Their flashlights are known for being durable and built to last.

One of the great things about their lights is that they avoid many of the issues that other dive lights are known to have. Namely, they can hold up at depth. Many lights advertise themselves as being durable. But, once you get a few meters underwater, they start to leak and eventually flood. You won’t have this issue with Tovatec dive lights.

Pros
  • The Tovatec UV LED is waterproof up to 99m (328ft). This is well beyond any depth that you will dive to for recreational night dives. You can have confidence that your light is going to hold up even during deeper night dives.
  • This is a 395nm UV light. Many of the early model UV lights for diving were 400nm which is still on the spectrum of visible light. Divers had to use a yellow filter to help make coral and fish fluoresce. But, with newer 395nm lights, a yellow filter isn’t needed. So, you can dive without worrying about any extra equipment that can potentially get lost.
  • The Tovatec UV is small and easy to carry. This is convenient as you will still be carrying your regular dive torch for getting to the bottom and back up. You can easily fit the Tovatec in your BCD pocket to save you from using up a D-ring.
Cons
  • The Tovatec UV only comes with a 1-year limited warranty. The issue with this is that most dive lights don’t start showing problems until after a few years. It would be nice if the warranty were at least another year. But, optimally you want a UV dive light with a lifetime warranty.
  • Some users have complained that the magnetic switch is easy to accidentally activate. The main issue is that it can switch on while in your BCD pocket and then run out of battery before the end of your dive. This is obviously going to be a problem after the batteries have been in use for a while. So, make sure to keep your batteries regularly updated so it doesn’t become an issue if this happens.
  • One issue that was often mentioned is that this light isn’t great unless the visibility is good. Some users complained when using this in cold water or murky waters, the light was not able to cut through the murk. If you are going to be in a location that has lower visibility, you may want to buy a more powerful UV dive light.

2. Underwater Kinetics Aqualite-S UV-395

Underwater Kinetics Aqualite-S UV-395, Black, USB...
  • Push button tail switch
  • 395nm UV lamp head for ultraviolet or glo-diving
  • Corrosion resistant HYDRALUMTM Lamp Head
  • Includes 1 rechargeable 2600 mAH Lithium Ion...
  • Includes 3 photo accessory mounts

Underwater Kinetics has been a staple in the dive industry since the early 1970s. Their dive lights are known for being top of the line. They were one of the first companies to produce smaller dive lights making it easier to carry and use. Their UV lights continue in this tradition of being small, lightweight, and reliable.

Pros
  • Like the Tovatec, the Underwater Kinetics Aqualite-S emits 395nm light. This means you won’t have to use an extra yellow filter to see the fluorescence in coral and fish. The benefit of this is that you won’t have to carry extra equipment. Color filters especially are notorious for falling of lights and cameras. So, not having to bring one is nice.
  • Unlike the Tovatec, the UK Aqualite-S comes with a rechargeable battery. These typically last longer and won’t have to be replaced as often. Also, with non-rechargeable batteries, you run the risk of them dying on a liveaboard or in an area with no stores. If you don’t have backups, you are out of luck. This comes with a USB charger. So, no matter where you are you can easily find a way to charge the batteries in preparation for a dive.
  • Underwater Kinetics lights are known to be exceptionally bright. This holds true for the Aqualite-S. Many UV lights can be quite dull forcing you to get close to reefs to see things. The issue here is that at night it is more difficult to navigate and control your buoyancy. This can lead to accidents such as breaking coral. A brighter light lets you stay further away so you can see everything without risking damage.
Cons
  • This light can be used either standalone or mounted to a photo rig. A few users have complained they had issues when using with a rig as the instructions were a bit confusing. One person, we’ve known even had to return it and buy a different UV light for underwater photography. If you are using this primarily for underwater photography, you may want to opt for a different light.
  • A few users complained the O-rings in this model are not as good as other Underwater Kinetics dive lights. You may want to replace the O-rings to make sure everything is sealed completely before you go diving. The majority of people have not had issues but it is always better to be safe than sorry with your equipment.
  • This is an upper priced UV light. As we’ve mentioned, Underwater Kinetics is a top-quality brand when it comes to diving lights. But, there are certainly cheaper lights that will do the job just as well. If you are on a tight budget or don’t plan on doing a lot of UV night diving, there are other options.

3. Light & Motion GoBe Combo Light

ON SALE
Light & Motion GoBe Combo Kit Underwater Light...
  • Combo kit includes GoBe 700 Wide Light plus 700...
  • 700 lumen output and 750mW radiant flux output...
  • Rechargeable through external Charge interface...
  • Factory-sealed design with external charge...
  • Manufactured in California and backed by Light &...

Light & Motion is another high-end lighting brand. They produce professional lighting for industries such as filming, drones, photography, and diving. Their dive lights are top of the line and used by marine biologists and researchers around the world. Their GoBe dive light is a great option if you are looking for a versatile light for many uses.

