It really is easier than you think to get your scuba certification. We’ve got 10 tips for prospective divers that are designed to allay any nervousness or fears. We’d love to welcome you to the PADI Tribe!
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1. Meet the Prerequisites
There are age requirements (you must be 12 to be an Open Water Diver) that you must meet. And be honest: There are some health conditions (for example, epilepsy) that preclude you from diving. Be educated about what they are before signing up for a class.
2. Get the Facts
We’re sure you’ve heard it all before — you’ll run out of air, you’ll be eaten by a shark, you have to be an excellent swimmer, it’s a macho sport. If any of these myths have kept you from learning how to dive, visit your local dive shop and ask to speak to one of the instructors. Ask lots of questions.
3. Choose an Instructor and Facility You Trust
If you’ve taken Step No. 2, you’ve already visited a local dive shop. Were you pleased with the instructor and the shop? If not, keep searching. Ideally, find a dive store with an on-site pool (heated if you’re taking your training in cold weather) with hot showers and changing facilities. Since classroom studies are often combined with pool sessions in a single afternoon or evening not having to travel to go to the pool is a real plus. To find a dive store near you, visit PADI’s Dive Shop and Resort Locator.
4. Get Started
Learning to dive involves three phases: academic study that includes the physics and physiology of diving; confined-water training (often called pool training) to learn and practice basic skills; and open-water checkout dives to prove mastery of basic dive skills. To better understand this process, read PADI’s “Start Scuba Diving” and “Open Water Diver.”
5. How Long Does It Take?
It’s possible to complete your confined and open water dives in as few as three or four days by completing the classroom portion online (see Tip No. 8) or home study options offered by your local dive shop or resort. Or you can spread it out over a period of weeks. Decide how you prefer learning new skills, and then choose one of these options.
6. Buy Some Gear
To learn to dive, you’ll at the very least need a mask, fins and snorkel. The other stuff, including a buoyancy compensator, regulator, wetsuit, etc., can come later on when you’ve got a better idea of what you’ll need.
7. Pick a Destination, Any Destination
If you really want to add some excitement to the certification process, decide to do the open-water checkout dives in a tropical location, rather than the local “swimming hole.” To research a few destinations, go the Destinations section of sportdiver.com and select a region from the pulldown menu on the upper left-hand corner of the page. Or do your checkouts at home, and plan a dive vacation for afterwards.