September 07, 2021 10 min read

What are the best ways to learn how to scuba dive safely?

It's a great adventure to become a scuba diver!

There are Three Phases to Scuba Certification:

1. Developing You Overall Know How

The first phase of your lessons in scuba diving will teach you the basics of the sport.

1. Planning dives? Here are some things to keep in mind.

2. How to select the best scuba gear.

3. Divers can use underwater signals or other procedures.

This valuable information can be found in the PADI Open Water Diver Manual, or via the PADI Open Water Diver ELearning. To ensure that you fully understand the material, you will be asked questions at the end of each chapter. If you have any questions, please let your PADI Instructor. You will take the final exam at the end of the course to ensure you are fully conversant with scuba diving basics. Videos that show you how to scuba dive in a pool or similar environment will also be shown. Your instructor will also demonstrate each skill.

2. Dives in Close Water Areas

  It's what diving is all about. Basic scuba skills will be taught in a pool, confined water or off a calm beach. You will learn the basics of scuba diving skills during your certification course.

scuba diving first lesson

This will allow you to become an underwater explorer and familiarize yourself with your equipment. These are some of the most important skills you will learn:

  • Set up your scuba gear.

  • How to get water from your mask

  • How to enter and exit the water.

  • Buoyancy control.

  • Basic underwater navigation.

  • Safety procedures

These skills will be practiced with an instructor until they are comfortable. Once you feel confident, it is time to dive at open water.  

3. Open Water Diving

After your confined water dives you will head to open water. Here you and your instructor will do four dives over the course of two days. These dives will allow you to explore the underwater world. While you're learning in confined water, you can also enjoy the natural environment. These dives are usually completed close to home by most student divers, but you have the option of finishing your training on vacation. A PADI Instructor will be happy to refer you to another instructor in the same location.  

What is the average time it takes to become certified?

Flexible and performance-based, the PADI Open Water Diver course can be offered by your local dive shop. Schedules will vary depending on how quickly you progress. You can complete your open and confined water dives in as little as three to four days using PADI eLearning or other home study options provided by your local resort or dive shop.

Your instructor will help you to become confident and comfortable divers, not how long it takes. Your certification is earned if you demonstrate that you are competent and have the knowledge to perform the tasks. You can progress at your own pace, depending on how fast or slow you need to be a competent diver.

What is the cost of scuba diving lessons?

Scuba diving is a relatively inexpensive activity compared to other outdoor and adventure sports. You can expect to pay approximately the same amount for scuba diving as you would for other adventure sports.

  • A full day of lessons in surfing.

  • A weekend of rock climbing lessons

  • A weekend of kayaking lessons

  • A weekend of fly-fishing lessons

  • Private lessons last approximately three hours

  • Private water skiing lessons last approximately three hours.

  • One amazing night at the pub

Scuba diving is an excellent skill that can be learned under the supervision and guidance of a qualified instructor, such as your PADI Instructor. You also get a certification to scuba diver at the completion of the PADI Open Water Diver course. This is something that few other activities can offer.

Scuba diving can transform your life and bring you new experiences that you can share with your friends. You can do it anywhere there's water. Get started with eLearning, and you'll soon be able to take your first underwater breaths! Ask at the PADI Dive Center where you want to be certified for specific pricing. PADI Dive Centers and Resorts all operate independently. Prices can vary depending on where you are located, how big your class is, and other factors.

Here are some questions that you might want to ask:

  1. Is the cost of the course materials included?

  2. What personal diving equipment do I need?

  3. Do you include rental gear?

  4. Is there an additional fee such as a boat or certification fee?

  5. What number of student divers will there be?

  6. Open water training diving can be done where?

What equipment do I need to scuba-dive?

scuba diving

Part of the fun of diving is choosing and using your scuba equipment. The right gear can be found at your local PADI Dive Center, Resort. Every piece of scuba gear has a unique function, so they can all be used together to adapt you to the underwater world.

You will need your own equipment when you learn to scuba dive.

  • Mask

  • Snorkel

  • Fins

You will find the right gear for you. Your local PADI dive shop can help you pick the best fit.

