9 Questions All Beginner Divers Have About Diving (But Are Too Afraid to Ask!)
With decades of combined experience, our certified PADI instructors here at Dive Maui have heard and seen it all. We find that we frequently get some of the same questions and thought it would be fun to dispel some of the more common myths and rumors here in this blog post. So, without further ado, here are nine of the most common questions we get from novice divers here at the dive shop.
What is There to See Underwater?
One of the biggest misnomers about scuba diving is that it is dark or difficult to see underwater. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, under the surface the water is full of various colorful and exotic marine life and fauna. And we might be predisposed, but one of our favorite dives to do is through the craggy volcanic underwater landscape that makes up the breathtaking Lanai Cathedrals.
In warmer water (such as Maui) sunlight often extends down and provides visibility for up to 100 feet. Beyond that range, colors such as reds will be the first to disappear, giving everything a blueish tint. For this reason, many divers bring flashlights with them.
And you don’t have to go diving solely in tropical waters to witness cool sights. There is plenty to see and explore in more temperate climates, from kelp forests in the Pacific Northwest to WWII-era planes and shipwrecks from various eras off the East Coast and Great Lakes. This makes diving more than just a vacation activity and something most divers can pursue nearly year-round.
Am I Too Old, Young, or Out of Shape to Scuba?
This is another big question that we get all the time. Most people who have never dived before think that you have to be built like Michael Phelps in order to dive. They worry that they may be too old or out of shape to learn, or that diving isn’t a good activity for families as their kids won’t be able to take part.
For the most part, these fears are overblown. First of all, there is no upper age limit on learning to scuba dive, as long as you can be cleared to do so medically. In fact, most experienced divers are able to enjoy the sport well into their 70s or 80s with no issues.
Minimum Age for Diving
There is, however, usually a minimum age limit. This will vary depending on what certification agency you are using, but 10-years-old is when children can obtain PADI certifications. By the time adolescents are 15-or 16-years-old, they are normally treated the same as adults for the purposes of certifications and diving. This makes diving a fantastic option for parents looking for something their teens will enjoy doing as a family.
Fitness Level for Diving
The last piece of the question relates to an individual’s fitness. While diving is still an active sport that requires a reasonable amount of fitness, it is still far less physically stressful than you might think. In general, to start diving you just need to be comfortable in the water and able to pass a 200-yard swimming test for your certification. This means that divers with all sorts of body types and levels of fitness can enjoy diving.
And once most people get hooked on diving, they generally will look to improve their own level of fitness. Because having better physical health often leads to a stronger and more efficient respiratory system, which means dives can be longer as the diver will use less oxygen.
Isn’t Scuba Diving an Expensive Hobby? (Will I need my own equipment?)
Some people still believe that diving is a prohibitively expensive pastime, one that only the wealthy can afford. In reality, with proper planning, diving lessons can cost as much or as little as most other recreational activities such as rock climbing, surfing, golfing, or water skiing. Of course, there will be some upfront expenses, the largest of which will most likely be your initial dive course for certification.
But after you get certified you will have a better idea of how to properly plan and budget for your diving trips, just as you would for any other activity. And in truth, the cost of a diving trip is often more reasonable than a night out on the town!
There are also plenty of other ways to save money. For example, it is recommended that you start off by renting most of your diving gear until you are sure that diving is something you want to stick with. Not only will this allow you to try out some of the latest gear and find what types you like, but this will also save you money and allow you to plan for the purchase of your own gear later.
Another way you can save money is on your travel or lodging. Pay attention to prices associated with diving destinations you want to visit, a good deal on flights or hotels can easily help pay for a diving session or two. For more tips on how to save money when visiting Maui, be sure to check out our post here.
Still not sure if diving is affordable for your budget? Try our discovery diver package, this will get you in the water to give diving a try—no matter your previous experience level—and the cost is only $125 dollars per diver!
Is Breathing Underwater Hard?
Breathing underwater should be just as easy as it is on land. When diving you are able to pull breaths without restriction whenever you want. And the air shouldn’t have any noticeable taste or flavor, other than what you might get from your rubber mouthpiece.
Will Diving Make My Ears Hurt?
Most people who ask this question have had the experience of swimming to the bottom of the deep end of a pool and experiencing the accompanying ear discomfort. This earache is due to a pressure imbalance between the middle ear canal and the pressure of the water outside it. Dealing with this imbalance is something you are taught to prevent in any diving course.
Getting the proper balance and avoiding ear discomfort due to varying pressure levels isn’t hard, and normally this is accomplished through equalizing your ears frequently during decent or by using an exercise called the Valsalva maneuver. Once you’ve learned the proper way to do it, this should rarely be an issue for you while you dive.
How Deep Do I Have to Dive to Get Certified?
Newbies will be eased into diving greater depths. Typically, your first two dives will max out at 12 meters, (and less than that for children aged 10 or 11). Your next two dives will max out at 18 meters.
However, it should be noted that these are maximums, and the only real minimum for your dives is 5-meters. Discuss this with your instructor beforehand if you are uncomfortable going deeper and they will be sure to tailor your dives to your needs and comfort level.
What If I Run into a Shark? (Is diving dangerous?)
While there certainly is risk involved with any activity such as diving, running into sharks underwater is actually relatively rare. This regularly happens in only a small number of dive sites around the world. However, it is always best to observe your natural environment instead of interacting with it directly when diving. (And if you really want a chance to dive with sharks, we have tour packages that offer just that!)
It says a lot that the most common difficulties a diver may experience are easily preventable—such as sunburns and dehydration.
Do I have Time to Get Certified on Vacation? (How long will it take?)
Becoming PADI open water certified will require two full days of diving (with diving theory completed beforehand).
One of the great things about modern technology is that it allows you to do most of the theory aspects of a diving certification course from the comfort of your own home. Utilizing PADI eLearning means that you can easily get the most out of the time you have to do more dives and get comfortable in the water.
The only thing to keep in mind when planning your vacation is that you will want at least 24-hours between your last dive and any flights you may have to take. Most divers accommodate this easily by scheduling a “down day” (a day with no diving) preceding whatever flight they are taking.
And if you don’t have time to complete a full certification course during your vacation, you can always use a referral to complete your training at leisure closer to home.
Will My Scuba Certification Expire?
Once you’ve obtained a PADI scuba certification it is good for life. This makes the initial diving certification course a great investment.
And if it has been a while since your last dive and you feel like your skills may have atrophied, there are also Scuba refresher courses that are available to get you comfortable diving again.
We hope that this answers some of your burning questions about diving and helps you realize what a fun, affordable, and safe pastime diving can be. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Dive Maui, and we hope to see you on the island (and underwater) soon!