Q: What’s involved in learning to scuba dive?
A: Learning to scuba dive is an incredible adventure! With PADI as your training organization, your path to breathing underwater is accomplished in three exciting phases:
1. Knowledge Development
Learn the lingo. During the first phase of your PADI Open Water Diver scuba certification, you develop an understanding of the basic principles of scuba diving. You learn things like how pressure affects your body, how to choose the best scuba gear and what to consider when planning dives.
You briefly review what you have studied in the five knowledge sections with your instructor and take a short quiz to be sure you’re getting it. At the end of the course, you’ll take a longer quiz that makes sure you have all the key concepts and ideas down. You and your instructor will review anything that you don’t quite get until it’s clear.
Select the knowledge development option you prefer:
- Start right now and learn to scuba dive online with PADI eLearning at your own pace—anytime, anywhere (great for busy schedules)
- Attend a scheduled scuba diving class at your local PADI dive shop (great for meeting new friends and dive buddies)
- Take advantage of home study using PADI multimedia materials (manual, video, CD-Rom) purchased through your local PADI dive shop or resort
2. Confined Water Dives – Scuba Skills Training
This is what it’s all about – diving. You develop basic scuba skills by scuba diving in a pool or body of water with pool-like conditions. Here you’ll learn everything from setting up your scuba gear to how to easily get water out of your scuba mask without surfacing. You’ll also practice some emergency skills, like sharing air or replacing your scuba mask. Plus, you may play some games, make new friends and have a great time.
There are five confined water dives, with each building upon the previous. Over the course of these five dives, you attain the skills you need to dive in open water.
3. Open Water Dives—Locally or on Vacation
After your confined water dives, you and the new friends you’ve made continue learning during four open water dives with your PADI Instructor at a dive site. This is where you fully experience the underwater adventure – at the beginner level, of course. You may make these dives near your home or at a more exotic destination while on a scuba vacation.
Q: How long does it take to get certified?
A: 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 via PADI eLearning or home study options offered by your local dive shop or resort.
The PADI Open Water Diver course is incredibly flexible and performance based, which means that your PADI Dive Shop can offer a wide variety of schedules, paced according to how fast you progress.
Your instructor’s interest is in your learning to scuba dive, not in how long you sit in a class. So, training is based upon demonstrating that you know what you need to know and can do what you need to do. This means that you progress at your own pace – faster or slower depending upon the time you need to become a confident scuba diver who dives regularly. You can start learning to scuba dive online right now with PADI eLearning.
Q: How much does it cost to take scuba lessons?
A: Compared with getting started in other popular adventure sports and outdoor activities, learning to scuba dive isn’t expensive. For example, you can expect to pay about the same as you would for:
- a full day of surfing lessons
- a weekend of rock climbing lessons
- a weekend of kayaking lessons
- a weekend of fly-fishing lessons
- about three hours of private golf lessons
- about three hours of private water skiing lessons
- one amazing night out at the pub!
Learning to scuba dive is a great value when you consider that you learn to dive under the guidance and attention of a high trained, experienced professional – your PADI Scuba Instructor. From the first day, scuba diving starts transforming your life with new experiences you share with friends. And, you can do it almost anywhere there is water. Start learning online and get ready to take your first breath underwater!
Q: What scuba gear do I need to learn to scuba dive?
A: Choosing and using your scuba gear is part of the fun of diving. Your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort will help you find the right gear. Each piece of scuba equipment performs a different function so that collectively, it adapts you to the underwater world.
When you start learning to scuba dive, as a minimum, you want your own
These have a personal fit, and your local PADI dive shop will help you choose ones that have the fit and features best suited to you.
As part of the enrollment fee for all or part of your PADI Open Water Diver course, many dive operators provide a:
Check with your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort to confirm what’s included in your course package. It’s recommended that you invest in your own scuba equipment when you start your course because:
- you’re more comfortable using scuba gear fitted for you
- you’re more comfortable learning to scuba dive using gear you’ve chosen
- scuba divers who own their own scuba diving equipment find it more convenient to go diving
- having your own scuba diving gear is part of the fun of diving
The kind of gear you will need depends on the conditions where you dive. You may want
Q: How do I know what’s the best scuba gear?
A: Easy. There is no best gear. But, there is the best gear for you. The professionals at your local PADI dive shop are trained to help you find scuba gear that best matches your preferences, fit and budget.
These professionals can get you set with the right stuff, plus they provide service and support for years of enjoyable and dependable use.
You may also want to talk to other scuba divers in PADI’s online scuba community to get recommendations on particular scuba equipment brands and models.
Q: What’s required to take scuba lessons?
