Should I get scuba certified?

Aug 25th, 2005, 10:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 56
Should I get scuba certified?

I have been going back and forth on whether or not we should get scuba certified while we are in the cook islands. We really enjoy scuba diving the last time we did it, but if we were to get certified, it would be a full 3-4 days (8am to 4pm) of classroom, lagoon dives, and open water dive (we will be in raro for 6 days). I know I have the option to do the classroom and pool dives at home before we go to cook islands, but the cost would be a lot more than just doing it all in one place.

The main reason we are going back and forth is because, I can't really see what the benefit of being certified is. I can't imagine ever going diving without a guide and isn't all the dives with guides always have some beginners slowing you down? I know you can go deeper, but if you are with beginners who can't, would you still be able to? Can you please help me on my decision? Thanks!
swiggle75 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,521
I got PADI OW-certified in Raro about 7 years ago, from Pacific Divers ( Since then I've logged about 50 hours of 'bottom time', in the Cooks, Fiji, Tonga, Australia, French Poly, Hawaii, and Florida. I regret not getting certified sooner, because I missed out on diving at other places too.

I rarely dive without a guide (maybe 10% of the time), but I also have very rarely dived with novices. You are not going to find beginners on deep dives or dives that involve swim-throughs and/or currents. Most companies have separate dives for beginners and intermediates. When you show up as an OW-certified diver with a few dives in your log book, they assume that you know what you are doing, and your guide is just showing you where to go, as opposed to how to maintain neutral bouyancy, breathe properly, or use your instruments. If you intend to visit good diving locations in the future, I would definitely get OW-certified.

It is true that you will spend some of your vacation time in a classroom setting, but it isn't really that much. Most of the last 2 days will be in the water, and the last day you will be taking a couple of dives that would be very similar to those taken by certified divers. So, think of that last day as part of your vacation, where you went diving instead of snorkeling; and you are only 'losing' two days of your vacation. Even so, you will have plenty of time to hang out on a beach, go out to dinner, etc. on the days you are in the classroom.

Finally, I cannot recommend Pacific Divers highly enough. Their classes are small, usually 6-8 participants; and their boats can only take a small number, so you are going to have great one-on-one instruction. Now that I have dived with lots of other buddies, I feel that I can say that I was generally better-prepared and safer than people I have met who took the suposedly identical course elsewhere.

Do it!
ALF is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 56
oh my god, ALF!!! You totally convinced me!! Pacific Divers is who we were thinking of going with too! I didn't realize that most dive shops offer both classes for beginners and intermediates. Thank you!!
swiggle75 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 10:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,521
If you see Graham or Chrissie MacDonald, say 'hi' for me (Al Friedman, from Seattle). He may remember me as the one who lost his nice diving watch while climbing back into the boat after a dive. The wrist strap caught on my BCD, and it fell into the water, drifting down to the bottom at 60-70 ft. I cursed my luck, but when I dropped by the next day, he handed me my watch. They went out that night and found it for me!

My impression is that the MacDonalds are semi-retired now, and have passed the business on to the Lyons. Have a great time!
ALF is offline  
Aug 26th, 2005, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4
I'd get certified beforehand. The pacific dives are rougher than North American dives, since the topography of the south pacific gives alot of wall dives and more elaborate coral formations.
geori is offline  
Aug 26th, 2005, 12:56 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 27
Hi Swiggle75,
I just wanted to put my 3.5 cents in. While we were on our 4 day visit to Cairns, we took the three day/two night '' experience. Visited three sites: Hastings Reef, Saxon Reef, and Norman Reef. I decided to get certified and it turned out to be through an organization called "SSI". Prior to this trip, I was only familiar with PADI and NAUI. In any case, we had 4 people going through the Open Water certication process on one of my days and then it was just me and the instructor on the other two days. My wife did the "No School Scuba" (NSS) where instructors took them out and helped them with all of their bouyancy issues, breathing, hand holding, etc. (i.e., non certified folks). My certification took place entirely on the GBR and there was no swimming pool. It was the most amazing 'swimming pool' classroom you'll ever want to be in. I recall kneeling at the bottom of the reef (appx 15 meters) and going through the exercise of removing my tank and also removing my weight belt and putting them back on when my instructor motioned for me to look over my right shoulder. When I did, I was about 15 feet from a 4 foot long Wally (the Maori Wrasse fish) which was just chilling out watching my scuba technique. I remember thinking, what an awesome classroom experience!! Not going to see spectators like that in Washington DC classroom facilities. Anyway, now that I'm certified, I'm not really sure how respected the SSI Open Water certification really is but I have been assured that they're good in Australia and supposedly all over the world. I guess I'll find out. The more interesting part of my certification was that we dived and just explored the reef for at least half of all of our dives. I don't feel like I missed out on anything as far as seeing the incredible underwater life of the GBR. In fact, I feel like I got a bonus - in that I was able to see some great wildlife AND finished my experience with a certification. (9 dives in three days and that included one night dive) By the way, this was the first time I had ever scuba dived before.

Oddly enough, I met a gentleman on the boat that said this was his 27th dive and has dived all over the world but he was not certified. He just likes to go out and do the NSS stuff. He obviously knows how to dive but for some reason he hasn't been certified. Doesn't make sense to me but some folks like it that way I guess.
Reallyblessed is offline  
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