You are able to get a basic scuba certification in just a matter of days. There are several different organizations to choose from when looking at diving certifications. The most well-known and largest is the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI). There are several other agencies that also certify such as BSAC, SSI, SDI, and probably the newest kid on the block RAID. These different organizations don’t differ a great deal and really, when looking at getting your certification(s), you should look for a good instructor rather than the agency.
The biggest prerequisite to diving is the ability to swim, though I have heard about professional divers who can’t actually swim or swim poorly. Diving is my favorite thing to do in the world because it is an escape from the busyness and noise of life and those who slow down and breathe deeply are rewarded with better air consumption, which may result in a longer dive. For some, scuba diving may sound like scary activity accompanied by flashbacks of Jaws…in 2015 you are more likely to have died from taking a selfie than a shark. However, for those who are nervous about getting their feet wet, there is a program called Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) or Try Scuba Diving (TSD). These programs are going to pair you with an experienced diver, in a small group, to teach and lead you on your very first dive, this is not a certification.
is something you can do all over the world. Sure you can scuba dive in the sea, but lakes, rivers, and missile silos can be opened for you to explore after certification. If you are interested in getting certified, you can do it almost anywhere in the world. Koh Tao, Thailand isn’t too far away and almost the entire island is built for divers. Normally on Koh Tao, it takes four days to get certified, but if you think you’ll be comfortable pushing yourself to learn things quickly, you can finish in three days. Koh Tao isn’t world class diving, but it is a place that is great to learn, as the water is warm, mostly calm, has a good variety of sea life, and dozens of experienced instructors inhabit the island.
After getting your basic certification, it usually doesn’t stop there as there are dozens of different levels and specializations that you can pursue, like search and recovery, wreck, and zombie apocalypse (yes, it is really a certification). Once addicted to scuba, you’ll start dreaming of different places to dive like the USAT Liberty (Bali), Raja Ampat (West Papua, Indonesia), or Sipadan (Semporna, Malaysia), which Jacques Cousteau called a “piece of art.” This is an expensive hobby, and normally doesn’t pay well when done professionally, but it can be the experience of a lifetime. If you are interested in getting certified, there are English speaking instructors right here in Korea. Contact 38th Parallel Divers, Scuba in Korea, or Dive Korea: Let’s Scuba Dive in Korea (all on Facebook) if you are looking to get started or just want more information.
There is an in-between option for those of you who realize the water around Korea is cold, as you can do the academic and pool work here in Korea and then finish your certification with your open water dives in another location; this also works if you are short on time. They say that there are two kinds of divers, one that dives because they love fish and the other that does it for the exploration. While I do love fish, what gets me really excited is descending on a historical wreck and thinking about the people who served on them during their final moments above water. Which one will fuel your addiction?
Written and photographed by Nash Severance