Hello and welcome to our Together DIVE beginners guide for Scuba Diving – Learning to dive in the UK: Part 1. There are 5 parts to the series which should help you get into Scuba Diving and give it a go on British shores.
In this blog we talk about the basics of scuba diving and the different types of training that you’ll find in Britain.
What is Scuba Diving?
SCUBA diving stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and is essentially when you use compressed air in a cylinder to breath and explore underwater. It can be a daunting experience and can feel a little unnatural to begin with but it’s a brilliant skill that allows you to discover new natural and historical environments that are otherwise off-limits.
Many people take up Scuba Diving training to get their qualifications before or during a holiday. There are also a lot of scuba divers who take the sport up as a hobby through clubs, groups and school and dive throughout the year at UK sites.
Can You Go Scuba Diving In The UK?
UK waters contain some of the best dive spots in Europe. With over 24,000kms of coastline and huge tidal ranges all around the country the waters are rich with flora, fauna and maritime wrecks. From seahorses to seals and playful dolphins in Plymouth to huge basking sharks off the Isle of Man you’ll find a spectacular variety of marine life on home turf.
You can find really interesting shore dives and boat dives at sites that are often well supported by dive schools and boat charters. Because the seas around the UK are cooler you’ll usually need to wear a dry suit, semi-dry or a 6/7mm wetsuit and be aware of the risks of swimming in the sea.
How Do You Start Scuba Diving?
If you want to start scuba diving the first step is to decide which course you want to do and which training body you want to do it with.
There are two main training bodies in the UK for Scuba Diving. Often choosing between them depends on personal preference and which clubs are closest to you or to the site that you want to dive at. Both offer qualifications that will allow you to dive safely around the world at a variety of depths, with a range of skills.
BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club)
BSAC operates through a network of diving clubs around the UK. These will often be based at a local indoor swimming pool and meet regularly. Clubs are a friendly, easy way to access a huge amount of diving knowledge and experience. They will often have multiple volunteer instructors that help you to qualify and a lot of support from other expert and beginner divers. You might complete your training within 2-6 months depending on your commitments and instructor availability.
If you’d prefer to do the course more quickly you can do an intense 5 days course at a BSAC centre.
The first step to learning with BSAC is to find your local club here.
You can then book onto a try dive. On a try dive you’ll be able to experience the sensation of using scuba equipment in a safe, shallow pool environment. It’s by far the best way to know if this is a sport you’ll enjoy.
If you enjoy your try dive the next step is to sign up with your local club who will go through the range of courses offered by BSAC. You’ll be trained either in small groups or in one-to-one sessions with your instructor and all of your training (aside from extra exam revision) will be done with them.
PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors)
PADI is the most well-known international dive organisation in the world. You can do their courses at a PADI centres at almost every dive hot-spot around the globe.
PADI offer flexible courses to help you learn at your own pace, on your own time. You’ll need to register with PADI and pick up you skills books at a local PADI Dive Centre. If you’re unsure about taking up their first Open Water Diver qualification you can do their Discover Scuba Diver which is a taster course that you do under the supervision of a PADI professional.
If you sign up to your Open Water Diver you can do your theory lessons online, they also offer an app, or you can do it with a trainer. You then do basic skills in a safe water environment like a pool before doing open water sessions.
You can find your local PADI centre here.
Chosen your training body? Check out the next blog for the different courses available and what you can expect to pay.