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So you’re ready to dive in and explore the underwater world. But you won’t get very far if you don’t know where you’re going. And that’s where a dive compass comes in!

Using a compass when scuba diving allows you to plan your adventure and make sure you experience all the best parts of a dive site.

Without one, you’ll end up wasting a ton of energy, bottom time, and air trying to find your way around.

A dive compass is an essential piece of dive gear. Even if you always plan to dive with a guide, it’s worth having one. What if you get separated or the visibility suddenly drops?

There’s nothing worse than having to end a dive early because someone got lost!

They’re affordable and small enough to always carry with you. So there’s really no reason not to invest in a good dive compass.

And we’ve gone that extra mile to help you find a dive compass you can rely on.

Our Top Choice
Suunto SK8
Best Budget Option
Cressi Compass
Best Value
Sherwood Scuba Diving Compass
Best For Low Vis
Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass
Suunto Sk8 Wrist Compass
Cressi Compass w/Strap and Hose Mount
SHERWOOD SCUBA Retractable Scuba Diving Compass Ready for BCD Installation
Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass
+/-30 degrees tilt angle
+/-10 degrees tilt angle
+/-30 degrees tilt angle
+/- 30 degrees tilt angle
Works in both hemispheres
Easy to read - great for beginners
Highly accurate & easy to read
Exceptional illumination & highly responsive
Choose wrist or retractable mount
Comes with wrist & console mount
Comes with retractable mount
Comes with wrist mount
Our Top Choice
Suunto SK8
Suunto Sk8 Wrist Compass
+/-30 degrees tilt angle
Works in both hemispheres
Choose wrist or retractable mount
Best Budget Option
Cressi Compass
Cressi Compass w/Strap and Hose Mount
+/-10 degrees tilt angle
Easy to read - great for beginners
Comes with wrist & console mount
Best Value
Sherwood Scuba Diving Compass
SHERWOOD SCUBA Retractable Scuba Diving Compass Ready for BCD Installation
+/-30 degrees tilt angle
Highly accurate & easy to read
Comes with retractable mount
SHERWOOD SCUBA Retractable Scuba Diving Compass Ready for BCD Installation
Best For Low Vis
Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass
Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass
+/- 30 degrees tilt angle
Exceptional illumination & highly responsive
Comes with wrist mount

We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best dive compasses along with our top tips on how to choose the right one for you.

So let’s dive in.

Best Dive Compasses

If we had to give a quick answer, here are our favorite compasses for scuba diving:

Want to review your options in more detail?

Keep reading to find out more about what these dive compasses have to offer.

Oceanic Wrist Mount Dive Compass

First on our list is this classic wrist-mounted compass from Oceanic. It’s robust, affordable, and exceptionally easy to read making this an ideal choice for beginners.

The well-defined lubber line, large ratcheting bezel, and clear bearing indicators ensure you’ll never struggle to find your direction.

But what really makes this dive compass stand out is its illumination in low light and visibility. The OceanGlo luminescent floating card is capable of absorbing light 7 times better compared to other materials, making this one of the brightest compasses on the market.  So you can easily navigate no matter how dark the waters.

This compass has been thoughtfully designed so that it quickly responds to each movement you make with minimum issues. You also have a side panel, so you can choose which view works best for you underwater. It sits comfortably on the wrist with an adjustable rubber strap, or you can loop it onto your BCD.

If you’re looking for the brightest underwater compass, this is the one for you. It’s also very reasonably priced so it’s ideal for divers on a tight budget.

Pros
  • Great value for money.
  • Convenient wrist-mounted design
  • Highly responsive to movement
  • Exceptional illumination in dark and low visibility
  • Well constructed and can handle a high level of abuse.
  • Will last several years without issues
  • Durable rubber strap that sits comfortably over a wetsuit or drysuit
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • A little bulky
  • Only calibrated for 1 hemisphere

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Suunto SK8 Best Dive Compass

You’ll never struggle to navigate your way around underwater with this diving compass in tow. When it comes to stability and readability, this dive compass can’t be beaten.

The Suunto SK8 boasts a top-notch tilt angle of +/-30 degrees. Compared to other diving compasses, the tilt potential is up to 3 times larger. This means you’ll still get an accurate reading even if the compass face isn’t kept perfectly horizontal. Many underwater compasses tend to stick if you tilt them slightly but with the Suunto SK8, you can avoid this frustration.

