Are you keen to discover scuba diving? Can’t say I blame you! While scuba diving isn’t dangerous per se it is classified as an extreme sport (at least according to your insurance) and you will need to learn a thing or two about pressure underwater, how to breathe and keep your buoyancy, and how to keep yourself safe under the surface.
Back in the early days of scuba diving much was trial and error for the likes of Jacques Cousteau who invented the first regulators. With that said, the times where you can just strap on a tank, grab a mask, and jump into the ocean are long gone. Scuba diving has become a sport with strict safety protocols governed by various scuba agencies around the world. If you want to become a scuba diver you will have to be certified by an agency like PADI, SSI, SDI, or NAUI.
How to go about becoming a certified diver? Easy! Check out this post where I explain all the steps and what is involved:
But maybe you want to dip your toes in first…
Why do a discover scuba diving?
First, let’s look at some facts that may nudge you towards doing a Discover Scuba Diving instead of immediately signing up for an Open Water course. You are obviously somewhat interested in giving diving a go, maybe you want to join your partner or family on a scuba holiday or just generally think that scuba diving sounds pretty cool and would be a great hobby (hint – it is!). But maybe you are not ready to commit to a full Open Water course yet. Maybe you want to try scuba diving but aren’t quite sure yet that you will like it. Or you don’t have the time or money to do the whole course. Or you are scared of exams or not in the mood for academics. Or or or…
You know what? That is absolutely okay and you are not alone. In fact, the PADI Discover Scuba Diving short DSD is their favorite program and gets many now certified divers started.
During a DSD, sometimes also called Try Scuba Diving you will have an instructor by your side to take you on your first dive – without having to worry about pesty dive theory, how the equipment works in detail or how to perfect your buoyancy underwater. The philosophy behind this program is quite simple: you will become a diver by breathing off your scuba unit underwater. Everyone who is diving is automatically a diver.
And let’s just say, chances are good that you will want more once you have tried scuba diving yourself!
So how does a Discover Scuba Diving work and what options are there if you don’t want to do your open water course yet?
Scuba diving courses & experiences for beginners
Most agencies differentiate between experience programs and courses. The difference is simply that a course will ideally end in some sort of certification that will allow you to dive independently without an instructor. An experience program is just that – an experience to give you a glimpse into scuba diving.
These experience programs are always led by a professional and all agencies offer them in some shape or form. Depending on where you want to dive you will most likely find a PADI or SSI dive center – don’t worry too much about which agency you try scuba diving with but rather look for an instructor you gel with.
PADI Discover Scuba Diving
PADI’s DSD program is probably the most famous scuba experience and popular with mermaids around the world. You will have a brief knowledge development session, learn about your scuba equipment and how to set it up, practice some necessary skills for diving in a confined water session and then head for an open water dive with your instructor.
You can have your confined water skills dive and/or your open water dive credited towards your Open Water Diver course.
Minimum age: 10 years
SSI Try Scuba
To get your feet wet SSI’s Try Scuba is a great option. This program is led by an instructor and consists only of 1 confined water session like a pool or very shallow, calm water in a lake or the ocean.
You don’t need to worry about doing skills or academics and can simply enjoy breathing underwater for the first time.
Minimum age: 8 years
SSI Basic Diver
The SSI Basic Diver will take you a little deeper. You will learn the basics about scuba diving in a simple academic session, do 1 confined water session as well as an open water dive up to 12 m depth with your instructor.
You can have your Basic Diver program credited towards the Scuba Diver or Open Water Diver course within 6 months. A great option if you are short on time but know that you ultimately want to continue diving.
Minimum age: 12 years
Keep in mind that all these programs are simply designed as an introduction to diving. You are not a certified diver yet and will need to take a course in order to become one…
SSI or PADI Scuba Diver
If you want to become a certified diver but don’t have time to do your Open Water yet, need to interrupt your course for whatever reason, or can’t tick off the requirements yet, you can do a so-called Scuba Diver. Innovative name, right?
The Scuba Diver is the first certification level for both PADI and SSI. It is pretty much half of an Open Water course when it comes to knowledge development sessions (aka your theory), confined water skills, and open water dives. During your Open Water dives an instructor will take you to a maximum depth of 12m. Once you are certified you can dive under direct supervision of a divemaster, an assistant instructor, or an instructor.
Minimum age for both SSI and PADI Scuba Diver: 10 years
Many scuba diving beginners ask: do I need to swim in order to dive? In order to do your Open Water Diver the answer is yes. However, for any of the programs and courses above swimming is not a requirement, however, you need to be able to float for 10 minutes for the Scuba Diver certification. Mind you, being comfortable in the water will definitely help!
What both, experiences and courses, also have in common that you usually won’t need any of your own gear and can normally finish in a day. Perfect if you are short on time or don’t want to ‘waste’ precious holidays with studying.