Learning to Scuba Dive From Scratch
Some kids grow up dreaming of becoming an astronaut or a pilot, while others dream of exploring the worlds that exist beneath the surface of the water.
Did you know that more than 70% of the earth's surface is submerged? That's a whole lot of exploring to do!
And the best way to begin is to learn how to scuba dive, so you're probably wondering what exactly is involved. Can you scuba dive with no experience? Is it hard to learn how to scuba dive? Today, we're going to answer all these questions and more!
It's true that there really is nothing quite like scuba diving. The sensation of weightlessness that divers experience is often compared to that of astronauts in zero gravity, but in outer space, there are no manta rays or sea turtles to meet, shipwrecks to explore, or colorful corals to drift over!
Scuba diving offers the unique opportunity to float above otherworldly landscapes that are teeming with life and secrets to discover.
If that sounds appealing, then read on. Let's get you clued up on learning to scuba dive from scratch.
Can You Scuba Dive With No Experience?
The simple answer to the question, can you scuba dive with no experience, is_no_— that wouldn't be a good idea!
While scuba diving isn't too complicated a skill to learn, there are several essential aspects that you must master before first heading out into the deep.
You can view it in a similar way that you would learning how to drive on the road. You need to know how to use your equipment—be it a car or a scuba rig—and you need to know how to signal to everyone else traveling the same path that you are!
Scuba gear is made up of several different components that together allow you to breathe underwater and float weightlessly without sinking or rising to the surface.
Scuba divers carry tanks on their backs that either contain air or a special gas mix called nitrox which is usually used for deeper diving.
They wear a buoyancy device and a weight belt that allow them to strike the perfect buoyancy balance while underwater.
They'll have on a mask and fins to make seeing and swimming easier, plus most likely a wetsuit or dry suit, and some will carry a dive computer or other useful gadget.
It is very important to know how to use each and every bit of equipment correctly before going on a scuba diving expedition because once you're underwater, you won't be able to have a conversation with your instructor or buddy—and the surface may be quite far away!
When you learn to scuba dive, you will be taught a variety of hand signals that are used by divers universally around the world.
Perhaps most importantly, you'll also be taught about the physiology of diving, and the importance of ascending slowly to avoid something called decompression sickness which can happen when the pressure around our bodies changes too quickly.
Getting Started With Diving Qualifications
If you just want to try out scuba diving to see if it's for you, you can do a Discover Scuba Diving session, otherwise known as a Try Dive session.
This involves a briefing on the basics and then a chance to try scuba diving in a confined water environment. Of course, if you want to get started directly with something that will allow you to move on to other experiences, the place to start is an Open Water Diver course.
An Open Water Diver course is the first step on the road to scuba qualifications and usually takes 3-4 full days. Once qualified, you'll be able to dive to 60 feet or 18 meters in open water while knowing all of the essential skills for easier open water dive locations.
From there, scuba enthusiasts can pursue their Advanced Open Water Diver, and all sorts of other courses that will entitle them to use nitrox, dive to deeper depths, explore shipwrecks, and more.
Those who want to be able to teach others can pursue a Dive Master qualification—ultimately, how far you go is entirely up to you!
The vast majority of dive centers around the world are regulated by PADI, although SSI is another well-respected and widely recognized authority. By going with one of these two, you can be sure that your diving qualifications will be honored wherever your travels take you.
Is It Hard to Learn How to Scuba Dive?
Beyond having to memorize and master a few basics, learning to scuba dive is really quite easy. That said, one aspect of the experience to keep in mind is that it can feel very strange to begin with!
Things like getting used to the limited field of vision from scuba goggles, swimming with your legs and not your arms, only being able to mouth-breathe through a regulator, and trusting that you won't fall when the seabed is a long way below all take a little adjustment.
Over time, these bizarre sensations will begin to feel normal, but don't feel bad if you find it all very odd to start. Your diving instructor will be there to guide you, so discuss your experiences and listen to each briefing very carefully. That way, you'll know exactly what to expect once under the water.
If you find that you go through your oxygen very quickly to begin with, don't worry. As you relax into the experience of diving, you will breathe more slowly and calmly.
Also keep in mind that even though your movements are slow underwater, the water provides a lot of resistance, so it's normal to feel a bit achy and tired afterward! In this instance, slow and steady certainly wins the race.
Finding the Right Dive Center
There are fantastic dive centers where you can get qualified all around the world.
Beyond looking for a reputable business providing respected certifications, you may also want to think about what kind of underwater environment you'd like to learn in. During the Open Water Diver qualification, some of your lessons will be in a swimming pool, but others need to be in an open water environment.
If you are in an area where the water temperatures tend to be cold and the underwater conditions murky, then that will be your classroom.
Of course, for many, the Open Water Diver course is simply a means to an end, and the setting doesn't really matter. But for others, learning to scuba dive in a dreamy location like the Maldives or the Caribbean is particularly appealing!
Wherever you decide to go, why not scope out the marine life that you might encounter, confirm the season of the year when diving conditions will be best, and of course, use our free water temperature checker to see how thick your wetsuit will need to be!
What Else Do I Need to Know About Learning to Scuba Dive?
A pre-dive health assessment is a must for every aspiring scuba diver and anyone participating in activities run by a dive center.
Any heart issues, lung issues, or respiratory infections may raise a red flag for diving, and with good reason—so do be honest when you fill out the form. If anything worries your dive instructor, they may ask you to get checked out by a doctor to confirm you're fit to dive.
Being underwater does put some strain on our bodily systems, so it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Scuba diving is a wonderfully communal activity, and your dive buddy will become an essential ally under the waves. Be sure to enjoy the shared aspect of this experience, while heeding decompression protocols and listening carefully to your guides or instructors. From there, simply grab your reef-safe sunscreen and your scuba gear, and head for the water!
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