PADI Open Water Diver training will teach you how to use a regulator (Bootancy Control Device (BCD), dive computer, dive planner, dive tank, wetsuit, dry suit, and weight system.

To confirm the equipment included in your course package, check with your local PADI Resort. You might consider purchasing all of your own scuba gear when you begin your course.

  • It's easier to learn how to scuba dive with the gear you have chosen.

  • Scuba gear that is custom-made for you will make you feel more at ease.

  • Owners of their own scuba diving gear find it easier to dive.

  • Part of the fun of diving is owning your own equipment.

It all depends on where you dive the most. You may want:

  • Scuba gear for tropical diving

  • Temperate scuba equipment

  • Equipment for cold water scuba diving

  • Scuba diving equipment for technical diving

What are the best scuba gear options?

There is no best gear, but there is properly rated scuba gear. Your local PADI dive shop has the expertise to help you choose the right scuba gear for your needs, budget and preferences.

What are the requirements to learn how to scuba dive safely?

scuba diver

You can be a PADI Diver if you are passionate about adventure and excitement. These are the requirements you'll need to remember:

In most regions, the minimum age for divers is 10 years. Students who are less than 15 years old can earn the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certificate. Upon reaching 15, they can upgrade to PADI Open Water Diver certification. PADI eLearning registrations for children under 13 years of age require parental or guardian approval.

Every student diver completes a brief scuba medical questionnaire. This asks about any medical conditions that might pose a problem while diving. Sign the form if none of these apply and you can start diving. Your doctor will need to assess your condition and sign a form to confirm that you are fit to dive. Some areas have laws that require all scuba divers to see a doctor before they can enter the course. Get the scuba medical questionnaire.

Your instructor will require you to demonstrate basic water skills before you can complete the PADI Open Water Diver Course.

1. You can swim 200m/yards or 300m/yards with mask, fins, and snorkel without stopping. You can swim as many strokes as you like, with no time limits.

2. For 10 minutes, float and tread water. You can use any method you like.

Anyone who meets the requirements of the course is eligible for certification. These requirements can be met using adaptive techniques. Paraplegia, amputations, and other disabilities are common reasons that people with these conditions earn the PADI Open Water Diver certificate. Divers can also be qualified for diving despite having more severe physical disabilities. For more information, talk to your PADI Instructor at the local PADI Dive Center Resort.

Every diver should have their own set of learning materials for use during and after the course. There are many options, depending on how you learn and what technology you prefer, such as:

  • PADI Open Water Diver eLearning

  • PADI Open Water Diver Manual and Open Water Diver Video on DVD. You can either watch it on your own, or with your instructor

As part of your course enrollment, your local PADI dive shop may offer one of these options. A logbook is also required. During training, your instructor will require you to use the PADI Skill Practice & Dive Planning Slate. Once you are certified, you'll find this useful.

Can I scuba dive if I'm not a strong swimmer?

You must have some swimming skills. Basic swimming skills are required. You must also be able swim comfortably in the water. This will be assessed by your PADI Instructor.

  • You can swim 200m/yards or 300m/yards with mask, fins, and snorkel. You can swim any stroke you like, with no time limits.

  • For 10 minutes, float and tread water. You can use any method you like.

Anyone who meets the requirements of the course is eligible for certification. These requirements can be met using adaptive techniques. Paraplegia, amputations, and other disabilities are common reasons that people with these conditions earn the PADI Open Water Diver certificate. Divers can also be qualified for diving despite having more severe physical disabilities. For more information, talk to your PADI Instructor at the local PADI Dive Center Resort.

Which is the best place for certification?

PADI Dive Centers and Resorts around the world adhere to the same training standards. This means that no matter where you live, there will be a PADI Instructor available to help you learn how to scuba diver. To determine the best location for you, contact your local PADI dive shop or consult friends.

Where can I scuba-dive?

Dive almost anywhere water is available, from a swimming pool to the ocean, and everything in between. Your ability to scuba dive will determine where you can go.

  • Experience level

  • Conditions and access to dive sites

  • Interests

scuba diving in ocean

If you have just completed your PADI Open Water Diver course you shouldn't be diving under Antarctic ice. However, don't limit yourself. You might be closer to the best diving than you realize.

