How to learn to scuba dive
In order to learn scuba diving, you will need someone to teach you a set of skills: buoyancy control, scuba diving equipment management, physiology of diving, safety at sea, etc. This person might belong to dive center or can be an independent instructor. Either way, your instructor must be affiliated with one diving organization (federation or association), in order to grant a global certification.
Diving organizations are entities that create a set of standards and rules. These standards and rules maintain divers´ excellence and safety during diving courses. For example, PADI is one of many organizations. So PADI courses provide the same information, whether you take it in Honolulu or in L´Escala.
What are the courses for beginners?
Each organization has its own diving courses for beginners. Although, one of the most popular courses for many divers to begin with is the PADI Open Water Diver.
The PADI Open Water Diver is the top course of PADI education ladder. After complete this course, you can dive without a direct supervisor.
The course consists of:
- 5 dives in confined water or pool. In these dives, you will learn all the skills needed to dive freely at sea.
- 4 dives in open water. Apart from practicing what you have learned in previous dives, you can also discover the underwater world. During these dives, you are always accompanied by a professional.
- Theoretical lessons, PADI has prepared teaching material for its affiliates. This material helps you understand the basics of scuba diving and safety rules that all divers must follow.
Once you successfully pass all the exercises, diving center or your instructor will grant you an official PADI certification. With this certification, you can dive anywhere in the world, up to 18 meters deep. There is no expired date for PADI Open Water Diver.
Other courses for beginners
As we mentioned above, beside PADI and the Open Water Diver course, there are many other organizations and courses. Some of the worldwide leading organizations are CMAS, SSI, SDI and ACUC.
Each organization has its own introductory courses for new divers. Generally speaking, all of them have a similar structure.
The diving courses for beginners are divided into three parts: theoretical lessons where you gain new knowledge, practical exercises in pool where you learn essential skills to dive and open water training where you put into practice what you have learned over two former sessions.
Every organization has its own rules. So we recommend you to ask the diving center/operator or being informed on what are your attributions as a diver, after passing the course.
Another important thing to know is organizations have a system of equivalent courses. This allows you to change the organization in your future course or you can dive in centers affiliate to other organizations.
Beside Open Water Diver, these are other diving courses for beginners that may interest you:
PADI Scuba Diver
The PADI Scuba Diver is the transition course between the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) and the Open Water Diver (OWD). Sometimes, due the short length of the vacation, you don’t have enough time to take the OWD, but the PADI Scuba Diver.
The PADI Scuba Diver is the first part of the OWD. So you can complete the second part on your next holiday or your next destination.
The Scuba Diver is divided into:
- 3 dives in confined water. Where you learn to handle diving equipment and skills needed to dive in open water.
- 2 dives in open water. Where you practice what you have learned from theoretical and confined water lessons.
- Theoretical lessons. You will learn the skill to dive safely, responsibly and fun.
Once you complete the PADI Scuba Diver, you can dive to a maximum depth of 12 meters. With the PADI Scuba Diver certification, you always need to be accompanied by a professional PADI with appropriate qualifications. If you want to dive freely, you must complete all 2 parts in order to get the PADI Open Water Diver.
Discover Scuba Diving
The PADI Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) is a program designed for people who want to discover the sport. This program is very similar to what we called Diving Baptism or Try Dive. However, it has different standards applied by PADI.
It also consists of three parts:
- Theoretical lessons with all the knowledge you need to dive and to perform exercises in confined water.
- Exercises in confined water. These exercises are standardized by PADI and all participants of DSD program follow these.
- Practices in open water and discover the underwater world. You are always accompanied by a qualified PADI.
Once you successfully pass all exercises in confined water, you will receive a certification from the instructor or dive center. This certification allows you to dive in any PADI dive center in the world. You can dive to the maximum depth of 12 meters under the supervision of a professional PADI. The validity of this certification is 1 year.
If you want to go further in scuba diving, you can easily link your DSD certification with both Scuba Diver and Open Water Diver since DSD program is the first part of both courses.
What is the minimum age to start diving?
The minimum age for an introductory course can be a difficult question to answer. It may depend on the country, region, and federation or association your certification was issued.
If the country in question has no specific legislation, the minimum age for divers is defined by rules of association/organization. The age is varied between organizations. For instance, 10 years old for PADI, 12 years for ACUC and FEDAS, etc.
Because of the complex rules regards minimum age, we suggest you to ask a professional in your diving destination.
What do I need to bring on my first dive?
For your first dive, in many places, you just need to bring a towel, flip flops, swimming suit and don’t forget your open spirit to learn and have fun.
Although it is common that the dive center and its courses are insured but some of them have diver insurance separately. This insurance is included in your course. Depend on your country of destination, you might need to provide your identification to be insured.
For your first dive, you might need to have a medical certification, showing your physical condition is suitable for diving. This certification is issued by a hyperbaric physician.
What is the equipment for my try dive?
In the introductory course, you use equipment that is typically used in any dive. The gear consists mask, snorkel, fins, regulator, buoyancy device control (BCD), weight system and wetsuit.
Throughout the course, you learn to assemble, disassemble the equipment independently and use your gear underwater to show your new skills.
Do I need a diving insurance for diving?
Generally, dive centers are insured, along with its courses and participants. In some countries, divers´ insurance is separated from dive center´s insurance. The insurance is still included in your price but you need to provide your ID for system register.
What is the difference between Association and Federation?
Diving organizations or associations are independent bodies that regulate diving activities under their degrees. Each center or diving club affiliates with a diving organization. This makes all the courses have minimum standards regardless of where it is performed. Quality and safety standards by organizations do not replace the regulation of each country. Therefore, you should consult local professionals before diving in a new area.
Diving federations are organizations with three basic functions: promotion of the sport, overseeing and organizing competitions and issuance of federal licenses. Currently, federations act as a connection between participants and legislative authorities of sports.
5 Basic tips for your first dive
- The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to master required skills from your diving instructor. We know this is easier said than done. But you will see how fast you improve during the course. Each dive will make you feel better and more comfortable in the water.
- It is important to listen to your instructor carefully. He/she will give you many tips that help you dive better.
- Do not rush in diving deeper. Most of marine life is found in shallow water. In order to enjoy all dives, you should develop gradually from shallow to deeper.
- Once you are in the water, you should concentrate on enjoying the experience and what the ocean has to offer. If you are relaxed, move quickly and smoothly, you will spend less energy and air. Therefore, the dive can last longer.
- It is very important to minimize your impact on the water environment. You must perfect your technique in using your fins, maintain good buoyancy, be careful not to damage flora and fauna, water environment, and its inhabitants.