What You Need to Know
Are you looking at getting a SCUBA certification? Has the underwater world always intrigued you? Do you have lots of questions and concerns?
Learn to SCUBA Dive from Johannesburg
In this article we have included our SCUBA experts from Adventure Mania based in Sodwana to help explain all you would need to know about learning to SCUBA Dive from Johannesburg. We will cover important aspects such as how to get a recreational scuba diving certification. This would include everything a beginner diver needs to consider before signing up for a scuba class, either at home or while on holiday in Sodwana.
And guess what? It is easy to get certified. Read on and you’ll find out what you can expect from scuba diving lessons and the oceanic environment of Sodwana. Once qualified, you will be able to dive confidently in the open water and travel to some incredible dive spots all around the world from the Red Sea to the Maldives.
The article will include fact filled links to SCUBA equipment, the marine environment, health requirements and practical suggestions to ensure your safety in the ocean. This article was written as an introduction to people who have only dreamed about learning to scuba dive, whether you are in Johannesburg or would prefer to get qualified in Sodwana. In an ever-changing world that promotes the sustained well-being and respect for our planet, the ocean and our resources, SCUBA diving is the perfect way to immerse yourself in a magical world of beauty and wonder.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, will forever hold you forever in its net of wonder.”
– Jacques Cousteau
What is scuba diving?
They say that adventure travel is the fastest growing trend in the world today. People are looking for more interactive and activity-based experiences. Scuba diving provides something for everyone. It’s a hobby, a sport, a form of tourism, a spiritual activity, and a lifestyle.
What does SCUBA stand for? It is obviously an acronym that stands for ‘Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus’. To simplify that…. SCUBA diving will involve you strapping a tank of air to your back and floating weightlessly in the ocean wile breathing underwater. Pretty cool concept, right? And that’s not all. The real adventure is getting to experience the utter beauty and magic of the underwater environment. Basically, you will be spending about 50-minutes gliding over the coral reefs, swimming among the various fish species and taking in the mind-blowing colours, formations and sounds of the ocean realm.
Do I need to get certified in order to dive?
The answer is YES. You will not be allowed to dive in Sodwana or any other dive resort for the matter without having a proper SCUBA diving qualification. Learning to SCUBA dive from Johannesburg is not dangerous. There are obviously some risks when the training and guidelines are not followed. That is where our years of industry experience will benefit you. We will guide you through all aspects of the SCUBA dive course. Although there are many certifications out there, we have opted to support Raid which is facilitated through Adventure Mania, a renowned dive operator based in Sodwana. Their leading dive instructors in collaboration with South Africa Adventures staff in Johannesburg will take you through the learning curriculum, practical lessons as well as the final open water sea dive.
Can I dive without getting certified?
Yes, but just on a trial basis under supervision. We offer non-certification programs from Sodwana only. Taking one of the “discover scuba diving” options gives you the chance to see if being underwater freaks you out before committing to a full open water course. How it works? Our dive instructors will spend a session in the pool with you. They will take you through the basic safety protocol of learning to SCUBA dive. It is here you will get a taste of the small demands of a SCUBA dive. If you’re nervous or anxious about starting scuba diving certification, this is the best way to find out if it isn’t something for you.
Learn How to Dive: Open Water Certification
For those of you (especially the landlocked folk from Johannesburg) who do not necessarily have a feel for the open water, it is always best to feel comfortable in an aquatic environment. Your goal is to understand the open water conditions and thus ensure you have the safest and most enjoyable experience. The ecosystem of the ocean is way different to that of say the Kruger. Let’s start with explaining ‘open water’. This diving concept refers to underwater diving in an unconfined water environment. That would include the ocean, quarries and dams.
The first thing you will need before you learn to SCUBA dive is schedule a visit to your family doctor. You will need to fill out a medical form that declares you are good to go. If you have any type of medical condition, that could hamper your diving course your doctor will need to sign it off. Some medical conditions that could pose a problem include Asthma, Epilepsy, pregnancy and being a Lions Rugby Supporter.
What SCUBA certification do we recommend?
There are various certifications available from PADI, NAUI, SSI and Dive Raid. We have partnered up with the team at Adventure Mania who are based in Sodwana. Their team of highly experiences instructors offer a SCUBA diving qualification through Raid. The course is a mixture of online (e-learning) theory, pool sessions and 4 open water qualifying dives. The online part of the course can be completed in Johannesburg before the final qualifying dives in Sodwana. South Africa Adventures will help with the logistics, transport, accommodation and smooth running of the course from the moment you sign up in Johannesburg to the moment you qualify in Sodwana. For more information on the RAID diving qualification you can check out their site: https://www.diveraid.com/
What do Scuba Diving Lessons teach?
Learning to SCUBA dive from Johannesburg is fun. How long does it take? The online theory can be done at your own time. The only prerequisite is that it is done before you start your practical lessons. The majority of course information is digital. E-learning is a convenient way to learn at your pace and time. Once completed, the norm is to head on down to Sodwana to meet the team from Adventure Mania to complete the practical aspects of the course. We suggest you take at least 4 days for this. Part of South Africa Adventures involvement is the transport and logistics to Sodwana.
Scuba diving lessons consist of 3 modules. Certification is dependent on completing all three in order:
1. Theory: Through the E-Learning modules that you will have access to.
2. Confined water dives: in a pool with scuba gear, and
3. Open water dives: this includes 4 dives the student can try only after successful completion of the previous 2 sections.
