where to learn to scuba?

Travel Forums General Talk where to learn to scuba?

1. Posted by jaconn (Full Member 20 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I am going on my 1st rtw in February heading off to S. America first and travelling round there for 4 months (8 days in rio to start). I am also spending some time in Oz where obviously the scuba diving is must for the reef.
having never done any diving before and was wondering How long it takes to pass the tests to be qualified as i have found somewhere i can do it before i leave? if its not possible to learn before i go then where it is best to learn to scuba dive? I hear its really expensive on the east coast of Oz because of the demand over there.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Cheers in advance

2. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hey Julian!

You do have time to take at least part of the training before you leave on your trip. In cold climates, the initial portion of the training is usually done in an indoor pool. In warmer places, it can be done in the ocean shallows.

You have some options, and I would check with your local dive centers to see what their costs and dates are first.

1) Take the basic training at home, then finish the open water portion in either S. America or OZ. This will get you started, and save a bit of cash - over doing all of it in OZ.

2) Since you will be traveling SA for 4 months, consider doing the training there. It will be cheaper (again) than OZ and there are reputable centers/instructors.

3) Save up your money and do the training in OZ.

The whole training can be done in a week. I've been on several dives with trainees who had 7 days to get everything accomplished, including the written tests and the open water evaluations. You just won't be doing much else during those daylight hours for that week, but you will become a certified diver (given you pass the tests - which aren't that hard).

If your local dive centers can't help you with a timely schedule, talk with them about centers in SA and OZ. Usually the instructors and dive masters have some recommendations. Also check here for centers in the places you will be visiting:

Professional Association of Diving Instructors - PADI
National Association of Underwater Instructors - NAUI
Scuba Schools International - SSI

All three are great organizations. I am SSI certified, my husband did the PADI course. Both of us received the same training.

Here's a thread that might help too:

PADI or BSAC????

3. Posted by monkeypaw (Budding Member 6 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Are you planning on coming to central america??
I´m on utila, bay ilands honduras at the moment and it is reputed to be one of the cheapest places to learn to dive in the world.
And you can get to go in the sea and see the fishes from the 2nd or so day!!
Gotta be better then a swimming pool in england!

4. Posted by jessianne (Full Member 54 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Whatever you do, don't let some wide-boy named in Keith in a travel shop in Cairns sell you a diving course in magnetic island.

If anyone tries to sell you a cheap trip ask - what is the visibilty like?
Is the water usually rough?
Will I get to see anything?

Yes I am bitter, but the same guy sold my boyfriend a diving course without getting him to answer at two second medical questinnaire, it ended up costing my boyfriend nearly 300 dollars before some body told him he couldnt' dive because he was asthmatic. There are a lot of places that are all to happy to take you money without actuall giving a fiddlers about whether you are actually fit to dive.

Don't be rushed into making a quick decision about this. Make a list of questions before you purchase your diving course and ASK ALL OF THEM!

I know these things can't be guaranteed, but there's always a reason why things are cheap - one of which could possibly be that you can't see your hand in front of your face and end up learning to dive in the roughest conditions known to man.

Where ever you are Keith, I would like you to know that I will not rest until I one day find you and sell you an irish speciality known as the under water hair dryer.

5. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hey Jessianne - sorry to hear your experience was not a good one!!

Ultimately, visibility is not the key issue when doing your training, it's learning the skills in all conditions that is more important. Those who have done their course in crystal clear water are going to have an "eye-opening" experience if they choose to dive in fresh water lakes in some areas (cold, murky, low vis).

I chose to do my training locally - meaning an old gravel quarry with 5-10 foot visibility. It was great for instilling the need to use of your compass no matter what the conditions. It also forced me to become accustomed to wetsuits and hoods because of the colder water temps. My husband did his training many years later, and in the same conditions. Because of it, we have a much greater appreciation for our dives in the Caribbean.

Each person comes away with a different experience. Once certified, what you see under the water is the reason for the dive. While training, learning the skills correctly and passing the tests should be the main focus. The less perfect the conditions, the better diver you will be because you've had to use the skills you were taught - provided your instructors are truly professional and reputable. (It sounds as though Jessianne's were neither.)

Again, check the PADI, NAUI, SSI and BSAC websites, or call the associations directly, for instructor recommendations. The sites should also have information about medical conditions that may disqualify your from doing the training.

Jessianne - here's a thread with info links that may be of interest to you and your boyfriend since he suffers from asthma. Not all asthmatics are ineligible for training. The information is worth a look.
Scuba Vs Asthma

6. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Here's another thread from the Australia/New Zealand & The Pacific forum:
Scuba Diving!

It contains some suggestions for training in OZ that may suit your needs.

7. Posted by DocNY (Respected Member 438 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Isadora, sounds like you took the class out at Dutch Springs! It's cold and murky but it does teach you to be a pretty good diver.

No matter where you train, you'll get out of the class what you put into it. I've been an assistant instructor for many years and have seen classes that are intensive and those which are pretty bare bones. All give you the basics, but from my experience I'd suggest you try to train near home even if the water is cold. The less you need to rush the certification the more the instructors can and will teach you- most warm water resort-type places want your money and to get you done asap so they can move on and teach someone new (and get their money too).

Places near home look at you as a long term customer and want you coming back for advice, for gear, and for additional training. The lack of a rush also gives them time to give you a deeper more intensive level of training. My opinion is that it's probably worth a little extra for that. Better training will make you a better, safer diver - and you don't mess with safety underwater.

Hope it helps.

8. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Plenty of PADI Scuba Operators here in El Salvador..really intensive... (Pacific Ocean and Lake Wall)if you want to avoid the tourist hordes of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras, Caribbean side of Honduras, boasting several operators/dive instructors and a couple more dive instructors on the neighboring island of Utila, which is a crowded backpacker haven..also Belize has some excellent diving.