As my family was preparing for a trip to Hawaii, all my siblings were getting scuba certified. Not me. A veritable homebody, I was terrified to even try. But after weeks of being coerced and cajoled, I grudgingly agreed to get certified too.
Being in the beautiful ocean, 80 feet underwater, with remarkable sea life surrounding me, I realized I had never seen or experienced anything so exhilarating before. After this experience, everything began to unfold: I rode roller coasters, took up snowboarding, went skydiving, and studied abroad in Mexico.
Like me, you can begin a whole new chapter in your life—or maybe just start your next adventure—by taking the Open Water course. This course leads to Open Water certification, an entry-level, full-diver certification for scuba diving. There are several levels of certification if you wish to pursue this hobby further.
After completing the Open Water course, you will be certified to dive to 60-feet whenever you’re accompanied by someone else with Open Water certification or a higher certification level. The Open Water course can be divided into six easy steps.
1. Prepare to Pay
It usually costs between $100 and $500 to get certified. The price varies depending on several options: You can prepare for the written test by taking an online or in-classroom course. You can complete the confined and open water dives in private or group lessons. You can buy or rent the gear used during the confined and open water dives.
2. Learn to Swim
You’ll be asked to swim approximately 200 yards and to tread water for 10 minutes. It may sound difficult, but if you spent your childhood summers casually swimming, you should be fine. You don’t need to have good form; you just need to be able to complete the task.
3. Meet the Age Requirement
You can get fully certified if you are age 15 or older. Youth can get junior certified between the ages of 10 and 15, depending on the agency.
4. Pass the Written Test
You are required to pass a written test that assesses your knowledge of how to be a safe diver, including what to do in case of an emergency or equipment malfunction and other important diver safety procedures. Don’t stress about it. The test isn’t long. You prepare for the test by taking a class either online or in a classroom.
5. Complete Dives
After you pass the written test, you’ll need to do at least two confined dives in a pool and two open water dives (usually in the ocean or a lake) with a certified dive instructor.
6. Get Your Card
When you’ve finished your open water dives, your instructor will either give you your Scuba Open Water Diver Certification card or tell you where to pick it up. Don’t forget this step since you’ll most likely need to show your card when renting or buying scuba gear. Once you have your card, you’re ready to explore the underwater world!