The phosphorescent compass card provides a good amount of illumination, so you get easy and clear readings even in low light or visibility. And with an upgraded magnet incorporated, you can dive in any part of the world without the compass losing its accuracy.

And if that’s not enough, this compass is also available with 2 different mounts; wrist-mounted or a handy retractable mount you can clip to your BCD and simply pull it out when you need to take a reading. We love the quick-disconnect clip that allows you to easily remove the compass from your BCD for safe storage.

Pros
  • Works in both hemispheres
  • Incredibly stable and accurate
  • Rugged construction will probably last you a lifetime
  • Very responsive and reacts quickly to movement
  • Available with a wrist or retractable mount
  • Firm grip bezel with a solid seal that keeps sand and dirt out
Cons
  • Compass card can take a long time to charge in low light
  • Lubber line fades quickly with direct sunlight or frequent use

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XS Scuba Dive Compass Module

If you’re looking for the most accurate dive compass, then look no further than the compass module from XS Scuba.

Most dive compasses can be a little tricky to use underwater because you need to make sure they’re always kept level. But even when this compass is tilted at a 30-degree angle, its SuperTilt feature ensures you’ll still get an accurate reading. And thanks to its super strength magnets you’ll get that accurate reading pretty much instantly.

The large ratching and clear markings on the rotating bezel combined with the minimal, high contrast card design makes this compass remarkedly easy to read. And when you illuminate it with a dive light, it’ll hold the illumination for several minutes making it great for night dives or low visibility.

What’s more, it’s surprisingly affordable. If you are on a budget, you won’t be disappointed with this dive compass. It’s just as good as its more expensive counterparts.

The only downside is that this compass module doesn’t come with a mount, so you’ll need to purchase this separately. It does, however, fit with many standard dive consoles and wrist mounts.

Pros
  • SuperTilt feature ensures accurate readings at more extreme angles
  • Bright and long-lasting illumination
  • Large, easy to read bezel
  • Strong magnets are highly responsive to movement
Cons
  • SuperTilt feature is slightly more expensive (but well worth the extra few bucks!)
  • Only works in 1 hemisphere
  • Need to purchase a mount seperately

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Sheerwood Dive Compass & Accessories

This compass promises top-notch navigation for all divers. With large windows and high contrast markings, it’s a cinch to use underwater.

The dials are also luminescent for extra clarity. It comes with a retractable mount that attaches to your BCD, making it easily accessible when you need it but out of the way when you don’t. The built-in retractor is durable and holds with enough tension that it doesn’t sag, yet still remains easy to pull out and use.

The high strength magnets mean the compass is super responsive and gives a highly accurate reading. It also features a max tilt action, so you don’t have to worry about keeping the compass perfectly level when navigating.

Pros
  • Max tilt action gives accurate readings at an angle
  • Well built and can easily take a few knocks.
  • Bezel is easy to rotate even with thick gloves.
  • Extra-large side window makes navigating a straight course easy
  • Retractable mount comes as standard with 2 different clips
  • Super clear and bright markings
Cons
  • Reading may be disrupted by any iron nearby
  • Need to buy wrist mount seperately

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Cressi Best Budget Dive Compass

If you’re looking for a no-frills dive compass that’ll last you a long time and won’t break the bank, then this is the one for you. Cressi is known for creating reliable and durable dive gear, and this classic compass is no exception.

Despite being one of the cheapest options, it’s well constructed and super easy to read. It’s a great option for beginners or divers on a tight budget. Plus it comes with both a hose and wrist mount so you can choose what suits your set up best.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Long-lasting and robust design
  • Easy to use and read thanks to the clear markings and large bezel
  • Comes with both a wrist strap and a hose mount as standard.
Cons
  • Illumination isn’t as bright or long-lasting as our other recommendations
  • Slightly less responsive to movement
  • Need to keep the compass flat to get an accurate reading.

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Which Dive Compass Is Best For You?

OUR PICK
Suunto SK8 Wrist Compass

It's stable, accurate, and rugged. Plus it works in both hemispheres. You won't find a better underwater compass than this one.

