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Scuba Diving: How to Get Started

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If you have a friend or family member who is thinking about getting in to diving, this guide on how to get started from Sea to Sky offers advice on how they can begin their exciting journey…

Scuba diving is a wonderful way to experience the beauty and diversity of marine life, and to explore shipwrecks, caves, and other underwater features across the world.

For many scuba diving becomes a hobby & passion, but it’s also hugely popular for holidays to destinations such as Egypt, Oman, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and the Maldives, offering an unparalleled underwater experience for new and experienced divers.

Find out more about Scuba Diving in our getting started guide.

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What is Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is where divers use a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) to breathe underwater.

Essential Training

Before going scuba diving, it is important to get proper training and certification. This will ensure that you are able to dive safely and understand the risks involved.

There are various organisations that offer scuba diving certification, such as PADI, CMAS, and SSI (among others). These organisations offer a variety of courses, from basic open water diver courses to advanced specialty courses such as deep diving, wreck diving and tech.

Important Equipment

When scuba diving, it is important to use proper equipment and to follow safety guidelines. This includes using a dive computer, which helps to monitor your dive time and depth, as well as a dive watch or dive planner.

It is also important to use a buoyancy control device (BCD) to help control your buoyancy underwater, and a dive regulator to control the flow of air from your tanks.

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Be Sensible

Scuba diving is a great way to explore the underwater world, but it is also important to remember that it is an activity that comes with risks.

Divers should be aware of their own limitations and should always dive within their own level of experience and training. It is also important to be aware of the potential dangers of diving, such as marine life, currents, and equipment failure.

Overall, scuba diving is a thrilling and rewarding activity that allows people to experience the beauty and diversity of the underwater world. With proper training and safety guidelines, it is a safe and enjoyable activity for people of all ages and abilities.

Dive Training Agencies

Each agency offers different courses and certifications, and each has its own unique approach to scuba diving education.

Below are three of the major agencies and we have summarised the agencies and what they offer. If you are any doubt or confused, drop us an email and we would be only too happy to discuss each of their attributes.

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PADI

PADI, which stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is one of the most well-known and widely recognised scuba diving certification agencies in the world.

Founded in 1966, PADI has trained millions of divers and currently has more than 6,500 dive centres and resorts in over 180 countries.

One of the reasons for PADI’s popularity is its wide range of courses for divers of all levels, from beginner to professional.

The most popular PADI course is the Open Water Diver course, which teaches the basic skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments.

PADI also offers a variety of specialty courses, such as deep diving, wreck diving, and digital underwater photography, that allow divers to expand their skills and knowledge.

It also offers different types of certifications, such as the Junior Open Water Diver, which is designed for children, and the Master Scuba Diver, which is the highest non-professional certification level in PADI and recognises the diver’s experience and skills.

Another aspect that sets PADI apart from other dive agencies is the flexibility of its courses, PADI’s eLearning program allows divers to complete the knowledge development part of the Open Water Diver course online, before arriving at the dive center. This allows divers to learn at their own pace and to fit the course into their busy schedules.

PADI is also known for its commitment to safety and environmental conservation. The agency has developed a number of programs and initiatives to promote safe diving practices and to protect the underwater environment. These include Project AWARE, which focuses on ocean conservation and marine debris removal, and the PADI Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) Specialty course, which teaches divers how to safely and responsibly use underwater scooters.

In conclusion, PADI is one of the most well-known and widely recognised scuba diving certification agencies in the world. With its wide range of courses, flexible eLearning program, and commitment to safety and environmental conservation, PADI is an excellent choice for anyone looking to learn to dive or to expand their diving skills and knowledge.

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CMAS

CMAS, short for Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, is a French dive agency that offers scuba diving certifications and training.

Founded in 1959, CMAS is one of the oldest and most respected dive agencies in the world, and is recognised by the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) as a major training organisation.

One of the unique features of CMAS is its multi-level certification system. Unlike other dive agencies, which have a single level of certification for open water divers, CMAS has three levels of certification for open water divers: 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star. Each level represents an increasing level of skill and knowledge, and divers can progress through the levels as they gain more experience.

