Hello there, are you looking for the ultimate guide to scuba diving for beginners? Or are you considering getting your open water diver’s license but not sure what you’re signing yourself up for?
Don’t worry – now that you’re here, let us help!
Diving underwater generally means the act of swimming underwater (underwater swimming) with no to minimal breathing equipment. It is largely divided into two categories – scuba diving and freediving.
Freediving is performed at breath-hold whereas, with scuba diving, a breathing apparatus is required.
Scuba diving can be a great experience for you to explore the stunning flora and fauna underwater and discover new marine life in the underwater world. It truly is a one-of-a-kind experience you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
In this article, you will find lots of useful information, especially for a scuba diving beginner. From the basic items you’ll need to the impact you can make on the marine ecosystem through diving, you’re about to learn all you need to know about scuba diving and more.
The Ultimate Guide To Scuba Diving For Beginners
- How To Get Certified For Scuba Diving? – What you need, what to do and where to start when looking for scuba diving certifications
- What Is The Best Certification For Scuba Diving? – Find out the best certifications there is for scuba diving all around the world
- What Do You Need For Scuba Diving? – All the items you need for scuba diving for beginners
- How To Maintain Buoyancy Control In The Water? -Learn how buoyancy and breathing can help maintain buoyancy in water
- Where Can You Sign Up For Dive Lessons Or Trials? – Where to look for diving for beginners lessons and dive trials
- Can I Get Certified While On Vacation? – How to find the best certification while you’re on vacation
- Do I Need To Be Medically Fit To Learn Scuba Diving? – Find out the necessary medical requirements for scuba diving.
- How Can You Help The Environment With A Diving License? – Learn how you can help the environment with a scuba diving licence
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What Is The Best Certification For Scuba Diving?
Here are some of the best scuba diving certifications you can check out:
- Best Overall Scuba Diving Certification: PADI dive course
- Runner-up for Overall Scuba Diving Certification: SSI
- Best For Aspiring Tec Divers: SDI
- Oldest Civilian Diver Training: NAUI Worldwide
- Best British Contingent: BSAC
The best certification for diving is the PADI dive course – more than 28 million certifications have been issued by 6,600 PADI dive centers and around 128,000 PADI professionals worldwide.
This means, should you ever decide to go for a dive trip on your beach vacation, you will most likely have access to a PADI dive course nearby. You can also be sure that your certification will be widely recognized and accepted in most diving locations as it is also one of the most popular certifications there is for scuba diving.
In addition to this, you can also make a career with scuba diving should you decide to take on an instructor or divemaster course with PADI, which can give you the best chance of employment after being officially qualified.
How To Get Certified For Scuba Diving?
Scuba diving is a unique and interesting sport that many love but at the same time just as many fear mostly because of their fear of the ocean. There is a vast universe underwater and if you decide to get certified for scuba diving and learn to breathe underwater – you will have access to 70% of the planet!
That’s pretty cool, right?
The scuba diving industry is self-regulatory for the most part as there are no generally government-mandated training rules or procedures or if there is, it’s just normal to say that divers must be certified by an agency that is recognized worldwide.
You should also know that you will need a license to scuba dive and should never attempt to do so without a license. If you abide by the rules, scuba diving will be a safe sport and one of the most important ones is that you have to be certified. That’s just it.
However, If you don’t have one yet, don’t worry. When you do get your license, you will be able to explore dive destinations around the world, explore marine life underwater, discover wrecks and meet so many new people! An experience that will be uniquely yours.
Examples throughout this article will be mostly about the PADI Open Water certification – a course you can enroll in to be a fully certified diver.
There are several types of diving certifications that you may have about before, such as:
1. Discover Scuba Diver
Often called Try Scuba or a Resort course, this is a program designed to be used in resorts as a way to encourage resort or hotel guests to sign up for a proper certification course for diving.
This course is similar to the first knowledge part and the first confined water activity certification program where they take guests to the shallow parts of the water as a “warm-up”. If you’re not sure if becoming a diver is for you, this course is perfect for those looking to explore diving for beginners.
2. Scuba Diver Certification
This is the first level of certification but it’s not a full one. This is the first half of the Open Water Diver (OWD) certification course whereby divers who complete this course will be qualified to dive up to 12 meters (40 feet) underwater with the supervision of a professional diver.
Originally designed for those who cannot make time for an OWD course, you can complete this course and later upgrade to the OWD at your preferred time.
3. Open Water Diver Certification
Most divers start at this certification – a full certification that allows you and a dive partner to plan dives and go up to 18 meters (60 feet) underwater. Dive centers will request to see your certification card otherwise known as a C-card before refilling or allowing you to rent their cylinders.
So what exactly will you be learning when you sign up for a scuba diving for beginners course?
There are three parts in which your training and course will be presented, although other courses may have slightly varying methods, these are the main ones you should know about:
This portion of the course explains the physics of diving and how it’ll affect your body when you’re underwater. This is important to keep you safe and prevent any mishaps when you’re diving below the surface of the water.
The material for this part of the course is usually presented straightforwardly and can be done physically or online.
