What is SCUBA?
SCUBA is an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. In short, by breathing compressed air and with proper training we have the ability to breath underwater.
What requirements must I meet in order to SCUBA dive?
The minimum age is 10 years old (in most areas). Student divers who are younger than 15 earn the Junior Open Water Diver certification, which they may upgrade to Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15.
All student divers complete a brief scuba medical questionnaire that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, sign the form and you’re ready to start. If any of these apply to you, your doctor must, as a safety precaution, assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms you’re fit to dive. You can download the scuba medical questionnaire here. Please contact us with any questions in regards to this form. Although we are not medically trained doctors, nor can we or will we attempt to at any time replace a medically trained professional, we can sometimes offer basic advice as it may pertain to scuba diving and various ailments.
Before completing the Open Water Diver course, your instructor will have you demonstrate basic water skills to be sure you’re comfortable in the water, including:
- Swim 200 meters/yards (or 300 meters/yards in mask, fins and snorkel) without stopping. There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you prefer.
- Float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods you prefer.
Each diver must have a personal set of the learning materials to use during the course and for reference after the course. There are several options available, depending on your learning style and technology preference, including:
- Open Water Diver Online (web-based)
- PADI Open Water Diver Touch™ (combines manual and video in tablet-based learning)
- Open Water Diver Manual, and watching the Open Water Diver Video on DVD either on your own or with your instructor.
How long does it take before I can SCUBA if I show up with no previous knowledge or experience?
By participating in the PADI Discover SCUBA or the SSI Try SCUBA option, we can have you underwater in less than one hour.
Please note this is not a certification course; it merely gets you underwater with minimal training. Because of this, we suggest anyone with the available time to take the full certification course.
For more information on the Discover Scuba Diving option, please view this link.
How long will we be underwater?
A lot of that answer depends on you. We have a finite amount of air we can breath in one air tank, and when it is gone it is gone. Everybody uses air at a different rate of consumption and many factors play a part, but normally most dives will last more than 30 minutes and if you are really good with air consumption it can last over 60 minutes. After only a few dives most divers can achieve 60 minute bottom times.
How old do you need to be before you can take SCUBA classes?
10 years of age and older can participate in SCUBA.
How long does it take to get SCUBA certified?
With our virtual classroom you can begin your e-Learning class at home and finish within two days of arriving to Cozumel. For more information check here.
Where will these classes take place?
The book work portion of the class can be completed online prior to arrival in Cozumel (recommended), or with your instructor in our classroom. Reviews and/or exams will take place either in our classroom or on location at the dive site depending upon various factors.
Confined water portions of class will be mostly completed within our on-site private pool. This is especially important in Cozumel due to the prevailing currents which make Cozumel diving so special. As beneficial as the currents are for our reefs, they can be difficult for students attempting to complete skills on day one. By working the jitters out in a confined pool in a relaxed, stress-free environment, students are more prepared to face the currents on day two.
You must also complete a minimum of four open water dives. We go into the big pond for this 🙂 (the ocean). We usually like to split these up between shore diving and boat diving. This provides us the opportunity to teach both methods (shore/boat) for entry, exit, and navigation.
My ears hurt when I swim to the bottom of a pool. Does this mean I cannot SCUBA?
No, assuming you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the normal effect of water pressure pressing in on your ear drums. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to adjust for pressure changes in our ears – you just need to learn how. If you have no difficulties adjusting to air pressure during flying, you’ll probably experience no problem learning to adjust to water pressure while diving.
Will a history of ear trouble, asthma, allergies, diabetes, or smoking preclude me from SCUBA diving?
Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory or heart function, or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a doctor can assess a person’s individual risk. Doctors can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing fitness to dive. Download the medical statement to take to your doctor.
I have a disability. Can I still dive?
Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. People with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Please contact us with any specific questions.
Can I dive wearing contact lens?
There are essentially two types of contact lenses: hard contacts and soft contacts. Hard (gas-permeable) contacts will often float off an open eyeball underwater. So if you flood your mask, ensure you keep your eyes closed. You will never find a contact lens after it has left the eye since they are essentially invisible under water.
I would not recommend any water sports with hard lenses.
Soft contact lenses contain their own percentage of salt water (same concentration as blood, which is much lower than seawater), so a flooded mask is much less of a problem. My advice is to dive with disposable soft contacts (not permanent ones) because, in the unlikely event of losing one, they’re cheap to replace.
All contacts can become irritating in a dive mask and you can’t rub your eyes to fix it. An alternative is prescription masks. We do rent prescription masks. If you know your prescription you can contact us to confirm we have your prescription mask on hand. Alternatively, optometrists regularly construct masks and you can have your own made for you. There are very reasonably-priced ones and very unreasonably-priced prescription masks; so do your homework first. The success of these is dependent upon your prescription, so consult your optometrist first.
Are there any special concerns in SCUBA diving for women?
Aside from pregnancy, no. It is recommended that women avoid diving while pregnant or trying to become pregnant. In most cases menstruation in a non issue.
How deep will we go?
With the necessary training and experience, the limit for recreational scuba diving is 40 meters/130 feet. Beginning scuba divers stay shallower, no deeper than 18 meters/60 feet. Although these are the limits, some of the most popular diving is shallower than 12 meters/40 feet, where the water’s warmer and the colors are brighter. Most skills performance for classes will be around 7 meters/21 feet and not deeper than 12 meters/40 feet until dives 3 and 4.
I've heard SCUBA diving can cause claustrophobia. Is this true?
People find the “weightlessness” of scuba diving to be quite freeing. Modern scuba masks are available in translucent models, which you may prefer if a mask makes you feel closed in. During your scuba diving training, your instructor gives you plenty of time and coaching to become comfortable with each stage of learning. Your scuba instructor works with you at your own pace to ensure you master each skill necessary to become a capable scuba diver who dives regularly.
Will we see sharks?
When you’re lucky, you get to see a shark. Although incidents with sharks occur, they are very rare and, with respect to diving, primarily involve spear fishing or feeding sharks, both of which trigger feeding behavior. Most of the time, if you see a shark it’s just passing through and a rare sight to enjoy.
I only have one (1) day on the island, can I SCUBA despite no prior experience?
Yes! If you do not have the time to complete the traditional PADI or SSI Open Water SCUBA programs, we have a one-day option which gets you into the water almost immediately. Follow the link to find more information about the Discover / Try SCUBA.program.
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