Pros
  • This isn’t just a UV light. The GoBe is a light body that can be equipped with many different light heads for different purposes. The great thing about this is that it is also easy to replace these light heads if they break. You can get the Nightsea light head for fluorescent diving like what we are talking about. There are also wide-angle light heads, spotlight heads, and a focus light head for accuracy.
  • This is a combo pack with three of the above-mentioned light heads. It comes in at the same price as the GoBe Nightsea fluorescent light. This can save you hundreds of dollars and allow you to use the light as more than just a UV light. You can even use it on non-UV night dives as either your primary dive light or as a backup to your primary light.
  • The GoBe is rated to a depth of 120m (395ft). This is far deeper than you will be going when night diving. Also, like the Aqualite-S, this comes with a rechargeable battery and a USB charger. No matter where you are in the world you can easily recharge the battery with only a spare battery charger.
Cons
  • This is the most expensive light on this list. It is useful for more than just UV diving as we examined above. The interchangeable light heads make it more than worthwhile as you can buy one light and get many uses out of it. But, if you are on a tight budget, there are cheaper alternatives for both regular dive lights and UV dive lights.
  • This is not strictly a UV light. Instead, it emits blue light between 440nm and 460nm. You need to use a yellow filter with this light, which is included. It can actually be better as it is less harmful to your eyes and, in some cases, can make the coral fluoresce better. But, having the yellow filter means one extra piece of equipment you have to maintain.
  • Some users have complained of having difficulties attaching this light to their BCD. This can be a major issue as dive lights, like dive knives, have a tendency to get lost. The nice thing about lights is that you can see them at the bottom in order to retrieve them. But, being able to easily attach this to your BCD would be a plus.

What Are The Best Locations For UV Night Diving?

UV Night Fluorescent Diving

Now you know what UV night diving is and have some options for buying equipment. Next, let’s look at the best spots to experience UV night diving.

You will be happy to know that they are all common diving destinations. So, you don’t have to go out of your way to experience this diving wonder.

Read : Best Underwater Cameras

1. Koh Tao, Thailand

Diving Koh Tao Thailand

Koh Tao Paradise Island

Koh Tao is already one of the most popular places in the world for diving. More open water certifications come from this island than anywhere else in the world. So, chances are as a scuba diver you will end up here at some point anyway. Why not add UV night diving to your list of things to do when visiting. There are dozens of shops and schools on the island so you can easily find the school that is perfect for you.

Who to dive with: Normally, we recommend Buddha View Dive Resort when diving in Koh Tao. We’ve had great experiences with them. But, for UV night dives, we recommend Master Divers. They offer UV night dives throughout the year. You must have at least one non-UV night dive prior to booking.

Read : Diving In Thailand

2. Bonaire, Caribbean Sea

Diving in Bonaire The White Hole

Bonaire is a major diving destination and one of the most visited islands of the Dutch Antilles. The island is north of Venezuela in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Bonaire is protected from storms which affect other islands during hurricane season. This makes it a great area for diving year-round.

Like Koh Tao, there are many dive shops around the island so you have a wide selection. One thing that is nice about Bonaire is that many of the best night diving spots are shore dives. So, you can rent a car and visit more than one spot in one night.

Who to dive with: We recommend VIP Diving. They have been around since 2009 and have a great safety record. Their divemasters are well trained and knowledgeable of the best sites around the island. They were also one of the first dive schools on Bonaire to offer UV night dives. Like Master Divers, you need previous night diving experience with a regular light.

Also Read : Diving In Bonaire

3. Huravalhi Island, Maldives

Maldives

Maldives

The Maldives is known for some of the most beautiful beaches around the world. It’s world-famous for the bioluminescent plankton you can see certain times of the year.

But, this isn’t the only natural light show. You can also see coral in a new way on a UV night dive. We recommend Huravalhi as they have great beaches and crystal clear waters. There are also some great resorts on this island.

Who to dive with: We recommend Prodivers. They have dive centers all around the Maldives. They are one of the top-ranked dive centers in the country and have great staff. The divemasters at their different locations are knowledgeable about the different dive sites. Overall, they are a great dive center for both UV night diving and regular fun dives.

Some UV Diving Tips

  1. UV light is harmful to your eyes. So, do not look directly into the light. Also, be cautious when diving to not shine the light into the eyes of anyone else. If you are using blue light with a yellow filter this is less harmful.
  2. You need to have near-perfect buoyancy when doing a UV night dive. It is important to manage your buoyancy to avoid damaging reefs. This is not a diving activity for brand new divers.
  3. Try to go on at least three-night dives before doing a UV night dive. Night diving is totally different than daytime diving. There are many potential hazards you must learn to mitigate and contend with. With UV night diving, these hazards can be enhanced due to reduced visibility. It is best to get a feel for diving at night first and then introduce the UV aspect.

Also Read : Best Places To Learn Diving

In Conclusion

UV diving seems pretty exciting, doesn’t it? It is one of our favorite diving activities next to wreck diving.

Do you have any experience with UV diving?

Do you have any other recommendations for great UV night diving spots or gear?

We are always interested in the opinion of other divers like yourself. So, let us know in the comments section what you think. You never know if what you have to say can help someone else.

Last update on 2019-09-15 at 22:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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