  • The 1-star level is the entry-level certification for open water divers. It is designed for divers who are new to scuba diving and want to learn the basics of diving, such as dive theory, dive equipment, dive planning, and dive safety.
  • The 2-star level is the intermediate level certification for open water divers. It is designed for divers who have completed the 1-star level and want to gain more experience and knowledge. The 2-star level covers more advanced topics such as deep diving, navigation, and emergency procedures.
  • The 3-star level is the advanced level certification for open water divers. It is designed for divers who have completed the 2-star level and want to gain even more experience and knowledge. The 3-star level covers more specialised topics such as wreck diving, cave diving, and ice diving.

In addition to its open water diver certifications, CMAS also offers a wide range of specialties and instructor certifications. These include deep diving, wreck diving, cave diving, night diving, and more. CMAS also offers technical diving courses, including trimix and rebreather diving.

CMAS is also known for its strong emphasis on safety and environmental conservation. All the diving courses include instruction in dive safety and environmental awareness, and they are actively involved in ocean conservation and marine research projects around the world.

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SSI

Scuba Schools International (SSI) is a globally recognised scuba diving certification agency that offers a wide range of scuba diving courses and certifications.

Founded in 1970, SSI has trained millions of divers and currently has more than 40,000 dive professionals and over 2,500 dive centres and resorts worldwide.

One of the unique features of SSI is its focus on providing a comprehensive and holistic dive education program. SSI has a unique training system that is based on the concept of “Total Dive Control”. This means that SSI courses are designed to teach divers not only the basic skills of diving, but also how to fully control and manage their dive experience, from planning and preparation to execution and analysis.

SSI also offers a variety of courses for divers of all levels, from beginner to professional. The most popular SSI course is the Open Water Diver course, which teaches the basic skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments.

There are also a variety of specialty courses, such as deep diving, wreck diving, and digital underwater photography, that allow divers to expand their skills and knowledge.

SSI also offers a Master Diver program, which is the highest non-professional certification level in SSI, which recognises the diver’s experience and skills.

Another aspect that sets SSI apart from other dive agencies is its flexibility in the final open water test. SSI allows divers to take the final open water dive test in a pool, whereas PADI requires the test to be done in open water.

SSI also has a strong commitment to safety and environmental conservation. All SSI diving courses include instruction in dive safety and environmental awareness, and SSI is actively involved in ocean conservation and marine research projects around the world.

In conclusion, SSI is a globally recognised scuba diving certification agency that offers a wide range of scuba diving courses and certifications. With its comprehensive and holistic dive education program, flexible final open water test, and commitment to safety and environmental conservation, SSI is an excellent choice for anyone looking to learn to dive or to expand their diving skills and knowledge.

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Course Example: PADI Open Water Course

The PADI Open Water Diver course is the most popular scuba diving certification course in the world.

It is a comprehensive course that teaches the skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments. The course is designed for people who are new to scuba diving and want to learn the basics of diving, as well as for those who want to refresh their skills and knowledge.

The PADI Open Water Diver course is divided into three main parts: knowledge development, confined water dives, and open water dives.

Knowledge Development

The knowledge development part of the course is usually done through a combination of independent study, such as reading the PADI Open Water Diver manual, and classroom sessions with an instructor. The topics covered in the knowledge development part of the course include dive theory, dive equipment, dive planning, and dive safety.

Confined Water Dives

The confined water dives are the pool or pool-like sessions where you will learn the basic skills of diving such as clearing the water from the mask, regulator recovery, and control of buoyancy.

Open Water Dives

The open water dives are where you will put the skills you learned in the confined water dives into practice.

You will usually complete four open water dives, which will take place in a natural body of water such as a lake or ocean. During these dives, you will explore the underwater environment and practice the skills you learned in the confined water dives.

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Great Way to Learn the Basics and Get Certified

The PADI Open Water Diver course is a great way to learn the basics of scuba diving and to gain the skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments.

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver and will be able to dive to a maximum depth of 60 feet.

The certification is recognized worldwide and you can continue your diving education with PADI by taking the advanced open water course and other specialties.

Overall, the PADI Open Water Diver course is a great way to get started in the exciting world of scuba diving. With proper training, you can safely explore the underwater world and experience the beauty and diversity of marine life.

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If you would like more information or discuss a course in more detail, contact My Sea to Sky.  Our experienced diving team can talk you through all the aspects of the PADI and SSI courses we run on a regular basis.

Or, why not combine your diving training with a holiday in some amazing locations that are suited to your level of experience? Just ask, we are only too happy to recommend the perfect diving location for you.

