Scuba Diving for the First Time? All Your Questions Answered!
Trying scuba diving for the first time might seem a bit daunting! There’s a lot to consider. Should you go for the full certification right away? What kind of diving experience would be right for you? What’s the difference between a certified diver and a non-certified diver?
So we decided to compile all the most common questions in this blog for those who have never tried scuba diving before. If you have another question, you can always drop us a message on Instagram or send us an email.
1) What’s the difference between a PADI Discover Scuba Diving programme, and the PADI Open Water Diver course?
The PADI Discover Scuba Diving programme is an introduction to scuba. It is a half-day activity for those who would like to try diving, but aren’t ready to sign up for the full course. The PADI Open Water Diver course on the other hand is a full certification course, which certifies you to dive with a buddy.
2) What’s included in the PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience? Will I receive a certification?
We start by giving you a small booklet to read and a short video to watch, which cover the basics of scuba diving – everything you need to know for your first experience of scuba. Then we’ll ask you to come to the dive centre for a short briefing. You’ll try on your scuba equipment and head to the beach, where you will begin in shallow water. Here you will be taught a few basic skills that are necessary for you to master before you proceed to your open water dive. Skills such as what to do if you get some water in your mask during the dive, or how to recover your regulator (mouthpiece) should it fall out of your mouth.
Once you’ve mastered those skills, you’ll go on the boat to a nearby dive site and do a dive to a maximum of 12 metres depth. The dive will last for 45 minutes or until you become low on air.
3) How should I prepare for a PADI Discover Scuba Dive? Can a non-swimmer try scuba diving?
If you do not have much experience in the ocean, we highly recommend that you go for a couple of snorkelling excursions first to get used to being in the water. We do not offer snorkelling excursions, but you can arrange this with your guesthouse. Non-swimmers can sign up for the Discover Scuba experience, however, you do need to be comfortable in the water. If you are very panicked in the water, it might be that you cannot perform the skills to the required standard in the shallow water session, and therefore cannot proceed to the dive.
4) How old do you have to be to sign up for the Discover Scuba Dive experience or the PADI Open Water Diver course?
To do either the Discover Scuba or Open Water course, you need to be at least 10.
If your child is younger than 10, they can try the PADI BubbleMaker experience, which is to a maximum of 2 meters and in confined water conditions. There is no maximum age, but you do need to pass the medical requirements (see below.)
5) What’s included in the PADI Open Water Diver certification? How long will the course take?
We recommend a minimum stay of 5 nights on the island to complete your PADI Open Water Diver certification. The course is made up of 3 parts – theory, confined water training, and open water dives. The theory can be completed either via the PADI online digital platform or with a book. There are 5 chapters to read, and 5 corresponding knowledge reviews. There are also 4 quizzes and a multiple choice exam. The confined water training is made up of 5 confined water skills sets. There are then 4 open water dives. The first two of these are to a maximum of 12 meters and the second two are to a maximum of 18 meters. There is also a swim test and a float test – more on that below.
6) Can I study the theory section of the course in my own language?
The theory is available in a number of languages. If you sign up for the e-learning then it’s very easy to elect which language you will study in. You can message us and we can check if your language is available. If you want to study with the book, please message us, so we can purchase the book and have it ready upon your arrival.
7) Can I complete the theory before I arrive in Fulidhoo?
Absolutely, if you sign up for the e-learning. We take a non-refundable deposit of 120USD and you can get studying at home before you arrive. This is highly encouraged!
8) Do I have to complete all the theory before I start the course?
No you don’t, you can also study as the course goes on but this might slow things down. So we recommend at least finishing until chapter 3 before starting the course.
9) Why should I bother getting certified if I can do a Discover scuba dive?
Becoming an open water diver really opens up a lot of possibilities. Firstly, you’ll gain a huge amount of knowledge about scuba diving and learn skills to allow you to dive in a variety of environments. If you stick to doing Discover Scuba Diving sessions, you’ll be restricted to easier, shallower dive sites and you may miss out on seeing a wider variety of marine life. As a certified Open Water Diver, you’ll be able to join fun dives with other certified divers, and continue training to become an Advanced Open Water diver, which again increases your knowledge and choice of dive sites.
