There’s no greater adventure than diving! Whether you’re taking your first look at diving, or whether you’ve been diving for 20 years, there’s always something new, fascinating or challenging about venturing into the underwater world. Your mind may be mesmerized by clouds of colorful fish, your curiosity raised by the mysterious remains of sunken ships or your creativity awakened by the art of underwater photography. Your diving interests may range from a casual pastime pursued on vacation, to a constant passion – even a career. Diving offers something for everyone.
The fun of diving starts when you enter a diver course, which teaches the basics of enjoyable, safe diving through pool and class sessions, plus exciting dives at popular dives sites under the guidance of your Instructor.
Just why do people scuba dive, anyway?
Every venture underwater is a new and exciting opportunity for exploration and discovery. The world underwater is full of beauty, wonder and excitement. Every dive gives us a glimpse of a unique and fascinating world which is very different from our own. If you have ever wondered what outer space was like, try being an Aquanaut first! Scuba diving can be lots of fun, relaxing and a great opportunity to make new friends. Learning to scuba dive can become the beginning of a lifelong adventure. It will literally change your life!
How much does it cost to become a scuba diver?
Typical beginning training consists of a few classroom sessions, pool practice and at least four training dives in the ocean or a lake and will generally cost under $250. In addition to the cost of instruction you will want to own your mask, snorkel and fins which can cost as little as $150. Most scuba schools furnish scuba equipment for use during pool sessions. For the ocean training dives you may either purchase or rent the scuba equipment, wetsuit and weights required to complete the class. The expense you will incur for equipment purchase and rental will vary depending on which items you choose to rent and which ones you decide to purchase. To complete your course, most scuba schools require that each student purchase a student kit consisting of log book, textbook, workbook and dive tables. These kits are priced from around $35 to $55.
How long does it take?
A training program which leads to International certification as an Open Water Scuba Diver will take about 35 hours. The training can often be completed in as little as two weekends or it can be scheduled over several weeks. Professional scuba schools will have a variety of options available to accommodate your needs. Private lessons, accelerated training and home study programs are readily available in most areas as well.
When and where are classes offered?
Contact your local dive shop or dive association for information on classes. They are usually given year round. If you live in a cold climate your lessons will begin in a comfortable heated pool which will prepare you for an easy transition to ocean training. You might want to consider getting certified on vacation in a warmer spot. Be sure to call ahead to find out the options available at your intended destination. The PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) also has an excellent search engine to locate PADI Dive Centers and Resorts.
Where is the best diving?
The fact is that there is beautiful diving found in nearly every Ocean in the world, experienced divers will debate which is the “best.” See our Diving section or the menus above for an introduction to the best diving spots in the world.
Can I start my training at home and complete my open water dives on a vacation to a tropical destination?
Yes. That process is called open water referral. You complete the classroom training, pool practice sessions and written work through your local scuba retailer. Your instructor will furnish you with an official referral form which documents your successful completion of the first part of the training. You can then make arrangements for a certified instructor at your tropical destination to complete the open water training. This option is recommended for people who plan to dive exclusively in warm water. If you plan to enjoy diving in your own “colder” water, we recommend you complete all your training in your own ocean.
What are the requirements to take a certified scuba course?
Anyone who is at least 10 years old and in normal good health can learn to scuba dive. Have a look at PADI FAQ’s for specifics. You do not have to be an exceptionally strong swimmer or an athlete by any means though being in shape will make your diving much more enjoyable. Scuba diving is a relaxing, safe sport which is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. If you have any concerns about your health or swimming skills as it relates to scuba diving, you should discuss them with an instructor at your local scuba retailer. There are some programs for kids younger then 10 as well.
Where is the best place to take a scuba course and how do I enroll?
The best source for all your diving needs, including quality instruction, is your local professional scuba retailer. Most retailers offer complete instruction programs for all levels. In addition, each retailer can offer expert advise and consultation in the purchase and proper use of quality scuba diving equipment and accessories. Most retailers also sponsor a regular program of dive trips and activities designed specifically to meet the needs of their customers.
What about equipment?
Learning to dive is learning to use equipment. While you are learning, it is just as important that you use good equipment that fits properly as it is that you have good training. The best source for advice and assistance in selecting the right equipment is your local scuba retailer. Or you may review renowned scuba magazines and online resources to learn about equipment first. Please see our Gear andResources pages for more information. Scuba equipment is constantly being improved and new designs and technology are becoming available on a regular basis. Your local scuba retailer will have up-to-date products and information available. If you do not already own them, you will probably want to purchase at least your own mask, snorkel and fins when you enroll in a scuba class. The staff of your local dive store will assist and advise you in selecting the items that are best for.
When looking for a certifying agency, there are several to choose from. PADI’s mission is to remain the world’s most respected and successful organization in recreational scuba diving and snorkeling. They are committed to quality and service excellence as well as the professional growth and security of PADI members with an emphasis on safety, quality and environmental awareness. PADI is the largest certification agency in the world, with more than 70,000 professional members worldwide and training materials in 17 languages.
NAUI Worldwide is the world’s oldest non-profit membership training agency organized solely to support and promote dive safety through education. Formed in 1960, the association is controlled by a Board of member directors elected by the membership.
BSAC is an association very popular in the United Kingdom and offers a slightly different approach through local scuba clubs. These and additional associations are listed below:
- National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI)
- Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)
- British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC)
- Scuba Diving International (SDI)