You can find a local dive site anywhere you like. It could be a man-made reservoir, or a river with fossils. It doesn't always have to be about visibility. What you see is far more important than what you can see.

It doesn't matter where you dive, what matters is that you have the right training and experience and have a buddy to dive with. You can arrange great local diving, or even a vacation at your local PADI Dive Center Resort.

When I go snorkeling or in the pool, my ears hurt. Is that going to stop me from diving?

Assuming there are no abnormalities in your sinuses or ears, yes. Water pressure pushing in on your ears drums is what causes discomfort. Our bodies are built to adapt to pressure changes in our ears. You just have to learn how. You won't have any problems adjusting to the air pressure when you fly, and you will likely not have any difficulty learning how to adjust to the water pressure while diving.

Can a history of ear problems, asthma, allergies, or diabetes prevent someone from diving?

Not necessarily. Not necessarily. Any condition that may affect the ears, sinuses or respiratory function or alter consciousness, is a concern. However, only a doctor can determine a person's individual risk. When assessing fitness for diving, doctors can consult the Divers Alert Network (DAN). To complete the medical form, download it and give it to your doctor.

What are the most common ailments or injuries that can be associated with diving?

The most common problems that divers encounter are sunburn, seasickness, and dehydration. All of these can be avoided. However, injuries caused by marine life such as stings and scrapes can be prevented by wearing an exposed suit, keeping off the bottom, and being careful with your feet and hands.

How about sharks?

If you are lucky enough, you might be able to spot a shark. Shark incidents are rare. Dive trips involve feeding sharks or spear fishing, which can trigger feeding behavior. It's rare to see a shark, and it is usually just passing by.

Are there any concerns for women diving?

No, except for pregnancy. The effects of diving on the foetus are unknown to physiologists. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women not dive while they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Normally, menstruation is not a concern.

How far can you go?

Recreational scuba diving can be done at 40m/130ft if you have the right training and experience. For beginners, the limit is 18m/60ft. These are the limits. However, the best diving is done at depths of 12m/40ft, where the water is warmer and the colors are more vibrant.

What happens if all my air is used up?

A gauge is part of your dive kit. It displays how much air you have. It will be a habit to regularly check the gauge so that you don't run out while diving. If you do run out of oxygen, your buddy will have an extra regulator (mouthpiece), which allows you to share one air supply while swimming to and from the surface. You'll also learn other options during your scuba diving training.

What if I feel claustrophobic or overwhelmed?

Scuba diving is considered to be light and freeing by many people. You may prefer translucent scuba masks if you are uncomfortable with the feel of a closed-in mask. Your instructor will give you ample time and guidance to help you get comfortable with every stage of your scuba diving training. To ensure that you become a competent scuba diver, your instructor will work with you at your own pace.

scuba diving lessons

How do I become a PADI Diver if I am already a certified diver?

Diver training organizations that have scuba diving certifications can sometimes be used as prerequisites for the next level of PADI courses.

You may be eligible to take the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course if you are an open water diver or have an entry-level certification from another dive training organization. There are no "equivalency" or crossover. It is best to continue your education.

To continue your diving training and obtain a PADI certificate, you can contact your local PADI Dive Center Resort to learn more about the various options available to you.

How do I become a PADI Divemaster/Instructor if I already have a professional-level certificate with another agency?

If you have a professional rating from another dive training organization and would like to become a PADI Five Star Instructor Development Center (CDC), please contact PADI.An instructor who is a qualified dive professional with another diving organization could be eligible to apply for the next level of PADI certification. A diver trainer may be able to allow a PADI assistant instructor or Instructor Development Course (IDC) to be taken by a diver master. Without completing the PADI Divemaster Course, you cannot receive a PADI Divemaster Certification. There is no "crossover" or "equivalency."

Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI), may be available to an instructor from another diving training organization. This program is less than an IDC. It focuses on teaching and introduces you to the PADI System. To become a PADI instructor, you must pass the Instructor Exam (IE).

Author - Fred Felton
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the adventure watersports space, focussing on surf, kayak and rafting. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.

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