The 10 Best Sea Scooters
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Sea scooters, also known as diver propulsion vehicles (DPVs), are a convenient and fun way for scuba divers, snorkelers, and swimmers to be towed underwater. They also pose extra risks however, so we recommend attending a course at a certified dive school on how to use the high-powered versions, and for parents to always supervise their children when using the low-powered models. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 21, 2020:
Before purchasing the right sea scooter, you need to consider all manner of factors to ensure you get the right one for your needs. For example, if you're interested in a fun water toy to give your kids some excitement on your next holiday, you don't need a top-of-the-range powerhouse that goes to depths of 150 feet. You'd be better off with either the Yamaha Seal or the Yamaha Explorer, the former being more suited to pools. These models come with good safety features too, such as dual trigger controls and automatic shut-off, so they can't operate the vehicle without using both hands and should they try, it would stop working. They often have positive buoyancy too, so if they let go, it will float to the surface and not sink to the bottom.
Older kids and travelers may opt for models like the Hoverstar Underwater or the Geneinno Trident as their compact size and relatively light weight means they can be stored in backpacks and taken on airplanes along with your mask and fins. The former is better for snorkeling as it only has a depth range of up to 16 feet, while the latter is a good scuba choice as it will last the duration of most fun dives and even has a camera mount for documenting your trips underwater.
We included the sturdy Yamaha 275L, as it's a go-to choice for a dive schools. It can take a few knocks, and is designed for frequent use like everyday classes doing back-to-back dives. It's speed and depth are also suited to the kind of dives you're likely to go on while taking certification courses. The Yamaha 500Li has a lithium-ion battery so will let you go on longer dives to a similar depth, while the Yamaha RDS250 is probably the best all-rounder, balancing a leisurely top speed and 100 feet range with a more affordable price than the other two.
Finally, we included the Tusa SAV-7 for very experienced (and rich) divers who need the ability to ride hands-free, with the option of towing up to two other divers, and with a long battery life that will still function in very deep waters.
Safety is paramount when it comes to using these vehicles. If you're using them while scuba diving, it is best to attend a course first to learn exactly how to manage this kind of machine safely. You will ascend or descend far too quickly if you point them directly up or down, which can cause serious equalisation problems such as a broken eardrum at best, and decompression sickness (DCS) or even an arterial gas embolism (AGE) at worst. Never put weights on your sea scooter to balance your trim, for if you accidentally let your vehicle go, you will no longer have neutral buoyancy and may ascend too quickly. Always plan your trips carefully by applying the rule that one third of your battery should get you to where you want to go, one third will get you back, and the last third is for emergencies. Sea scooters with an LED display showing battery life are best for planning this way.
Make The Most Of Your Aquatic Adventure
Whether you're living out your 007-inspired fantasies or you are simply trying to get some great pictures of a coral reef, a sea scooter is both an enjoyable and useful tool.
Before we talk about sea scooters, let's talk a little bit about the human being as a swimmer.
The fastest swimming speed ever achieved (and recorded, at any rate) by a human being was 5.34 miles per hour. This record is held by the French swimmer Frédérick Bousquet, and is only a bit short of the 80 mile per hour speed of the black marlin, the fastest animal in the ocean. The average human in good condition with decent training swims at a speed not much above four miles per hour. Keep that in mind for later.
Recreational scuba dives seldom take divers deeper than 130 feet below the surface of the water. In fact, that depth -- 130 feet or 40 meters -- is a limit set by the Recreational Scuba Training Council. And that's another number for you to keep in your head. (FYI, the world record for the deepest scuba dive is currently set at 1,090 feet down.) Snorkeling, on the other hand, occurs right at the surface of the water, with depth not a factor due to the short length of the average snorkel. And in case you were wondering, snorkels are short for good reason: the human lungs could not safely and reliably draw in air at its surface pressure at depths greater than two or three feet.
So we have established that most of us can't swim faster than four miles per hour and aren't likely to dive deeper than 130 feet under the surface of the sea. Those two statistics together mean that with a good sea scooter, you can basically enjoy a super human adventure.
Whether you're living out your 007-inspired fantasies or you are simply trying to get some great pictures of a coral reef, a sea scooter is both an enjoyable and useful tool. When your arms and legs are freed of the burden of swimming, you can stay in the water for long periods of time without exhaustion or muscle soreness dictating the length and pleasure of the swim. And when you can zip along at speeds heretofore available only to Michael Phelps and the other Olympians, you can have a uniquely great time in the water. All you have to do is get a sea scooter. Or as they're known in certain circles, a diver propulsion vehicle, or DPV.
Choosing A Sea Scooter
Sea scooters are not exactly cheap. While the lower priced models can still be plenty of fun, their speeds are on the low end and their depth ratings aren't that "low." In fact, some sea scooters are only rated to go about 15 feet under the surface of the water.
On the other hand, the top-of-the-line sea scooters are fabulously expensive, running well into the thousands for highly rated professional models.
On the other hand, the top-of-the-line sea scooters are fabulously expensive, running well into the thousands for highly rated professional models. If budget is no obstacle, then – by all means – splurge on a high-end sea scooter and make a splash the next time you go to the lake or the beach. These top quality models cruise at more than 4.25 miles per hour and can safely power you right down to 200 feet or more below the surface, the deepest depth you're ever likely to see anyway.
For most of us, buying a sea scooter is the perfect time to take the middle road. Even at the low end they're far far from cheap, but in the case of sea scooters, you truly get what you pay for. For double the price of the cheapest ones, you can get a unit that cruises at more than three miles per hour, achieves depths of 100 feet, and offers a battery run time of an hour and a half at full charge.
Of course, if you're just buying a sea scooter for some added fun in the pool (or for the kids, who might break it anyway), a low-cost model is a fine idea. Few pools are deeper than fifteen feet, anyway.
Using A Sea Scooter
Safe use of a sea scooter means not pushing yourself beyond your limits. Sure, a sea scooter can carry you far from shore with ease, but make sure never to stray farther from the coastline than you could swim back in if the unit dies on you. This is also true with depth: never go diving without a guide or partner until you are an experienced scuba diver yourself. Your body's abilities and your experience set your dive's depth and duration limits, not the specs of that sea scooter you're using.
Most mid-range and high-end sea scooters allow you to adjust their buoyancy, and this is an important step if you're going down to any serious depths. (If not adjusted for proper buoyancy, the sea scooter will be constantly trying to pull you back up as you try to go deeper.) Consult the unit's manual and learn how to complete this task precisely.
Many units feature several gears, and just like with a car, the lower gears will give you more power but will also drain the battery more quickly. Toggle between gears as needed and enjoy a longer, smoother ride under the waves.