4. Among other things, the open water course will teach you how to:
• Plan a dive, calculating for depth and time,
• Control your buoyancy above and below the surface,
• Easily clear your mask underwater,
• Communicate underwater using hand signals
• Use and understand scuba equipment, and
• Understand weather phenomena so you can take appropriate actions to avoid danger.
Open water courses will also teach you about how the body reacts underwater and how to avoid decompression sickness and how to recognize warning signs before they develop into dangerous conditions.
Can I take my kids SCUBA diving?
SCUBA diving can easily become a family oriented recreational activity. Most people wonder whether kids can go scuba diving. The answer is, absolutely. The minimum age is 12. They would obviously just ned to understand the course material and rules. A junior scuba certification card allows the holder to dive to 12 metres as long as they are accompanied by a certified parent/guardian or a RAID professional (Divemaster/Instructor).
What does a scuba certification cost?
How the curse will cost you is all dependent on a few factors. The actual course which includes the registration process, E-learning modules, all equipment needed for the course, 2 pool sessions, 4 open water dives in Sodwana is R4,500 per person. That would be for the RAID qualification. If you were to include the transport and accommodation services to Sodwana, the cost would be R9,500 per person. (that would include the RAID SCUBA qualification, return transport from Johannesburg, 3 nights’ accommodation in Sodwana, 3 dinners, all park fees).
What can you do with your scuba certification?
Once you are qualified and have received your C-Card, the world is literally your oyster. You can dive at any dive resort in the world. (subject to the dive limits set for your level of qualification). There is also the option to take your SCUBA experience further by signing up for other courses like Rescue Diver, Advanced Diver and DiveMaster). Your C-Card will also allow you to rent equipment and will never expire. It will be possible to do multiple dives per day if you stay within your decompression limits.
The cost of recreational diving
If you are wondering how much a dive costs once you are qualified, it is all dependent on the region, location and dive operator. Keep it local!!! With the current rand dollar exchange rate, you will be looking at well over R1500 per dive in say the Maldives. Many operators in local dive spots will offer ‘5 dive packages’ that work out cheaper. The average cost per dive in Sodwana is about R350 per dive. That would not include the equipment hire. It would work out a lot cheaper to purchase your own equipment in time.
What scuba diving equipment do I need?
Word to the wise: wait at least until you’ve tried an open water dive or two before investing in equipment.
You’ll have a better feel for what you need and what you like. However, many people can’t help themselves, tempted by the allure of gadgets and gear. When you get your scuba license, you’ll start to think a lot about the wonderful world of SCUBA equipment. When you get to that phase, allow the team at Adventure Mania and South Africa Adventures help you choose the correct gear for your personal requirements. We offer online purchase as well as in store equipment for sale.
We recommend that the first part of equipment you buy is a well-fitting scuba mask and fins. They are also great for snorkelling. An underwater camera is a cool piece of equipment to have. You can salivate over your pictures when not diving. We recommend that you again wait a bit before investing on one. Facebook isn’t going anywhere. So just enjoy the first couple of dives first.
What about a dive computer? In modern day SCUBA diving, these have become so central to planning and logging of dives. The aim of a computer is log dives and warn you if you approach depth or length of time that might be dangerous. Part of your course will include the learning of old school dive tables where you will understand your dive limits. You will also be diving with a Divemaster who will set the dive time and depth. Although a computer is a necessity you can also wait a few dives before investing in one.
Summary of gear needed
Here is a summary of the gear you will need
• A mask
• A regulator
• A BCD (Buoyancy Control Device)
• A wetsuit (to stay warm)
• A weight belt to help descent
Can you dive if you wear glasses?
It is obviously not possible to dive while wearing your actual glasses. The way to get around this is too either invest in a prescription dive mask or wear contact lenses.
How safe is scuba diving?
Scuba diving in South Africa has an excellent safety record. There are millions of recreational divers, diving every year and so few accidents. Statistically, diving is safer than driving or skydiving. The Divers Alert Network (DAN), a scuba-focused think tank, estimates that there are probably fewer than 2 deaths for every million recreational dives.
Procedural errors or failure to properly follow rules or protocols is the leading cause of scuba diving mishaps. Data collected by DAN reveals that many injuries and fatalities result from bad judgment calls. Often, these calamities involve more experienced divers rather than tragedies involving beginner divers randomly struck down. Your diving certification and training is the key to a safe dive.
Upgrading your scuba certificate
If the SCUBA bug bites, there is the option to pursue more technical courses to enhance your experience. The courses available include:
• Rescue Diver
Is SCUBA diving eco-friendly?
A scuba certification teaches respect for the ocean, its creatures and corals. Don’t touch anything and don’t leave anything behind is the fundamental law when diving. “Take only pictures, leave only bubbles,” we say. Being a responsible diver is self-evident and requires very little brainwashing to generate respect. We are visitors to the underrater realm and quickly learn to behave appropriately. Coral reefs, for example, are not to be touched nor harvested for souvenirs.
The thought of floating weightless, breathing underwater and seeing the amazing world of Neptune is something most people cannot wait to do. We believe that diving will change your life forever. You will meet some incredible like-minded people along the way. Scuba diving in the open water is tranquillity itself in a sublime sea of living poetry. Being a scuba diver is a way of life, with its own community and language and a path to respect and protect the marine environment.
But before you can kit-up with a scuba tank on your back and back-roll into waters of Sodwana or Aliwal Shoal, you need to get trained. If you’ve read this far, you’re likely well on your way to your next bucket list adventure. If you have any questions about getting certified, getting started or about getting into more technical diving, drop us a line in the comment field below. It may also help another curious soul who reads it.