Is scuba diving hard for beginners? This is a pretty common question amongst complete beginners who might be interested in this active recreational pastime.
It’s wonderful to explore the undersea world and to marvel at glorious fish species and coral reefs. But this diving experience can also be scary if you are just starting out.
In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at what it takes to start scuba diving, and we answer some of the most common questions beginners usually have regarding this activity.
So, Is Scuba Diving Hard for Beginners?
If you can breathe through your mouth and can swim, then you are already a very good candidate for scuba diving. Out of all the many water sports or water pastimes, this is actually one of the easiest to master.
This is because most activities require you to build and develop specific muscles and acquire a specific level of fitness or balance, while you only perform three physical activities when you go diving in the deep: floating, kicking, and breathing.
With that said, this activity isn’t something you will master overnight. Becoming a proficient scuba diver involves much more than just floating around in the water. You will need a good grasp of the equipment and safety procedures that go along with this type of activity, or you can easily endanger your own life and the lives of those that go with you.
The bulky equipment required for scuba diving can seem a bit daunting for many, but if you already know how to use a snorkel face mask and snorkeling fins, then you are already halfway efficient.
All that is then left to learn are safety precautions and how basic equipment like your air cylinder, jacket, and breathing regulator work.
All in all, we can say that yes, scuba diving is easy to learn for complete beginners, but it will take a few lessons before you will become a proficient diver.
How Deep Do Beginner Scuba Divers Go?
The beginner scuba diving depth for students is usually 30 to 60 feet, but the industry standard depth limit for any recreational diver is 130 feet.
This basically means that as a student, you will practice diving depths of about 30 to 60 feet, but, once certified, you can go up to 130 feet down into the deep blue sea.
Anything over 60 feet deep is considered a “deep dive” and usually isn’t recommended for complete beginners. There are several reasons for this.
Many marine species are found at shallow depths
The first reason is that most marine species that you might want to view are found up to 60 feet deep under sea level.
Some coral walls or coral reefs do, however, extend up to 110 feet deep under sea level, and shipwrecks are often found 90 feet underwater, which is why some experienced divers do venture deeper.
Air lasts longer
The second reason is that your air lasts longer at a more shallow depth. The deeper you dive, the greater the water pressure becomes. Your diving suit’s air regulator is designed to administer air at the same pressure as the water levels.
This means a lot more air is extracted from your diving tank. At a depth of 100 feet, your air reserves are reduced by up to four times. Where you normally would have a whole hour of diving at a shallow depth, you can only stay underwater for about 15 minutes on a 100-foot dive.
The third reason for staying shallow is because of the effect that compressed water and air have on your body. On shallow dives, your body doesn’t accumulate as much nitrogen and you can stay underwater for longer.
For diving at great depths, you will require additional training, since decompression diving is more complex than the standard recreational diving most people enjoy.
Divers absorb four times more nitrogen at 100 feet underwater. Staying too long at this depth can result in decompression sickness.
For deep diving and to control decompression sickness or nitrogen narcosis, you will need to undergo a lot of extensive deep diving courses and you will also require mixed breathing gasses.
You can dive with just air
For shallow diving, you can get by on conventional air. But for deep diving, you will need additional tanks with mixed breathing gasses, because normal air consists of too much nitrogen.
Deep diving sessions are usually much more expensive as a result, and you will need additional training in order to control or switch between gasses.
How Do I Prepare for My First Scuba Diving?
Before you can go scuba diving, you will need to take a course. Diving underwater isn’t too difficult, but it can be very dangerous to go diving if you are not sure how the equipment works.
The first thing you will need to do is search for a company that provides “scuba diving for beginners near me.” Once you locate a company that offers the training, you will need to decide between the following:
Get basic skills training
This type of course is usually pretty short and basic. You should be able to learn how to dive effectively within 1 to 4 days.
With basic training, you won’t be able to go diving on your own. You will always need to dive with a PADI professional, and you can only dive to depths of up to 60 feet.
Become a certified diver
Obtaining your PADI certification isn’t too difficult either. You will need to take scuba diving lessons for 4 to 7 days.
There are other types of certification organizations for diving, but most people choose to get a PADI Open Water certification because it’s the most-recognized certification across the globe.
When you are PADI certified, you will be able to go scuba diving with a dive buddy, rent your own diving equipment, and get air refills all on your own. Plus, you can book your own diving trips.
