Learning to Dive - Part 2
At the end of your check-out dives and after you've successfully completed a written exam, the instructor gives you a temporary C-card — the real thing follows within a few days or weeks.
There is one more idea to consider: the resort course. This abbreviated option doesn't lead to certification, but it does give an excellent and cost-effective taste of the sport. In this course — named for the tropical hotels that usually offer it — you get a short lecture and a supervised in-water rehearsal (usually in a pool) of basic scuba skills. From there, you progress to a shallow, sheltered dive site, where you dive under the close supervision of a divemaster or instructor. A resort course may help you make a decision about whether you want to invest in a full certification program.
Although the content of most training programs is similar, the timing and location can differ. Options include once-a-week training modules, multi-weekend courses, or intense weeklong certification programs that you complete before or during a vacation. You can train at a local dive shop, in the warm waters of a tropical lagoon, or at some combination of the two.
The most popular option is to complete both classroom and pool portions of the program at a local dive shop, then make your open-water dives at a nearby location. The class may take several weeks or be completed in two intensive weekends.
After finishing classroom and pool training with a local instructor, some students travel to a warm-water destination for their open-water dives. At resorts that participate in referral programs, in-house instructors take the student through the check-out dives and complete the paperwork for the C-card.
Another training option, one that many busy or landlocked divers choose, is to complete the entire certification process in a weeklong program while you're on vacation. You may have time only for your checkout dives, but you'll get to try out the total warm-water plunge — a truly sublime experience. Either way, you'll familiarize yourself with this style of diving, which is by far the most popular. The disadvantage is that you won't necessarily know the diving techniques that may be useful at home — but this isn't a big concern if you plan to dive only in warm water.
One more factor may influence your choice of instructor and training program: cost. While a scuba class advertised at a very low price may seem like a bargain, be sure to look a bit further. The price tag may not include equipment rentals, textbooks, certification fees, and other hidden costs.
Rather than reacting solely to price, focus on the quality of the training experience as well as on your personal compatibility with the instructor. Your certification class sets the tone for your future enjoyment of the sport. Divers who enjoy the training process are more likely to continue diving and collect many years of memorable underwater experiences. Once the diving bug bites you, it is quite likely that you are going to be a diving enthusiast for the rest of your life.
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