Scuba diving, how and where to start?

Maybe you have seen it in a documentary or a TV show. A friend told you about it. Was it a breathtaking photo in a magazine or a video on a social network taken underwater? Whatever sparked your interest, something attracted you and made you wondered. How would it feel to be completely weightless hovering still in the water? Just breathing and looking calmly into the blue. You must have asked yourself, what if I could go scuba diving too?

You can, scuba diving is quite easy and accessible to most people. Earning a certification as a diver does not take so much time and is greatly rewarding. You will be warned, scuba diving can be highly addictive.

Keep on reading to see how easy it is and learn how and where to start scuba diving.

The first step is quite easy. Get curious about scuba diving!

Being here now on this page means you have already taken the first step to become a diver. Getting curious and gathering information on the topic will take you a long way. You will find on this website ton of information about scuba diving that will help you get started. Read on to get tips, details, and recommendations on how to take the next steps into becoming a certified scuba diver.

So what does it take to be a diver?

Scuba diving is accessible to almost everyone but might not be for all. Unless you have a specific medical condition which is incompatible with diving or that you are scared beyond reason of water it does not have many requirements. There is no need to be an excellent swimmer as scuba diving is not about performance.

However, like any other sports one has first to be explained the rules before enjoying it safely. There are not many rules and they are quite simple but required and very important. If not followed very serious injuries may result. Your safety is the main reason it takes courses, practice and to invest some time to become a certified scuba diver.

And what about the family?

The simple rules of scuba diving can be understood by most kids as young as 8 years old. Enough that in a pool, they can experience real scuba diving with all the equipment. For kids 10 years or older, they could even earn a certification. It allows them to dive under supervision on most of the shallower dive sites. Most dive operators in holiday destinations offer snorkeling and diving trips. If not interested in scuba diving, people can still enjoy other aquatic activities.

Medical conditions adverse to diving, what are they?

As mentioned earlier there are some medical conditions known to be incompatible with diving. There are not that many and they tend to be quite specific. Again for your safety, it is important to address the subject.

Dive shops or centers can inform you on the topic. They can have you answer a medical questionnaire to determine your fitness for diving. They can also help you in the case you need a specialized physicist. Just remember this is for your safety to be honest with yourself and them. In certain countries, a medical clearance from a physicist on paper is mandatory prior to any in water activities.

You can also check our Diving and medical fitness assessment page on the subject.

So I can be a diver what now?

As scuba diving requires in-water training with guidance and under the supervision of a professional, we strongly recommend visiting your local dive shop or centre. This is a good way to meet their team and get a more personalized approach. They may even offer some scheduled introduction or try dives in a pool. This can give you the opportunity to try how it feels to breathe underwater. With the help of a professional, you can try scuba diving being safe and confident. It is one of the best options as you can experience hands down what is scuba diving. It can also say a lot about your level of comfort in the water.

Another way lots of people get introduced to this activity is while they are on holiday. Diving in warm water makes it much easier and comfortable. Most dive centers in tropical countries have access to the sea with dive sites that can be right in front of the center or resort. Just like your local dive shop, they might offer the possibility of a free trial in a pool or shallow real environment. It is also easy for them to offer a discovery experience on a dive site after some initial training. This is the closest thing to the certification one can try as it gives the chance to experience scuba diving in real conditions and observe wild marine life.

One more way is to pick a certification agency and enroll in a course. The theory part of any courses can be almost entirely done online. They almost all offer access to an online learning system. Keep in mind that knowledge still have to be reviewed and there is still training that needs to be done in water. You will need an instructor and/or dive center for this part. Most of these agencies will refer you to a dive center near you or at the desired location through their online systems.

Starting online you should be aware there might not be in your area a dive shop or center affiliated with the agency to continue your training. Another thing about this method is that most dive shop nowadays will use the same online learning system from agencies they are affiliated with as part of the material students will use. This is most of the time provided and included in the prices for courses at the shops.

Local dive shops or center a one-stop shop

Brick and mortar they usually are one-stop shops for anything diving. You can enroll in courses but you can also buy equipment, get cylinder fills, get gear serviced or organize trips. Some of them even host or are connected to local dive clubs.

