Authored by: Lindsay Pullin, a SCUBA diving instructor based in Southern California and the owner of The Merbabe Adventures blog.
SO you want to get SCUBA certified. It’s been on your bucket list since you can remember. What should you know before signing up?
You’re going to get water in your nose.
Although you are wearing a mask, water will get in your eyes and in your nose at some point; this is totally normal. If this is a deal breaker...you should consider a sport that keeps you dry. A good scuba mask keeps water out when you breathe, smile or laugh, but still allows you to sneak some water in when you need to defog (a perfectly learnable skill). Plus you’ll find that taking the perfect underwater picture sometimes means removing your mask.
You’re going to get wet, but that doesn’t mean you have to get cold.
As a SCUBA instructor in Southern California, the number one fear I hear from students is they are scared of getting cold. In the right wetsuit, you don’t have to be chilly. A properly fitting wetsuit keeps water close to your body, which keeps your body warmth right where it should be. A lot of off the rack suits work just fine, but if you are a person who is taller or shorter than average, or a woman with curves, a custom suit may help you find your scuba bliss. Look for a suit that does not have a lot of extra material at the limbs, and that fits your body closely on your back and chest. Core warmth is key.
You will need to purchase some gear.
When you get certified, pretty much every shop will request that you purchase your own snorkeling gear. Snorkeling gear consists of boots, fins, a scuba mask, snorkel and gloves. Those are considered your personal gear, and many shops will not rent those. Fear not: This equipment can last you the rest of your life if you purchase wisely, and properly fitted gear makes you warmer and more comfortable in the long run. However, no dive shop will expect you to purchase your scuba diving gear. SCUBA equipment can be an investment, but if you find true love in the sport it is worth it. Definitely complete your certification to find out what gear to purchase in the future.
You will have to learn new things
To become certified is to take a class in something new. It may take a few tries to master new skills, but this is perfectly normal. Be patient with yourself while you are learning, practice leads to mastery. Each skill you learn will be used to build upon things in the future, so take your time to make sure you understand each skill before moving on. Your instructor will understand and accommodate each learning style.
Find a dive shop and a dive instructor that you click with
During your class, you will spend many hours with your instructor, not to mention this could be a life-changing experience. If you don’t like how they talk to you, or if you think the Dive Shop doesn’t click with you personally, keep looking before you sign up. A good shop can be your home base, a community to find dive buddies, check out new equipment, and plan trips of a lifetime. Choose wisely, each shop has a different vibe.
Once you sign up for your class, you'll have so much more to learn. These are just a few of the things to keep in mind before you take the plunge.