I recently returned from a scuba diving trip. I enjoy taking underwater photos of all the animals we see during our dives. I shared them with the people on our dive boat and other people we met at the resort. They were all very excited to share the photos with people they knew to help them explain all the animals they encountered underwater. I also shared my photos with people that are not scuba certified. One person was so excited that he signed up for a scuba course the next day. It got me thinking about people that might not be ready to jump into scuba diving quite so quickly. Besides looking at amazing underwater photos here are some other ideas to test out the water before you begin your scuba certification journey.
1) Go to an aquarium. As simple as this sounds it is not something we do after visiting them on a school field trip. Take time to explore all the galleries and watch the behavior of different water animals. As a past volunteer at an aquarium I loved talking to guests about all the different animals they were able to view. So make sure to find an aquarium employee and ask them some questions. You will notice that many varieties of animals live together in the same habitat. And guess what? They don’t eat each other! Let the harmony of the animals around you draw into their world. The gracefulness of them swimming and moving with little to no effort is exactly what you want to mimic as a scuba diver. So sit and watch, for as long as you like.
2) Go snorkeling. Maybe you have done this on a vacation before, maybe you haven’t. It is a great step to gauging your comfort level in the water. This will also allow you to peer into the underwater world from the top. Finding the correct size mask and snorkel are a must for doing deeper with scuba diving. So take time to try a few and see what you like and don’t like with each mask. The most important factor with your mask is a proper seal. If the mask does not seal correctly on your face it will allow water to leak in when you use it. Take time to find the perfect mask for your face.
3) Do a Discover Scuba Dive with your local dive shop. This is a great way to meet the employees at the dive shop. One of them will most likely be your instructor when you are ready to become a certified diver. So talk to them about equipment, any hesitations you may have, and why they enjoy diving. You will be able to get a feel for how they will conduct a class based on their responses. If you don’t think that person would be a good fit for you ask for another instructor. Just like everything else a good fit is of upmost importance. Doing a Discover Dive will allow you to try on all the scuba equipment, and similar to your perfect fitting mask, not every brand is made for everyone. Since the Discover Dive will be close to home, a pool or lake, you can try multiple brands of equipment and see what works best for you. The first part of the dive will introduce you to simple and needed scuba signals and safety lessons. The hardest skill for me to learn was how to clear my mask. But the instructor worked with me until I was able to do it. Now when I dive it is second nature. The same goes for clearing your ears as you descend. Being on a Discover Dive you will be limited with your depth, or the bottom of the pool. But feeling comfortable with all your gear and learning just the basics will help you make the final decision about becoming certified.
4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as needed. If you are still not 100 percent sure about becoming certified, don’t! You can snorkel more times, making sure you have the correct mask and snorkel. You can do a Discover Dive in a tropical location. This way you will get to see all the like living in the warm waters of the Caribbean or Pacific. You will again be taught the basic skills needed for the dive and will be limited on your depth, but seeing all the colors and how close you can approach the animals might be another layer that you need in your process.
If you go through these steps and cannot stop thinking about seeing more underwater, I am sorry to tell you, but you have caught the diving bug. Your next step is simply to get open water certified. Check with your local dive shop and ask them about their open water certification schedule. Find an open water course that works with your schedule. I was able to do my course and pool work on a few Saturdays since I was busy in the evening during the week. Know that you will have to read and answer questions that go deeper into those basic skills you learned during your Discover Dive. Make sure that you have time to do this part of the course as well. You need to learn how to be safe underwater, set up your gear, and follow the buddy system. Your instructor will work with you until you have mastered each and every skill. So be sure to let them know if you do not feel comfortable at any point in the course. You will be both excited and anxious at the same time. Once you are certified continue feeling comfortable in the ocean and with your new skills by booking a dive vacation. There are many resorts that focus mainly on diving and others that include it as one of their many activities. Let your travel advisor know how much diving you want to do and they can make it happen.