Scuba diving is one of life’s most spectacular past times. Exploring the deep opens a whole underwater world of life, beauty and colour that only a diver can see. There are so many places to visit and explore, and so many chances to get close to exotic wildlife living in its own natural world.
It is not difficult to start diving, but of course plenty of skill, knowledge and safety precautions are needed to advance beyond the most basic level. Diving can be very safe, given the right training and when you follow a few basic rules.
To ensure that you are diving safely, therefore, it is best to start with lessons, either by joining a club or taking a course.
The dive qualification you take will depend on where you are in the world, if you are going on holiday to learn to dive, but it’s most likely that if you are going on a typical tropical diving holiday or to a popular dive destination, you will probably be doing the SSI or PADI course, the two most popular resort-based warm water diving. In America, NAUI has a large presence and in Europe it will be CMAS.
If you live in the UK, the BSAC’s (British Sub Aqua Club’s) Ocean Diver course is the place to start. This entry-level open water diver qualification will equip you with the core skills to dive to a maximum of 20 metres in open water, in the UK and abroad. Or you could visit any one of 100 UK based dive shops and complete a PADI /SSI course and purchase your dive gear from the people who teach you to dive as you learn.
Whichever course you choose there is going to be a mixture of classroom/online learning programs, confined water training and practice, such as a swimming pool or quiet coastal area, followed by a final dive in more open sea or ocean.
Ideally you need to be able to swim before you start diving! PADI requires you to be able to swim 200m unaided, or 300m with a mask, fins and snorkel, and you must be able to comfortably maintain yourself in water too deep to stand up in for ten minutes by either floating or treading water.
Once you have completed your training, and assuming you have now got the bug, you will be able to head off to more dive destinations the world over and hone your skills and experience. Egypt is a popular and not too expensive country for diving in the Red Sea, as well as tropical destinations such as Thailand. A word of warning though, beware of cheap diving centres that are not property accredited. You could also enjoy the fantastic diving available around the UK, some of the best wreck diving in the world.
Taking a diving course is a great way to have a holiday with a difference, and while you might feel a bit nervous to start with, the important thing is just to enjoy it.