Many people are curious to find out what it is like to breathe underwater, but do not want to commit to a full certification course while on vacation. For those who want a try it before they buy it, the Discover Scuba Course – more commonly referred to as a Resort Course – is the perfect introduction to diving. This half day course includes:
Once you have completed the theory and skills portion of the course you may be able to go on subsequent shallow dives, accompanied by an instructor for the remainder of your vacation.
If you would like to improve your confidence in the water before embarking on a dive course then it might be worth investing in a few private swimming lessons with local swim school Sky Blue Aquatics. They are a reputable swim school who offer lessons for both adults and children. They can come to you at your home, condo or hotel and offer both pool and sea swim lessons. Whether you are a novice or experienced swimmer, these lessons are a great way to improve your confidence and technique in the water.
The PADI Open Water Diver certification is probably most widely accepted dive certification in the world. The Open Water Course is the basic certification needed to be able to rent dive gear, get tanks filled and go diving without the supervision of an instructor. The course takes around three days and involves theory, confined water training sessions and four open water dives. The minimum age is 15 although a Junior Open Water certification is available for 10-14 year olds although certain restrictions apply. Certification is valid for life and there many additional courses you can take after this, either working your way up to Instructor level or expanding your knowledge with specialty courses. There are numerous dive operators who can certify you in Cayman, and at certain times of year you can even take your Instructor course and exams.
You may want to complete further courses to build on your experience. The Advanced course is next, and introduces you to deep diving, night diving and navigation. There is very little classroom study and the majority of the course is completed in the water. Various advance courses include: underwater photography/videography classes, search and recovery, stingray interaction, reef awareness, technical applications and the extremely popular Enriched Air (Nitrox) course.
If you are truly adventurous, you can learn to use Rebreathers, (devices originally designed by the military that emit no bubbles or noise), mixed gases and techniques for extended-range diving. While DiveTech is by no means a purely technical operation, as owner Nancy will tell you, they can offer all the deep diving equipment and advice you need. It helps that Nancy is one of the world’s most technically experienced female divers. Rebreathers have progressed a long way over the past decade, and many options exist for recreational divers just looking for longer bottom times.
Technical dives by definition, are: dives conducted beyond the 130-foot depth limit for recreational diving; dives requiring a decompression stop; dives beyond the light zone; or dives into an overhead environment. Obviously this type of advanced, extended-range diving is not for everyone, and requires a commitment to safe, responsible, self-disciplined diving. Technical diving is a challenging recreational sport, and like skiing a black diamond run or climbing Mount Everest, diving at this level cannot be accomplished overnight. It takes a love of the sport, a lot of training and practice and an adventurous spirit to get you there.
Courses in Nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, Normoxic, Trimix and Advanced Trimix enable divers to safely explore greater depths.Nitrox diving is open to anyone and is basically diving with 32% oxygen (regular air has 21% oxygen). This allows divers to dive to the same depths as normal scuba divers, but for a longer time before reaching decompression limits. Nitrox has the added bonus of making one feel less tired after a dive. A Nitrox course costs CI$125, and one tank of Nitrox will only cost about CI$5 more than a regular tank of air. If you like diving between 100 and 150 feet, Advanced Nitrox enables you to stay safely at these depths for about 45 minutes instead of the usual 10–20 minutes. Basically, you dive with double tanks, including a side mounted deco bottle, and have to learn the fundamentals of decompression diving.
Normoxic Trimix takes divers to the 200-foot range, reducing oxygen content to about 18% and adding some helium to buffer the effects of narcosis. For those wishing to go deeper (330 feet+), Advanced Trimix and Expedition courses are also available.
Rebreather diving (Closed Circuit Rebreathers, or CCR) is another form of diving that has become very popular in the last decade. CCR equipment allows you to massively extend your dive time. You could spend three hours at 100 feet! The advantage of using a rebreather is that there are no bubbles, so you get up close and personal with the marine life; the air you breathe is warmer and more moist, so you stay warmer and your dive is more comfortable and of course, you get extended bottom times with limited decompression issues. However, this form of diving is for the dedicated enthusiast, as courses typically cost CI$900 and you will probably need to purchase your own scuba diving equipment.
At some point, you may wish to turn your passion for the undersea world into a career. Becoming a dive master is the first step. This training develops your skills to a professional level. You work alongside full-time instructors working with real students. Best of all, at this level you can get paid too!