Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Scuba Diving: Get Certified

Home » Diving » Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Scuba Diving: Get Certified

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission from some companies mentioned in this post. There's no additional cost for the reader when using an affiliate link. Read the full disclosure here.

Welcome, fellow adventurers, to the exciting world of scuba diving! If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring the depths of the ocean, surrounded by mesmerizing marine life and mysterious shipwrecks, then scuba diving is the ultimate adventure for you. If you like to explore the world and love the ocean, then this should be on top of your bucket list. However, before you take the plunge, there are some essential things you need to know.

In this beginner’s guide, the following topics will be discussed, ensuring you’re well-prepared for an unforgettable underwater experience:

Unlocking the Underwater World: Certification

First things first, if you’re new to scuba diving, you must complete a certification course. The most widely recognized certification agencies are PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and SSI (Scuba Schools International). On most travels, we’ve encountered PADI more often, but it doesn’t matter which one you get, since they both have similar standards. These courses will teach you the fundamental skills, safety procedures, and theoretical knowledge necessary for safe diving. 

You’ll find just like us that doing one of their courses just feels natural. We both had some concerns and questions before actually jumping into it, but the course will put your mind to rest. You can find a blog post about our First Dive in Aruba With a Course, where we give our experience. Before being allowed to take a course or before any dive, a medical form must be filled in. This form ensures that no medical conditions form a risk while diving. If you fill in this form, don’t lie about any of the questions, since this is a sport that involves some risk. 

During your certification course and subsequent dives, follow the guidance of your instructor or dive master. They have extensive experience and knowledge to ensure your safety and enhance your diving skills. Every dive site is different and may hold some poisonous creatures, so be aware of this.

Tip: if you’re on a budget, and you haven’t decided a diving destination yet, consider an Asian country, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, etc. You’ll be able to find cheap diving centers without sacrificing on quality.

Choosing the Right Course

To start your underwater adventures, PADI’s Open Water Diver and SSI’s Open Water Diver are the primary entry-level certifications. They both consist of classroom learning (which can also be done online), confined water training (usually in a pool), and open water dives. This course will take around two days to finish. In all fairness, it is quite technical and there will be some studying involved. But don’t let this keep you from trying it! Most dive centers will be more than pleased to guide you through this process.

To ensure a quality learning experience, choose a reputable dive center or instructor that matches your values. Some companies really make an effort to preserve the environment and offer sustainable solutions. If you’re interested in coral propagation or other initiatives to help the ocean, do some research on the dive center you’re going to entrust.

If you have the budget and time, you could consider going straight for the PADI Advanced Open Water (AOW) Diver Certification. Of course, you will first need to finish the Open Water course, but you can do the AOW straight after it. This PADI course will take about three days to finish, so if you combine them you’ll be diving around 5 days. During the AOW course, you’ll learn to dive deeper, choose from several specialty courses, learn about fish identification, navigation and many more topics. More dive sites will become accessible to you, and you will feel more confident than ever before. 

Tip: if you don’t like studying in a classroom, you can also complete the online learning part from home before your (travel) dive. 

Basic Skills Covered With Open Water Diver Course

Before heading out for open water dives, you’ll practice essential skills in confined water. The definition of confined water may mean that you’ll go straight into the sea (like we did during our PADI Open Water Course), but usually it’s done in a swimming pool. Some skills you’ll learn includes mask clearing, regulator retrieval, and buoyancy control. Practicing these skills builds confidence and ensures you can handle potential challenges underwater.

As an adventure-seeking scuba diver, you have a responsibility to protect the underwater environment. During the course, you’ll learn to avoid touching, harassing, or collecting marine life. Instead, you should observe and appreciate these incredible creatures from a safe distance, leaving nothing but bubbles behind.

Most importantly, you should always prioritize safety during scuba diving. Stick to your dive plan, stay within your training limits, and never hold your breath while ascending. Regularly check your gear (so also your air gauge) and never dive if you feel unwell or fatigued. During the course, you’ll also learn that diving always includes a buddy system. The buddy systems will mean that you never dive alone, but instead with a buddy. You and your buddy check each other’s equipment before you jump in and stay close to each other during the dive.

Tip: if you are alone on a trip, or you don’t have a buddy, the dive center will assign a buddy to you (this could also be the dive instructor).

Gear Up Before You Jump In

Scuba diving requires specialized equipment, which needs to be checked after each dive. While most dive centers provide rental gear, it’s best to invest in some personal items for safety, comfort and hygiene. Of course, if you just want to discover scuba diving first, it’s best not to buy anything at all. However, if you do like comfort and safety, and you’re absolutely sure that you’ll use the gear, here’s an essential gear list:

First buys

  • Dive Computer: A crucial device that tracks depth, bottom time, and decompression limits. Not all dive centers rent them out, but this is your safety buddy (besides your actual buddy)!
  • Surface Marker Buoy (SMB): For safety reasons, so you are more visible when you need to go to the surface, to make you more visible when you need to surface unexpectably.
  • Underwater torch: Which is handy when you dive during the night or into dark places.
  • Mask: Choose a mask that fits snugly and doesn’t leak. Some dive centers will let you try one before buying.
  • Snorkel: Useful for surface swimming and conserving air while floating. There are 3 main types (wet, semi-dry and dry), ranging from completely open to keeping all water out.
  • Fins: Pick fins that are comfortable and match your diving style (open-heel or full-foot).

Less important

  • Wetsuit or Dry suit: Depending on the water temperature, a wetsuit provides insulation and protects against stings and scratches.
  • BCD (Buoyancy Control Device): This jacket-like equipment helps you control your buoyancy underwater.
  • Regulator: Connects to the tank and allows you to breathe compressed air.
  • Dive Bag: Carry your gear in a sturdy and waterproof bag.

What It’s Like to Dive

If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you might know the feeling of pressure in your ears. As you descend, the pressure increases, causing discomfort in your ears. This also happens while diving, which can be difficult for people with a cold or problems with their sinuses.  Learn and practice equalization techniques, like swallowing, yawning, or using the Valsalva maneuver, to alleviate the pressure.

Finally, let go of any fears and immerse yourself in the magic of scuba diving. Witness the vibrant colors of coral reefs, encounter playful sea creatures, and uncover the mysteries of underwater landscapes. The ocean holds wonders beyond your imagination, and scuba diving grants you the privilege of exploring this breathtaking world.

So, dear adventurers, prepare yourself mentally and physically, gear up with the right equipment, and dive into an extraordinary journey that will change your perception of the natural world forever. Embrace the beauty and serenity of the deep blue, and remember, every dive is a step into the unknown—a journey filled with excitement, learning, and endless possibilities. Happy diving!

Remember, the information provided here is a general guide, and it’s crucial to complete a certified scuba diving course from a reputable dive center before attempting any dives. Stay safe and dive responsibly!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *