What is scuba diving?
SCUBA is an acronym that stands for, “Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”. Though physiologically we are not designed to function underwater, by using specially designed equipment, including a cylinder of compressed air to breathe (sometimes other gases); as scuba divers we can function very well underwater for hours or even days! With today’s technology and state-of-the-art scuba equipment, scuba diving is very safe and easy to learn.
Why scuba dive?
With over 70% of the world’s surface being covered in water, there are countless opportunities for scuba diving. What attracts many people to scuba diving is witnessing in person the beauty of a coral reef and its inhabitants. For others it's the adventure of exploring a ship wreck or the intense quiet-calm of an underwater cave system. There are so many different reasons for scuba diving all of them fueled by fun and excitement.
Who can scuba dive?
Anyone in good health and willing to learn, who has reached the minimum age to dive!
What is the minimum age to be a scuba diver?
From the age of 10 years to 14 years old children can be certified as Junior Scuba Diver. Those 15 years and older can be certified as (Adult) Basic Scuba Divers.
How fit do I need to be to learn scuba diving?
You need to be in general good health. You don’t have to be an athlete but your cardiovascular system and nervous systems must be functioning normally. You'll answer a medical questionnaire at the beginning of your course and if you or your instructor has any concerns you will be referred to a medical doctor for assessment.
What courses are available for beginners?
We have several introductory courses that can be as brief as a couple hours in a swimming pool all the way through to full scuba certification course. Below are the introductory courses we offer:
Try Scuba Experience
The Try Scuba Experience are for individuals who are not quite sure if scuba diving is for them. It’s a two hour course where our instructor will let you try on scuba gear and experience breathing underwater in the closely controlled conditions of your swimming pool or ours.
Passport Scuba Diver
This is an introductory non-certification program, suitable to introduce non-divers to scuba diving. The course can be accomplished in less than two days and includes an actual scuba dive in the open water. However, participants are only allowed to scuba dive under direct supervision of an instructor and in closely controlled underwater environments.
Basic Scuba Diver
The Open Water course is the most common course and a full introduction to scuba diving. The course can be accomplished in a two week time frame. When successfully completed, you'll be certified for life and ready to go on to further training and a lifetime of great diving.
Who regulates the scuba industry?
Scuba diving is neither federally nor State regulated. The scuba industry basically regulates itself. It does this primarily with the help of dive shops and dive charters enforcing the policy of showing a certification card when filling scuba cylinders or taking trips. Good shops and charters will only accept a certification card if it is from a nationally or internationally recognized certifying agency.
What is a certifying agency?
In addition to providing all levels of scuba training, certifying agencies also regulate and represent diving professionals such as dive masters and dive instructors, regulate dive shops and charters, participate in dive related scientific research, promote marine conservation, and market diving as a sport.
What are the different certifying agencies?
NAUI - National Association of Underwater Instructors
PADI - The Professional Association of Diving Instructors
SSI - Scuba Schools International's
YMCA – As of 2008 is no longer offering Scuba certification
BSAC - The British Sub Aqua Club (United Kingdom)
CMAS - Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (Europe)
What is the difference between certifying Agencies?
You will get many different answers to this question depending on who you ask. It’s like asking someone who is better, the Marines or Army? The main difference between agencies is where they operate. Some agencies operate closer to their countries of origin, while other agencies such as PADI, SSI, and NAUI are truly international organizations. All agencies offer similar courses from beginner through to professional levels.
Which agency is the best?
We view all these agencies as equally proficient.
If they are all good how do I choose?
Your decision will be more influenced by the dive shop or instructor you choose than the certifying agency. The reason is because many dive shops, and instructors, are sponsored by multiple certifying agencies. The key is choosing the right service provider (dive shop / instructor) for you.
How do I choose the right Dive Shop / Instructor?
When choosing someone offering scuba certification as a service you should approach them the same way you would if you were choosing to make a big investment like selling your house with a real estate agent or making major renovations using a construction contractor. Though a scuba class is not nearly as expensive as buying or selling a house or remodeling a kitchen, you are still dealing with a sport that has risks. It is the instructor’s job to mitigate those risks ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable experience in class.
Here are some questions to ask the scuba instructor / dive shop:
Q. Who do you hold your instructor certification with?
A. The right answer should be one of the above mentioned certifying agencies, if not, walk away. As a former US Army dive instructor, I can honestly say do not accept any military certifications or awards as being an acceptable form of authorization to teach recreational scuba diving. Though the training we went through in the military was top-notch, it still does not properly qualify an individual to teach recreational diving to the general public.
Q. How long have you been teaching scuba?
A. Important but not as important as when was the last time they taught a class. All the mentioned certifying agencies create excellent instructors. So even though an instructor might only have 6 months experience, it does not mean they don’t know what they are doing. The key is to find out how long it’s been since they’ve taught. We’ve known instructors who have taken 5 or 6 years off from teaching then start up teaching again and are so rusty they should have gone through the entire instructor course again. The concern is because it’s not that difficult to reinstate your instructor status even after a long period of being inactive. So when someone says they have 20 years of experience, make sure it wasn’t 10 years ago that they last taught. Here at ADI we ensure our instructors are up to date and must go through our own in-house instructor approval program regardless of what certifying agency they came from.
Q. Are you currently active with your certifying agency and have active insurance?
A. Ask the instructor to see their documents showing they are an active member of their certifying agency and ask to see their insurance papers. Instructors have to renew their membership with their certifying agencies every year and have to carry active insurance. This is especially important if your instructor is an independent and not affiliated with a larger dive shop.
Q. What is your student to instructor ratio?
A. Agencies can allow up to 12 students per instructor. With an assistant the numbers of students go up even more. If you have 12 students in your class you should have at least one instructor and one assistant or else be prepared to spend most of your time standing around waiting. At ADI we keep our classes between 6 to 8 students with 2 instructors at all time.
How good of a swimmer do I have to be?
You don't need to be an Olympic swimmer, but you will need to be comfortable in the water. Generally as long as you can swim 50 yards using any stroke, and float or tread water well enough you should be ok.
What equipment do I need?
You won't need to purchase any equipment prior to your scuba class because it can all be rented for the duration of the course, but we do encourage you to buy your own mask, snorkel, and fins which can be purchased individually or as a Skin Diver kit. Our dive course includes a lesson on how to choose the right equipment for yourself so please do not purchase any scuba or skin diving gear until you’ve spoken with one of our instructors. Once you're certified there are all kinds of gadgets you can buy which can some times be just as much fun as the actual diving.
When should I buy my own scuba gear?
Obviously wait until you finish your scuba class. After class, if you know diving is going to be for you we suggest either buying all your gear as a Scuba Gear Package, if you have the available finances, or piecemeal is fine too. If you are going the piecemeal route the first thing you should have in your collection, if you don’t already is a Mask, Fins, Snorkel, and Booties. Next would definitely be a good wetsuit. What we do suggest even before your scuba equipment is a dive computer. Today’s dive computers do amazing things and can really help keep you out of trouble. After the computer we recommend your BC and Regulator. Very last is your scuba tank. We would only suggest buying a scuba tank if you are doing 15 dives or more a year. Do you absolutely need to buy scuba gear after your class, the answer is No. It can all be rented. The advantage however to buying your own gear is that you will have equipment that you have chosen based on proper fit and comfort and after several dives you will know your equipment like the back of your hand. Every time you rent, you never know if it’s going to be a good fit and you may be unfamiliar with the setup.
When I swim to the bottom of the pool my ears hurt. Will I be able to learn to scuba dive?
The discomfort you experience at the bottom of the pool is a result of the water pressure pushing against your ear drums and happens to nearly everyone. If you did not have ear drums, you would not experience the pain. There are very simple ways to prevent middle ear pain when diving that your instructor will teach you.
What does the Basic Scuba course qualify you to do?
Technically you are only certified to dive under the same conditions in which you were trained. So if you did all your checkout dives in fresh water lakes, you are really only certified to dive fresh water lakes. However, it does not say that anywhere on your card nor will any Dive Boat Captain keep you from participating in an ocean dive. We can only recommend that any dive environments that you dive after your class that is different than what you were trained in, you should be accompanied by an instructor or at the very least a dive master. The only exception is if you are a Junior Scuba Diver (between the age of 10 and 14), then you must limit your depth to 60 feet and always dive with a certified adult.
How long does the basic scuba course take?
It’s not uncommon in many dive vacation destinations to be taught within a 3 to 5 day period. In most cases the scuba class can be taught over weeks or even months if taken as a part-time course. Our course can be accomplished in one week’s time. Click here to see our Basic Scuba Diver course curriculum.
What if I have a very busy schedule?
Our basic course is set up to where every month the course is offered. You can take portions of each class over as long a period as six months until you finally have completed all requirements. The only consideration is that you must take the classes in a progressive order. For example you can not take the first day of class then next month jump over to the last day of class.
What do I have to do to complete the basic scuba course?
You will be given a text book and will either study independently in your own time, through an instructor facilitated class, online with guided e-learning, and sometimes all the above. Even though diving is a physical sport, there are many physiological and environment considerations that need to be learned by the diver to ensure safety and enjoyment.
Confined Water Training
It’s in the safety of confined water (i.e. pool, shallow clear lagoon, etc) where you will get to know your scuba equipment and learn to breath and move underwater. Lessons start out in the shallow end progressively moving you deeper as you learn and master your basic scuba skill sets.
Open Water Training
This is what you’ve been waiting for – the open water! Over four or more dives you'll practice all the skills you've already learned in confined water, but out in open water, which means the open ocean or another large body of water that is used for diving. No matter how many dive classes we teach the enjoyment of seeing the excitement on someone’s face when diving in the open water for the first time is second to none.
Do I have to renew my certification?
The Open Water certification is forever and never needs to be renewed. However, it is recommended that if you haven't dove for twelve months our more that you take a Scuba Refresher course.
We recommend working towards your Advanced Diver and for those of you local to us becoming a member of our ADI Adventurer program. The advanced course is a continuing education certification for certified divers. It is an enjoyable program of continued supervised open water dive experiences designed to introduce divers to a variety of diving activities and environments. An advanced diver certification card is issued out at the complete of the course. It is important to have the card depending on where you wish to dive since many dive sites will require you to be an advanced diver in order to dive them.