Do you want to try diving on your next vacation? Diving is unlike anything else you have tried before! This quick guide will describe the typical “first time diving” experience so that you can know what to expect; showing up prepared is a great way to make sure your first excursion ends up perfect.
Finding the Right Venue
Many to-be divers, especially those who live inland, aren’t aware of the extensive certification process required for independent dives – not knowing how to proceed, some vacationers just book a snorkeling session instead. Don’t make this mistake! If you’re heading to a particularly popular diving location, you are sure to find companies that provide diving experiences for first-timers and other non-certified individuals.
Any diving tour aimed at non-certified individuals is going to include a little bit of instruction time, including receiving rental equipment and learning how to wear it. The dive itself will probably take place in shallow water under the constant supervision of an instructor. These restrictions aren’t really so bad: many of the most beautiful sights and most fascinating species can only be found in shallow waters anyways, especially if you’re diving a reef.
Are you having trouble finding a diving tour operator that specializes in first-time snorkeling experiences? Contact the tourism department at your destination or, if you’re diving in Hawaii, just click here to get in touch with one of the most respected beginner-friendly operators in the business. Don’t give up! The perfect tour or resort dive provider is out there somewhere.
The Typical Pre-Dive Class
How long will you have to sit in a classroom before getting to jump in the water? How much information will you learn? How intensive is the instruction? These are great questions to ask before booking a beginner-friendly excursion. Every tour/resort instructor will do things a little differently, but you can expect your first day to go somewhat like this:
1. A Little Red Tape
Every diving trip starts with a little red tape – a few medical forms and basic health questionnaires, liability forms, emergency contact forms, etc. Just make sure to find out whether the tour company includes this as part of class time or whether you need to show up early. You might actually be able to get some of this out of the way before the day of your dive if you contact the tour company directly.
2. Explanation and Introduction
Safe diving requires equal amounts of theory and skill. Most beginner friendly diving tours begin in a classroom of sorts. You’ll learn a little bit about diving theory in your introductory classroom time: you’ll become familiar with common diving terms, hand signals for underwater communication, basic maneuvering techniques, etc. Diving in a protected or reef habitat often requires watching a video about conservation (this is more than just an environmental issue: even accidental damages can lead to fines or jail time).
3. Getting Fitted for Gear
Most beginner-friendly programs will include equipment rentals of some sort, often at no extra cost: diving equipment requires careful inspection and calibration to ensure safety so it would be unsafe to expect inexperienced divers to provide their own. You’ll also learn how each piece of equipment works, with a special emphasis on reading the gauges and troubleshooting common issues.
4. Guided Practice
The next step is to get some experience using the equipment in the water. Your diving instructor will probably start you out in a pool or a shallow location off the beach, probably not too far from the charter boat or dive location. This usually begins by allowing beginners to get familiar with using the mask, snorkel, and fins. Then you’ll don the tank and regulator and will have plenty of time to get comfortable with breathing underwater. This part is surprisingly fun.
5. Heading Out to the Diving Location
Initial instruction time probably won’t last long – classroom time rarely lasts longer than an hour or two, a very small investment compared to the weeks it would take to gain certification. You’ll be hopping on a tram or bus and heading to the dive location before you know it.
As long as you are touring with a truly reputable and beginner-friendly group, you are sure to have a good time. Everybody has to start somewhere.