Buy on Amazon Buy on LeisurePro

Best For Low Visibility & Night Diving: Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass

We recommend this for people who often dive in low visibility or find it difficult to read a compass underwater.  It’s highly visible whatever the conditions and glows brighter than any other compass.

It’s also affordable, so it’s a great choice for new divers who might only use it a few times a year.

Great for Travel Aficionados: Suunto SK8 Scuba Diving Compass

Do you often find yourself diving in on the other side of the world? If you plan to dive in different hemispheres, then this is the dive compass for you. It has an updated magnet that’ll give an accurate reading on both sides of the equator.

Best for Beginners: XS Dive Compass Module

The clear markings and SuperTilt feature make this compass super simple to use for beginners. Plus it’s one of the cheaper options, making it an ideal choice for novice divers.

Value for Your Money: Sherwood Genesis Compass & Accessories

This is the compass you should look for if you want to get your money’s worth. It’s highly accurate, well constructed, and comes with a fantastic retractable mount.

It will last you for a very long time and it is something you can always rely on, even in the darkest conditions.

Best Budget Option: Cressi Dive Compass

Want a reliable dive compass but don’t want to spend much money? Get this one.

The Cressi Compass is one of the least expensive dive compasses out there. It’s durable, easy to read, and comes with 2 different mounting options.

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Dive Compass

To find the best dive compass for you, here are a few factors you want to consider before you buy:

Readability & Visibility

Best Dive CompassThere’s no point in having a compass if you can’t read it!

Look for high contrast, simple designs that feature large markings and luminescent materials. The compass card and markings should glow when charged with light.

Make sure the bezel is large enough that you can accurately read where the arrows are pointing. This will make a big different underwater and in low light conditions.

Tilt Compensation

The problem with many dive compasses is that you need to keep them perfectly level to get an accurate reading.

This isn’t always easy when you’re trying to maintain your buoyancy, keep an eye on your buddy, and avoid any obstacles.

The best dive compass will have a good tilting capacity so that even if you hold the compass at an angle, you’ll still get an accurate reading.

Accuracy & Hemisphere Calibration

The last thing you would want is to choose a dive compass that will give you inaccurate results. Look for a compass with a strong magnet system.

Remember to choose a compass that is calibrated for your hemisphere.

Most compasses are only effective in one hemisphere because of the switch of the earth’s magnetic field.

Some manufacturers, including Suunto, have created a balanced magnet system that means your compass will read accurately in both hemispheres.

So if you know you’ll be diving on both ends of the globe, look for a compass with a balanced magnet.

Durability

When you’re investing in any piece of dive gear, you want it to last you a long time. Look for a high depth rating so you don’t have to worry about the water pressure.

It’s also important that you choose one with a robust bezel that can withstand a few knocks. Equally, the bezel should have a good seal that’ll prevent any sand or grit from getting inside.

Mounting Options

Dive Compass MountThe module is the actual compass and the mount is what it sits in that allows you to wear it when diving. You’ll find different that most dive compasses come with different mounting options. The best mount for you really comes down to personal preference.

  • A wrist mount allows you to wear your compass like a watch which makes it quick to check your bearing. But it can feel a little bulky and cumbersome.
  • A retractable mount can be clipped on to your BCD. This means that you easily pull the compass out when you need it and store it out of the way when you don’t.
  • A dive compass can also be console mounted alongside your pressure gauge or dive computer. This means you can check all the essential dive info in one place.

Price

You can definitely find a reliable dive compass without spending too much money. Just make sure it’s readable, durable, and is backed by a good warranty even if it isn’t that expensive.

Along with all of these factors, it’s important that you actually understand how to use your dive compass. Make sure you understand the basics and take some time to practice on land before you rely on it underwater.

What’s Next?

OUR PICK
Suunto SK8 Wrist Compass

It's stable, accurate, and rugged. Plus it works in both hemispheres. You won't find a better underwater compass than this one.

Buy on Amazon Buy on LeisurePro

You’ve now got all the information you need to go ahead and buy yourself the best dive compass!

Do you always dive with a compass? Or do you prefer to navigate using natural references?

We love to hear about your experiences so let us know in the comments below.

Alexa Worswick Administrator

Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime. 

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