Learning to Scuba Dive

So, you’re thinking of learning to scuba dive… great! Scuba diving is an exciting adventure and one you can enjoy all over the world, but we believe the best place to learn is here in Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

Here at Divers Den in Cairns we teach scuba diving at all levels, from kids’ programs and basic Open Water certification, to advanced courses, specialties and professional development (becoming a scuba instructor). We’re proud to be a PADI 5-Star Career Development and Instructor Development Center and have certified more than 150,000 divers over the years.

Here’s some information on learning to scuba dive in Cairns. Read on to find out what our dive courses involve, why you should choose to learn to dive with Divers Den, and where your scuba diving journey could take you next.

How do I learn to scuba dive?

The first step in learning to scuba dive is the PADI Open Water Diver course. This is divided into three parts: learning the theory, practising your scuba skills in our pool, and finally diving in open water on the Great Barrier Reef.

1. Theory (knowledge development)

During classroom sessions at our dive school, your instructor will teach you the basic principles of scuba diving so that you understand how scuba gear works, how to descend and ascend safely, and other diving procedures, like how to communicate underwater with hand signals.

You’ll receive a PADI Open Water Diver Manual to help you study and refresh your knowledge, watch videos that demonstrate various skills and theories, and test your knowledge with quizzes.

You can also complete this part of the course at home (or anywhere in the world!) using PADI’s eLearning resources.

There’s a final exam at the end of your learning to dive course to make sure you have mastered all the knowledge and are ready for your open water dives.

2. Pool Sessions

After each classroom session you’ll hop into our covered, heated dive pool to try out your new scuba diving skills! Your instructor will demonstrate each skill first and help you practise. You’ll cover everything from setting up your scuba gear to getting in and out of the water, controlling your buoyancy, navigating underwater and staying safe.

Your instructor will be with you every step of the way and will make sure you’re ready to progress to scuba diving in the open water.

3. Open Water Dives

The most exciting part about learning to dive! Once you’ve mastered your skills in the pool, it’s time to head out to the outer Great Barrier Reef.

Over two days you’ll complete four open water dives with your instructor, trying out all the skills you learned in the pool in the ‘real world’ and beginning to explore the amazing marine life on the reef.

Once you’re certified, if time permits, you’ll also enjoy your first ‘fun’ dive! Welcome to the wonderful world of certified scuba diving.

How long does learning to dive take?

Our basic Open Water Diver course takes four days, with two days of classroom and pool time, and two days at sea. We’ve made our course options as flexible as possible, so you can choose the best option for you. Options include:

  • Taking the course over four consecutive days, or splitting it over two weekends
  • Doing your open water dives over two day trips, or enjoying an overnight stay on our liveaboard boat OceanQuest
  • Completing your knowledge development first with PADI eLearning
  • Starting your training elsewhere and finishing with us (referral courses)

What are the requirements for learning to scuba dive?

Almost anyone can become a certified scuba diver! There are a few prerequisites:

  • You need to be at least 10 years old. Students aged 10-14 will get a special Junior Open Water Diver certification which they can upgrade when they turn 15. If you’re under 12 years old, we need to know in advance as you’ll need a private instructor for your open water dives.
  • You’ll need to complete a medical questionnaire. These are designed to find out if you need a doctor’s medical exam or clearance before participating in our training or dive trips.
  • You’ll need basic water skills. These are tested on Day 1 of your course, including swimming 200 metres without stopping, and floating/treading water for 10 minutes.

Check out our Can I Dive page for more information.

What if I’m not ready for scuba diving on my own?

You can try scuba diving in the open water without taking a course. This is called an introductory or ‘intro’ dive and you can experience it on our day and overnight trips. You’ll be in a small group with a dedicated instructor. They will give you a full briefing on how to use your equipment and take you underwater so you can experience scuba diving for the first time. We bet you’ll be hooked!

If you’re keen to learn to scuba dive, but not quite ready for the full Open Water Diver Course, we also offer the PADI Scuba Diver course. This qualification allows you to dive to depths of 12 metres when accompanied by a parent, guardian or PADI professional. It’s available for anyone aged 10 and over.

The skills and dive experience gained through the Scuba Diver certification can also be credited towards the Open Water Diver course when you’re ready. Just upgrade with one more pool and classroom session to complete your knowledge, and one more day trip to the reef.

Is learning to scuba dive expensive?

Learning to scuba dive is a fun and rewarding activity. It gives you a certification and skills that you can use for the rest of your life, all over the world. The value of what you’ll receive in return for your course fees is hard to overestimate!

At Divers Den you’ll learn under the supervision of trained PADI professionals who are passionate about sharing their scuba expertise with others and introducing them to a life of adventure.

Our course fees (unless otherwise specified) include all PADI materials, all the dive equipment you’ll need, meals on our day trip or overnight boats, and transfers from your Cairns city accommodation. They also include your day or overnight trips to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s natural wonders.

Do I need to buy my own scuba diving gear?

We’ll fit you with all the scuba equipment you need for your course, including snorkel, mask, fins, wetsuit/lycra suit, tanks, weights, buoyancy control device (BCD), and regulator.

Our 5-Star Dive Centre has a dive shop carrying a wide range of top scuba gear if you’d like to invest in your own. Talk to your instructor or our friendly staff for help choosing the right gear for you.

What can I do next once I’ve learned to scuba dive?

With a PADI Open Water certification, the world is your oyster! You’re certified to dive to depths of 18 metres with a buddy, anywhere in the world. Enjoy the freedom and adventure that comes with exploring underwater.

Certified divers can join our day trips and overnight trips to the Great Barrier Reef and discover the beauty of our outer reef dive sites. On our overnight trips, certified divers can also take part in night dives, including our exclusive Sharks in the Dark and fluoro diving experiences.

If you’d like to extend your skills and venture further, you can progress through the PADI courses and add to your qualifications.

The natural progression is the Advanced Open Water certification, which builds on your open water skills and qualifies you to dive to depths of 30 metres.

PADI Specialties and further certifications

As an Open Water or Advanced Diver you can also take a variety of PADI specialty courses. These are short diving courses designed to enhance your skills in a particular area of diving, like underwater photography, navigation or night diving. One of our most popular specialty courses is the Enriched Air (Nitrox) Diver specialty, which qualifies you to use Nitrox tanks when diving. We also proudly offer our own exclusive PADI distinctive specialty, the Minke Whale Awareness specialty.

Keep challenging yourself with the Rescue Diver certification and learn how to act in an emergency and rescue other divers if needed.

Once you’ve achieved these qualifications, taken at least five specialty courses, and logged a minimum of 50 dives, you’ll join an elite few who have attained the rank of Master Scuba Diver!

From learning to dive, to teaching others…

If scuba diving has become a true passion, why not make it your career? Talk to us about becoming a PADI professional, working your way through the Divemaster certification with a view to gaining your instructor qualification and inspiring a new generation of scuba divers.

Ready to get started? Your scuba diving journey begins here…