A wetsuit insulates and protects your body in the water. It's called a wetsuit because it traps a thin layer of water next to your skin. Your body heats that layer of water. The wetsuit helps your body retain its heat. Your wetsuit also protects you from sunburn, scrapes, cuts, stings and other skin injuries.
Wetsuits come in several styles. A full body suit covers wrists and ankles. You can add a hooded vest, wetsuit boots (or "booties") and gloves for extra insulation. A Farmer John style combines overalls and jacket for versatility. The pieces can be worn separately or layered for extra warmth. You can also choose a suit with short arms and legs when you need less protection.
Wetsuits also vary in thickness. To choose the right amount of insulation, keep in mind the conditions under which you'll be diving.
Bahamas diving takes place in water temperatures ranging from 72 degrees in the winter to 80 degrees in the summer. Water absorbs heat much more quickly than air. If you are diving frequently, you need more insulation to help your body retain its core temperature. Conditions out of the water are also factors to consider. Wind, cloud cover, and air temperature will affect how quickly you warm up after a dive. The weather you're used to can make a difference. In Bahamas diving conditions, a Florida resident may opt for a full suit, while a Northern diver may feel comfortable with less protection.
CHOOSING A WETSUIT
Comfort and fit are essential in choosing a wetsuit. The wetsuit needs to be snug but not constricting. If the suit is too loose, water will flow in too rapidly and chill you. If the suit is too tight, it will restrict your movements and your breathing.
Always try on a suit before buying. Custom suits may be worth the extra cost if your body varies from standard measurements. Wetsuits shrink slightly and become stiffer over time as the neoprene cells collapse. Buy a good quality suit that will keep its fit and flexibility longer.
Don't throw the old suit away when you buy a new one, but save it for warmer waters and for rugged conditions that might damage your suit. A wetsuit is a longterm investment. If this is your first suit, ask your professional for advice to help make your Bahamas diving experience all it can be.