Do you want to get your scuba diving certification and are you looking for the perfect place?
Congratulations, you’ve just found it.
The perfect place is basically anywhere you like. Where you find water deep enough to dive it is possible to find a dive shop which offers courses. You can take the course where you live, in your favourite vacation destination or you can try a completely new place.
The best places
I am not going to list “the best places to do your open water course” as there is no such thing.
I see the question about the best place to take an open water course often asked online. The usual answers are Koh Tao, Gili Trawangan, Utila and Cairns. Do you know why? It is because these are the places that actually certify the most new scuba divers.
These destinations are amongst the cheapest places to get certified. You will meet plenty of other young travellers, there are loads of options to go out at night (just don’t go diving hungover) and you might have a lot of fun while taking your course.
These are no better or worse to learn to dive than anywhere else. It always depends on the operation and the instructor. These places might not be for you if you don’t want to learn in big groups of young backpackers but even then it is possible to find small dive shops that offer courses in reasonable group sizes.
The best diving
With regards to the diving it does not matter too much. During the course you will be so busy with yourself and the skills that it is not possible to actually enjoy what you see around you. You don’t have anything to compare and will be absolutely happy to see Nemo as well as some other reef fish. I would rather recommend not choosing a fancy place to take the course. Get some experience first and only then go to the more special places.
The above mentioned destinations might not be on the bucket list of experienced divers which could be a good thing so the students don’t have to bother about disturbing other divers.
Where do you plan on further diving after finishing your course? If you just dive during holidays in tropical countries with warm water and good visibility it makes sense to take your course in such a place.
If you want to dive in cold places with bad visibility or other difficult conditions it would be advisable to take the course in such conditions. If you learn in clear tropical waters and then try to dive in a murky lake it will be like learning to dive all over again.
The opposite is easy though. Go ahead, learn to dive in unfavorable conditions and then go dive in clear warm waters, no problem with that. The instructors here in Switzerland tend to say “if you learn here you will be able to dive anywhere in the world”
Some things to keep in mind
- Choose a certifying agency and look for a dive shop associated with the respective agency (SSI, PADI, NAUI and CMAS are the most popular options). If you don’t have a preference you will most probably choose SSI or PADI. It doesn’t matter which one of those you choose, they are very similar with SSI usually being a bit cheaper
- Go to a dive shop someone recommended to you, read online reviews or when you are there go say hello. You should only learn to dive with them if you feel comfortable and your instructor takes the time to talk you through everything beforehand.
- Allow enough time for the course. It will take 3 to 7 days depending on you, the place and the certifying agency. After the last dive you need to wait at least 18 to 24 hours before flying.
- Do the theory part beforehand at home. During your holiday you probably won’t feel like reading books and answering questions in the evenings. It is possible to do the theory part online with some agencies or alternatively ask at a local dive shop if you can just do the theory and get a referral. If they have other students to teach they might not mind too much
Even though I cannot offer you a list of “the best places to get your scuba diving certification” to choose from I hope this article helps. Choose any place you would love to visit and take your course there.
Looking forward hearing where you decided to experience the first hours in zero gravity below the surface. Let me know in the comment section below.