HOW DO I LEARN TO SCUBA DIVE?
Becoming a scuba diver is a wonderful adventure! Scuba certification includes three phases:
PHASE 1: Knowledge Development
During the first phase of your scuba lessons, you’ll learn the basic principles of scuba diving such as
- What to consider when planning dives.
- How to choose the right scuba gear for you.
- Underwater signals and other diving procedures.
You’ll learn this valuable information by reading it in the PADI or SSI Open Water Manual and/or online with PADI or SSI eLearning. At the end of each chapter, you’ll answer questions about the material to ensure you understand it. Along the way, let one of our Instructor Staff know if there is anything you don’t understand. At the end of the course, you’ll take a final exam that ensures you have a thorough knowledge of scuba diving basics.
You’ll also watch videos that preview the scuba skills you’ll practice in a swimming pool or pool-like environment. In addition to the video, one of our staff instructors will demonstrate each skill for you.
PHASE 2: Confined Water Dives
This is what it’s all about – diving. You’ll develop basic scuba skills in a pool or in confined water – a body of water with pool-like conditions, such as off a calm beach. The basic scuba skills you learn during your certification course will help you become familiar with your scuba gear and become an underwater explorer. Some of the essential skills you learn include:
- Setting up your scuba gear.
- How to get water out of your mask.
- Entering and exiting the water.
- Buoyancy control.
- Basic underwater navigation.
- Safety procedures.
You’ll practice these skills with an instructor until you’re comfortable. When you’re ready, it’s time for your underwater adventure to begin at an open water dive site.
PHASE 3: Open Water Dives
After your confined water dives, you’ll head to “open water,” where you and one of our staff instructors will make four dives over two days. On these dives, you’ll get to explore the underwater world. You’ll apply the skills you learned in confined water while enjoying what the local environment has to offer. You will complete these skills at Vortex Springs in Florida, but we do offer a local certification as well and we can also do a referral for you to finish your certification anywhere in the world with a PADI or SSI Instructor.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET CERTIFIED?
The PADI or SSI Open Water Diver course is flexible and performance-based, which means that we offer a wide variety of schedules, organized according to how fast you progress. We offer anywhere from a regular monthly class to semi-private and even private classes. It’s possible to complete your confined and open water dives in three days by completing the knowledge development portion online via PADI or SSI eLearning, or other home study options offered by us.
One of our many Staff Instructors will focus on helping you become a confident and comfortable diver, not on how long it takes. You earn your certification based on demonstrating 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 competent and safe scuba diver.
HOW MUCH DO SCUBA LESSONS COST?
Compared with 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.
Learning to scuba dive is of great value when you consider that you learn to dive under the guidance and attention of a highly trained, experienced professional – your PADI or SSI Scuba Instructor. What’s more, you receive a certification to scuba dive at the end of a PADI or SSI Open Water Diver course which will never expire (few other activities can offer that). Click on this link (“HOLIDAY” Class Information Flyer) for a flyer that goes over the cost of the course and what all is included and involved in getting your open water certification.
From the first day, scuba diving starts transforming your life with new experiences you can share with friends. And you can do it almost anywhere there is water. For group pricing or specials that might be available, give us a call @ (228) 392-7830. We offer classes every month with several dates to choose from. Semi-private and private classes are also available for those with tight schedules or who want to do classes at their own pace. Give us a call and let up help you find the class you are looking for.
Some questions you may want to ask are:
- Are the course materials included in the price?
- What personal dive equipment am I required to have?
- Is rental gear included?
- Are there any additional fees such as a boat fee or certification fee?
- How many student divers will be in the course?
- Where will open water training dives take place?
WHAT GEAR WILL I NEED TO SCUBA DIVE?
Choosing and using your scuba gear is part of the fun of diving. One of our qualified professional staff members can completely provide you with all of the gear that you’ll need and we can do it in less time than you may think. Each piece of scuba equipment has a different function so that together, it adapts you to the underwater world.
