Becoming A Diver
Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the waves of the beautiful oceans and beaches we travel to? As of a few months ago, I would be lying to you if my bucket list contained anything more than to try scuba diving. I didn't understand how much it entailed or the things that I could experience. It has now been 5 months and over 150 dives since I first strapped that tank on, loving every second of each dive.
Getting Started: The first certification level for adults is becoming an Open Water Diver. As per the Padi standards, this allows you to dive up to 18 meters. The course will typically include two confined pool sessions to ease you in, then 4 dives in the open water. The course will teach you all the skills needed to be a diver and will also touch on how the gear works, usually lasting a total of 4 days.
Continuing Your Education: You don't have to stop at Open Water! There are many courses you can take, as most people will then work towards their Advanced Open Water teaching you how to safely navigate to 30 meters. There are also the specialty courses which will certify you in areas such as cavern diving, dry suits, wrecks (my favorite!), underwater navigation, or even ice diving. The opportunities are endless, if it's underwater there's probably a specialty course on how to dive it safely.
Temperature: I bet that when you think of diving the first image you have is jumping into the warm waters on a tropical island swimming with vibrant fish. Don't forget, the water around the world is not always warm! Where I dive in Koh Tao the water averages a scorching 30 degrees (Celsius), but that doesn't mean you can't explore the 5 degree waters of Canada. Pick your destination wisely, cold water diving is a much different experience then warm.
Where to get certified: Anywhere there is a dive center and water! No but seriously, there are thousands of dive shops around the world. Use Padi's tool to locate a dive shop in your area.
Cost: This is very difficult to predict, each dive center and region has average prices. For instance, it's really cheap to get certified in Thailand and Central America, where it's extremely expensive to get certified in Australia or the US. The price in Thailand hovers around $300 for the Open Water course, while in Australia it was $800. In my opinion I would rather travel to the cheaper region and make a holiday of it, you can put the savings towards your flight!
Is Diving Safe? Yes. As in all sports, accidents can happen. The majority of diving accidents stem from diver error or equipment failure. This is why it's so important to pick a diver center with a great reputation. Dive centers are also rated by Padi, if their gear becomes unreliable their score will drop on their website. Try looking for the centers with the best reviews and ratings to begin your journey. To top this off, all instructors have a mandatory Emergency First Responce course as well as a Rescue Diver Course to provide additional safety on each dive.