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- Scuba diving sounds exciting, but I'm not sure if it's for me. Can I try it without signing up for a course?
Absolutely. The PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience allows you to make a shallow scuba dive supervised by a PADI Professional after a short pool session. This usually takes a few hours. Or, you can try the PADI Discover Scuba experience that lets you try scuba in a swimming pool.
- Is learning to dive difficult?
No, it's probably easier than you imagine - especially if you're already comfortable in the water. PADI's entry-level course consists of pool diving, knowledge development and open water dives. The course is performance based, meaning that you progress as you learn and demonstrate knowledge and skill.
- How long does it take to become a certified scuba diver?
PADI courses are performance based, which means that you earn your certification when you demonstrate that you've mastered the required skills and knowledge. Because some learn faster than others, course duration varies. For example, the PADI Open Water Diver course can be split into five or six sessions over as little as three days to a much as six weeks.
- How old do I have to be to become a certified diver?
You must be at least ten years old to receive a Junior Open Water Diver Certification. Ten and 11 year old Junior Open Water Divers must dive with a certified parent, guardian or PADI Professional to a maximum depth of 12 metres/40 feet. 12 to 14 year olds must dive with a certified adult. At age 15, the Junior certification upgrades to a regular Open Water Diver certification.
- Are there any special qualifications or considerations to participate in a scuba class?
No. Generally speaking, anyone in good average health and at least 10 years old can participate. You will, however, complete a medical questionnaire. If anything on the questionnaire indicates a reason to be cautious about diving, you'll need check with a physician to make sure you can dive.
- Do I have to be a great swimmer to be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver?
No. You need to be a reasonably proficient swimmer and comfortable in the water. You must swim 200 metres/200 yards non-stop, without a time or specific stroke requirement or a 300 metre/yard swim with mask, fins and snorkel. You'll also perform a 10 minute tread/float
- Is scuba diving expensive?
No. Like any hobby or recreation, you can invest however much you want, depending upon your interest level. Because most dive centres and resorts rent equipment, you can invest in equipment over time, renting what you don't have. There's probably good diving not far from where you live, so travel costs can be flexible enough to accommodate even the tightest budget. Most people find the costs of scuba diving similar to the cost associated with snow skiing or mountain biking.
- What equipment do I need before I take scuba lessons?
It's best to check with your instructor ahead of time to see what equipment is provided in your scuba course. Generally speaking, you'll want to own a mask, snorkel and fins. Your local PADI Dive Centre or Resort can help you select quality equipment that fits properly. Most scuba equipment is very durable, so you won't have to replace it often.
- What's in a scuba tank? Oxygen?
Recreational divers breathe air, not oxygen. The air in a scuba tank is like the air you're breathing but is also filtered to remove impurities.
- How long does a tank of air last?
Since people breathe at different rates and as you go deeper you consume air faster, there isn't any one answer. Because of this, divers carry a gauge that lets them know how much air is in the tank. However, divers in calm, warm water from 5-10 metres/15-30 feet can spend about one hour underwater with an average tank.
- My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of a pool. Won't they hurt when I scuba dive?
Your ears hurt because of the water pressure on your eardrum. In your scuba course, you'll learn simple techniques to equalize your ears to the surrounding pressure, much like you do when you land in an airplane.
- In the movies and on TV, divers are always running into sharks or eels. Should I be concerned about marine animals?
Most aquatic animals are passive or timid. A few do bite or sting, but you can avoid these by not touching them. Divers aren't natural prey for sharks and therefore shark attacks are rare.
- Is scuba diving dangerous?
No, but there are potential hazards, which is why you need proper training and certification.
- I need vision correction. Is that a problem?
No. Wearing soft contact lenses shouldn't be a problem while you dive. However, if you wear hard contacts, you'll want to dive with gas permeable lenses. See your eye doctor for more information. Another option is to have prescription lenses put into your mask. See a PADI Professional about this service.
- I want to learn about PADI; what is PADI?
PADI is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, the largest scuba certification organization in the world. PADI develops scuba programs and diver training products, monitors scuba training conducted by more than 100,000 PADI Professionals worldwide, maintains diver certification records and issues your diver certification credentials. In addition, PADI maintains various support services for PADI Dive Centres and Resorts. Since its inception in 1966 PADI has grown to have members in more than 175 countries and territories and international service offices in nine countries. Approximately seven out of ten North American divers are certified by PADI, and approximately 55 percent of all divers worldwide are certified by PADI.
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