Welcome to the exciting World of scuba diving! If you are reading this guide to first time scuba diving, chances are that you are already quite convinced to become a diver. After my red sea diving trip in Egypt, I realized how little I knew about the whole process of learning scuba diving. Thankfully for you, I created this guide on all the things to know about going first time scuba diving.
Why should anyone try for the first time scuba diving?
Before I expalin you everything about my first time scuba diving let me explain why I believe everyone should learn scuba diving and the best way to do so is by showing you what I found underwater. There is a completely different World under the water that not many people discover.
Why should more girls learn scuba diving?
If you are a women reading this awesome! If you are a guy reading this, grab your girlfriend, sister, mother, etc. and tell her that she should learn scuba diving too! About 70% of all PADI certification holders are male. And I understand that this might be intimidating for many women out there but that’s why we need more females in this sport. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘it’s too tough’ or ‘it’s a bit more of a man sport’. Plus it’s so much fun!
Is scuba diving scary?
Once upon a time when I was a little kid I dremt of being a mermaid. Little mermaid was my all time favorite Disney movie and I used to spend hours swimming and playing in the river next to my summer house .
That being said, scuba diving was a long dream of mine and I assumed I will love every second of it. The fear of scuba diving has never crossed my mind even remotly. Little did I know that I will quite much freak out first time scuba diving 😉
Being nervous in normal. And it’s good. It means that you take it seriously and thanks to that you will be safe and well prepared for your under water adventures.
Is scuba diving hard?
Scuba diving is deffinitely not a hard sport. If it’s your first time scuba diving you will be suprised how seamless it is to move underwater. And once you see the underwater flora & fauna you will never want to go back to land 😉
However, getting certified as a diver is harder than it seems at the same time being easier than it seems. I know it sounds counterintuitive so let me explain that in the next paragraphs.
Padi Certification – Why should you get certified?
PADI Open Water is the most-recognized scuba certification in the world, and more than 900,000 divers choose to get certified with PADI each year. During my first time scuba diving trip to Egypt I have obtained PADI Open Water Diver Certification and I am now certified diver!
What does it mean? Once you become certified you will be able to dive on your own with a buddy, book boat dives, rent dive equipment and obtain air fills! Without certification you will always need to dive with a PADI professional. Also, you will be able to go as deep as 18 meters/60 feet.
How long does it take to get scuba certified?
The full course takes anywhere between 4-7 days depending how intense you want it. There is a practical and theoretical part of the exam. I strongly recommend that you start learning through eLearning platform before your diving trip so that you can concentrate only on practical part of certifications. I made the mistake to do both theory and practice in 4 days and was falling a sleep every night with theory book in my hand. The other option is to choose a longer certification time.
Padi Open Water Certification in a nutshell
Padi Open Water Certification consists of five confined water (or pool) skill practice sessions, four open water dives and theory. To be honest, when I decided to do the certification I had no idea how it looks like. In my ignorancy, I even thought that I just need to do a certain amount of dives and that’s it. Nothing further from truth…
After doing the certification, I think Padi Open Water Certification practical skills prepare you for all kind of situations that might happen underwater, starting from basic skills like clearing your mask to emergency situations of running out of air. I can’t stress enough how important is to learn all these skills before you start diving on your own (without the instructor). Not only you will be prepared for everything but also it will boost your confidence.
My scuba diving experience in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt
I have decided to start my diving adventure in Egypt since I always wanted to see the pyramids. The gulf of Aqaba is world-famous for its marine biodiversity and corals. In fact it’s in top 10 places to dive in the World. Not to mention Egypt offers budget friendly diving schools with multilanguage instructors. If I want I could learn diving in Polish there!
I did my Padi certification with Pyramids Diving Center, which I couldn’t recommend enough. They were very friendly and helpful. And our instructor Mohmud was extremly professional and funny guy. The certification took 4 days and each day Pyramids Diving Center took us to a different diving spot.
First day starts with learning about the gear. It’s key to know how to connect your air cilinder and your BCD. Me and my diving buddy Laiza learnt how to do buddy check so that there are always 2 people checking your equipment. We also learnt diving sign language to be able to communicate in the water.
