Frequently asked questions
What is scuba gear?
Scuba diving equipment allows you to visit the underwater world by making it possible to breathe, see and move comfortably while below the surface. Gear helps you change from being a land-dweller to somewhat of an aquatic being – if only for a little while. A mask lets you see clearly. A scuba regulator and tank provide the air you need. Fins allow you to swim efficiently, and a wetsuit helps you stay warm. Whether you’re just starting as a scuba diver or you’re an experienced diver looking for new equipment, you’ll find helpful suggestions and tips in this section. Keep in mind that fit, comfort and suitability are the three most important considerations when choosing gear, but you don’t have to sacrifice color coordination and looking good. Your local PADI dive shop is a great place to get more information and assistance in finding the best scuba equipment for you.
Where will you use your scuba gear?
Tropical Scuba Equipment - In warm, clear water, you only need minimal exposure protection and can choose light-weight, streamlined scuba components. Use this scuba gear when diving in water that is 24ºC/75ºF or warmer.
Temperate Scuba Equipment - When you’re equipped for temperate climates you have maximum versatility because you can dive in the tropics and also in water that’s a bit cooler. Use this scuba gear in water that is 15-24ºC/60-75ºF.
Cold-water Scuba Equipment - Cool climates often have spectacular diving. With good exposure protection and the right equipment, you can scuba dive in cold water in comfort. Use this scuba gear in water that is cooler than 15ºC/60ºF.
What type of technical scuba equipment should you use?
Primary mask and backup mask - Although any scuba mask is adequate, tec divers prefer compact masks for minimum resistance in the water. A backup mask is carried in a pocket in case of loss or damage to the primary mask.
Fins - Tec divers often use dry suits, requiring large style, open-heel adjustable fins.
Wing-typed BCD and harness - A high capacity BCD with a backup gas bladder mounts between the harness and cylinder. The backup bladder is required because a tec diver may be too heavy to swim to the surface if the main BCD fails. The harness is a shoulder, waist and crotch strap assembly that holds tanks to the tec diver’s back, with D-rings mounted on the shoulders and at the waist for clipping equipment.
Primary and secondary regulator - The primary regulator has a two-metre/seven-foot hose for sharing gas with a teammate in an emergency. The secondary regulator is independent for use in case of malfunction in the primary regulator. The secondary is also used when sharing gas with a teammate via the primary regulator.
Twin cylinders, decompression cylinders/stage bottles - High-capacity cylinders hold high-pressure compressed air, enriched air or trimix depending upon dive requirements. An independent decompression cylinder and regulator is clipped to a harness on the side. Extra tanks are used to extend dive time and/or to carry a gas for optimizing decompression. Often, two cylinders are carried.
Multigas dive computers and submersible pressure gauge (SPG) - Dive computers, one primary and one backup, track and display decompression requirements, and allow tec divers to switch to different kinds of gas blends to optimize decompression. If not integrated into the dive computers, SPGs constantly display how much air remains in the cylinders.
Dry suit - Provides insulation for a comfortable dive over a long duration.
Other equipment - Compass, slate, delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB), emergency signaling devices, backup dive tables, Z-knife, shears, safety reel, and lift bag.
Do I have to be a good swimmer to scuba dive?
Some swimming ability is required. You need to have basic swim skills and be able to comfortably maintain yourself in the water. Your PADI Instructor will assess this by having you:Swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards in mask, fins and snorkel). There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.Float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods you want.Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. People with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Talk to your PADI Instructor for more information.
How do I learn to scuba dive?
Becoming a scuba diver is a wonderful adventure! Scuba certification includes three phases:
1. Knowledge Development
During the first phase of your scuba lessons, you'll learn the basic principles of scuba diving such as
- What to consider when planning dives.
How to choose the right scuba gear for you.
Underwater signals and other diving procedures.
You'll learn this valuable information by reading it in the PADI Open Water Diver Manual or by using the tablet version - PADI Open Water Diver Touch™, or online with PADI eLearning®. At the end of each chapter, you'll answer questions about the material to ensure you understand it. Along the way, let your PADI Instructor know if there is anything you don't understand. At the end of the course, you’ll take a final exam that ensures you have thorough knowledge of scuba diving basics.
You'll also watch videos that preview the scuba skills you'll practice in a swimming pool or pool-like environment. In addition to the video, your instructor will demonstrate each skill for you.
2. Confined Water Dives
This is what it’s all about – diving. You'll develop basic scuba skills in a pool or in confined water – a body of water with pool-like conditions, such as off a calm beach. The basic scuba skills you learn during your certification course will help you become familiar with your scuba gear and become an underwater explorer. Some of the essential skills you learn include:
Setting up your scuba gear.
How to get water out of your mask.
Entering and exiting the water.
Basic underwater navigation.
You'll practice these skills with an instructor until you're comfortable. When you're ready, it's time for your underwater adventure to begin at an open water dive site.
3. Open Water Dives
After your confined water dives, you'll head to "open water," where you and your instructor will make four dives, usually over two days. On these dives you'll get to explore the underwater world. You'll apply the skills you learned in confined water while enjoying what the local environment has to offer. Most student divers complete these dives close to home, but there is an option for finishing your training while on holiday. Your PADI Instructor can explain how you can be referred to another PADI Instructor in a different location.
How long does it take to get certified?
The PADI Open Water Diver course is flexible and performance based, which means that your Diver's Depot can offer a wide variety of schedules, organized according to how fast you progress. It’s possible to complete your confined and open water dives in three or four days by completing the knowledge development portion online via PADI eLearning.
Your Instructor will focus on helping you become a confident and comfortable diver, not on how long it takes. You earn your certification based on demonstrating you know what you need to know and can do what you need to do. This means that you progress at your own pace – faster or slower depending upon the time you need – to become a competent scuba diver.
How much do scuba lessons cost?
Compared with other popular adventure sports and outdoor activities, learning to scuba dive isn’t expensive. For example, you can expect to pay about the same as you would for:
- a full day of surfing lessons.
a weekend of rock climbing lessons.
a weekend of kayaking lessons.
a weekend of fly-fishing lessons.
about three hours of private golf lessons.
about three hours of private water skiing lessons.
one amazing night out at the pub!
Learning to scuba dive is a great value when you consider that you learn to dive under the guidance and attention of a highly trained, experienced professional – your PADI Scuba Instructor. What’s more, you receive a certification to scuba dive at the end of a PADI Open Water Diver course (few other activities can offer that).
Will a history of ear troubles, diabetes asthma, allergies, or smoking preclude someone from diving?
Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory or heart function, or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a doctor can assess a person’s individual risk. Doctors can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing fitness to dive. Diver's Depot can provide you with a Medical Statement you can take to your doctor.