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What is a PADI Cavern Diver Certification?

Diving in an overhead environment requires specific training.
By Travis Marshall | Updated On September 24, 2022
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What is a PADI Cavern Diver Certification?

Cavern Diving Overhead Environment

Scuba divers swim into a cavern.

PADI Staff

Overhead environments like the underwater caves found in Mexico, Florida and Hawaii can tempt adventurous divers. But without proper training and equipment, the darkened depths of water-filled rooms and tunnels are also among the riskiest dives you can make.

The PADI Cavern Diver specialty gives you a taste for diving in overhead environments without getting too deep into a potentially dangerous situation. Caverns are overhead environments that lie within the zone of natural light from the opening, and within the time and depth limits of recreational diving.


This course teaches the skills and equipment required for cavern diving, and allows divers to experience an overhead environment under the guidance of an instructor. The resulting certification can also be the first step toward full-penetration cave diving, which requires technical training beyond the scope of recreational diving.

What You’ll Learn

You'll learn best practices for minimizing risk inside a cavern. You’ll also learn about following the rule of thirds for air consumption: Use one-third of your air supply going in, one-third to swim out, and keep one-third in reserve.

Over the course of four cavern dives, you will get an introduction to, and practice with, the vital equipment used by cave divers, including underwater flashlights, redundant air supplies and guidelines. And you’ll practice important skills like buoyancy control and specialized fin kicks to avoid kicking up silt from the bottom.

To take the PADI Cavern Diver specialty course, divers must be at least 18 years old and have an Advanced Open Water certification.