Some time back…… ok a long time back, I decided (it was actually a momentary flight of whimsy), that I could get myself certified for SCUBA. I was in Jamaica at the time; not known for its diving but rather its beautiful beaches, its Reggae rhythms, and well; a few other amenities that tend to not mix well with diving. Its a wonderful island to visit if you go at the right time and to the right place. And when I first got Open Water certified, I was sure I had come to the right place.
The first open water dives were conducted right off the inbound end of the runway at the international airport at Montego Bay. I felt completely spastic and suffocatingly overweighted in the bulky getup that we divers wear into the water. Additionally, just because I had grown accustomed to breathing normally over the course of a lifetime along with the instinct in my brain that we do not breathe in water; I think I went through that first tank of air in about 22 minutes flat. The Instructor of course; used up about a tenth of his air in the same amount of time. The right place?
It is the goal of the PADI Open Water SCUBA module to educate us as to the basic technology, chemistry, and physiology of diving while breathing compressed air at depths of up to 100 feet and beyond. The course reviews and the skills circuits of the Open Water certification course require us to know the basic applications of the systems we need to rely on at depth.
But nothing can substitute for the sheer weight of experience and confidence that is gained as you continue to dive with other divers safely and enjoyably.
As I floated and huffed and puffed my way through those first 22 minutes in the world of SCUBA; I began to notice things around me: coral, fish, and topography I had only previously seen on television or in the two dimensional world of the few aquariums I had visited.
I began to understand how to control my movements in the water; my buoyancy and my forward motion.
Later as I went on to the Advanced Open Water module and even beyond; I found myself relying on the very basic skills that I had learned in the Open Water program to ensure my safety, and to help preserve the ocean environment for other divers to visit and enjoy.
It is a breathtaking world; from diving shipwrecks and the seal and shark dives of the temperate waters to the world’s tropical shallow seas; the home of the reef building corals that are so delicate and small yet so important to the ecology of the ocean. Nowadays it is even possible to dive in the waters off Antarctica, among flocks of penguins.
All of these places, from the well known dive sites to the extremely remote sites that are often accessed only by research expeditions and photographers; offer the ability to get up close to some of the world’s most fascinating and misunderstood creatures.
Everything begins with the Open Water module. I support PADI although there are other certification entities. Its just that PADI offers the most comprehensive education along with continuing education, and is a global and well known organization. They are at the forefront of dive technology and dive “culture”. Their diver support and global network are second to none. And their Open Water module is the best one in the industry. You no longer have to sit in a classroom on vacation for four days while you go through the course. Now, with PADI e-learning, you can do the coursework at your leisure and when you arrive at the stunning destination youve chosen for your first dive trip, you simply complete the 4¬†compulsory dives on site and you can enjoy the rest of your vacation or your expedition as the case may be.
The Open Water certification teaches us about equipment and terms we have sometimes heard but may be unfamiliar with; we learn a whole diver’s jargon of expressions and sayings that is understood mostly only by other divers.
Lastly, PADI encourages us through the Open Water program to continue learning, to learn every single time we get in the water; and to have great respect for what we learn and for what our diving buddies have learned as well.
Looking back on my week in Jamaica, it was well worth sitting through the class; it was well worth feeling like a total idiot in all that equipment for the first time. I glance now and then at the photos in the gallery on our website, all of which I took with my own cameras; and it is not lost on me that everything that went into taking those photos; began with my first PADI Open Water certification class. The skills you gain never leave you and you are encouraged to build on them to increase your awareness of the diving world, and to enjoy it to its fullest potential.
Our learn to dive programs encompass not only the assistance you’ll need to get into the water safely, but also the support many divers find useful for future reference as well. We are happy to recommend books, dive shops, and to as always; put together the finely tuned packages we do that can open your window into that beautiful fantastic world beneath the waves. We want to help you to keep that window open for years to come; in a seemingly endless array of destinations and dive sites to dazzle any level of diver, from the Open Water student, to the Master Scuba Diver. Whether youre a seasoned Pro, or want to augment your diver education, or if you are considering the Open Water certification, we would love to hear from you.

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