Scuba Diving in Phuket Newsletter
Scuba Diving – Getting Started
The magic of the underwater world is accessible to the vast majority of the
population but only a small proportion take the opportunity
to include this wonderful activity within their collection
Once you develop an interest in exploring the worlds oceans
you then need to get some information to get you started
on the right track. This article hopes to provide you with
some of that background information and help you along the
road to a truly wonderful experience.
Virtually anyone who is in good health, reasonably fit,
and comfortable in the water can earn a basic scuba diving
certification. Once you can demonstrate the ability to swim
200 metres and you complete a bit of paperwork you can be
on your way.
How do I get my PADI license?
PADI stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors
and is by far the biggest certification agency for Scuba
Diving in the world. Their market dominance is evidenced
by the fact that for many people the name PADI is synonymous
with diving and they are not aware of any alternative. However,
there are many other accreditation agencies which provide
equivalent scuba diving qualifications and there is no reason
why you should not choose one of them.
All scuba diving operators, PADI and otherwise, recognise
each others qualification which means that you will be able
to use your new qualification the next time you go on a
diving holiday to different diving destination. Some of
the other accreditation agencies which you may encounter
NAUI - National Association of Underwater
CMAS - Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (Underwater World Confederation)
BSAC - British Sub-Aqua Club
SSI - Scuba Schools International
IDEA - International Diving Educators
PDIC - Professional Diving Instructors
The remainder of this article is written primarily by
reference to the PADI course structure. While almost all
the major agencies operate similar structures you will need
to confirm the specific by speaking to your local representative
of the respective agency.
Learn at home or on holiday
There is most likely a diving school located close
to your home or office which could provide some or all of
the instruction you need prior to going on holiday –
you will then be ready to enjoy the underwater world as
a qualified diver. This is a personal decision which should
be based on the consideration of a number of factors, including
Convenience - will committing to a scuba
course close to home make the experience more enjoyable
for you or are your other commitments such that taking on
another hobby would not be convenient?
Time – taking the course on a part-time
basis at home will inevitable lengthen the time taken to
complete the course. This is not necessarily a negative
as many divers appreciate having the extra time to absorb
some of the more theoretical aspects of the course and it
also allows time to perfect the more demanding skills you
need to learn.
However, if you are already confident in the sea and anxious
to complete the course and start diving, it will probably
work out quicker to complete the course over an intensive
3 or 4 days on location.
Language – although most languages
can now be catered for in the major diving destinations
you may find it easier to source materials in your native
language in advance. Additionally it may be beneficial to
have a native speaker of your preferred language to explain
the more technical terms.
While we are all cost conscious and the expense must always
be kept in mind, you will be entering an alien environment
with it’s own set of risks attached, for your own
safety do not let cost be your primary deciding factor.
The last thing you need is to find yourself being pushed
through a course more quickly than you are comfortable with.
That said, the major dive destinations tend to be very
competitive and you will probably not see significant differences
in price. 2 of the major variables are the number of students
per class and whether the course is a combination/referral
course, i.e. part of the course conducted at home and the
balance completed while on holiday.
Referral courses will always prove slightly
more expensive than completing the course all in 1 place
but this expense is offset by the fact that you spend more
time in the water at your chosen destination.
Private versus group instruction is the
other major factor affecting price. Group instruction is
more economical and you have the benefit of having other
divers learn simultaneously however the class progresses
at a rate dictated by the slowest member and you lose the
personal attention and security of knowing that you are
the only student in the instructor’s care.
The other benefits of private instruction are:
Your dive time will last longer as you only surface when
you are ready, not the first student to empty their tank.
You will have a wider choice of dive sites to visit and
you will have more flexible start and finish class times.
A final consideration which is of great importance, to
this writer at least, is the weather and water temperature.
Recreational scuba diving is all about having fun and if
the water is too cold then the fun factor reduces greatly.
The bath warm waters to be found in the tropics are ideal
and personally anything below 22 degree Celsius is for a
braver heart than me (the author is often accused of being
a diving wimp).
Which course – the options available.
There are basically 3 different entry level courses which
can be a starting point for your new adventure, they are:
PADI Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) programme lets you experience
the thrill of diving under the supervision of a PADI Instructor
in ideal conditions, such as those found at a resort. During
your 1 day adventure, you'll master some basic concepts and scuba
skills before heading off on an open water dive. The DSD programme is not a certification course, merely an introduction to diving.
The PADI Scuba Diver course is a pre-entry level certification
that is perfect for vacationers or people who only plan
to dive a couple times a year, as it only takes a couple of days to complete. Think of it as a provisional license. As a sub-programme of the
PADI Open Water Diver course, the PADI Scuba Diver rating
allows you to get certified quickly and easily by minimising
PADI Open Water Diver course, the most popular dive programme
in the world! This is your ticket to a lifetime of intense
adventure with PADI, the dive association that sets the
standards in the global diving community. As a certified
PADI Open Water Diver you have the freedom to dive with
a buddy independent of a professional. The course normally takes 3 or 4 full days to complete.
Choosing your dive centre and instructor
Some of the factors that you should take into consideration in
choosing your instructor include the following:
Certification body – ask to see
the instructors certificates and ensure they are up to date.
As already stated PADI is the biggest but has a number of
equally proficient competing agencies.
Duration of the course – Given the
3 major courses available it should be possible to find
a course to suit your personal time constraints but this
is something you need to discuss with your instructor.
Extra costs – before you hand over
any of your hard earned money ensure you know exactly what
is included in the price. Books and materials, equipment
rental and certification costs may not be included and can
significantly alter the price, get confirmation in advance.
Testimonials – a personal recommendation
from a friend is always a very good indication that the
instructor is friendly and professional. However in circumstances
where personal recommendations are not available ask to
see testimonials from recent students as an alternative.
Equipment – often the state of the diving equipment at a dive centre reflects that centre's attitude towards professionalism and safety. Ask to inspect the equipment to make sure it looks in good condition and not old and tattered.
Language – the major dive destinations
are home to a diverse collection of dive instructors of
all nationalities. Once you request in advance it is usually
possible to receive your instruction in your preferred language.
What equipment to buy
Scuba diving is an equipment intensive activity and you
may find yourself overwhelmed by the array of equipment
required. Breathing apparatus, compasses, dive watches and
flotation devices are all an essential part of your journey
into this alien world – but just how much do you need
to get started.
Strictly speaking you should not need to buy any equipment
as all should be available from the school providing your
instruction. However a few items may improve your comfort
immediately and should be considered a high priority to
own. A mask and snorkel are relatively inexpensive and if
they fit properly can eliminate a significant source of
underwater stress. Similarly the acquisition of your own
fins and booties should be among the first items on your
list. The great benefit of these items is that even if you
decide not to continue your diving career you can always
use them for snorkelling.
You will not regret the time you invest to learn more about
this wonderful activity so follow this link to learn how
Start your scuba diving adventure today...
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