What You Need to Know about Learning to Scuba Dive | Sport Diver

Learn to Dive: What You Need to Know about Learning to Scuba Dive

Want to learn how to scuba dive?

Use Sport Diver's "Learn to Dive" feature to help you get started with diving.

Getting Comfortable with Gear

When you begin scuba classes, in addition to classroom or e-learning work, you'll be introduced to the gear and learn how to set it up and what each piece does.

Patience, Patience, Patience

A good instructor will work with you at a speed that's comfortable to you, making sure you master every skill. Use this link to find a PADI dive shop and instructor near you.

Going Over Skills

Your instructor will take the time to point out and explain each step you're about to take underwater.

Practicing Diving Skills

You'll learn skills like clearing your ears and how to use your BC's inflate/deflate valve.

Learning How to Breathe Through a Regulator

Pool sessions are part of diving training and will help you to get comfortable with breathing underwater.

Getting Horizontal

Once you're comfortable, your instructor will have you swim on the surface while breathing through the reg. Click here to find out what gear you'll need to begin training.

Practice Makes Perfect

You'll gain confidence as you get used to the gear, all while in the safe environment of a pool.

Practicing Neutral Buoyancy

You'll be introduced to the concepts of neutral buoyancy and being properly weighted, so that you'll be able to descend correctly.

Congratulations, Open Water Diver!

Once you've mastered all the skills and completed all the classroom or elearning work, you'll do your checkout dives!

It really is easier than you think to get your scuba certification. We've got 10 tips for prospective divers that are designed to allay any nervousness or fears, and you can email us at editor@sportdiver.com if you've got more questions. We'd love to welcome you to the PADI Tribe!

1. Meet the Prerequisites

There are age requirements (you must be 12 to be an Open Water Diver) that you must meet. And be honest: There are some health conditions (for example, epilepsy) that preclude you from diving. Be educated about what they are before signing up for a class.

2. Get the Facts

We're sure you've heard it all before — you'll run out of air, you'll be eaten by a shark, you have to be an excellent swimmer, it's a macho sport. If any of these myths have kept you from learning how to dive, visit your local dive shop and ask to speak to one of the instructors. Ask lots of questions.

3. Choose an Instructor and Facility You Trust

If you've taken Step No. 2, you've already visited a local dive shop. Were you pleased with the instructor and the shop? If not, keep searching. Ideally, find a dive store with an on-site pool (heated if you’re taking your training in cold weather) with hot showers and changing facilities. Since classroom studies are often combined with pool sessions in a single afternoon or evening not having to travel to go to the pool is a real plus. To find a dive store near you, visit PADI's Dive Shop and Resort Locator.

4. Get Started

Learning to dive involves three phases: academic study that includes the physics and physiology of diving; confined-water training (often called pool training) to learn and practice basic skills; and open-water checkout dives to prove mastery of basic dive skills. To better understand this process, read PADI's "Start Scuba Diving" and "Open Water Diver."

5. How Long Does It Take?

It’s possible to complete your confined and open water dives in as few as three or four days by completing the classroom portion online (see Tip No. 8) or home study options offered by your local dive shop or resort. Or you can spread it out over a period of weeks. Decide how you prefer learning new skills, and then choose one of these options.

6. Buy Some Gear

To learn to dive, you'll at the very least need a mask, fins and snorkel. The other stuff, including a buoyancy compensator, regulator, wetsuit, etc., can come later on when you've got a better idea of what you'll need. Click on the Gear on this page to learn more.

7. Pick a Destination, Any Destination

If you really want to add some excitement to the certification process, decide to do the open-water checkout dives in a tropical location, rather than the local "swimming hole." Or do your checkouts at home, and plan a dive vacation for afterwards.

8. Sign Up for eLearning

PADI's e-learning courses make it easier than ever to get your certification when you do have the time. Read PADI's tutorial on e-leaning to find out more.

9. Find a Buddy

It's always more fun if you can find a buddy who wants to get certified, too.

10. Still Tentative? Take Baby Steps

If you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into a certification course, PADI's Discover Scuba Diving will let you try scuba to see if you like it. Most PADI dive shops offer a version of this program, either in a pool or other body of water. You might try it close to home or while you’re on vacation.

Is your child ready to learn to dive? At Kids Sea Camp, your child can get certified while you dive — at the end of the trip, you will have a new dive buddy, not to mention memories that will last a lifetime!