SCUBA is an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. SCUBA diving is a sport that has been gaining some popularity in India. I was introduced to it in January of 2019 when I had gone to Udupi for a bike ride. After experiencing the try dive (a dive where you do nothing but enjoy while an instructor holds onto you and conducts the dive), I was certain that I wanted to learn diving and know more about SCUBA diving training in India.
Anyone can learn how to be a SCUBA diver and get a diving certification in India. It requires no qualifications and is not a course that will take time to complete. But before you decide on becoming a certified SCUBA diver, there are some things that you need to know.
Before you start training do this…
SCUBA diving is fun. There are no two ways about it, however, it’s not meant for everyone. This means that you could preclude yourself from diving if you are too scared of the water or have some other physical/medical condition. So before you start looking for SCUBA diving training in India, go for a try dive.
You won’t have to do anything on this dive since there’ll be an instructor who will conduct the dive and you just enjoy the scenery. This will help you understand if you really like diving or are suited to it or not.
What you need to know before starting your SCUBA diving training in India
PADI or SSI?
The moment you start researching diving training in India, the first thing you will come across are the names PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and SSI (SCUBA School International). These are two organisations that certify people as SCUBA divers at amateur and professional levels. There are other establishments, too, but these two are the most prominent, in my opinion.
If you talk to people about them, some will tell you to go with PADI and some with SSI. My advice to you is that it doesn’t matter which one you go for. Both are equally good and provide the same training.
What does the certification let you do?
Remember when I mentioned the try dive in Udupi? Well if you are not certified as a diver, you go diving with another diver, usually an instructor. He holds onto you throughout the dive, and you just look around.
However, if you are certified as at least an Open Water Diver then you dive on your own and manage your equipment, and a Dive Master or an Instructor comes along to keep an eye on you. The advantage of having a certification is the freedom to enjoy the dive on your own.
In some cases, the certification will also allow you to do more than one dive a day. I am still new to the whole thing, and I have done three dives on the same day. It also allows you to dive longer depending on the air you carry. It matters because most try dives get over in about 40 minutes. My longest dive as a certified diver lasted for 58 minutes at a depth of 17 meters.
The certifications are also valid all over the world, so if you want to go diving in another country, you can. You will be recognised as an autonomous diver and will get all the privileges that your level entitles you to.
What course should you take?
When you check out the certifications that PADI and SSI offer, you will see a list of levels for amateurs starting at SCUBA Diver and ending at Master Diver. The basic level that you need to be an autonomous diver (dive without the instructor holding you) is the Open Water Diver certification.
Some people will tell you to go straight for the Advanced Open Water Diver course but, again, my advice is to do the open water course first. There is nothing stopping you from doing the higher level, but there are two reasons why I am suggesting this.
The first is the cost. If you do the Advanced Open Water Diver course, it will cost you more than the open water diver course, and you won’t be given the title of the Advanced Open Water Diver till you meet its minimum requirement of 4 specialties and 24 dives. This means that if you don’t dive as often then you just ended up wasting money.
The second reason I am suggesting you do the open water course is because I believe that the first thing you need to do is perfect the basic skills of diving. Doing the open water course and then just going for fun dives will let you adjust to the underwater world better. It will also give you time to perfect the most important skill of maintaining your depth, buoyancy.
I won’t go into the details of the course and the skills you learn because there is another article that you can read to get that information.
Where to go for the training
The training is conducted by a dive centre certified either by PADI or SSI. A simple Google search will show you your options. If you are still unsure about the dive centre, then you can always ask your friends who have already done the course, for recommendations and suggestions. I can answer that for you too if you want.
One suggestion I have is to do your dive training in the country that you belong to. The reason I suggest this is because if you train with someone who speaks your native language, then communication becomes very easy. There won’t be a situation where you fail to understand something the instructor said because it got lost in translation.
How much does diving training cost?
The Open Water Diver certification will cost you around Rs. 30,000. The cost is usually only the course fee, and transport and stay are not included. However, you can speak to your dive centre and ask them if they can offer you some sort of a package deal. Sometimes the dive centre is allied with hotels around town, which may help you get some discounts there.
How long does the course take?
The open water course takes four days to complete. You will have one day of testing and general instruction, one day of pool instructions on using the gear, and two days of diving. You are free to stop the course midway, but its best if you don’t, because coming back later may mean that you may end up incurring extra costs like travel, stay, and boat rentals.
How long is it valid?
Once you are certified as an Open Water Diver, the certification is valid for life. However, if you have not done any diving in recent years, you may have to do a small refresher course before you go for your next dive.
How to prepare for Diving Training
As I said before, there is no qualification required for learning how to dive. However, you will need a few things before you go for the training.
The first thing is a basic knowledge of swimming. You don’t need to be an Olympic level swimmer, but you will need to be able to swim. You will be tested on your ability to swim before you are taught how to dive.
The second thing is knowing how to tread water. This is a skill that you will need because, in the time between getting into the water and starting the dive, you may find yourself on the surface of the water with nothing to hold on to. This is also a skill you will be tested on.
Knowing what you are getting into is also going to be critical because if you fear the water, you will be very uncomfortable and not enjoy diving or the training. An ability to stay calm and collected is going to be your best friend here.
The last thing you need is actually something you DON’T need. You don’t have to buy any diving equipment for the training. You don’t have to buy any masks, snorkels, wetsuits, fins or BCDs (buoyancy compensation devices). If the water you are training in is not cold, you can use a pair of slacks and a full-sleeve t-shirt.
Note: The BCD is the jacket that you wear while diving. It acts as the life jacket, can be inflated or deflated, and has your oxygen tank strapped to it.
Should you really be doing this?
Now that you know what it takes find and complete SCUBA diving training in India, you need to ask yourself if you really want to do this. Here are some things you may want to keep in mind while making the decision:
- It costs about Rs. 30,000 so if you are not sure you will go diving again, save the money.
- Financial wellness is not the only thing you’ll need. You need to have a reasonable level of physical fitness too.
- Once you get the certification and don’t go diving again, then it is a waste of money.
- If you are looking at dive centres in another country, then the costs may differ because the cost of transport will go up.
- If you panic easily or are not comfortable with water, you may want to think twice before signing up.
Note: These points sound a tad negative but are going to be pivotal in making the decision.
Can you earn money as a SCUBA diver?
The simple answer is yes; you can earn money as a SCUBA diver. Once you train as an open water diver, there is every chance that you will fall in love with the sport and may want to earn a living diving. The thing to know here is that you can’t earn that money till you become a professional and to become a professional you will need to fulfil certain criteria that I have mentioned in another article.
Another thing to keep in mind about earning through diving is that it would be best not to give up your day job, especially if you are earning a lot, because it will take you time to go from an amateur diver to a professional one. Having said that, once again, I will say that nothing is stopping you from going from no diving to pro diving in one go. It is a matter of choice.