When you start learning to scuba dive, as a minimum, you’ll want your own:
- Dive Booties
These have a personal fit, and we will help you choose gear with the best fit and features for you. During your pool sessions if something doesn’t work for you or fit we will gladly swap it out for another product no questions asked.
During your PADI Open Water Diver course, you’ll learn to use a regulator, buoyancy control device (BCD), a dive computer or dive planner, scuba tank, wetsuit or drysuit, and weight system. Consider investing in all your own scuba equipment when you start your course because:
- You’re more comfortable learning to scuba dive using the gear you’ve chosen.
- You’re more comfortable using scuba gear fitted for you.
- Scuba divers who own their 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’ll need depends on the conditions where you dive most.
You may want:
Tropical scuba gear (Used in the Caribbean): In warm, clear water, you only need minimal exposure protection and can choose lightweight, streamlined scuba components. Use this scuba gear when diving in water that is 24ºC/75ºF or warmer.
Temperate scuba equipment (Used in the Southern Region): When you’re equipped for temperate climates you have maximum versatility because you can dive in the tropics and also in water that’s a bit cooler. Use this scuba gear in water that is 15-24ºC/60-75ºF
Coldwater scuba diving equipment (Used in the Northern Region): Cool climates often have spectacular diving. With good exposure protection and the right equipment, you can scuba dive in cold water in comfort. Use this scuba gear in water that is cooler than 15ºC/60ºF.
Technical diving scuba equipment (Used throughout all the Regions): Tec diving requires additional experience, training, and equipment. Technical divers typically wear twin cylinders or closed-circuit rebreathers (CCRs), plus wear additional tanks, each with different gas blends. They also usually have backups for all their other dive gear. Interested in tec diving?
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR LEARNING TO SCUBA DIVE?
If you have a passion for excitement and adventure, chances are you can become an avid scuba diver. You’ll also want to keep in mind these requirements:
The minimum age is 10 years old (in most areas). Student divers who are younger than 15 earn the Junior Open Water Diver certification, which they may upgrade to Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15.
All student divers must complete a brief scuba Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, sign the form and you’re ready to start. If any of these apply to you, your DOCTOR must, as a safety precaution, assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms 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 above in the highlighted link)
Before completing the Open Water Diver course, one of our staff instructors will have you demonstrate basic water skills to be sure you’re comfortable in the water, including:
Swim 200 meters/yards (or 300 meters/yards in mask, fins, and snorkel) without stopping. 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 you want.
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. People with paraplegia, amputations, and other challenges commonly earn the Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Give us a call and talk to one of our qualified professional staff members for more information.
DO I HAVE TO BE A GOOD SWIMMER TO SCUBA DIVE?
Some swimming ability is required. You need to have basic swim skills and be able to comfortably maintain yourself in the water. One of our staff instructors will assess this by having you do the following:
Swim 200 meters/yards (or 300 meters/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 you want.
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. People with paraplegia, amputations, and other challenges commonly earn the PADI or SSI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving.
WHERE CAN I SCUBA DIVE?
You can dive practically anywhere there’s water – a swimming pool, the ocean, and all points in between, including quarries, lakes, rivers, springs or even aquariums. Where you can scuba dive is determined by your:
- Experience level
- Dive site access and conditions
For example, if you’ve just finished your PADI or SSI Open Water Diver course, you probably shouldn’t dive under Antarctic ice on your next dive. However, don’t limit yourself. Some of the best diving is closer than you think.
Your local dive site can be anything from a purpose-built site, like a large aquarium, or a more natural site like Belize’s Blue Hole or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. 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 training and experience for diving there and that you have a dive buddy to go with you. We can help you organize great local diving or a dive vacation.
MY EARS HURT WHEN I GO TO THE BOTTOM OF A SWIMMING POOL OR WHEN I DIVE DOWN SNORKELING. WILL THAT PREVENT ME FROM BECOMING A SCUBA DIVER?
