SCUBA DIVING FAQS
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A strange new world awaits you under the waves: Fish of every color and size, strangely-sculpted coral, and a shy seahorse.

 

 


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Discovering the undersea world is as surreal as visiting another planet - and a lot easier.

 

 


For most, diving is an easy sport to learn.

Scuba diving opens the door to a colorful, strange, and surreal world. If you've been snorkeling, you've glimpsed this world. By getting your scuba diver certification, you can enjoy it on a new level.

  • Is it difficult to learn to scuba dive?
  • What does it mean to be certified?
  • How long does it take to get certified?
  • I've had pain in my ears when I go below 10 feet. Won't that be worse when I dive?
  • What is nitrox?
  • Can I get certified, without spending too much of my vacation in a classroom?
  • Can I get insurance for dive trips?
  • How long will I be able to stay underwater?
  • What about attacks from sharks, eels, barracuda, and giant squid?
  • Can I wear contact lenses or glasses while diving?
  • I've lost my PADI certification card. Can I still dive?
  • Is it difficult to learn to scuba dive?
    Not for most people. If you're comfortable in the water, and a reasonably good swimmer, you should be able to learn scuba diving. (The only swimming required by for the PADI certification is a 200-yard swim, and floating or treading water for 10 minutes.)

    You'll soon find that diving is actually much easier than swimming, because there's no need to raise your head out of the water to get each breath.Back to Top

    What does it mean to be certified?
    It means that you've learned basic scuba diving skills from a licensed instructor, and are qualified to dive with a buddy, with or without a divemaster present. Dive operators will require your certification card before they let you dive with them.

    The best-known certifying agency, particularly in the U.S., is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Another is the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).Back to Top

    How long does it take to get certified?
    If you're getting full-day instruction from a dive shop, at a dive location, then it depends on their schedule, class size, and how fast you learn. The standard "Open Water Diver" certification will typically be a four- or five-day process.

    If you're just taking evening lessons at home, once or twice a week, it will probably take four to six weeks.Back to Top

    I've had pain in my ears when I go below 10 feet. Won't that be worse when I dive?
    Part of learning to dive is learning to clear your ears -- that is, equalizing the pressure inside and outside your eardrum. It takes most people a few days to get the hang of this, but soon you'll do it automatically.

    If you have ear infections or other blockages that might keep you from clearing your ears, then you should check with a doctor before proceeding.Back to Top

    What is nitrox?
    Normally, scuba divers' tanks are filled with the same air you breathe on land. Nitrox (from the words nitrogen and oxygen) is a special mix that reduces the risk of getting the bends, allowing you to dive for a longer period. Nitrox also reduces fatigue. Its usage requires special training, but this is easy to get from PADI or NAUI dive outfitters, after you have your standard scuba certification.Back to Top

    Can I get certified, without spending too much of my vacation in a classroom?
    Yes, and we recommend it. You can begin the certification process with a PADI or NAUI scuba diving instructor in the U.S. You'll do your classroom and pool work with them, and they'll give you a referral to our dive shop on Saba. You'll just have to demonstrate a few open-water skills during your first dives on Saba. There's a modest surcharge for this, but it means you'll get as many open-water dives as those who arrive in Saba already certified.Back to Top

    Can I get insurance for dive trips?
    We recommend you contact DAN, the Diver's Alert Network, which has several programs available for scuba divers, including medical insurance. Their TravelAssist program even covers emergency medical, travel, and personal assistance for non-diving as well as diving needs. You can call them at 800-446-2671; or see the Diver's Alert website.Back to Top

    How long will I be able to stay underwater?
    That depends on how deep you are, and how heavily you're breathing. Air compresses more at greater depths, so you'll go through it faster.

    You can often stay down 45 minutes to an hour at depths of 20 to 30 feet. On deeper dives, you may only get 15 or 20 minutes. As you get more experienced, you'll learn to conserve air by breathing more slowly, and by minimizing arm movements, which use up energy and air.Back to Top

    What about attacks from sharks, eels, barracuda, and giant squid?
    Bee stings kill more people than do sharks -- but shark attacks make for better movies. In reality, there are no aquatic animals that routinely attack humans, provided you don't provoke them by poking them, sticking your hand into their home, or getting too close to one with territorial instincts.

    As part of your certification lessons, you'll learn some common-sense precautions. Most of these, however, are more for the protection of sea creatures than of you. You pose a much larger threat to them than they do to you. (Compare, for example, the number of humans who will eat squid sushi today, versus the number of squid who will munch on human sushi.)Back to Top

    Can I wear contact lenses or glasses while diving?
    Soft contact lenses should not be a problem. Be sure to bring an extra pair or two, in case one washes out.

    Eyeglasses worn under a dive mask are neither fashionable nor practical. However, it's not too expensive to have your prescription ground into the mask itself. Your optician or dive shop can advise you on where to have it done.Back to Top

    I've lost my PADI certification card. Can I still dive?
    No good dive operator will let you dive without proof that you're certified. If you have a few weeks before you need it, contact PADI to get the card replaced. If you don't have that much time, the dive operator you're using should be able to get quick confirmation from PADI that you are certified. Give them some advance notice if possible, but in many cases, PADI can provide immediate verification.Back to Top

     

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