How do I learn to scuba dive?

As a beginner, the prospect of learning to scuba dive may seem daunting, but with the right guidance and training, it becomes an accessible and rewarding endeavor.

If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring the mesmerizing world beneath the ocean’s surface, scuba diving is the key to unlocking that adventure. Learning to scuba dive is an exhilarating journey that opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.

In this basic short guide, we will walk you through the essential steps on how to learn scuba diving, from choosing the right certification to mastering the skills needed for underwater exploration.

The excitement of learning to scuba dive

Scuba diving isn’t just a hobby or a sport; it’s an entire experience that allows you to immerse yourself in a world of vibrant marine life and breathtaking underwater landscapes. But before you can embark on this incredible journey, you need to follow a structured process to ensure safety and proficiency.

Step 1: Research and choose the right certification

The first and foremost step in learning to scuba dive is to research and choose the right certification/training agency.

Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘get your PADI’ when referring to dive courses and scuba diving certification?

Well, PADI is simply one of the biggest certification and training agencies in the world. You will likely never deal with PADI directly – at least not as a beginner – but many instructors or local dive centers will offer PADI training courses and, therefore, certifications.

But in truth, ‘getting your PADI’ actually means ‘getting your scuba diving license’. It doesn’t have to be with a PADI certified instructor. NAUI – National Association of Underwater Instructors, is another (slightly smaller) certification agency, which tends to be popular in the US.

More and more popular on the international stage, and also our favorite, is SSI (Scuba Schools International). In terms of size and international presence, these guys are only slightly behind PADI.

SSI has made impressive steps in the certification and training branch of the dive industry, expanded their presence significantly in the last decade – and they’re growing stronger year by year. Indeed, we’re seeing a trend of diving instructors doing ‘cross over’ courses, and swapping to become SSI certified trainers, which speaks volumes about their standing within the instructor community.

When choosing your certification, consider important factors such as course content, instructor quality, and international recognition when making your decision. Also check for hidden costs, like extra charges for certification cards and course materials. Then go ‘get your SSI’ or ‘get your NAUI’. And if you want, you can even ‘get your PADI’. It’s absolutely your choice.

A selection of the most popular training agencies

  • PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)
  • SSI (Scuba Schools International)
  • NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors)
  • RAID (Rebreather Association of International Divers)
  • BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club)
  • CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques)
  • Global Underwater Explorers
  • IAC (International Aquanautic Club)
  • SDI (Scuba Diving International)

Step 2: Enroll in a basic open water diver course

Once you’ve chosen a certification agency, the next step is to enroll in a basic open water diver course. This course typically covers essential topics such as dive theory, equipment usage, underwater communication, and safety procedures. The knowledge gained during this course lays the foundation for your scuba diving journey. The basic training is generally broken down into three main sections: classroom/learning sessions, pool (or ‘confined’ water) sessions and ‘open’ water sessions

Step 3: Classroom and pool training

Pretty much all modern scuba diving courses include a combination of classroom sessions and pool training. Most of the bigger training agencies, like PADI and SSI for example, also have online learning systems, so you can do the majority of your theoretical training from home. The classroom/online sessions cover theoretical aspects, such as dive physics, basic decompression theory, and emergency procedures.

Pool training allows you to practice essential scuba skills in a controlled environment before heading into open water. You will learn skills like entering the water, removal and replacement of equipment while in the water, basic buoyancy control and more. Once you have mastered these skills, you’re ready to go out with your instructor into ‘open’ water.

Step 4: Open water dives

The highlight of any scuba diving course are the open water dives. Here, you’ll apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom and pool sessions to real-life underwater scenarios. Open water dives are usually conducted in the ocean or a large body of freshwater body, offering a more authentic diving experience.

During your open water dives, you’ll still practice a few of the skills again – like mask removal and replacement for example. But generally these dives are about having fun and building both confidence and experience in a real-life environment.

During all of this training, you will be accompanied by professionally trained diving instructors at all times and will generally reach a maximum depth of around 18 meters.

Step 5: Continuous education and specialties

Scuba diving is a dynamic activity, and there is always more to learn. After obtaining your basic open water certification, consider advancing your skills by taking specialty courses. These can include underwater photography, wreck diving, night diving, and more. Continuous education enhances your confidence and competence as a diver.

Step 6: Purchase your gear

While most training centers provide basic scuba gear during courses, many divers prefer to invest in their equipment for comfort and familiarity. Essential gear includes a mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit or drysuit, regulator, and a buoyancy control device (BCD). Understanding and owning your gear contributes to a more enjoyable and personalized diving experience.

Step 7: Dive regularly and stay informed

The best way to become a proficient and confident scuba diver is to dive regularly. Join local dive clubs, participate in dive trips, and stay informed about industry updates and new techniques. Networking with experienced divers, and maybe even scuba influencers, can provide valuable insights and enhance your overall diving experience. Oh, and don’t forget… keep coming back to sdm to get industry relevant news.

If you decide to learn to scuba dive, you’re embarking on a thrilling adventure that opens up a world of wonders beneath the ocean’s surface. By following these steps – from choosing the right certification to continuous education and regular diving – you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and responsible scuba diver.

Embrace the journey, and soon you’ll be exploring the depths with confidence and awe. And who knows? Maybe we’ll see each other one day under the waves.

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