We are a full service tour operator offering nature immersive and wellness experiences tailored to our discerning adventurers, looking for active escapes to undiscovered gems.

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Solo Travelling and Scuba Diving

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Solo traveling elicits strong reactions, with some relishing the freedom it brings, while others shy away from the idea. The dichotomy lies between the autonomy of solo journeys and the comfort of companionship. Scuba diving group trips for solo travellers emerge as the perfect synthesis, offering a unique blend of freedom and camaraderie.

Embarking on a solo scuba diving adventure is a thrilling journey into unparalleled freedom, new discovery and self-discovery beneath the waves. However, solo travellers should be mindful of considerations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, especially those diving abroad, taking precautions before leaving their home country is crucial for a safe and enjoyable journey.

solo scuba diver

“I started travelling solo by chance”- my wife recalls- “I joined a group from the diving club planning to travel to Tobago, people pulled out at the last minute and I decided to go ahead alone. I did enjoy the freedom: I could travel at the times I wanted, to the destinations I wanted, no need to negotiate when and where to eat and the air conditioning temperature. Diving is a social sport anyway, and the divers one meets are by definition like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, often from different nationalities. I’ve gained so much in self confidence and interpersonal skills, way more than on corporate training courses J. However, as a woman solo traveller, I’ve always had to be mindful of personal safety in circumstances where one simply doesn’t know what to expect. I remember the apprehension I felt on the boat ride alone from Batanga to Puerto Galera in the evening. Also the same feeling whilst waiting in Dubai for someone to pick me up and drive me 2 hours to Musandam. This someone is now a dearest friend. The best thing for me is always to book through someone that has made the same journey, lived the experience directly and has close personal links at destinations.”

In essence, scuba diving trips for solo travellers offer a harmonious blend of autonomy and companionship. These journeys transcend traditional group travel challenges by uniting solo adventurers with a common passion.

The first question and one of the most important, as the answer usually determines your location is Liveaboard or Shore based, and there are Pros and Cons to both:

Liveaboard

solo scuba diver

Pros

Immersive Dive Experience: Liveaboards provide uninterrupted access to dive sites, maximizing your time beneath the waves.

Varied Destinations: Journey to remote and pristine locations, exploring a range of dive spots during a single trip. Usually these site are only accessible by Liveaboard

Community Experience: Forge close bonds with fellow divers on board, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Cons

Limited Amenities: Space constraints on liveaboards might limit facilities compared to resorts.

Community Experience: Liveaboards forge a close-knit community of divers and individuals, which may not be conducive to everyone’s character, particularly for people who enjoy some time alone to charge the batteries, or those not keen on negotiating group dynamics in a somewhat confined environment.

Shore based

solo scuba diving solo scuba diving

Pros

Comfort and Amenities: Resorts offer a comfortable stay with various amenities, including spas, swimming pools and restaurants.

Flexibility: Choose daily dives or explore at your pace, enjoying the freedom to create a personalized itinerary.

Onshore Exploration: Besides diving, resorts often provide opportunities to explore local culture and attractions.

Cons

Fixed Locations: While convenient, resorts limit you to specific dive sites accessible from shore.

Time Constraints: Day trips or tight schedules may impose time restrictions on your underwater adventures.

Flexibility: Unless you are certified as a solo diver then you have to dive with a buddy or with a private guide, which could be a costly option.

Considerations

Personal Preferences: Evaluate your preferences for accommodation, community engagement, and the overall pace of your dive experience.

Destination Exploration: Assess whether you seek the thrill of exploring multiple dive destinations on a liveaboard or prefer the convenience of a single resort location.

Choosing between liveaboard trips and dive resorts hinges on your desired balance of adventure, comfort, and community. Whether you opt for the dynamic exploration of liveaboards or the leisurely pace of resorts, each option promises a unique and unforgettable underwater journey.

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Dive Destination – Research and Planning

Conducting thorough research on dive destinations is crucial. Understand its culture, local customs, and any travel advisories. Always check government advice, BUT also consider joining Facebook or similar groups and get some real-world advice from like-minded divers.

It’s essential to opt for reputable dive operators with a strong safety record. Sea to Sky, a trusted name in the industry, places a high priority on guest safety, offering comprehensive services, advice, and recommendations.

