Updated: Feb 16
Scuba diving: an exciting new adventure
If you are thinking about your next adventure, and are wondering about what is hiding under the surface of the sea, look no further: we will tell you all you need to know before you take the plunge and start diving!
Scuba diving is a popular sport and a passion that many people share throughout the world. For some, it is the excitement of being surrounded by marine creatures, for others the thrill of exploring sunken wrecks or maybe finding hidden treasures, and for many it is a sort of meditating act, a spiritual moment of communion with nature and of self-love. Whichever reason appeals you, you will live several memorable moments in your diving career, including difficulties and challenges to overcome. This is why a certification is necessary to go diving: you will need to learn all the theory behind it, and the techniques aimed to keep you safe or to assist you and your dive buddy in case of need.
Which courses are available for beginners?
As a new entry to the diving world, you have several options to start with. The first and easiest one is definitely PADI, the leading dive training agency worldwide, called DISCOVER SCUBA DIVING: this is not a certification, just an introduction program that many non-divers take just to see if this could be something for them. Without the commitment required from an actual dive course, this program allows you to understand the basics of diving in a short and friendly dive lesson, dips you in the pool for some preparation, and in less than a day you’ll be diving under strict supervision to a maximum depth of 40 feet – 12 meters – in open waters.
After the Discover Scuba Diving program, you can decide to upgrade to a certification or repeat the experience to gain additional confidence. Some people do introduction dives for years before they make up their mind, but we recommend a certification as this will give you more knowledge and understanding to be able to dive autonomously. The main entry level courses are: SCUBA DIVER and OPEN WATER DIVER:
The PADI SCUBA DIVER course is a sub-section of the PADI OPEN WATER DIVER, and it is mostly chosen by people who don’t have enough time or funds to complete the whole Open Water course, but still want to get a certification to be able to go diving anywhere in the world.
The PADI OPEN WATER DIVER is the most complete entry level course for beginners approaching the diving universe. At the end of this course, students are able to dive in buddy team under minimum supervision, following a guide; they are aware of their equipment and how it works, or how to solve common malfunctions on the surface or underwater. They will also be able to identify and react to common dive-related health concerns such as decompression sickness or nitrogen narcosis, and use recreational dive planners and dive computers. The main differences between the 2 courses can be seen in the following chart: Topic SCUBA DIVER OPEN WATER DIVER
Theory sessions 3 5 Confined Water Sessions 3 5 Open Water dives 2 4 Maximum depth 40 ft / 12 meters 60 ft / 18 meters Junior level max depth 40 ft / 12 meters 40 ft / 12 meters Once you are a PADI Open Water certified diver, you have many additional levels to complete your education and preparation and advance in your diving career.
What equipment will I need to dive?
Most dive centers worldwide will include the necessary equipment in your entry level dive certification course. Some of the equipment, though, is very personal and most divers prefer to purchase their own gear for comfort and hygienic reasons.
Top to bottom, here is a list of the basic dive gear you will need (additional or different types will be needed based on local rules, restrictions, water temperature, etc.)
Dive mask: needed to be able to see underwater, a mask is an extremely personal piece of equipment that needs to fit your face perfectly. Best masks have a reduced volume to simplify mask compensation, see https://b2b.seacsub.com/single-product.php?pc=0750066&p=eagle&cctc=11&cct=scuba-maschere&shop=seacsub&language=en .
Snorkel: a snorkel is of great assistance while diving, during long surface swims or in case of emergency at the top. Something simple and collapsible, so you can store it in your pockets while diving, is ideal: https://www.mares.com/en/snorkel-at-2 .
Wetsuit: if you dive in tropical waters, a shorty or 3 mm wetsuit is sufficient. In temperate waters a 5 mm might be better, and then you can have semi-dry or dry suits in winter or colder waters. Side note, make sure to take a class or have some one experienced in dry suite diving teach you before trying it yourself. Some we like https://www.baresports.com/products/womens-wetsuits/evoke/3mm-evoke-21/?v=52c5706bc98f .
Buoyancy Control Device: This will be one of the most expensive pieces of
equipment, and for good reason. The BCD allows you to adjust your buoyancy underwater, allowing you to descent, float at a certain depth or ascend safely. Great divers are able to control their buoyancy. Start with something strong but simple, lightweight and with integrated weight pockets like this one: https://www.mares.com/en_US/prime-23.
