Scuba Diving for Beginners

Man scuba diving in blue water with a sandy bottom

Written by Frankie Cameron

Have you ever thought about what it feels like to breathe underwater? Maybe you have dreamed about swimming with the dolphins or exploring a coral reef or a sunken ship. Maybe you have even thought about becoming a certified scuba diver. If you have, this post is for you.

Before you go scuba diving, you need to become Open Water Diver certified. This is the first scuba certification level which involves an online course, class time, scuba diving in a pool or confined area and then diving in open water with instructors.

The best-known scuba certification program in the world is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, also known as PADI.

Scuba equipment and woman scuba diving

Open Water Certification

Becoming open water certified requires three phases, but first, you will need equipment.


Most dive shops include the cost of the equipment rental in the course price. Except for the snorkel, mask, and fins, which you will have to purchase or rent. It’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality mask and snorkel if you plan to scuba dive a lot.

The scuba shop will supply the wet suit, BCD (buoyancy control device), tanks and regulators. Although this might vary from shop to shop.

Phase One

The online course takes between 8 to 10 hours to complete. It is an independent study option where you read, watch videos, and take quizzes on your computer or mobile device at your own pace. You can control how fast or how slow you move through the material, but it will have to be completed before your first time in the pool.

During the training, you’ll learn all about scuba equipment, hand signals and safety procedures. As well as familiarize yourself with scuba terminology, and learn how to protect the environment. At the end of each module, there is a quiz, with a final exam at the end of the training, to ensure you have a thorough understanding of scuba diving basics.

Phase Two

In phase two, the training takes place in a pool or a calm underwater environment known as confined water. They’ll assign pairs of ‘dive buddies’ for the duration of the course. The first thing you will have to do is pass a swim test. Then fully outfitted in your scuba gear, you will practice basic diving skills like ascending and descending, buoyancy and clearing water from your mask with your instructor. Beginners often worry about clearing water and fog in their masks. The instructor will also show you how to breathe using a regulator. 

Your instructor will show and review the skills with you until you’re comfortable performing them on your own. When you pass, you’ll move on to the final phase, open water diving!

Phase Three

The open water course includes four open water dives usually done over two days. With your instructor, you’ll practice the skills you learned in the confined water while exploring underwater. You’ll dive to a maximum depth of 18 meters or 60 feet.

Most student divers complete their dives close to home, in local lakes or quarries.


After completing all course requirements and four open water dives, you’ll become a certified diver—a lifetime certificate that allows you to explore the ocean. Then you are eligible to take other courses such as Advance Open Water, Rescue Diver and Night Diving.

My Experience

I am a PADI-certified Open Water Diver, although getting certified wasn’t without its challenges. Phase one was easy. As long as you read the chapters, you can answer the questions.

Phase two took place in a heated pool while phase three took place in a nearby quarry. Carrying all the heavy equipment to the pool and the lake wasn’t fun. Neither was taking your mask off underwater or letting it fill up with water so you can clear it. Both are requirements for certification. I also battled with the mental aspect of breathing underwater, but pushed down my fear in order to pass. Going down south where the water is clear to scuba dive is on my bucket list.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to take the time to go on an inexpensive try dive (with an instructor in a confined area) before committing to a full diving course. Have you ever tried scuba-diving? Let me know in the comments.


Until next time

Feature photo by Arhnue Tan from Pixabay.

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