So you want to learn how to scuba dive, the first thing you need to choose is which diving agency you want to train with.
By far the largest and most recognised diving association is PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), who were founded in 1966, PADI is world-renowned and the longest training agency of scuba divers.
• PADI is the worlds most recognised diving agency
They certify around a million scuba divers each year and have 6500+ dive centres and member resorts.
By choosing PADI, you choose a strong, trustworthy and reliable brand, by far the most famous agency in the world but also one that imposes strict training standards to ensure diver training is completed to the highest level of safety.
PADI Divers carry the most respected and sought after scuba diving credentials in the world. No matter where you choose to dive, your PADI certification card will be recognized and accepted.
In fact, on most scuba diving adventures, you’ll be surrounded by other PADI Divers who made the same certification choice you did – to train with the world’s largest and most respected scuba diving training organization.
• PADI Open Water training in the pool
The next decision is to choose the best location to take your training. If you love the sun, sea, beaches, stunning view points look no further than Koh Tao, Thailand.
The beautiful island of Koh Tao forms part of the Chumpon Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. This idyllic island is a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees, rugged granite rock cliffs and stunning sunsets.
Koh Tao’s underwater scenery is just as spectacular with coral encrusted rock pinnacles, vibrant reefs, and some great shipwrecks. Koh Tao offers the opportunity to see passing large pelagics including whale sharks and spotted eagle rays.
When you’re not looking out into the blue you’ll be mesmerised by the plethora of colourful reef fish all around you.
Koh Tao is a fantastic location to learn how to dive due to its calm, clear and warm waters. This provides safe conditions for first-timers in the water or anyone wanting to learn a new diving skill.
The concentration of dive schools and experienced and specialised trainers have created a college campus-like environment just for scuba. It’s also one of the cheapest places in the world to take a scuba diving course.
• Learn new scuba diving skills in safety
Signing up for the PADI Open Water course will open up a gateway to the beautiful underwater world and stunning marine life. The first part to obtain your PADI Open Water certification is to learn what diving is all about.
With the PADI course, you can choose to learn at home before you arrive at the dive school or you can do it with the dive school.
If you choose to complete it at the dive school, you will have an Instructor with you going through the Knowledge development section, so if you don’t understand something you don’t have to wait for the answer and it can be explained straight away.
This normally takes half a day to go through but if you do it yourself you can go through it at your own speed. The Knowledge Development section of the PADI Open Water diver course consists of a series of 5 videos, short Instructor-led knowledge review sessions and 4 multiple choice 10 question quizzes.
There are 5 modules to complete in total. The final module finishes with a 50 question multiple choice exam. The subjects covered include scuba equipment, safe dive practices, effects of pressure underwater, the buddy system and basic decompression theory.
• The worlds most popular destination for training
You will also learn about dive planning using PADI’s Recreational Dive Planner (RDP) and you will learn how a dive computer works. This will enable you to safely plan your dives, and keep to your dive profile during each dive.
Day 2 of the course is when you are introduced to the scuba equipment and you will take your first breath underwater but before that, there are a few things to think about.
If there is a choice between learning the skills in a swimming pool or in the ocean always choose a swimming pool.
This is important because if there is any wind, waves, poor visibility or any other adverse environmental conditions it can negatively impact the safety and comfort of learning the required skills, both on the surface and underwater.
There is normally up to four students to one instructor, during the day you will learn the vital skills that help you during your underwater adventures.
• PADI Open Water skills In the pool
- How to set up your own Equipment
- Pre dive safety checks
- Mask & regulator clearing
- Alternative Air source use
- Buoyancy control
- Communication and underwater hand signals
- Descents and Ascents
Through repetition and practice, you will obtain mastery of each skill and after completion of all skills, you are ready to take on the ocean for the training dives.
• Learn Open Water skills in safe waters
On day 3 you will finish your final knowledge review and learn some basic navigation skills. Then in the afternoon you will go out on the boat and prepare for your first two dives.
Koh Tao offers a good selection of dive sites to choose from for Open water training including Mango Bay, Japanese Gardens, Twins Pinnacles, White Rock, Aow Leuk Bay, Lighthouse Bay, Hin Wong Bay or an artificial dive site called Junkyard Reef.
On these first two dives, you will be asked to repeat a selection of the skills you have already performed in the pool at a dive site that will be suitable for your training needs.
The dives last about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how good your air consumption is but just remember to keep breathing and never hold your breath.
When you get back to the land you have the fun job of washing your gear and then you can chill in the bar with a refreshing drink whilst you complete your first entries into your dive log book.
Log books help you keep a record of your dives and to verify your diving experience to future dive schools who will ask to see proof that you have completed the required level of training. They are also a good record to remind yourself of the conditions you dived in and to record the marine life you have seen.
The final day of your PADI Open Water course is day 4 and its time to complete your last two dives. After completing dives 1 and 2 down to a maximum depth of 12 metres you are now ready to dive to 18 meters.
• Enjoy the marine diversity of Koh Tao
On dive 3 the dive instructor will ask you to demonstrate mastery of two skills, which are mask removal and buoyancy oral hover. Once these are complete you will continue on your dive with the instructor giving you tips on how to maintain good buoyancy whilst you enjoy a fun dive around the dive site
Open Water dive 4 takes your dive planning to a new level under the watchful and careful guidance of your instructor. This increases your level of understanding and highlights the importance of planning any dive for the future when you are certified as a PADI Open Water Diver.
Whilst training in the safe tropical waters around Koh Tao, you can expect to see marine diversity including lots of bright corals, colourful tropical fish, moray eels, sting rays and maybe even a turtle or a whaleshark.
After the final dive and once back on land with all the equipment cleaned and stored away, its time to enter your dives into your logbook and celebrate that you have completed all the requirements of the PADI Open Water course.
• Get your PADI on Koh Tao
You are now ready to book your own underwater adventures as a certified scuba diver within the limits of your current level of training.
It’s now a great time to consider signing up for the PADI Advanced Open Water course to increase your diving knowledge and experience with 5 Adventure dives over 2 days. This will open up 75% of the world’s dive sites to you.