To explore the beauties and mysteries of the ocean, you’ll need to at least get your PADI open water certification—the world’s most popular scuba course. With this certification, you’ll be able to dive as far as 60 feet the company of a another Open Water Certified Diver or diver with a higher certification level. You’ll also be eligible to pursue more advanced diving certifications. The PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification can be obtained over the course of several days at a diving resort vacation or be taken as a part-time class over a few weeks to a few months.
To get your PADI open water certification, you'll need:
- A passing written PADI test score
- Swimming trunks or a bathing suit
- Access to basic scuba equipment
- Register for a course and pass the written/online test. Online and home-study courses are available and can be completed at your own pace. Textbooks, videos and/or online reading materials will consist of studying diving safety practices, equipment selection and maintenance, how diving affects the body and etc. Classes are available at dive shops or as part of a resort diving program. You’ll be tested at the end of the course, either online or in a classroom.
- Save and print your eLearning or test record. Bring it to any PADI dive shop or diving resort before progressing to your actual “hands-on” learning phase. There will be additional charges for in-water training and equipment rental.
- Pass a basic “open” water-swimming test. To pass this physical test, you’ll need to be able to tread or float in water for at least 10 minutes. Additionally, you’ll have to complete a 200-meter surface swim, or a 300-meter swim with a mask, fins and snorkel. For the swimming portion, you can take as long as you need, it just needs to be continuous.
- Complete your “confined” water-training portion. You’ll learn all basic scuba skills in the safety of a controlled environment, such as a swimming pool or a calm beach.
- Progress to “open” water training. With the permission of your instructor and/or depending on your comfort and skill levels, you’ll progress to the surreal world of real scuba diving—usually the open ocean. Under the eye of your instructor, you’ll practice until your completely comfortable and confident in your scuba performance abilities.
- Advance your scuba skills. Once you’re a recognized open water diver, you’ll never lose your PADI certification However, you may want to complete more advanced certification and take Advanced Open Water or Commercial Diver courses. Other interesting options include night and wreck diving courses.