How long is the PADI Open Water Course?
Learning to scuba dive opens doors to a whole new amazing world and there are several agencies that can help you with this endeavour. PADI ( Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the most widespread, most recognized and one of the longest in existence recreational scuba training agencies but what does the entry level course, the PADI Open Water course' entail?
How long does it take?
How much does it cost?
How many dives are included?
What are the basic prerequisites?
1. How long does the PADI open water course take?
This course generally lasts 3 to 4 days. The PADI way of learning is what is referred to as 'mastery' learning, whereby the student carries on learning until the given skill is 'mastered'. Therefore it can sometimes vary a little between students. If a student hasn't quite got the hang of some of the elements of the course they may do an additional session in the pool or the sea. However, in holiday places most dive centres will offer a set up with a day dedicated to pool/ confined water skills to learn how the gear works and how to evolve underwater in scuba gear as well as practicing safety exercises. They will then have two days in the sea (or lake) to practice what they've learnt.
Some centres will prefer a half day of pool then a diving in the sea or some (especially in European dive clubs) will offer several weekends doing pool exercises before having a weekend away to a dive spot to practice diving int eh natural environment. All these options as just as valid as each other and only depend on logistics. On Nusa Penida, most professional dive centres will make sure your diving skills are honed in the pool on the first day before going in the sea, making the natural environment experience all the more pleasant and relaxed. You may want to chose this great location for your PADI Open Water course, see why below.
2. How much does the PADI open water course cost?
Prices vary quite widely depending on where you do your course. In Europe, you will often find courses ranging from 420 euros (Marseille, close to the sea) to 800 + euros (London, far from dive sites). Club prices are often cheaper, like student union clubs, but will often mean you have to wait until there are enough people/ everyone has caught up before doing anything and certainly putting a fin in the sea/quarry/lake. In the USA, you are also looking at a starting price of approximately 420 euros or more with commercial ventures. Big diving countries like Mexico, Honduras, Thailand, Indonesia will usually have a variety of prices depending on the sites and dive centres (proximity to the sea, boat use or not, how famous the site is, the rating, facilities and standards of the dive centre).
Cheapest courses often range just under 300 euros but you often get what you pay for so you may not want to choose where you do your course based on price unless you do thorough research first to avoid nasty surprises and/or unsafe/unprofessional dive operators. Also beware of cheap prices that do not include PADI course materials for instance (an additional 60 euros at least). You'll also need to factor in what's included accommodation wise, extra dives, transport to and from hotel, meals and so on.
3. How many dives are included in the PADI open water course?
The PADI Open Water course includes 4 open water dives. These have to be done in a natural environment, last at least 20 minutes and be at a minimum depth of 5 metres , otherwise they do not count as a dive.
The confined water dives are broken into 5 segments or sessions that will often be done over one day with breaks in between. They will take place in a large swimming pool or a protected area with 'pool like conditions'.
4. What are the basic prerequisites?
You need to be 10 years old or more. Divers aged 10 to 14 will become PADI Junior Open Water divers and have different depth limits, they automatically become open water divers when they turn 15.
You need to be able to swim and be comfortable in the water. You will be asked to swim 200m and float/ tread water for 10minutes.
You need to be medically fit. You can check with the dive centre if you have any queries regarding this. You will be asked to fill out a medical form (which can be sent to you before hand). If you have a doubt about a preexisting condition you may have that may prevent you from diving , check with a GP or Diving doctor and obtain a medical certificate before you start.
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