Regulators (Octopus): another quite costly part of your diving gear, one that divers rent for years before buying their own. It is composed by a first stage, two second stages, an inflator hose and a pressure gauge or console with several instruments. Ideally you should purchase BCD and regulators together for a perfect fit, such as https://www.oceanicworldwide.com/product/packages/open-water-package/?v=52c5706bc98f.
Dive Computer/ Watch: A dive computer is another extremely personal item that you should never share or use right after someone else. Some cheaper options to start with include this Suunto https://www.suunto.com/Products/dive-computers-and-instruments/Suunto-Zoop-Novo/Suunto-Zoop-Novo-Blue/ which also reads Nitrox!
Weight belt: Along with the cylinders, you might never buy this, unless you need some special arrangements to position your weights https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trident-filled-Pouches-Weight-Ballast/dp/B079TKVQK5 .
Fins: Open heels with boots or closed foot, fins are what allows you to swim comfortably underwater, carrying all that weight and even going against currents. There are so many available models on the market, chose the one that feels perfect for you, not resulting too heavy or too soft that can bend: a good example is the everlasting https://www.mares.com/en_US/avanti-quattro-18.
Dive Bag: A dive bag to carry all your items, sturdy and resistant, such as https://www.cressi.com/Catalogue/Details.asp?SchedaID=521&CategoriaCOD=07A , for dive expeditions and vacations all over the world.
Where should I go to start diving?
If you are wondering where to find the best diving worldwide for your courses or dives as a beginner, here is our Top 5 dive locations in the world, followed by our Top 5 dive locations in the USA: Top 5 dive locations worldwide Caribbean Sea: An excellent location to start your dive career or move your first steps in the diving world, the Caribbean Sea attracts millions of divers every year thanks to its great visibility, fantastic weather and stunning reefs. Check out Utila, Honduras http://www.utiladivecenter.com/en/ , for the most exciting dives in this area.
Australia: the Great Barrier Reef is known as one of the most magnificent places to dive in the entire world, and this is mostly due to its healthy corals and amazing biodiversity. https://prodivecairns.com/ comes highly recommended.
Indonesia: if it is biodiversity you are after, Indonesia is the place to be. From manta rays and big pelagic animals, to critters and muck diving, the numerous islands of this enchanting country in South-East Asia have it all. Don’t miss a live-a-board adventure with https://www.bluewaterdivetravel.com/raja-ampat-liveaboards .
Maldives: We can find this exceptional country made up of about 1,200 islands just South of India, in the stunning Indian Ocean. The Maldives are famous for magnificent shipwrecks, colorful coral reefs, and an incredibly rich marine life which includes whale sharks, manta rays, whales, turtles and all sort of reef life. You can’t go wrong with https://www.bestdivesmaldives.com/ dive centers.
Red Sea: This is a favorite. With Aqaba in Jordan, Taba in Israel, then Dahab, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, Safaga, Port Ghalib, Marsa Alam and Hamata in Egypt, the dive sites are uncountable and the abundance of marine life unparalleled. https://www.emperordivers.com/ offers all types of diving, including live-a-boards. Top 5 dive destinations in the US
Pennsylvania: For a mind-blowing fresh water dive experience, head to Dutch Springs, a 50 acres lake home to a variety of species and with unbelievable visibility. Secure your spot on https://www.dutchsprings.com/.
Texas: with colorful reefs and breathtaking seascapes, the Flower Garden literally is any diver’s Paradise. Here, divers can meet hammerhead sharks and whale sharks up close. Contact https://www.sugarlandscuba.com/en/flower-gardens-diving for your Texas dive trip.
California: Its iconic kelp forests, the presence of seals, whales and sharks, and the abundance of different locations make California one of the best States to dive! We recommend the Farallon Islands of course, as well as Lovers Point, La Jolla Bay, Vallecitos Point, and the unbeatable Catalina Island, visit https://divingcatalina.com/ .
Florida: A top diving State, Florida is famous for the wrecks around Fort Lauderdale and the stunning Florida Keys, where the warm weather and great visibility are matched with great biodiversity and exceptional seascapes. Trust https://www.islamoradadivecenter.com/ , one of the best operators in the Keys.
Hawaii: There is no other State where scuba diving is so exhilarating and filled with adrenaline! While Kona with https://konahonudivers.com/ is particularly famous for its endemic Manta rays, which divers can see especially during night dives, Oahu is famous for its abundance of shipwrecks, and Molokai for scalloped hammerheads. If you, like us, find the wonders of the abyss particularly attractive, and you are thrilled at the idea of swimming in the absence of gravity, surrounded by the most amazing creatures, then what are you waiting for? Get certified and explore the underwater world!