If where you like to be is, as the song goes, under the sea in an octopus’ garden, you can use a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV), also known as a sea scooter, to make the pleasures of exploring coral reefs, poking around submerged shipwrecks or dipping into marine life habitats almost effortless, at gentle speeds of 2 to 4 miles per hour. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.
9. Yamaha Seal
- 2 mph top speed
- Go-pro camera mount included
- 15-feet maximum depth
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
8. Yamaha Explorer
- Entry-level price
- Weighs under 12 lbs inc battery
- Less buoyant in fresh water
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
7. Yamaha RDS200
- Measures just 24 x 15 x 12 inches
- Sealed lead acid battery
- Best suited for saltwater use
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
6. Yamaha 220Li
- Compact and lightweight power cell
- Up to an hour of use between charges
- Maximum depth of 100 feet
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. Yamaha RDS250
- Camera mount included
- Resists accidental flooding
- May sink in fresh water
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
4. Yamaha 350Li
- Compatible with gopro hero 3 to 5
- Weighs less than 20 pounds
- Upgradeable to 500 watts
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
3. Yamaha RDS300
- Up to 90 minutes runtime
- Rotational dual speed control
- Removable buoyancy control chamber
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
2. Yamaha 500Li
- Tri-level acceleration control
- Replaceable li-ion battery
- Weighs only 21 lbs with power supply
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
1. Apollo AV-2 Evolution 2
- Hands-free riding saddle
- Progressive acceleration system
- Li-ion or sla battery
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
Make The Most Of Your Aquatic Adventure
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 Frederick 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. In fact, even the least expensive model out there costs more than two hundred dollars. And while the lower priced models can still be plenty of fun, their speeds are on the low end, too. But 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. 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. For a few hundred dollars, you can have a great sea scooter. Now that’s far from cheap, but in this case, you truly get what you pay for. For double the price of the cheapest sea scooters, 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.