Introduction to Hookah Diving

Where did the name Hookah come from? It's a strange name for diving equipment, possibly derived from it's similarities to the old Middle-Eastern smoking device. The American Heritage Dictionary defines Hookah as, "An Eastern smoking pipe designed with a long tube passing through an urn of water that cools the smoke as it is drawn through. Also called hubble-bubble , narghile." Hookahs are water pipes resembling bongs. It has a base, or smoke chamber partially filled with water, a bowl containing the tobacco, a pipe connected to the bowl and a hose, which connects to a second tube in the pipe which draws the air out of the smoke chamber.

Hookah diving has been around since the mid 1600's, when Von Guericke developed the first effective surface air pump.
.The hookah system delivers air to divers below via hoses from a surface-supplied air compressor, rather than from scuba tanks. Another term for this technique is SSSA, which stands for Sport Surface-Supplied Compressed Air. It's not considered "scuba" because the air source is separate from the diver, instead of self-contained.

The system uses a small gasoline (some electric) powered air compressor that sits on a dock, boat or floating inner tube and supplies air via hoses with regulators at the end, to the diver. Old systems were very large and bulky. Now, modern hookah systems are small, relatively lightweight and float above the divers for the ultimate experience in recreational diving. Reputable dive shops carry and service the units and many offer classes for novice divers. When purchasing your unit, make sure the shop's staff is knowledgeable and that they carry the extra parts and supplies you may need to get the most out of your system.


Author is based in Florida and has a Hookah Diving site, which provides resources, tips and information for those interested .

By: Lisa Tritten


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