While preparing for your first diving trip, you can also do the following:
Watch scuba diving videos for beginners
Scuba diving videos are not comprehensive enough for you to become a diver, but watching these videos will provide plenty of tips and a pretty good idea of what to expect from your training and your first diving expedition.
Buy scuba diving books
Reading scuba diving books can be very helpful if you need advice on the right gear to get and the best places to explore.
There are many scuba diving stories out there that will provide you with an interesting read and allow you to learn from the mistakes other divers might have made on their remarkable adventures.
Scout for diving locations
Diving schools are not always based close to the beach. You can find diving schools in many inland towns or cities, and the training is often done in a swimming pool or a river.
If you are booking a course locally or far away from the sea, then you can start looking for great dive sites with lots of beautiful underwater scenery to marvel at.
As a certified diver, you can find diving companies that offer equipment like wetsuits and diving gear for hire, but there are also plenty of places that offer guided dives for those who do not plan on making a regular hobby out of this activity.
A dive shop or dive center will have all the dive gear you need for your first diving expedition. You won’t have to buy your own gear right off the bat, and you will be able to test the waters before you decide to start investing in your own scuba diving accessories.
Safety Tips for Scuba Diving
Just like any other activity, underwater diving and snorkeling can be dangerous. You can never have enough safety tips or take enough safety precautions before your first dive – or any other future dives for that matter.
Here is a quick look at the best safety tips to keep in mind as a first-time diver.
Book with a PADI professional
It’s a good idea to book your first dive with a PADI professional, even if you’re a certified diver. Most new divers don’t feel too confident with their own skills and know little about their diving environment when they go out into the deep for the very first time.
Having a professional at your side to guide you through unknown territories and practice your skills will bring lots of peace of mind.
Be patient with yourself
It’s natural to feel anxious on your first diving trip. It’s also natural to want to have the perfect diving session the first time you go out into the water.
But, the more excited you feel, the more mistakes you can end up making. Be patient with yourself, and don’t let a bad first experience keep you from diving again.
Most divers have a tough time the first time and become very good at this hobby when they get more dive experience.
Consider a local dive club at first
If you are prone to anxiety, then it might be better to join a local dive club or dive center and gradually build your skills before you enroll in an advanced open water diving course.
Local dive clubs often provide training in a swimming pool, and they’re much more gradual with their training. They will ensure that you grasp each step, and you can practice diving in a safe and secure environment.
Be aware of the risks
Scuba diving can be dangerous, and it’s always good to know about all the common risks associated with these activities. You should know about potentially dangerous conditions or scenarios like the following:
Barotrauma – This occurs when you rise to the water surface too quickly and the air in your lungs expands, causing damage to body tissue and your lungs.
In extreme cases, barotrauma can result in lung collapse. It can also cause air bubbles to escape into your body and bloodstream (arterial gas embolism), which may cause chest pain, breathing difficulties, and stroke.
Decompression sickness – Decompression sickness can also happen when you rise to the water surface. This sometimes happens when nitrogen gas dissolves into body tissues and forms bubbles in your blood.
Drowning – This can occur when a diver starts to panic and lose consciousness.
Don’t dive if you’re not comfortable
The most important safety tip is not to dive if you don’t feel comfortable with your abilities or if you don’t feel comfortable with your dive professional or guide. It’s also important not to dive outside of your parameters and to never push yourself too hard.
Don’t hold your breath while ascending
It is very important to keep breathing normally as you ascend slowly. If you hold your breath, you have a greater risk of developing medical problems.
Learn more about your environment
Try to learn as much as you can about your environment, the fish species, coral, and other hazards that you will have to avoid when you go diving.
It’s easier to stay calm underwater when you are familiar with your environment and the species you are likely to encounter.
So, is scuba diving hard for beginners? Not if you have a good instructor guiding you.
Scuba diving is easy compared to many other water sports and recreational activities. Just about anyone can enjoy a guided scuba diving course or get trained and become certified to dive alone.
This hobby can bring lots of joy on your dive vacation and will enable you to explore a whole new world in person.
We hope that you found this guide useful. If you need more advice or decide to start investing in scuba diving gear like dive masks or a dive watch, then you should have a look at some of the other guides we have at Scuba Diving Books!