So, you’re interested in scuba diving? Fantastic, we couldn’t recommend it more! Take it from two divers with very different amounts of experience. One of us is a certified divemaster and underwater photographer with close to 1000 dives under their (weight) belt and years of experience (how else do you think we have such wonderful underwater photography?). Whilst, the other achieved their open water certification in 2016 and has logged just over twenty dives. We’ve got the complete lowdown on diving, including what it’s like to get your open water scuba certification and the opportunities scuba diving can present!
First things, first – it doesn’t really matter if you can or can’t swim, what matters is, do you want to be under the sea!?
Scuba diving is for everyone and anyone that is fit enough to lift a tank and intuitive enough to remember to breathe. Let’s be honest, most of us have been successfully completing the latter requirement rather well since birth. The extent to which you progress with your diving skills is up to you, but during an open water course, you’ll learn all the basic diving techniques, etiquette, communication, safety and survival skills. You’ll do this under the supervision of an expert dive instructor, who will instruct and support your development from the classroom to the pool and finally to your initial descent into the open water.
Scuba diving opens you up to the world beneath the waves – the communities of fish, corals, crustaceans, mammals, nudibranchs, cephalopods, zooplankton to name but a few. As they thrive in all their beautiful patterns, colours, shapes, sizes and all move, hunt, survive and interact differently within their habitats. Then there’s the experience of diving, the peaceful harmony in which you float weightlessly amidst a busy ocean or intrepidly through caves and wrecks. Caught in moments where you can become so immersed that you forget yourself, allowing yourself to be utterly entranced by a moment of complete awe and childlike curiosity.
So, what are the steps to taking your first giant stride into the ocean?
Well, for those who aren’t sure if they are going to enjoy the scuba diving experience there’s a Discover Scuba Dive option. This forgoes the training and in turn the qualification as a scuba diver, but offers you an initial experience with full supervision and guidance for one or perhaps two dives. This option gives you the basic guidance on how to use your scuba diving gear and allows you to experience the sensation of diving.
The next step if you enjoy this, or perhaps you’re already confident you’ll enjoy it and want to invest that money and energy straight into getting your qualification, is to take your Open Water Course. There are many recreational scuba diving agencies with which you can complete your first initial diving courses. However, we have both competed ours with PADI, which is recognised worldwide and is one of the largest accrediting authorities. Completing the open water course with PADI means you’ll be able to dive in locations across the world with a buddy up to 18 meters. SSI is another highly recognised agency and is a popular choice due to its electronic-based learning system, which can make the course materials a little cheaper. There are many other options too, depending on where you are in the world, that essentially offer the same thing. The important thing is to go with a recognised agency that follows the strict safety standards, with the end goal of enabling you to go diving anywhere in the world!
What should you expect on your Open Water Diving Course?
Your initial perspective of the diving world is very much dependant on where in the world you complete your course. Half of Wander Deeper completed theirs in Thailand and the other in Western Australia, both rather incredible places to begin – no wonder we’re hooked! But you can complete your Open Water Course in so many places right here in the UK, one of our very best friends started her course in the UK but completed her qualifying dives in Malta.
First you have to get the theory down, so there will be initial teaching in the classroom and pool sessions, this is where you’ll crunch the numbers, get to grips with depths and descents and get your head around the principals of diving and safety – this isn’t as head scratching as it sounds, it’s enjoyable and involves a few good acronyms you’ll enjoy and in the pool you’ll get to grips with your kit and practice your skills, such as understanding the purpose of all elements of your dive kit and how to assemble them, kit up and complete pre-dive safety checks (remember: Bruce Willis Ruins All Films – that puts you one acronym ahead of the rest already!). In the pool sessions, you’ll be able to get used to the sensation of breathing underwater for the first time! You’ll practice controlling your buoyancy, clearing your mask, emergency scenarios, and basic rescue tows.
Your qualifying open water dives will be in actual open water, relaying back everything you’ve learnt in and out of the pool in practical application with full supervision and hopefully, success! It may all seem rather daunting but it’s not anywhere near as unnatural as it sounds. If the sound of it excites you then no doubt you’ll be like a fish to water! We recommend the open water course to anybody that has an interest in nature and the underwater world, anybody that loves snorkelling and anyone with a sense of adventure the is up for a challenge! It is one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and memorable few days you will ever have. The best thing about it all? At the end of the course you’ll be free to go diving anywhere in the world up to a maximum depth of 18 metres! And it doesn’t end there, the Open Water Course opens up a world of potential and opportunities for those that want to expand further into the world of diving. It has certainly changed our lives for the better!
If you’re not convinced enough to go take the plunge? Well, there’s always a Discover Scuba Dive option for those who aren’t 100% comfortable or confident about the idea of scuba diving, but beware – you may end up a scuba addict!
PADI website: https://www.padi.com
SSI Website: https://www.divessi.com/en/home/
All images and content are our own, please contact us if you’d like to know more!