Garth loves camping under the stars with his Arb III, scuba diving, snorkeling, and also tanning. His favourite snorkel spots include Alanya (Turkey), Koh Rong (Cambodia), and Maui (Hawaii, USA).
He also loves to visit the cenotes in Mexico and he recommends everyone reads the book, “The Soul of an Octopus”, because, he says “they are sensitive, just like me”.
Did you know that 71% of the earth’s surface is water, 97% of which is ocean water. Therefore, if you love adventures, you can’t afford not to explore the wonders and mysteries of the marine life.
You’ve seen nothing yet until you scuba dive. Getting to see all sorts of fish species swimming together in the most spectacular formations as well as giant turtles, whales, sharks and other wonders of marine life.
If you’re interested in exploring marine life up close and personal for any extended period of time, not to mention doing so safely, you need to get a scuba diving license.
The PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) diving course is the most basic scuba diving course, done by most people all over the world from all walks of life.
There are two classifications of the PADI diving course:
PADI Scuba diver
The PADI scuba diver is similar to the learner’s driving licence. It takes a short time, and you can only dive with the supervision of a certified PADI diver.
It’s also the very first step towards certification. And, you can only dive up the maximum depth of 12 meters/ 40 feet.
PADI Open Water Diver
The PADI Scuba diving course is the full beginner’s course. It takes longer than the PADI scuba diver (usually, double the time). But, even then, you still have to dive with another professional diver.
Take a look at this dive training picture from Aquarius Scuba.
Why Take a PADI Scuba Diving Course?
From the decriptions above, PADI scuba diving course is like going halfway through the training for a PADI Open Water Diver. So, why would anyone take it instead of going all the way?
- They don’t have enough time to take the full course.
- They only want to dive for recreational use with a professional and don’t purpose on doing it often.
Once you have the PADI open water diving certification, you are qualified to do the following:
- Upon producing your certification card, you can rent diving equipment
- Refill your air compressors
- You have the autonomy to choose your diving buddy. They don’t have to be a supervisor. However, you’re only limited to dive up to 18 meters deep.
- Most of all, you can now take other advanced diving courses such as underwater photography, night diving, and so on.
- And, you can scuba dive in some of the most magical destinations in the world.
However, to train as a scuba diver, you need to consider the following:
Physical Fitness: Before you start the lessons, you need to answer a physical fitness questionnaire. This is because the conditions underwater can be potentially dangerous if you have certain physical ailments.
Check out this training pic from Mexico Blue Dream.
For example, if you’re suffering from lung ailments such as asthma, it could pose a significant danger when you’re underwater.
Age: There are special diving classes for children between 8 years to 10 years. Children between 10- 12 years can also enrol for scuba diving classes, but it depends on the country/region regulations. In the USA the scuba diving age limit for children is 12 years.
Note, you don’t have to be a competitive swimmer for you to learn scuba diving. You need basic swimming skills and as long as you are comfortable in the water you can learn how to scuba dive.
Also, you can learn scuba diving even if you have a particular physical disability. There are organizations devoted to training people with disabilities on how to dive. They call it adaptive diving. And, there are special gears to aid in diving for them.
PADI Open Water Diving
This takes between 4-7 days of training. You’ll have to complete 5 swimming pool diving lessons and take four open water diving sessions.
PADI Scuba Diving
It takes only about 2-3 days or even less, depending on your time availability. You will have to take at least two swimming pool diving practice lessons and two open water diving sessions.
The first thing you learn is getting familiar with the diving equipment. These include:
- The mask
- The buoyancy control device
- The dive computer
- The scuba tank
- The regulator
- The wetsuit or drysuit (however you want to call it)
- The weight belt
Note, if you intend to scuba dive frequently it’s advisable to get your own gear.
Owning the gear that is fitted specially for you will make you more comfortable and confident when diving. However, if you can’t get all the gear at once, at least purchase the mask, fins and snorkel gear.
After familiarizing with the gear, the instructor will guide you on how to assemble the gear correctly. This critical step ensures your safety when you are diving.
Note, the first time, the gear will feel odd and possibly quite heavy. But, once you are under the water, you will not feel the weight of the equipment.
Some Of The Basic Things You’ll Learn As A Beginner
Equalize the air pressure
As you descend during the dive, the water asserts pressure on you, and you start feeling uncomfortable.
To prevent this, you need to equalize the pressure by blocking your nose and pushing air towards your nose. You will feel both your ears start to pop, which will help you balance the air pressure.
Obviously, you can’t talk underwater (duh!). Therefore, you’ll be taught various hand signals to help you communicate with your supervisor and other divers. These signals are universal and will be understandable to any diver.
- Clearing your eye mask when you get water into the mask or the mask becomes blurry.
- How to clear the regulator.
- How to neutralize the buoyancy to ensure that you float just above the reef.
The Mistakes To Avoid
- Do not hold your breath under the water. You can either remove the regulator and release a stream of bubbles or breathe normally when you have the regulator.
- When learning, do not carry all your torches, camera and other equipment on your first or second open water dives. You need to first become competent and confident diving underwater before increasing your number of equipment.
- When you’re on the surface, do not strain your legs trying to stay afloat. Instead, just use the buoyancy jacket. It will help you stay afloat without any struggle.
- Not checking your gauge frequently. When learning how to dive, you need to check the indicator frequently. It will help you figure out how quickly you’re using up your oxygen.
- Do not walk in the diving fins. One can easily trip and fall when you’re walking in the fins. However, if you have to, walk backwards or sideways.
Once you get certified, you’re free to upgrade to other courses as you enjoy the wonderful marine life as you travel the world.
In conclusion, there are 12 scuba diving certification levels. In this article, we only looked at two. Here are the other 10 levels:
Advanced Open Water Diver Certification
- Rescue Diver Certification
- Master Scuba Diver ( The topmost level of recreational scuba diving)
Professional Scuba Diving Certifications
- Dive Master Certification
- Assistant Instructor Certification
- Open Water Scuba Instructor Certification
- Master Scuba Diver Trainer Certification
- Assistant Course Instructor ( An IDC)
- Master Scuba Instructor
- Course Director (Teacher of Teachers)
Good luck to all who are getting prepared to take their first PADI training. If you’ve taken the training, let us know in the comments below how it went!