Looking for an experience that is truly out of this world? While scuba diving may take place here on Earth, the underwater world of scuba diving is the closest we’ll ever get to exploring another planet. You’ll experience weightlessness and feel like you’re floating through another universe.
In fact, scuba diving might be even more exciting than space travel. Sure, there might be aliens out there. But there are, without a doubt, thousands of incredible marine creatures out there swimming in our oceans, rivers, and lakes.
While diving, like space travel, takes some training, it’s much more accessible! Everyone can learn to scuba dive with the proper training. So, if you’re interested in becoming a scuba diver and trying one of the most exhilarating sports out there, the first step you need to take is getting your license with PADI. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the Open Water Diving Certification!
Why You Should Get PADI Certified?
Of course, scuba diving isn’t just about visiting another world. There’s much more to it than that! There are many reasons why people choose to become licensed divers. If you’re reading this, you probably have your own reasons, but here are a few ideas on why you should get PADI certified.
- See marine life up close and personal in their natural habitat
- Experience thrill and adventure
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone
- Try a new form of relaxation or meditation
- Have a new hobby for when you’re on vacation
- Overcome fear of the water or ocean
- Spend more time outdoors and around the water
- Make new friends from all over
Scuba diving can positively affect your life in many ways, but before you start diving, it’s essential to learn the proper knowledge and techniques. Once you understand the science behind diving and possess the skills needed, you’ll be ready for a lifetime of safe scuba diving.
Why Choose PADI For Your Certification
You have several choices regarding which scuba certification agency you want to get your license from. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to pay attention to your instructor and take the time to properly learn everything you need to know about diving. Regardless of who you get certified with, you’ll be able to dive with most scuba shops.
That being said, you can’t go wrong with PADI! As the world’s largest scuba diving organization, you’ll find PADI centers across the globe. In addition, they have a history of high standards when it comes to diver training, so you know you’ll get a world-class education with a PADI instructor.
The PADI Open Water Diver Certification focuses on giving you plenty of practice in the pool before heading out to open water. Through repetition, you will solidify your skills, making sure you can remember them long after the course is over. On top of first-class training, PADI focuses on divers doing their part to help protect the environment.
Preparing for your PADI Open Water Dive Course
You don’t need extensive scuba diving knowledge before your course. Your instructor, along with the PADI Open Water manual, will teach you everything you need to know during your classes. However, you can do a few things to make your course easier and less stressful for yourself!
You can prepare your body physically by swimming and treading water. You will have to pass a simple water skills test which you can prepare for with a few swim lessons if you don’t feel comfortable in the water just yet. To get your PADI Open Water Certificate, you need to be able to swim 660 feet (100 meters) and float or tread water for 10 minutes.
Another good step to take before your dive is to consider your health. Each diver must fill out a medical questionnaire that goes through many yes or no questions about their health. Any “yes” answers will mean you’ll need to consult a doctor before you begin to dive. Ask your dive center for a copy of this form so you can plan ahead.
Test the Waters with a DSD
If you’re intrigued by the thought of becoming a licensed diver but you’re not entirely sure it’s right for you, you can try a Discover Scuba Dive (DSD). In a DSD, you’ll join an instructor on a try dive, where you’ll learn the first basic skills, breathe underwater for the first time, and go on a dive to ensure it’s something you enjoy.
What to Expect During Your PADI Open Water Diving Course
Now is the fun part! The PADI dive course takes about four days, but depending on scheduling, it may take shorter or longer. For example, most students do the knowledge portion ahead of time, allowing for the training and open water dives to be completed in three to four days. Others may complete the knowledge portion with their instructors, which will take longer.
The PADI course is designed to be flexible and go at your learning pace, so if you need extra time to master a skill, your instructor will help you focus on becoming a competent diver.
The course breaks down into three sections:
You may love studying or hate it, but the knowledge development section of your PADI Open Water Diving Course is just as crucial as the skills. Diving has some critical science behind it, and understanding how your body’s physiology responds to the unique situation is vital. Most students opt for e-learning now, but some shops may still offer the knowledge development portion in the classroom.
During the knowledge development portion of the course, you’ll learn the theoretical facts about diving, become familiar with diving equipment, and watch videos of the skills you’ll soon be learning.
Throughout the knowledge portion, you must take a series of quizzes to help check your learning retention. Then, at the very end, there’s a final exam you must pass before receiving your PADI Open Water Diving License.
PADI Training Dives:
Now it’s time to get wet! Before heading to open water, you’ll experience some training divers, either in a pool or pool-like setting, to get your bearings and learn the skills you need. This portion is also called confined water dives.
This is where you’ll be learning the critical skills for diving safety. Once learning how to set up your equipment properly and practice a few times, you’ll finally take your first underwater breaths! Then you’ll start learning your diving skills. While some might not come naturally (humans weren’t defined to breathe underwater!), the skills start slowly and build on themselves. Typically, you’ll begin in shallow water and then progress towards the deep end as you become more comfortable and master the skills.
You will learn critical scuba skills such as:
- Preparing your dive equipment
- Completing a buddy check
- Breathing through your regulator
- Clearing your mask
- Recovering your regulator
- Clearing your regulator
- Descending in a slow and controlled manner
- Controlling your buoyancy
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it gives you a good idea of the skills you will learn in this portion of our course. It is required to be able to complete each of these skills before heading to your open water dives. But, if you’re having trouble with anything specific, your instructor will help guide you through. There is no rush through this section. It’s more important to be able to complete each skill successfully.
Open Water Dives:
Now the part we’ve all been waiting for – diving in open water! Once you’ve mastered all the skills in the pool, you will have to demonstrate them to your instructor in the ocean. This section involves your first four open water dives, usually spaced over two days.
You’ll experience dives up to a maximum of 60 feet (18 meters). While you need to demonstrate some skills on these dives, you’ll also get to explore the natural underwater world for the first time.
Once you complete these open water dives, you’ll officially be a licensed scuba diver!
Diving with a Disability
PADI does require that students be able to complete all of the skills necessary before receiving their license. However, there are great options for people with disabilities who may need some modifications or assistance. Diving can even be beneficial or rehabilitative. It allows an enhanced range of movement, stress relief, and confidence building. Potential divers can work with their instructors on some adaptive techniques that help make diving attainable for them.
Where to Do Your PADI Open Water Diving Course
There are three different options you can choose from when planning your PADI Open Water Diving Course. You can either complete the entire course in your hometown, do the knowledge and confined dives at home and the open water dives at a dive location, or do the whole course while on vacation.
There are thousands of locations around the world that offer the PADI Open Water Diving Course, but some areas are more popular than others. Some of the most popular destinations for diving courses include:
- Koh Tao, Thailand: Perfect for those looking to complete their course on a budget.
- La Paz, Mexico: Offers diving with some of the most exciting marine life out there.
- Utila, Honduras: Another popular location with backpackers.
- Dahab, Egypt: Perfect for newbies who are joining previously experienced divers.