Do you want to learn how to scuba dive? Well let me tell you, learning how to scuba dive will be one of the most exciting, surreal, rewarding, brain-puzzling, action packed things you’ve ever done! Before you dive into the deep end, let’s look at everything you need to know before you embark on your scuba diving journey and complete your Open Water Course!

Whether you are completing a PADI Open Water Course or heading out to our Madagascar marine site and undertaking an SSI Open Water Course, the same basic course structure applies. Your OWC (Open Water Course – disclaimer, prepare yourself for lots of acronyms during your course, us divers love acronyms) will be split in three main sections:

1. Theory: before you jump in the water you will spend some time in the classroom with your instructor. These first sessions are super important as they introduce you to safety issues, how the underwater world differs to land and why we need to be aware of this, your diving equipment, objectives of the course, and the skills you will be learning. This is where doing your ‘homework’ beforehand and looking at the eLearning material will give you an advantage. At the end of each section, you will have a knowledge review and/or quiz to check your understanding, and plenty of time to ask your instructor any questions. Oh, and there is a final exam but don’t worry, you will have plenty of time to prepare and you’ll be a scuba diving pro by then anyway!

2. Confined Water: the next step is all about slowly getting you used to your diving equipment, taking your first breath (this bit is absolutely amazing!!), and getting you feeling comfortable under the water. Scuba diving is awesome but, it is unlike anything you may have done before, so it is completely natural to feel a bit apprehensive at first. Just make sure you communicate with your instructor, stay calm, and be patient with yourself. Throughout the confined water sessions, you will build your confidence, start getting to grips with your buoyancy (arguably the most important skill of all) and work through a range of basic skills, most of which are for safety. You will learn all sorts of skills, from clearing your mask, to removing and recovering your regulator. Your confined water sessions will either be completed in a swimming pool or in the sea in pool like conditions, no deeper than 5m.

3. Open Water:
the third section is your open water dives; you will have four qualifying open water dives. The maximum depth for the first two dives is 12m and for the second two it is 18m. On each of these dives you will practice the skills you learnt in your confined water sessions. The objective of these dives is to test your competence and safety as a diver (get used to hearing the word safety a lot, it is really important), to allow you chance to practice practice practice your buoyancy, and most importantly to have fun and see some incredible marine life!!


With an Open Water Qualification, you are now free to go diving all around the globe and explore the incredible underwater world. Your Open Water is a globally recognized certification which allows you to dive to a maximum depth of 18m with a buddy. The world’s your oyster now!! You can ‘fun dive’ or start thinking about your next course and certification; I’ve heard the Advanced Open Water Course is a brilliant next step…

Frequently Asked Questions

As an instructor I get asked a lot of questions by my students, and here at Opwall we frequently get asked about the Open Water Course, so let me share with you just a few of our FAQs and myth busters!

Do I need to see a doctor or dive medic before expedition to be able to SCUBA dive?
As soon as you book your place on an expedition, you should log on to your Opwall portal and complete the medical questionnaire. After completing this you will either be a) medically cleared to dive b) required to see a doctor or c) required to see a dive medic. Getting a medical check is on a case by case basis as it is determined by the answers you give on your medical history & conditions. If you have any questions feel free to email

What do I need to do before I go on expedition?
After you have completed your medical questionnaire on the portal (and gotten any medical checks required to be cleared to dive), you can sit back and wait until you receive an email from us with instructions on how to register an account with PADI. This should be a couple of weeks before your expedition start date. Once you have made an account with PADI, you will need to add a photo to your PADI profile and download your eLearning materials on a device that you will bring with you on expedition. Detailed instructions will be on the email we send. You will learn all the theory on expedition with our dive instructors, however having the learning materials downloaded on your device is a must as most of our sites do not have reliable WiFi.

You can only become a diver if you’re an excellent swimmer.
False. Although diving is often labelled as an ‘extreme sport’, you will soon learn that the best divers are calm and relaxed in the water, and swim slowly; I was always told if you think you’re swimming slowly, swim slower. You don’t need to be the next Adam Peaty or Rebecca Adlington, you just need to pass two basic swim tests and demonstrate that you can:

  • Float or tread water for 10 minutes without the use of any flotation aids.
  • Swim 200 metres (or 300 metres with mask, fins, and snorkel) without stopping. There is no time limit, and you may use any swimming strokes you wish.

I need to buy a ton of expensive equipment.          
Don’t worry, you definitely don’t! You will be able to hire equipment onsite (with the exception of a wetsuit) or alternatively you can bring your own kit. If you wish to buy equipment beforehand, such as a mask and snorkel, keep your eye out for our diving equipment blog post coming soon. Remember to read your kit lists very closely as the requirements for each of our marine sites differs slightly.

Will I be eaten by sharks?
This is a very common question to be asked as an instructor. To put it simply, we are not part of their diet and sharks do not seek out us meager scuba divers for lunch! It would be wrong for me to say definitively that sharks do not attack divers, however the number of incidents is extremely low, and it is a rare occurrence. If there is a possibility you will encounter sharks on your dive, your instructor will brief you beforehand. If you are lucky enough to ever dive with sharks, you will probably find they are shy and very disinterested in you and your dive buddy.

Can I go diving on my period?
The short answer is yes, of course you can! But if you want to find out more information head over to this awesome page – Girls That Scuba – and check out their blog post here.

Why can’t I do the Reef Ecology and Open Water Course at the same time?
Unfortunately, you cannot complete both of these courses simultaneously, there just aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week!! Both of these courses are brilliant and fun and exciting, but they are also time consuming and tiring, you physically and logistically can’t do them both at the same time. But why not book a longer Opwall expedition and then you can do them both? That’s what I did!

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