When considering whether to take your advanced course is to think and compare it to taking the training wheels off when riding a bike and setting you free. While the PADI Open water course teaches you the basics of scuba diving and enables you to become comfortable underwater, the PADI Advanced open water courseempowers you to expand your limits and finely tune your scuba skills.
Similar to the open water course, you would start the AOW course with theory before the dives. But don’t worry, there are no long videos or exams to do. You will go through a few questions with your Instructor on each dive that you are going to do so you have more knowledge and information on the dives.
The main focus of the course is in-water training, but there is no shallow/confined section to complete prior to heading out to open water. You already know the basics, so it is time to get to the boat and go diving.
More Dive Sites – Diving Deeper
The main advantage of being an AOW diver is that you can now dive down to 30 metres of depth and aren’t restricted to the 18 metre limit of an Open Water diver. Being able to dive deeper will open up many more dive sites around the world. This means you can explore more wrecks, dive deeper walls and have the best chance to see the larger pelagic animals such as Whalesharks and Manta Rays.
Diving deeper also produces more sense of adventure and gets your adrenaline going. The skills on the deep dive are not particularly taxing as they are more observations and also should give you more confidence in your dive planning.
Longer Dives – Perfecting Your Buoyancy
If you choose the peak performance buoyancy dive as one of your 3 optional dives (beside the mandatory deep and navigation dive), you will have the opportunity to receive tips and guidance that will help you to extend your dives. This dive focuses on improving your buoyancy and breathing rate, in turn this will help to improve your air consumption as you become more relaxed underwater.
You will also be shown different kicking techniques which will improve your efficiency as you swim around the dive site. Again this will benefit you in terms of how long you can dive for.
Understand More about the Marine Life – Identifying Fish
The more you dive then the more you will learn about the marine life and eco systems that exist on the coral reefs underwater. But you can hasten your knowledge of the aquatic world by taking an underwater naturalist or Fish Identification dive during your course.
On the Fish I.D dive you will be given the tips to be able to name the fish or to find them in your fish book after the dive when you enter them into your logbook. While during the underwater naturalist dive you will also incorporate naming underwater plants and invertebrates such as corals into your scuba skill set.
Go Out At Night – Night Diving
Night diving does sound a scary prospect at first but by taking this adventure dive you will get to see what happens underwater once the sun goes down. Different life will become active at night and some of the daytime creatures will retreat into nooks and crannies for safety. Diving at night gives the reef a whole different feeling.
You will complete a simple navigation exercise on the dive to further your underwater confidence and be taught the correct techniques for communication in the dark. Another reason to take this dive is that will be the closest feeling that most of us will have of being in space, as you swim around the darkness neutrally buoyant.
Know Where You Are Going – Practising Your Navigation
As certified divers you are able to dive independently of a dive pro, with a buddy, so it is always beneficial to have some more training in the art of underwater navigation. We all want to look cool as the dive leader and find the boat at the end of the dive. So fine tuning your navigation skills is a no brainer.
Not only does sound navigation skills enable you to have a nicer dive as you are more confident but it will also make it a safer dive, as you will stick to your dive plan. While taking the dive you will practice more with the compass and also learn to use natural references such as rocks and corals to help you navigate.
Thinking Like A Diver
After learning how to dive during your open water course it is now time to take the next step and become an advanced diver, not only raising your personal diving level but also enabling you to explore the world’s best dive sites.
With minimal classroom and maximum diving time the AOW will give you 5 different adventure dives for you to enjoy and learn from. After completing this course, you will feel you have stepped up a level becoming a more complete scuba diver.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)