Confined Water Training
Usually carried out in a swimming pool or an open shallow location, this training is sometimes called skills training as you will learn many skills related to your equipment and being underwater.
It may seem a little odd and hard but don’t worry, we guarantee that by the end of the course, the skills you learn will feel like second nature to you.
Open Water Session
The open water session is the extended version of what you will learn in the confined water training but this time, in natural water environments. This training is conducted in various ways – traditionally, with a referral or via e-learning. Let us explain.
The traditional method requires a professional instructor to be responsible for your entire training which many divers still do to get certified.
Over several weeks, training is done by alternating the knowledge and pool sections and completing the open water part over a weekend. Students looking to learn on vacation will usually take about 4 to 5 days to complete.
Referrals take place when knowledge and skills are done locally and the open water dives are carried out in another location with another instructor.
Many people use this method to complete their open water certification while on vacation – giving them the flexibility to enjoy their vacation but also more time to dive to their heart’s content.
The e-learning method is the result of technological advancements and being able to access any information from anywhere.
With this, the knowledge sessions can be conducted at home and you can select which dive center you would want to complete your certification with when you buy the e-learning package. This seems to be the most preferred method for divers these days.
How Long Will It Take To Become A Certified Scuba Diver?
There isn’t a definitive answer to this question. This depends on what kind of certification you will be taking and how long you take to learn how to dive and become certified as a diver.
Most beginner courses take about 2-3 days where you will need at least three dives in total or some are done over a weekend before the divers progress onto more open water dives and classes.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Certified?
Your first scuba diving certification won’t cost too much, usually around USD 200 – USD 300 depending on the type and level of certification you intend to pursue.
However, this is usually a one-time fee for each course that can last around 2-3 days with at least 4 dives in total before moving on to more classes or open water diving sessions with your instructor.
What Do You Need For Scuba Diving?
Most people who intend to become a diver are often discouraged because they believe it’s too expensive. Well, it’s true – a full diving kit, even just a basic one can cost over a thousand dollars. However, when you train for your initial certification, it also includes the cost of your rental gear.
After being certified, you can rent your equipment so buying them won’t be necessary as many divers, even experienced ones, rent them when they arrive at their preferred dive location. This is because not only is it more economical, you also avoid the hassle of carrying your gear when you travel or worse when luggage rules at the airports come into play.
The following are some basic items you will find in your diving for beginners training:
1. Dive Cylinder
Also known as a scuba tank, contains the air that is compressed for you to use underwater. It is not an oxygen tank, many non-divers seem to refer to them as oxygen tanks, but they are not unless they are painted white or green.
A dive cylinder’s standard fill has the same composition of the air you breathe naturally – 21% oxygen. They come in different sizes with the 80cf aluminum one being the most commonly used as rentals and for training.
Diving for beginners tip – take note of the type of tank you use and its size so that you know what to look for next time you’re renting your equipment.
Weights are used to help you stay in balance during and at the end of your dive. How exactly, you ask?
Well, although it may not look like it, your body can float in the water with your wetsuit and even with your gear on without the extra weight. Plus, the air in your tank will also be used up – weighing about 4 to 7 pounds which needs to be compensated for the added buoyancy.
They’re normally included with a tank rental or a dive.
The buoyancy control device (BCD) is a vest-type device that attaches the dive gear to you to maintain neutral buoyancy underwater. This is important as many people injure themselves when they come up to the surface too fast because it’s too buoyant.
Technically, you are safer and your dive will be much better if you can maintain neutral buoyancy as much as possible. A BCD also usually comes with a few handy pockets to store small things and items used on a dive.
A mask is your window to the underwater world and it is one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll need for scuba diving and therefore it is important to ensure it’s comfortable and fits you nicely.
The mask functions to create an air space in front of your eyes to allow you to see underwater and a nose pocket to help you equalize pressure in your mask as you swim deeper.
There are two types of mask, a dual-lens type that makes it easier to clear and the dual-lens that provides a wider field of sight.
Fins provide your legs with additional surface area for you to move in the water. The fins have two main parts, the blade, and pocket whereas the pocket has two styles, an open heel or an open foot.
The open heel is most commonly used as it has a strap that is adjustable and you will need to wear a boot with these and can be used in any dive location. The full-foot design on the other hand is designed like putting on a slipper and is sized to shoe sizes.
6. Dive skins and exposure suits
Exposure suits are used to slow down the heat loss from the body when you are swimming in low-temperature waters whereas dive skins are used to protect the diver from water undercurrents, marine animals, and coral scrapes.
How To Maintain Buoyancy Control In The Water?
An important thing to remember about diving for beginners is that buoyancy control is key to staying safe underwater.
When you can maintain neutral buoyancy, you will be better streamlined and have minimal drag when you’re moving around in the water. You will also use less air to adjust your buoyancy. This helps you have more air to use when you’re underwater and therefore, be able to spend more time diving.
The two main things that are key to buoyancy are balance and breathing.
