“With a multitude of options, it is most crucial to make an informed decision. Find out what to look for when choosing your scuba diving course.”
The sad truth is that 80% of people who do a diving course in South Africa do not continue diving. The main reason for this is the American type of courses that are fine for the calm warm waters of the Caribbean but simply just don’t cut it in South Africa.
- It is far too easy to become an instructor and many of the skills required to be a professional are not taught. So your instructors just don’t have enough knowledge and experience.
- The lectures are done via DVD rather than having interaction with an experienced and professional instructor.
- There is far too little time spent in the pool getting comfortable with the diving equipment and the water environment.
The result is that the 80% of divers who stop diving do so because they did not have fun, it was exciting and an adventure but not fun. They do feel in control or confident about what’s going on. The tragedy is that so many people are put off to what is perhaps one of the most fulfilling and thrilling sports available.
The message is this:
- Do not choose the course on price, if you are (like most of us) in the “quite broke” category. Rather save up and do it properly.
- Go through exactly what you will get in terms of lectures, pool sessions and dives.
- Find out what is included for your money and what are the hidden costs.
- Most importantly, meet with your instructor and make sure you are happy with their professionalism.
What should I choose?
There are over 900 scuba training agencies in the world! With about 10 or so present here in South Africa, including NAUI, TDI, IANDT, CMAS, PADI, SSI, DTK and many more.
Are all agencies recognised world wide?
Yes, all dive resorts see a huge number of different certifications (including unpronounceable ones from Japan) and they will accept all. You will need to accompany your card with a log book showing your experience in order to do the more adventurous dives.
Obviously, if you are an SSI instructor and wish to work in a NAUI dive centre you will need to cross over. Most centres have a certain training agency and so expect their instructors to have completed their course at the same training agency.
What should I look for?
1) Do your homework and shop around. There are so many dive schools around, all offering something different.
2) Meet the instructors that will be doing the course. Keep in mind that you will be with them between 2 – 3 weeks, so make sure you like them and their professionalism.
3) Have a look around the facility – this will be your introduction into the diving community. Just as important but often looked over is the school’s scuba gear. Make sure it all looks neat and well maintained.
4) Be specific when asking questions with regards to what you will get for your money. Know exactly what is included and excluded from the course price. The costs will vary from dive school to dive school.
Some factors you need to check:
- Tuition cost.
- Books and materials.
- Basic gear (wetsuits mask, fins etc.) It is better for reasons of comfort, fit and hygiene to get your own.
- Scuba gear.
- Pool costs.
Some schools offer an all inclusive cost that includes the basic gear. Be careful as the equipment may be as cheap as they can get away with and often not suitable.
Most schools will offer a small discount on equipment if you do a course with them. Ensure you buy good equipment and preferably only buy once you have done the equipment lecture on your course. This way you can make informed decisions instead of relying on the salesman’s advice.
Good quality, basic equipment will cost between R 2 200 to R3 600.
Scuba gear can cost between R 5 500 and R8 500 for good quality but you can pay over R 20 000 if you choose the top of the range.
A cylinder will cost from R 2 700 to R 3 000 depending on size.
Refurbished used scuba diving equipment is available at about half the cost.
5) The next question is whether or not the training will be done in the dam or the sea
Obviously the best solution is both! But the trip to the coast and the boat dives required increase the costs dramatically.
You can learn to dive only in dams, but proper training in the sea is by far the better option and of course lots more fun!