No, assuming you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the normal effect of water pressure pressing in on your eardrums. 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.
WILL A HISTORY OF EAR TROUBLES, DIABETES, ASTHMA, ALLERGIES OR SMOKING PRECLUDE SOMEONE FROM DIVING?
Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory or heart function, or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a doctor can assess a person’s individual risk. Doctors can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing fitness to dive. Download the medical statement to take to your doctor. If you don’t have a regular doctor we recommend making an appointment to see Dr. Greg Meekin, MD., FACS. Dr. Greg Meekin is a board-certified practicing ear, nose & throat specialist (ENT) who was also has a background as a Navy Diving Medical Officer and now practices Diving Medicine with a special focus on disorders of the ears, Eustachian tubes, and sinuses which prevent patients from enjoying underwater activities.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON INJURIES OR SICKNESSES ASSOCIATED WITH DIVING?
Sunburn, seasickness, and dehydration, all of which are preventable, are the most common problems divers face. Injuries caused by marine life, such as scrapes and stings, do occur, but these can be avoided by wearing an exposure suit, staying off the bottom, and watching where you put your hands and feet.
WHAT ABOUT SHARKS?
When you’re lucky, you get to see a shark. Although incidents with sharks occur, they are 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 just passing through and a rare sight to enjoy.
DO WOMEN HAVE ANY SPECIAL CONCERNS REGARDING DIVING?
Aside from pregnancy, there are really no concerns. 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.
HOW DEEP DO YOU GO?
With the necessary training and experience, the limit for recreational scuba diving is 40 meters/130 feet. Beginning scuba divers stay shallower than about 18 meters/60 feet. Although these are the limits, some of the most popular diving is shallower than 12 meters/40 feet, where the water’s warmer and the colors are brighter.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I USE UP ALL MY AIR?
Your dive kit includes a gauge that displays how much air you have. You’ll learn to check it regularly, so it’s unlikely you’ll run out of air while scuba diving. However, if you run out of air, your buddy has an extra regulator (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.
WHAT IF I FEEL CLAUSTROPHOBIC?
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, any of our staff instructors will give 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.
I’M ALREADY A CERTIFIED DIVER, HOW DO I BECOME A PADI OR SSI DIVER?
Scuba diving certifications from other diver training organizations can often be used to meet a prerequisite for the next level PADI or SSI course. For example, if you have an open water diver or entry-level certification from another diver training organization, you may qualify to enroll in the PADI or SSI Advanced Open Water Diver course, which is the next level. You could not receive a PADI or SSI Open Water Diver certification unless you completed that course. There is no simple “equivalency” or “crossover.” The best option is to take the next step and continue your education. If you would like to continue your dive training and receive a PADI or SSI certification, contact us to ask about the options you have for obtaining a PADI or SSI certification.
I HAVE A PROFESSIONAL-LEVEL CERTIFICATION WITH ANOTHER AGENCY, HOW DO I BECOME A PADI OR SSI DIVEMASTER OR INSTRUCTOR?
If you hold a professional rating from another diver training organization and wish to become a PADI or SSI Divemaster or Instructor, please give us a call and we can help you with all the questions you may have.
A dive professional in good standing with another diver training organization may meet the prerequisites for the next level PADI or SSI certification. For example, a divemaster with another diver training organization may qualify to enroll in a PADI or SSI Assistant Instructor course or Instructor Training Course. You could not receive a PADI or SSI Divemaster certification unless you completed the PADI or SSI Divemaster course. There is no simple “equivalency” or “crossover.”
An instructor in good standing from another diver training organization may be eligible to enroll in an Open Water Instructor program. This program is shorter than a complete instructor training class and focuses on building upon your teaching skills by introducing you to the PADI or SSI System. You must also successfully complete a PADI or SSI Instructor Exam to become a PADI or SSI Instructor.