Imagine being able to descend into the ocean to experience a completely different world. Schools of fish, colorful coral reefs, and other marine life surround you. By getting scuba certified, you can add the adventure of diving into your already amazing vacation plans.
Getting started: Before you can scuba dive, you will need to get certified. There are two worldwide organizations: NAUI and PADI. No matter where you get certified – through a school, through a private divemaster, or at a resort – you will want to make sure their program is accredited by one of these two organizations. Even if you’re land-locked, you may be surprised to find out that you can get certified in your own hometown! To begin your search, inquire at the following places:
-Local community colleges, universities, and community centers which often offer dive training in their on-site swimming pools
-Resorts often offer their own diving schools and divemasters so you can actually get certified on vacation! You can find a list of accredited dive resorts on the PADI and NAUI websites. Even if you are not staying at the property, you can often arrange to get your certification done at the host resort.
-PADI now offers an eLearning option for the classroom portion of the training but you will need to find a dive center for the other half of your training.
Obtaining your certification: Depending on where you get certified, your dive equipment may be included in the overall price or you may be required to rent it on your own. If you plan on diving frequently, you may want to consider investing in your own equipment.
Your classes will begin with classroom training and will be followed by practicing basic skills like descending, ascending, and hand signals in a controlled environment like a swimming pool. After, you will do a series of dives with a divemaster who will test your skills in the ocean or a lake. After you have passed the written and physical tests, you are officially scuba certified!
Time to dive: Now that you have your certification, you can present your card at any dive shop to be able to dive on one of their boats. If you are traveling solo, you will be paired up with another diver as your buddy or with the divemaster. Be sure to also bring your logbook with you to show record of your previous dives.
-Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? You can get a customized mask made with your prescription! You can do a web search under “Prescription Dive Mask”. We found a site with reasonable prices called Seavenger.com.
-Diving is an amazing experience and you will be eager to capture memories of your dives. Consider investing in a waterproof camera or purchase a plastic case designed to cover your regular digital camera. The disposable cameras will also work but you will need to adhere to the depth limitations and ensure you have enough natural lighting.
-There are recommendations for how soon after scuba diving you can fly in an airplane. While the amount of hours is dependent on how many dives you did, how long you were diving, and how deep you went, 24 hours is usually my practice. The Divers Alert Network (DAN) has further information here.
Have more questions? Post them here on in the DIWYY forums in our ‘Scuba Diving‘ category.