So to achieve it, you will first need to wear the correct amount of weights for your dive. This may differ depending on your conditions and your exposure conditions. The second key – remember to breathe evenly and slowly when you’re underwater.
Long, relaxed breaths help you relax and maintain control over your buoyancy, so as much as you can, try and not hold your breath too much when you’re cruising in the waters. Don’t be wearing too many weights either as that can mess up your buoyancy too.
Diving for beginners tip – Keep in mind that the right distribution for you depends on the body position of your choice and your composition.
Buoyancy is a crucial diving skill and requires a life-long commitment to master it. With practice, you would be able to spend more time in the waters without worrying if you’re getting your weights right or if you have enough air to breathe.
Where Can You Sign Up For Dive Lessons Or Trials?
If you’re ready to get your feet in the water and explore what the world beneath the sea has to offer but are not quite sure where to start – we got you.
Getting your scuba certification closer to home can be less stressful and a lot more convenient than trying to compress your 3 – 4 scuba course into your vacation schedule. It would also make more sense to train locally if you plan to dive locally when you get certified.
If you’re not sure if you’d want to complete your training at home or on holiday, don’t worry, you can do both if you like. Here’s how:
- Start your “classroom” knowledge studies online with PADI eLearning® and proceed to do your pool training locally.
- Ask your local PADI Dive Center for a referral
- Complete four open water training dives anywhere in the world to complete your certification.
With a referral, you can take your time to get comfortable with your in-water skills and enjoy your vacation relaxing and exploring instead of stressing yourself out with your studies.
There are over 6,000 PADI Dive Shops around the world and you can start your journey towards becoming a PADI Diver just about anywhere with water.
Diving for beginners tip – If you cannot find a dive shop near you, get in touch with PADI Travel and they should be able to find one that is closest to you with all the information you may need.
Do I Need To Be Medically Fit To Learn Scuba Diving?
For the most part, yes. According to PADI’s medical statement, dive learners should not be too overweight or out of conditionals diving can be quite strenuous under certain conditions. Generally, make sure your circulatory and respiratory systems as well as your whole body are in good health before you sign up for diving.
Conditions like lung problems (asthma, or a collapsed lung), allergies, ear problems, or certain illnesses can be dangerous underwater.
Diving for beginners tip – Certain medications are also contraindicated for diving so make sure you read and honestly answer the diving medical questionnaire before diving.
How Can You Help The Environment As A Scuba Diver?
Here’s what’s great about scuba diving, not only will you get to explore the world that lives beneath the ocean waters but also you will get to do your part to ensure that they remain where they are for many, many years to come – for you and our future generations.
At this point, not only is it crucial to protect our marine life but also to help them heal. These are some ideas if you intend to start making each dive count towards a healthier, cleaner blue world underwater.
Volunteer With A Marine Conservation Programme
Ask your local dive shop if they know or are involved in any coral reef projects that they need volunteers for. If you’re considering a dive holiday with a project you can commit to for a few weeks or more, look online.
There are various NGOs around the world that host projects for volunteers focusing on marine life, coral reef, and community work to increase awareness and educate people about the dangers of overfishing, reef degradation, and ocean pollution.
Educate Yourself So That You Can Educate Others
If you’re keen to learn more about coral reefs and marine environments, the PADI Project AWARE Specialist Course might pique your interest. They also have special distinct specialty programs should you be interested in specific marine life.
Get in touch with your local dive shop and find out what they may have to offer or better still, if you’re a professional, you should get qualified as an instructor for one or more of these programs.
Choose Dive Centers You Plan To Get Certified In Wisely
Not all dive centers are committed to conservation and environmental efforts but some do a great job at it. Look for dive centers awarded with the PADI Green Star – they show that these centers are making efforts to reduce their impact on the environment.
Dive centers that offer eco programs such as coral monitoring, marine conservation, or Dives Against Debris work hard to care for their environment and would need all the help they can get.
If you’re signing up for a PADI program, ask if they’re 100% AWARE – which means that the dive center is committed to protecting the ocean as a part of the 100% AWARE partnership. You will also be awarded a special Project AWARE certification card!
Spread The Word By Becoming An Ocean Ambassador
The more people who are aware of the dangers that our marine life is facing, the better. Most people will help only when there is a need for help, so making sure your friends and family know that the ocean needs help might be a good place to start.
You can use social media to reach out or even organize activities like a beach clean-up to get all your non-diving friends to be involved. Kids and adults can both learn more about our oceans and marine life while helping keep the oceans clean.
Diving for beginners tip – Be sure to share your pictures, achievements, efforts, and ideas on social media and with people around you so that they too, can be inspired to do the same wherever they are.
Scuba diving can be both fun and challenging but oh, so worth it when you finally get to do it. The world you’re about to explore, the feeling of weightlessness in the water, and all the wonders hidden to those who live on land will blow your mind away.
We hope this simple guide to scuba diving for beginners has helped you understand scuba diving better and encouraged you to just do it! You know you’re thinking about it, this is your sign to go ahead and do your part not only to learn about marine biodiversity but also to encourage others to learn and protect them together.
All the best!