Want to learn to dive?
Firstly you need to decide where you want to learn - in the UK or abroad? There are pros and cons of each. Learning in the UK will not consume any of your precious holiday, conditions are more challenging, but you will be the better diver for it! Learning abroad will probably be in better conditions (warmer, better visibility, more to see,) but will be more of a challenge for you when you try to dive in worse conditions later.
Secondly you need to decide with which dive school / club that you wish to take the plunge? Word of mouth recommendations are great, but I guess that we all have a bias towards how we learnt, so how can you make an informed choice?
Simply there are two methods to learn to dive:
- join a dive club e.g. BSAC, SAA
- enrol on a diving course e.g. PADI, RAID, SSI, SDI
There are pros and cons of each method.
Most training agencies will organise a 'trial dive' for you. This is a useful way of seeing if you will like scuba diving before you have to invest a lot of time and money in a full course.
Joining a club
The British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) is the largest dive club in the
world, its qualifications should be recognised around the world. It
is split into lots of local clubs (branches.) You basically join a
local branch and they teach you to dive, organise dive trips, and
teach you how to extend your diving. They also provide a lively social
club for you to mix with like minded people.
Learning to dive is usually done in a very thorough manner, you are not able to progress to the next stage until you have mastered the skills. Some find this too slow, others do not like the club hierarchy structure. Others find that this is an ideal way to develop their diving in a safe and organised manner. You need to decide if this suits your learning style and personality.
Enrol on a dive course
There are several recreational diving training agencies e.g.
PADI, RAID, SSI & SDI. Their qualifications are usually recognised
around the world.
Basically you enrol on a course, pay the fees and usually qualify several days later. The course usually has a theory module first, which is usually completed online, followed by a confined water (usually swimming pool) session and then an open water (inland lake, sea) session. This is without doubt the fastest way to qualify as a scuba diver. However some find it too fast and pressurised due to time constraints. It may be possible to do the theory and confined water sessions at one location and then complete the open water sessions in another dive centre (the referral scheme.)
The dive centre that taught you will often have a club that organises diving trips allowing you to develop your diving.
Diving with a disability?
Although it is assumed that you must be in perfect health to enjoy scuba diving this is far from the truth. There are many divers with medical problems and disabilities. There are many instructors that specialise in teaching those with disabilities to scuba dive.
The adventure is just beginning....
So you are now a qualified scuba diver.....congratulations.
I would recommend that you do not stop your training at this point. You will get far more out of diving by becoming an advanced diver and learning how to dive safely in particular environments e.g. wrecks, deep, drift, boat. There are so many types of scuba diving to enjoy and so many places around the world to dive, but you do need to be suitably trained to do this safely.
You can never stop learning or increasing your experience.