Whether it is a bucket list thing to do, something you have always wanted to do, or something you have recently been inspired to do, learning to scuba dive is an experience like no other.
We get asked many questions about learning to dive, how to get started or questions on what is involved and so on. How do you learn ? Who can learn to dive ? Do you have to be a good swimmer ? Is diving safe ? How long does it take ? Are there any sharks ? and many more.
To enrol on the course is pretty straight forward and doing a try dive first is always a good idea if you are not sure if learning to dive is for you. You can compete the theory at home with eLearning or the paperback manual version. Once that is completed your knowledge is tested in the classroom before you then complete a number of confined water dives to practice general skills and 4 open water dives to complete the course.
Anyone aged 10 and over can enrol on the course after completing their medical questionnaire, so learning to dive is open to all age groups who are generally in good health. You don't have to be an olympic swimmer either, for the course you just need to show that you can cover 200m with any swimming method you choose and can hold yourself in the water for 10 minutes.
Diving is an adventure sport and has a very good safety record backed by thorough training. Choose an experienced, patient and knowledgeable Instructor who will teach you the right fundamentals and give you the best start as a new diver. Fun and safety go hand in hand when scuba diving and a good Dive Centre will also provide you with the best and well maintained equipment.
All equipment is provided so you don't need to buy all of it straight away. Build your equipment ownership as you develop as a diver, gain more knowledge about equipment options and try some for yourself before buying. A mask, fins and a computer are the first things you will probably buy and possibly during your course to help learn how to use them. Again take advice from a good Instructor who has your best interests at heart.
Once you have completed all the theory the course then takes 3 to 4 days to complete and can be spread to suit your availability.
There are many dive agencies providing beginners courses - Padi, BSAC, SDI and many more all pretty much provide the same Open Water or Ocean Diver course structure with a lot of the same content. The choice of Instructor is the most important factor in which Dive Centre to enrol with, speak to a few and you should be able to guage a lot from that and their approach to your training.
Everyone who first tries or starts their diver training feels nervous, it is a new adventure sport to you so it is natural to be nervous or apprehensive. As you progress this will subside as you gain in knowledge and confidence with good instruction. The course will be taught at your pace and so that you are comfortable with every stage of your training. Many inexperienced qualified divers also feel slightly nervous before a new days diving at times which is good to keep them alert and concentrating on what they are doing, but the confidence grows in time with the more diving you do and this gets better with every dive.
And finally the shark question ! The ocean can seem like an alien environment and indeed it is another world. People are understandably wary of what lies beneath the waves but this is one of the main reasons people learn to dive is to see and explore this new world. Marine life, wrecks, reefs and sharks are what we all want to see when we go diving and as you start to see these amazing new things you will understand what a safe and wonderful place being underwater actually is !
You will learn how to behave around marine life and you will develop a deep appreciation of our marine world and the challenges it faces. As a diver you can also play an active role in ensuring it's conservation and protection and is just another benefit of learning to dive.