Learning to dive can be a daunting prospect to begin with, entering a completely new environment equipped with cumbersome and unfamiliar equipment. However after a few moments breathing underwater you’ll soon start to relax and adapt to your new surroundings. Diving courses are generally performance based. This means that you only move onto the next set of skill once you’ve mastered the previous ones. As an instructor I’ve spent many years diving in Indonesia, here are some ideas about what your dive course might involve.
Your first experience of breathing underwater will most likely be in a swimming pool or shallow lagoon, instructors call this ‘confined water’. This is where we carry out the first basic skills and give you time to relax and get used to breathing through your equipment (regulator).
We’ll ask you to take your regulator out and put it back in whilst clearing away the water, show you how to clear your mask if you smile too much and get some water in it and show you how to communicate underwater. All very simple stuff once you begin to relax and trust your equipment.
As you progress through your course we’ll start to make the skills a little more testing, all to build you confidence and give you an understanding of how your equipment operates. We’ll know you’re ready to do it because you will have shown us in the previous sessions.
Part of your course will require you to gain a reasonable understanding of dive theory, with particular reference to the fact that water has weight and puts the air spaces in your body under pressure. The fact that you are also breathing compressed air also requires consideration. Rest assured its fairly straight forward and the materials provided by the training agency and with the help of your instructor will no doubt pull you through.
If you take a PADI or SSI course, the two most highly recognised training agencies then you’llhave four ‘Open Water’ dives, these are actual dives carried on reefs that you might well dive once you’re qualified, between a maximum depth of between 12 and 18 meters. Now you simply repeat the skills you have already mastered in shallow water. You’ll also get the chance to use a computer and will have to show that you have reasonable swimming skills, PADI ask that you are able to swim 200 meters and tread water for 10 minutes.
There are no final in water tests to be completed to qualify as a diver, again you’ll be demonstrating this to your instructor as you go through the course, however you must complete a (very simple) final exam to demonstrate your understanding of dive theory and safety practices.
There are many good places to learn to dive all over the world, diving in Indonesia is widely considered as rating amongst the best in the world. Consider Bali or the Gili Islands near Lombok as a starting point for your entry level course, then for the adventurous head to Sulawesi, Raja Ampat or Pulau Weh.