How to Get Started
Whatever your goal is in learning to scuba dive — transform your life by accepting a new challenge, have fun on your vacation, explore the underwater world or meet new people — it’s never been easier to start. Here are three paths to getting started in a lifetime of adventure.
Do you prefer a familiar environment when learning and practicing new skills? Are you committed to a dive instructor you know and trust? Are you getting certified with several friends or family members? Do you prefer having your vacation time reserved for fun?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then learning to dive locally is probably the best choice for you. Most local dive shops offer certification courses and can be very convenient. University and community colleges in your area may also offer training.
By working with your local instructor at his or her dive shop, you can ask questions, get immediate feedback, meet other prospective divers, and choose a schedule that suits your personal schedule as well as your style of learning. If you have to reschedule a class or pool time, chances are good that the dive shop has multiple classes that can accommodate you. After completing the coursework and practicing scuba skills in the pool, you will usually complete the four open water checkout dives with your classmates.
If you select this route, your certification can take anywhere from one weekend to several weeks. Again, your style of learning and personal schedule will determine what timeframe is best for you. For example, are you a quick learner or do you prefer learning more slowly? Do you prefer book learning or e-learning?
Your dive shop can be a one-stop place for the academic, pool and open water portions of your certification, and it will offer multiple options for completing certification. Just be sure to communicate your desires and needs.
By the end of the course, under the guidance of your local instructor, you will be comfortable as a certified scuba diver — and ready to dive either locally or on a dive vacation to your dream destination!
Start on Vacation
Do you like combining fun with an adventurous challenge on your vacation? Do you have a busy schedule and need to complete your certification work while on vacation? Do you have a significant other who dives and has asked you to join him or her on vacation?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then learning to dive at a dive resort is probably the best choice for you. Quite a few people get certified while they are on vacation and most dive resorts have on-site instructors who offer certification courses and can tailor the training to fit your schedule.
By working with a dive resort, you will be inspired and motivated by the local diving, as well as enjoy the convenience of having the classroom, pool and ocean within steps of one another. After completing the coursework and practicing scuba skills in the pool, you will usually complete the four open water checkout dives on a beautiful, easy-to-dive coral reef.
Quite a few people get certified while they are on vacation. Just be aware that if you decide to take this route, it is a commitment — you will spend a large chunk of your vacation in the classroom and pool.
If you select this route, you will have not only met a fun challenge — you will have created a vacation memory that will last a lifetime!
Start Locally, Finish on Vacation
An alternative to these two options is to complete the book or e-learning portion prior to traveling and finish the certification with your pool dives and open water dives at your destination. You can also complete the book and pool portions locally and do only the open water checkout dives at the destination. This option is appealing to those who prefer to finish some of their learning before their vacation, but would like to complete their open-water checkout dives in a resort location.
As you can see, dive training can be completely customized to fit your learning style and preferences. Can't decide between traditional book or E-learning? Read more about the differences here.