Because of the human approach, we do think it is the best way to get started in diving. Meeting with their staff you can get useful tips, and customized service. They can answer your questions and explain in details what to expect. If you wish to enroll in a course you might also have the chance to meet your instructor. Personal feeling and connection is something not to be overlooked. Most divers remember very well their first instructors. They are taking the very first steps with you to be safe and good divers. If you do not feel good or even worse unsafe with your instructor you create unnecessary stress and you might not enjoy diving.

It is also a good idea to find out about diving in your area. Making it easy and accessible gives you more opportunities for scuba diving and that is a good thing. The number one reason people are not diving more is the lack of opportunities. Being part of the local scuba diving community can give you so much more and make it easy to enjoy diving more often.

Resorts, centers or shops abroad

As most tropical paradise is located close to the sea they have access to some of the most amazing dive sites. It is a good and popular activity for holidays and is something families can easily enjoy together.

They are basically like your local dive shop but with access to pools and ocean, they have optimal settings to offer a wide variety of courses. They can also be part of big resorts or hotel chains. Even if you are abroad most dive resort or centers offer courses in many languages to accommodate visitors. They usually have a team composed of passionate individuals from all over the world. They also use course material of affiliated agencies which support an extensive list of languages.

Certifications agencies and associations

We could say that agencies are streamlined educational or academic systems on which the teaching of scuba diving is built. It is true that diving theory is the same for all divers as it is based on simple physics principles. But they each have their own curriculum and structure for courses and programs they provide.

Shops, centers, resorts, schools, instructors they all rely on agencies and associations for the recognition of their credentials and can members of one or more. They also use their material and standards as teaching support and guidelines.

After a course or program, you will be registered with one of them. This is what makes your certification recognized worldwide. Because of strong similarities in the certification system, they recognize each other credentials for the most. So it is possible to start with one and continue or take a course with another one.

And how long does it take?

It can be condensed to a few days or can be split up over several weeks. But the minimum is approximately 3-4 days. Condensed courses are a popular option in holiday destinations and more lengthy courses are more common in cities or away from dive sites. You can ask for more information on length and schedule of courses and if it is flexible.

If you go for a condensed course, make sure to ask questions you might have. Make sure you understand or ask for more practice if you feel it is needed. In the end, it is your right, your duty and above all your safety.

What and how to choose?

Try to find a local dive shop in your area it is well worth to pay a visit. Already planning a holiday? Check online ahead of time to make up a list of possible candidates. You can also make an online reservation to get your learning material right away. If neither applies, you can visit websites of the certification agencies or associations.

For shops and dive centers you should be looking for the same clues as you would shop for other things you don’t know. Not everyone is a mechanic but we almost all need one so we do make choices. Trust your gut and ask detailed questions. Do not hesitate to visit many if you have access to more than one.

You can get more in-depth in the article How to choose a shop or what to look for.

Sounds a bit scary, what about risks and liabilities?

Again if rules are followed, scuba diving has a good track record in terms of safety. Do not get scared or turned off, accidents are very rare, but as anything, there are always some risks. An aware diver is a safer diver.

As part of normal operations, there are a few administrative documents to read, understand, agree and sign. All dive centers have some form of liability releases and waivers and so does the certifying agencies. This is why it is important to fully understand the safety rules, the reason why they are needed as well as the risks involved in scuba diving activities. Again make sure you ask questions before you enroll in a course or program.

All dive professionals are trained in prevention and emergency response. They have to be trained in first aid and CPR as well. In the unlikely event of an accident, there is insurance specialized in diving. Most dive centers and professionals will have their students and participants covered. In some countries, it is required by law to have a liability insurance.

What am I waiting for?

We do not know. But what we do know is that you are already on way to become a diver. Maybe you will be diving the same site as the documentary. Maybe make the next breathtaking underwater video, or have your photo appear in a magazine. Only you know this. But if you do not take the leap and try you will never know.

Remember diving professional are the best one to help you get started. Get in touch and see for yourself. They will be able to explain all there is to know to get you started.

Did not find the answer you were looking for?

You can head to our FAQs about scuba diving page where popular topics are covered. There is also the articles section which might give more in-depth insight on a subject or cover new trends. You might find relevant information on these pages as well.