Ensure you are aware of any health risks or vaccinations required for your destination. Carry a basic first aid kit, if weight allows and any necessary medications. We would advise not to take any over the counter medications aboard, as most are readily available and in a lot of cases cheaper. If you are prescribed medications, please ensure that your country of entry allows your medication, and in all cases please take a doctor’s letter/prescription.

Solo divers should be mindful of diving in secluded or challenging dive locations.  Opting for familiar, well-monitored locations where assistance is readily available if needed. Sea to Sky takes a personalized approach, considering guests’ experience and certification levels to suggest optimal dive locations within their limits.

Being cautious about equipment is paramount for solo divers. Rigorous gear checks to ensure everything is in optimal condition are essential. For those renting equipment, Sea to Sky ensures that the dive centre or liveaboard operator’s gear is regularly serviced and up to date. Please self-check all equipment, we are happy to advise on what to and how to check any equipment.

Safety and Security

Invest in comprehensive travel insurance and Dive Insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and potential diving-related incidents. Keep a digital and physical copy of your insurance details. Secure important documents like your passport, travel insurance, and diving certifications in a waterproof pouch. Consider making digital copies that you can access online.  Share your itinerary and emergency contact information with a trusted friend or family member. Keep them informed about your whereabouts and any changes to your plans. We personally use Nord Locker to store all relevant information, including copies of passport, accessible via the cloud (No affiliation, it’s just what we use).

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Financial Preparedness

Inform your bank about your travel dates to avoid any issues with your credit/debit cards. Carry a mix of local currency and cards. We can advise country by country what cash to take, as in some destinations Euros or Dollars are the better option.  Be cautious when using ATMs and choose secure locations (inside banks for example). Keep a small amount of emergency cash separate from your main funds. This can be invaluable in situations where card payments may not be accepted.

Communication and Connectivity

Consider getting a local SIM card to stay connected. Check the network coverage in your destination and inform your loved ones about your contact number. We also use an ESim called Airolo (Again no affiliation) but some of the charges can be quite high especially in Egypt, but for peace of mind it’s great.  Carry a portable charger for your electronic devices, including your phone and any underwater cameras. Also check with the country you are travelling to ascertain what plug is compatible.

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Cultural Sensitivity

Familiarise yourself with the local culture and customs to show respect. This includes appropriate clothing, gestures, and behaviour, both on land and underwater.

What sets Sea to Sky apart is the personal relationships developed with its suppliers and its commitment to providing 24-hour telephone contact for guests, offering reassurance and assistance around the clock. Solo travellers can dive with confidence, knowing that expert guidance and support are just a call away.

In essence, while solo scuba diving opens doors to incredible underwater experiences, travellers must exercise caution, conduct diligent research, choose reputable operators, and prioritise safety.

For any information or assistance you require please feel free to contact the team at hello@myseatosky.co.uk.

Join Sea to Sky and embark on new diving adventures! Visit www.myseatosky.co.uk for more information.

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The BiG Scuba Podcast Episode 172: Dr. Joseph Dituri

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Joseph Dituri

Gemma and Ian chat to Dr. Joseph Dituri. Dr. Jospeh Dituri lived undersea for 100 Days in a mission combining education, ocean conservation research, and the study of the physiological and psychological effects of compression on the human body.  

Dituri enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1985. He served continuously on active service upon various ships and shore stations where he was involved in every aspect of diving and special operations work from saturation diving and deep submergence to submersible design and clearance diving. Now that he is retired from 28 years of active service to the United States, he is the president of the International Board of Undersea Medicine. He also volunteers his time as the CEO of the Association for Marine Exploration. He is an invited speaker on motivational, sea and space related topics.

Fuelled by his passion for exploration, discovery, adventure, and making the greatest possible positive contribution to the world, he is fighting for change in a big way and with great enthusiasm.

You can listen to Episode 172 of the BiG Scuba Podcast here.

www.drdeepsea.com

We hope you have enjoyed this episode of The BiG Scuba Podcast.  Please give us ★★★★★, leave a review, and tell your friends about us as each share and like makes a difference.   Contact Gemma and Ian with your messages, ideas and feedback via The BiG Scuba Bat Phone    +44 7810 005924   or use our social media platforms.   To keep up to date with the latest news, follow us:

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The BiG Scuba Website                  www.thebigscuba.com

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Visit   https://www.patreon.com/thebigscubapodcast and subscribe – Super quick and easy to do and it makes a massive difference. Thank you.

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