Diving is a great way to slow down and find peace under the surface of the water when everything above seems too loud, too fast, or too overwhelming. And that’s especially true if you’re a celebrity. Whether for a role on the big screen or as a hobby, actors, musicians, athletes, and the like enjoy the solace of scuba diving — and for some — that interest sparks activism or support for ocean conservation organizations. For others, the beauty below the surface inspires art. (Looking at you, Bill Kreutzman.)
While many divers are inspired by what they see underwater, here are 8 celebrity scuba divers and the organizations that motivate them to save our oceans.
British billionaire and founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson is known for pushing boundaries, whether it’s with music, transportation, space, or life below the surface. He’s an avid diver and well-known ocean advocate who has participated in a number of deep-sea dives over the years, many of which have helped advance ocean research.
Most notably, Branson was part of a historic diving expedition to the bottom of the Blue Hole (407 feet deep!) in Belize. The purpose of the submarine dive was to raise awareness of marine conservation. Alongside his diving adventures, Branson set up Ocean Unite, a non-profit that raises money for environmental charities and funds ocean research projects.
Known as the goofy yet talented retired NFL star, Rob Gronkowski also has an affinity for the water. In 2018, he made headlines for scuba diving with sharks in the Bahamas. (Especially because he wasn’t fully aware that scuba diving was involved, according to the ESPN interview, even asking, “If we pee ourselves, it will stay in the suit, right?”). Of course, his personality shone through even underwater as he used the scuba equipment to imitate Darth Vader and say, “I am your father.”
Actor Leonardo Dicaprio is well known for his environmental campaigns around the world. Through the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation, he donates to ocean conservation efforts such as Oceana and actively participates in marine research. With a passion for the ocean and the environment, he’s also an avid scuba diver. He made headlines in 2019 when diving in the Galapagos — fellow actor Edward Norton saved Dicaprio after he almost ran out of air while chasing eagle rays. Most likely worth it.
Actress January Jones has a fascination with sharks. Particularly, saving them. She was part of Oceana’s campaign to protect sharks by banning the sale of shark fins around the world (which was passed for the entire US West Coast.) In a PSA for Oceana, Jones said, “We shouldn’t be scared of sharks, we should be scared for sharks” because of their diminishing population. The actress has swam with sharks on multiple occasions.
Actress Nina Dobrev is also an ambassador for Oceana where she advocates for the protection of sharks. She got her PADI Open Water Certification in Bora Bora (according to PADI) and has since traveled the world scuba diving or freediving. It’s also become a platform for her to support and promote ocean conservation.
As a native of Melbourne, Australia, actor Chris Hemsworth is no stranger to the ocean and life under the surface. In 2021, he participated in National Geographic’s television special Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth to learn more about sharks with 85-year-old conservationist and shark expert Valerie Taylor. Australia experiences the highest number of fatal shark attacks in the world, so Hemsworth seeks to learn more about shark behavior and how to prevent future hostile encounters. According to Access Hollywood, he learned to dive just for that experience.
It’s okay to admit that (at least) one time during school or work, you might have called in sick to do something better. Professional golfer Tiger Woods did — in 2002, Woods called out sick to play in the Western Open in Chicago. However, it turns out he just wanted to go spearfishing. With a home in Jupiter, Florida, Woods is known to frequently free dive, spearfish, and scuba dive. When talking about his hobbies with actress Jada Pinkett Smith on the show A Round with Tiger: Celebrity Playing Lessons, he mentions that he loves diving as it requires “calming the mind, the heart rate, and being in that meditative state.”
Founding Members of the Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzman, and Bob Weir
Grateful Diver wouldn’t be here today without the founding members of the Grateful Dead. The late Jerry Garcia found scuba diving during the last decade of his life as he became fascinated with the underwater world off the shores of Hawaii. He became a regular at Jack’s Diving Locker in Kona, completing up to 300 dives with the dive center. Garcia became passionate about Kona diving and testified at a Hawaii hearing in support of a mooring buoy project; the Grateful Dead made a sizable contribution for mooring buoy installation off the Kona Coast.
Kreutzman joined him as a dive partner and was later inspired to transform his underwater experience into art, including the design of the Grateful Diver logo! Bob Weir also got scuba certified to make it one big Grateful Dead diving experience.
Later on, Kreutzmann granted Coral Forest (now merged with Reef Relief, a nonprofit coral reef conservation organization) the right to use the logo for marine conservation fundraising initiatives. Today, Grateful Diver expanded the use of the logo on apparel and gear to generate more revenue for Reef Relief. And it all started with the original Grateful Diver.
For many, scuba diving offers a sense of indescribable peace not found above the surface. As you get on the water to find your solace, make sure you’re protected against the sun, wind, dust, or insects. Grateful Diver supplies neck gaiters, UV shirts, hats, and more to support your next adventure. Plus, a portion of each purchase goes to Reef Relief's efforts to save the coral reef! See you on the water.