10) What are the medical prerequisites for scuba diving?
The prerequisites are different for the Discover Scuba Diving session and for the full PADI Open Water Diver course. For the latter, you’ll have to go through the PADI medical form and see if you answer yes to any of the questions about your medical history. If you do, you may need to get your doctor’s approval to dive before coming to Fulidhoo.
11) I can’t swim 200 metres. Can I still sign up for the PADI Open Water course?
The short answer is no. There is a swimming test as part of the course, which you must pass in order to be certified. You can choose between swimming 200m without fins, or 300m with fins. There are no time restrictions, however if you stop, you will have to start over. There is also a 10 minutes survival float test where you will have to tread water with no fins or floatation aids.
12) What kind of marine life will I see throughout my PADI Open Water course in Fulidhoo?
We have absolutely wonderful dive sites around Fulidhoo. We will start with small shallow reefs near the island where we can see multitudes of fishlife, beautiful coral, shrimps, crabs, moray eels, and other life such as turtles and octopus and lobsters.
When we progress to our slightly deeper dives, we might also see some reef or nurse sharks.
13) Are the sharks dangerous? Should I be worried?
Absolutely not. The sharks are not dangerous and the reef sharks especially are quite shy. Also, since this is a common question, women can absolutely dive on their period with sharks. The sharks are not interested in menses blood at all.
14) I have done a Discover Scuba Dive before – does this count towards my PADI Open Water certification?
It’s fantastic that you’ve tried diving before, however unless you have a referral form and it’s no older than 12 months, your Discover Scuba experience will not count towards your Open Water certification.
15) I’m worried about hurting my ears when I dive – what can I do?
We give a lot of tips during the course to make sure you protect your ears, such as teaching you to equalize your ears and sinuses underwater. We also have a fantastic blog all about protecting your ears.
16) Where do you conduct your confined water training and what kind of skills will I learn?
Our instructors conduct all the confined water training in the lagoon in front of the dive centre. We don’t have a pool. We find that doing this training in the sea directly helps students to become more confident.
The PADI Open Water course covers a whole range of skills that you need to dive safely and confidently. These include but are not limited to – what to do if your mask floods, how to perform a controlled emergency ascent, how to assemble your gear correctly, how to ascend following the PADI 5 point ascent, how to deal with a cramp and many others.
17) What’s the best time of year to learn to dive in the Maldives, and how much does it cost?
Honestly, we do good dives all year round so just come when you can! We have a Get Certified Package which includes 6 nights on half board accommodation and the full Open Water course that starts from 819USD per person, based on two people sharing a room during the low season (May-October). As accommodation prices vary throughout the year, you’ll need to get in touch to get a detailed quote.
18) Can I do the PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Open Water courses back to back?
Yes absolutely! We’d recommend a stay of at least 7-8 nights to do this. Email us if this is something you’d like to do.
19) I wear glasses – do you provide prescription masks?
We do not provide prescription masks so you would have to buy your own prescription mask, or wear your contact lenses, which is not a problem.
20) Can you arrange accommodation for me?
Yes absolutely. We have an in-house travel agency and we can take care of everything. Accommodation prices vary depending on the time of year, and of course whether you are travelling solo or with a buddy to share the room costs with. So just email us when you are thinking of coming.
21) Can you arrange my transfer from the airport?
Yes absolutely. There are twice daily speedboat transfers from the airport (except on Fridays when there is usually just one in the morning.) So always contact us for the latest timetable before booking your flights.
22) Can I fly straight after scuba diving?
No. You’ll learn why during your Open Water course. There should be a gap of 24 hours before you fly after diving.
23) Will I get a physical certification card?
No. PADI has now shifted to digital e-cards in a push to reduce plastic production. So you’ll get your certification card in the PADI app.
24) What should I pack for a Learn to Dive holiday?
You don’t need much at all just some light clothes, your laptop if you’re doing e-learning and the normal holiday essentials– you can refer to our blog on what to pack.
25) I still have some questions, can I phone you over WhatsApp?
It’s much better to put your questions in an email. Sometimes I won’t have the necessary information right away and it’s better if we have a record of our conversations.