Is it difficult to learn to dive?
Not for most people.
If you're comfortable in the water, and a reasonably good swimmer,
you should be able to learn scuba diving from a qualified PADI (Professional
Association of Diving Instructors) instructor. The only swimming
required by for the PADI certification is a 200-yard swim, and floating
or treading water for 10 minutes.
that diving is actually easier than swimming, because there's no
need to raise your head out of the water to get each breath.
What does it mean to be certified?
It means that you've
learned basic scuba diving skills from a licensed instructor, and
are qualified to dive in open water with a buddy, with or without
a divemaster present. Dive operators will require your certification
card before they let you dive with them.
certifying agency, particularly in the U.S., is the Professional
Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).
How long does it take to get certified?
If you're getting full-day
instruction from a dive shop, at a dive location, then it depends
on their schedule, class size, and how fast you learn. The standard
"Open Water Diver" certification will typically be a four- or five-day
If you're just
taking evening lessons at home, once or twice a week, it will probably
take four to six weeks for this.
I get pain in my ears when I go below 10 feet. Can I dive?
Part of learning to
dive is learning to clear your ears -- that is, equalizing the pressure
inside and outside your eardrum. It takes most people a few days
to get the hang of this, but soon you'll do it automatically.
If you have
ear infections or other blockages that might keep you from clearing
your ears, then you should check with a doctor before proceeding.
Can I get certified, without spending too much of my vacation in a classroom?
Yes, and we recommend
it. You can begin the certification process with a PADI scuba diving
instructor in the U.S. You'll do your classroom and pool work with
them, and they'll give you a referral to our PADI dive shop on Saba.
You'll just have to demonstrate a few open-water skills during your
first dives on Saba. There's a modest surcharge for this, but it
means you'll get as many open-water dives as those who arrive in
Saba already certified.
How long will I be able to stay underwater?
That depends on how
deep you are, and how heavily you're breathing. Air gets compressed
at greater depths, so with each breath, you'll go through more of
You can often
stay down 45 minutes to an hour at depths of 20 to 30 feet. On deeper
dives, you may only get 15 or 20 minutes. As you get more experienced,
you'll learn to prolong your air supply by breathing more slowly,
and by conserving your energy.
What about attacks from barracuda, sharks, eels, and giant squid?
Bee stings kill more
people than do sharks -- but shark attacks make for better movies.
(Just how cool would Leonardo have looked, if he'd been fighting
off a bumblebee, in The Beach?) In reality, there are no
aquatic animals that routinely attack humans, unless you provoke
them by poking them, sticking your hand into their home, or getting
too close to one with territorial instincts.
As part of
your certification lessons, you'll learn some common-sense precautions.
Most of these, however, are more for the protection of sea creatures
than of you. You pose a much larger threat to them than they do
to you. (Compare, for example, the number of humans who will eat
squid sushi today, versus the number of squid who will munch on
Can I wear contact lenses or glasses while diving?
Soft contact lenses
should not be a problem. Bring an extra pair or two, in case one
worn under a dive mask are neither fashionable nor practical. However,
it's more economical than you might think to have your prescription
ground into the mask itself. Your optician or dive shop can advise
you on where to have it done.