After that we were ready to start our first confined water dive. We started from the shore, slowly making our way to a knee deep water where for the first time we tried how to breathe underwater.
I was completely calm until my very first breath under the water. To be honest I panicked a bit for no reason. I can’t even explain why. But I think it’s completely normal, so don’t worry if that happens to you too. Our instructor told me to take my time , breathe slowly and once I am ready „descend“ again (we were in knee-deep water ;)). So, I did that.
Next on we did practical exercise. First the instructor signed us to look at him and show us what to do, then he asked my friend Laiza to repeat and then it was my turn. The practical exercise was relatively easy. I was stressed the most about taking of my mask underwater but with practice I gained more and more confidence.
Once we got grasp of practical exercises in knee deep water, we repeated them during other 5 confined water dives at variety of depths (but never very deep so don’t worry). Every day there were also new practical skills that we had to practice such as floating for 10 minutes or swimming non-stop for a specific amount of time/distance.
Open water dives were the most fun! That’s when we were able to just relax, watch beautiful flora and fauna of red sea and take pictures with my GoPro. We dived to 12, 16 and 18 meters and got a diving log book where we could write down our dives.
We did the last dive from a boat in Ras Mohamed National Park – one of Egypt’s environmental jewels. We saw amazing coral reef there, lion fish and a blue spotted stingray. We jumped into the water like pro divers.
The very last day in the evening we took our theory exam. The exam had 50 single choice questions and some calculus based question for RDP table. I only made one mistake! Yes, that’s a shamless bragging over here. But also a reminder that if I did it you can do it too!
And that’s it! I am now oficially an Open Water Diver who can dive up to 18 meters!
Where to stay in Sharm el Sheik
I stayed in Rixos Premium Seagate which is the best hotel in Sharm el Sheik. It was gorgeous! It’s a five star hotel with private beach access, jetti, 7 swimming pools, 11 restaurants and 10 bars! I stayed on ultra all inclusive basis which means I could eat and drink in every restaurant as well as having mini bar included in price.
Each night I was trying a different couisne, such as French, Turkish, Brazilian, Sea Food, etc. And the food was incredible! There rooms were clean, spacious and comfortable. The stuff was always there to help. The hotel is huge but there are so many activities and relaxation spots that its never crowded. Imagine I had this pool completely for myself.
But is scuba diving expensive?
Egypt is definitely one of the most budget friendly option out there to go first time scuba diving and getting your certification. I will write a separate blog post on cost of scuba diving and best budget friendly places to scuba.
Scuba diving essentials
Last but not least, I have noted what I wished I took with me or what I was grateful to have with me for my first time scuba diving experience.
Super useful to keep you warm. You will be getting in and out of water all the time and with a bit of wind it might feel chilly. Cover yourself with fast drying towel and you will be warm again.
Chances are you would love to document that sea turtle, jelly fish or mantaray you just saw. Or have a nice memory of your first time scuba diving experience. With GoPro you can go as low as 10 meters to capture all the sealife.
3. Dry backpack
Going on a boat or anywhere near water, you would need a backpack that will keep your belongings and valuables safe and dry. Invest in this type of backpack and you will not regret.
4. Hair Band
Nothing is more irritating than your mask leaking because your hair gets inside. I have a long hair and even with a braid it can get very unruly. I was very glad I took a hair band with me that I could put on my forehad to keep my hair away from the mask
5. Mask strap
If you hate getting your hair tangled with the mask, here is something for you. Mask strap will give you an extra comfort!
Another things for women with long hair. Please bring hair conditioner and tangle teezer. My hair got really crazy after scuba diving and I spent hours (and tons of tears) trying to brush them. Don’t make my mistake!
I hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide to first time scuba diving! Check out also my other articles on scuba diving and let me know if you have any other questions about scuba diving, let me know!
Disclosure: *I was a guest of Rixos Premium Seagate, Pyramids Diving Center and partner of PADI but as always all opinions are my own.