A: If you have an appetite for excitement and adventure, odds are you can become an avid PADI scuba diver. You'll also want to keep in mind these requirements:
- 10 years old
- Students younger than 15 years, who successfully complete the course qualify for the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, which they may upgrade to PADI Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15. You must be at least 13 years old to take scuba lessons online with PADI eLearning, due to international internet laws. If you’re younger, you can still learn to dive – just have your parent or legal guardian contact your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort.
Physical: For safety, all students complete a brief scuba medical questionnaire that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, you sign the form and you’re ready to start. If any of these apply to you, as a safety precaution your physician must assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms that you’re fit to dive. In some areas, local laws require all scuba students to consult with a physician before entering the course.
Download the scuba medical questionnaire.
Waterskills: Before completing the PADI Open Water Diver course, your instructor will have you demonstrate basic waterskill comfort by having you:
- swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards in mask, fins and snorkel). There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.
- float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods that you want.
About Physical Challenges: Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. Individuals with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Talk to your PADI Instructor at your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort for more information.
Learning Materials : Unless you choose PADI eLearning, you’ll need and use the following training materials during the PADI Open Water Diver course, and for your review and reference after the course:
- The PADI Open Water Diver Manual
- PADI Open Water Diver Video on DVD or the PADI Open Water Diver Multimedia (combines manual and video for computer based learning).
- You will also need your PADI Log book and Recreational Dive Planner (Table, The WheelTM or eRDPTM).
Your local PADI dive shop can set you up with these as part of the course enrollment process.
Q: Where can I scuba dive?
A: You can dive practically anywhere there’s water – from a swimming pool to the ocean and all points in between, including quarries, lakes, rivers and springs. Where you can scuba dive is determined by your:
- experience level
- site accessibility
For example, if you’ve just finished your PADI Open Water Diver course, you probably won’t be diving under the Antarctic ice on your next dive. But, don’t limit your thinking to the warm, clear water you see in travel magazines. Some of the best diving is closer than you think.
Your local dive site can be anything from a special pool built just for divers like one found in Brussels, Belgium, or more typically natural sites like Belize’s Great Blue Hole, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or Japan’s Yonaguni Monument. It may be a manmade reservoir or a fossil-filled river. It’s not always about great visibility because what you see is more important than how far you see.
The only truly important thing about where you dive is that you have the scuba diving training and experience appropriate for diving there, and that you have a dive buddy to go with you. Your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort can help you organize great local diving or a dive vacation. Visit today to get started.
Q: My ears hurt when I go to the bottom of a swimming pool or when I dive down snorkeling. Will that keep me from becoming a scuba diver?
A: No, assuming you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the normal effect of water pressure pressing in on your ears. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to adjust for pressure changes in our ears – you just need to learn how. If you have no difficulties adjusting to air pressure during flying, you'll probably experience no problem learning to adjust to water pressure while diving.
Q: Does a history of ear troubles, diabetes, asthma, allergies or smoking preclude someone from diving?
A: Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory function or heart function or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a physician can assess a person’s individual risk. Physicians can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing a scuba candidate. Download the Medical Statement to take to your physician.
Q: What are the most common injuries or sicknesses associated with diving?
A: Sun burn and seasickness, both of which are preventable with over the counter preventatives. The most common injuries caused by marine life are scrapes and stings, most of which can be avoided by wearing an exposure suit, staying off the bottom and watching where you put your hands and feet.
Q: What about sharks?
A: When you’re lucky, you get to see a shark. Although incidents with sharks occur, they are very, very rare and with respect to diving, primarily involve spear fishing or feeding sharks, both of which trigger feeding behavior. Most of the time, if you see a shark it’s passing through and a relatively rare sight to enjoy.
Q: Do women have any special concerns regarding diving?
A: Aside from pregnancy, no. Because physiologists know little about the effects of diving on the fetus, the recommendation is that women avoid diving while pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Menstruation is not normally a concern.
Q: How deep do you go?
A: With the necessary training and experience, the limit for recreational scuba diving is 40 metres/130 feet. Beginning scuba divers stay shallower than about 18 metres/60 feet. Although these are the limits, some of the most popular diving is no deeper than 12 metres/40 feet where the water’s warmer and the colors are brighter.
Q: What happens if I use up all my air?
A: That’s not likely because you have a gauge that tells you how much air you have at all times. This way, you can return to the surface with a safety reserve remaining. But to answer the question, if you run out of air, your buddy has a spare mouthpiece that allows you to share a single air supply while swimming to the surface. There are also other options you’ll learn in your scuba diving training.
Q: What if I feel claustrophobic?
A: People find the “weightlessness” of scuba diving to be quite freeing. Modern scuba masks are available in translucent models, which you may prefer if a mask makes you feel closed in. During your scuba diving training, your instructor gives you plenty of time and coaching to become comfortable with each stage of learning. Your scuba instructor works with you at your own pace to ensure you master each skill necessary to become a capable scuba diver who dives regularly.