PADI - The Professional Association of Diving Instructors
PADI - The Origins
How did this company come about? Well, on the basis that I know many divers who like a tipple, you will not be surprised to learn that it all started over a bottle of Johnny Walker in Illinois in 1966. Two friends, John Cronin, and Ralph Erickson were concerned that the scuba diving industry was not teaching divers properly and was not making it easy to start scuba diving and wanted to do something about it. They created PADI and set about creating their own courses in easy to manage chunks that incorporated the practical application of scuba diving in water as well as classroom sessions to impart knowledge of various physics, chemistry and physiology principles relevant to diving.
There are a small number of scuba diving for beginners courses that do not result in a certification at the end, these are tasters to introduce you to the more advanced courses but aren’t essential if you want to go straight into the certified course. These include ‘Discover Snorkeling’ and ‘Discover Scuba Diving’.
PADI Certification Courses for Kids
Being a child does not prevent you from experiencing the fun of the ocean. From 8 years old you can try their Bubblemaker or Seal Team courses and then when you reach 10 years old, you can get a proper certification as a Junior Open Water Diver.
PADI Certification Courses for adults
These start with the basic Open Water Diver which usually teaches you the basic skills in an enclosed environment like a swimming pool. When these have been mastered, you will be able to have some lessons in open water, for example the ocean (or, as in my case, a disused quarry - I know which I would have preferred!). Finally, in order to get the certification, a test will be given, both written and practical, with a qualified PADI instructor.
There is now the possibility to complete the dry land lessons on-line which can save time if you would like to do the practical part of the course while you are on holiday. That way, the holiday isn’t taken up with school lessons.
Once you have completed (and passed) the basic Open Water Diver certificate, there are many others to choose from. The next logical step is the Advanced Open Water Diver but from there it is possible to take a whole lot of recreational specialty dive courses depending on your interest. For instance, you could specialize in night diving, wreck diving, cave diving, underwater photography and depending on your instructor’s talents, there could be any number of different courses to improve your skills.
If you decide you would like to continue professionally, there are courses where you can learn to look after others on dives, for example, Rescue Diver. Or even take divers out on dives yourself, for this you would need to be qualified as a Divemaster or Instructor but these courses are carried out by PADI also.
Best Places to Scuba Dive
Once you have qualified, this is usually the next question. When can I go to find the best place to scuba dive? And the answer is invariably many and varied. Depending on your interest, almost anywhere is fabulous. I personally have dived in Spring in the UK but also autumn in the Maldives and loads of places in between. They couldn’t have been more different. The Maldives diving was definitely a high point though with less of a struggle to kit up without a wetsuit and the myriad of different fish it was fantastic. Look out for more of my hubs detailing other aspects of and where to find the best places for scuba diving.
Additionally, if you aren’t keen on diving but your partner is, there is generally a great deal to see even if you are just using snorkel gear. And most good dive shops will cater for both the diver and their snorkeling partner. Having said that, if you are planning on buying any scuba gear, it is worthwhile investigating on-line first as in a dive shop you will be surrounded by Mares, SeaQuest, Scubapro and a hundred other different brand names. A good dive shop will help you decide which is right for you but it always helps to be armed with a little knowledge before you go in in case they are a bit unscrupulous – you could end up parting with a lot of money. Just as a warning though, if you are keen on diving and enjoy it, you will always find another gadget to buy, the credit card will definitely get a good deal of use!
Hope this helped and enjoy your diving.