“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever” – Jacques Cousteau
If you love the ocean and adventure, scuba diving is the perfect activity for you. Not only will it open up a whole new world of nature and wildlife to you, but it’s a great way to decide future travel destinations. There’s a good chance you’ll quickly become addicted to the sport, whether it’s from the thrill of discovering new marine life, exploring underground caves or shipwrecks, or escaping from all the stresses of reality for an hour or two. Here are my top five reasons why you should get scuba dive certified.
I was nervous when I first started my scuba lessons (I may have held onto the instructor’s hand for the whole 45 minutes during our very first ocean dive), but don’t worry — you will get used to breathing through the scuba regulator and quickly acclimatise to the field of vision. I now find scuba diving very peaceful and relaxing.
OVERVIEW OF THE PADI OPEN WATER COURSE
But before getting hooked on scuba, you’ll need to start with a PADI Open Water Course in order to become a certified diver. The PADI Open Water Course takes around 4-7 days to complete and involves both theoretical and practical lessons and tests. Both portions are designed to develop your knowledge of essential dive skills and important safety features.
Many people opt to take the theoretical part of the course online. This way, you can learn at your own pace and at a time which is convenient for you. PADI uses videos, audio, graphics, and reading to help you learn. You can also take short quizzes that let you gauge your progress before a final review of everything to ensure you know the necessary material.
Next, there is normally some in pool training (sometimes in a shallow bay) with a qualified divemaster. You’ll learn all about the gear you need, underwater hand signals, how to equalise your ears, as well as other techniques and skills you may need. Then comes the best part, to complete your journey, you’ll do approximately four ocean dives with your instructor to demonstrate your newfound skills.
You can expect a PADI Open Water Diver certification to cost between $350-$500 depending on where you learn. But I promise, the cost is worth it. Here’s why.
1) EXPERIENCE ANOTHER WORLD
The ocean covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface. Take the opportunity to see parts of the world many will never have opportunity to see. Just watching the world under the waves will make you feel like you’re a lifetime away. Scuba diving is actually very relaxing and offers the opportunity to encounter unique and colourful marine life. Plus, it’s the easiest way to experience weightlessness without becoming an astronaut.
2) LEARN NEW SKILLS AND OCEAN KNOWLEDGE
In order to earn your dive certificate, you will have to learn dive theory, covering the basic principles of scuba. Once you’re certified, there is still so much more learning to come. There is an abundance of shipwrecks and planes on the bottom of the ocean waiting to be explored. Although some may require further certification, many can be explored as an open water diver with a guide.
Additionally, there are 18,000 known fish species and scientists are discovering up to 1,500 new ocean creatures a year. With your scuba certificate, you’ll constantly be able to learn about new ocean habitats and marine life species, and even observe them in your own eyes.
3) GAIN A NEW-FOUND RESPECT FOR THE OCEAN
As many as 51 trillion microplastic particles — 500 times more than the stars in our galaxy — litter our seas, seriously threatening marine wildlife. It is expected that, unless we make a change, many ocean species will go extinct before they are even found, due to pollution, climate change, and ocean acidification. Whether it’s reducing your plastic consumption or learning about what you can do to mitigate coral bleaching, I can guarantee once you’ve seen the beauty of the ocean ecosystem you’ll be inspired to do your bit.
4) TRAVEL TO BEAUTIFUL PLACES
Whether it is in the 2-degrees Celsius Silfra Fissure in Iceland, the gigantic Great Barrier Reef, or The Great Blue Hole in Belize, there are so many beautiful dive locations to explore. The list is inexhaustible. Bear in mind at the Silfra Fissure, you will need to be dry suit certified, but there’s always the option to snorkel like I did. Or, take the opportunity to pick up a new scuba skill while on your next vacation.
When you’re not in the water, you will be able to explore these incredible places on land. There are even liveaboard diving trips available that allow passengers to dive twice (or more) a day, for several days or weeks, all while living on the boat. Liveaboard trips are a fun way to disconnect from the main land, meet fellow scuba addicts, and explore interesting dive sites that you wouldn’t be able to access in just one day.
5) SEE EXCITING MARINE LIFE IN THEIR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Green sea turtles. Dolphins. Manta rays. Whale sharks. Octopuses. Just to name a few.
Diving allows us to have up-close encounters with so many amazing ocean creatures, all in their natural environment. You’ll feel as if you’re a part of their world as they carefully swim by you, hardly acknowledging that you’re even there. Just be sure that you never touch the delicate coral as even a slight touch can kill it. There is also coral friendly sunscreen available (sunscreen without oxybenzone) — the one I use can be found here. I highly recommend using this product to ensure that you aren’t harming the very same marine life you came so far to visit.
The PADI Open Water certification is just the first step on your scuba diving journey. From there, you can get an Advanced Open Water certification or even go on to become a Master Scuba Diver. Or, focus on building specific skills. In fact, there are an impressive 82 different courses on offer on the PADI website, where you can specialise in becoming more technically trained in areas that interest you from Dry Suit Diving, to Night Diving, to Coral Reef Conservation.
Once you have obtained your PADI Open Water Diver certification, these additional courses are of course optional, depending on your interests and the requirements of the specific dive spots. But even with just the PADI Open Water Diving certification, you’ll be able to dive to a depth of 60 feet. You’ll find that this is more than enough depth to allow you to experience the beautiful marine life and take in all the colourful corals.
In addition, after you have gained your certification, your online PADI account allows you to log all of your dives so you can never forget any of the details. You can revisit your dive log to see when you saw that Queen Angelfish or came face to face with a hammerhead shark. For the traditionalists out there, you are also provided with a handy little log book to jot down your unforgettable experiences.
Why not check out the nearest dive centre at your next travel destination? I’m looking into the Advanced Open Water Diver course now. My guess is there’s a dive center near you or within a quick drive or flight. You’ll only wish you started sooner!
Have you ever been diving? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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Read More About Scuba Diving
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- 7 Reasons Why You Should Learn To Scuba Dive On The Great Barrier Reef
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We Are Travel Girls Contributor Lauren Dixon
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