I certainly don’t have to describe what Scuba Diving is; no one lives that deep in a cave anymore. We’ve all seen images, and films galore in various Medias (while just casually making our way through life) of people strapped to tanks, swimming underwater beneath clouds of rising bubbles. Pretty intriguing stuff and I dare say that most probably have at least a fleeting thought of; “I wonder what that would be like?” However it can also look kinda complicated, and inconvenient, not to mention a bit on the expensive side. You have to have a bunch of water, and there may not be a lot nearby, then you have to have those tanks with the hoses, and one of those underwater suits. It is also something that looks like might be better if done with someone, and there is not really an app for it.
The good folks at PADI, the Professional Association of Scuba Instructors, are aware of this problem of inconvenience, and expense. Choosing to follow the example set by the automobile industry, they and other scuba certifying agencies have come up with a test drive scuba diving program called Discover Scuba Diving. You literally get to take the sport out for a spin around the block to see if you like it.
If you live in or near any major city and there is a body of water larger than a bird bath within 500 miles, you will find a Scuba Diving Center. Seriously, we get quite a lot of divers here in the Caribbean from the city of Denver where the nearest beach is over a thousand miles away. Google PADI Dive Center in your town, and you may be surprised how close the diving is. Give ‘em a call.
Discover Scuba Diving is a quick comprehensive outline of the basics to scuba diving. Exactly just how it is provided is determined mostly by logistics and the location of the dive center. Taking Denver as an example, the Discover Scuba course might be held at the dive center and a nearby swimming pool. Certain times of the year it isn’t really comfortable to swim outdoors in the Rocky Mountains. Here at West End Divers we offer the same Discover Scuba course, but we don’t have a pool. There is this 81° azure tropical sea lapping the shore in front of our dive center.
Your decision is made and you have scheduled your scuba test-drive. For this scenario we will have you arriving on the island of Roatan via a luxury Cruise Ship and are going to spend the morning learning about scuba diving with us. We have communicated by email, and our driver has picked you up at the port and brought you to our dive center. Here you are introduced to your Dive Instructor.
All PADI Discover Scuba courses are conducted and taught by a certified PADI Scuba Instructor. These individuals have been through extensive training in the safety and instruction of teaching Scuba Diving. All diving equipment is provided in the course except a swimsuit, and don’t forget to bring a towel.
There is a minimal bit of paper work to fill out and a few questions to be answered like; whether you can swim or not (It is highly recommended that you know how to swim), and some medical information along the lines of; does your heart beat, and whether or not your lungs work. Then your instructor will cover some of the basic practical aspects of scuba diving including equipment, how to maneuver, some basic facts about pressure and how it will feel, and the answers to any questions you may have along the way. Then it’s on with the swimsuits and off to the end of the dock where the clear warm water is shallow enough to stand. Your instructor helps you into your gear making sure all is as it should be, and you slip into the water to find all that equipment that was so heavy seconds ago is suddenly weightless, and moving around is almost effortless. With your instructor’s supervision you don your mask, put the regulator’s mouthpiece in, slowly kneel in the white sand, and take your first breaths underwater. This small act has been the defining moment in many people’s lives, and the start of countless adventures.
You and your Instructor go over some of the skills that you have discussed, like how to get those pesky drips of water out of your mask (it is so easy), and swimming around underwater. Back on the dock questions are answered and advice given while the tanks are changed for full ones and the gear is loaded on the dive boat. Joining the regularly scheduled dive, the boat makes its way to the reef and it moors on one of over forty different dives sites we have here in this part of Roatan.
You enter the water with your Instructor and the two of you descend together into an underwater paradise. For the next 45 minutes you cruise over the pristine coral and sponges, and amongst a most amazing variety of colorful fishes, which have secured the assured Roatan’s reef the distinction of being the most pristine in the Central American region.
The dive being over way too soon (always), it is time to get back to the shop and reflect back on an experience that will give memories for a lifetime. Many decide at this time to continue with the sport, and as we mentioned, most any major city has a dive center that can help you on your way. However we advocate coming back to Roatan for a week, spending the three days it takes to get certified as a Padi Open Water Diver, and getting in a few fun dives while enjoying activities and diversions that go along with hanging out in tropical paradise. We’ll cover this course next time, while you make reservations.