NEW DIVERS: START HERE

Scuba diving has become the aquatic answer to skiing. In most parts of the world, wherever there's coral there are diving facilities. Here you can rent your equipment and buy air in scuba tanks (the term Scuba being an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus). You will then be accompanied on your dives by a qualified instructor, or dive master. Rather like ski pistes, resort diving takes place at known sites: underwater navigation can be tricky, so you don't simply submerge yourself into the uncharted deep blue. Since this is a hazardous sport, you will be expected to team up with another diver, or "buddy", with whom you have a symbiotic relationship. Basic training is also essential so that you know how to minimise the inherent risks.

To get started you simply need to be able to swim, understand a few elementary principles of physics, and be able to "pop" your ears (release air pressure in your inner ears by holding your nose and blowing, rather as you would in an aeroplane). The first step is to qualify as an open water diver (cave diving and night diving - when the coral colours look magnificent illuminated by underwater torches - require more advanced instruction). At the end of your course you will need to pass a basic written test and be able to perform a few underwater exercises. Apart from introductory dives, you will not be sold air in scuba tanks unless you can produce internationally recognised certification showing that you have been trained.

Where to train

In Britain there are two options: a BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) or a PADI (US-run Professional Association of Dive Instructors) course. BSAC is very much a club: you train and become a member at one of the 1,400 branches. Courses are geared for British diving - in conditions that are generally difficult. Your qualification, though, will be internationally recognised.

PADI training, on the other hand, is designed for easier, international resort diving in warmer countries. You can attend PADI courses in Britain or learn from scratch on a diving holiday abroad.

For more information contact BSAC at Telfords Quay, Ellesmere Port, South Wirral, Cheshire L65 4FY (0151-357 1951) or PADI at Unit 6, Unicorn Park, Whitby Road, Bristol BS4 4EX (0117-971 1717). Details of training courses (which start at around pounds 99) are advertised in magazines such as Diver and Sports Diver.

The underwater environment

A diver generally poses more of a threat to sea life (even sharks) than such life does to him. A group of divers can leave a trail of destruction by crashing about, dropping bits of equipment and teasing the fish. Wherever you train, it will be emphasised that you must learn to protect the environment you are entering - coral reefs, in particular, are extremely fragile. In many countries collecting specimens such as shells and even dead coral is strictly illegal.

Harriet O'Brien

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks
tv

Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries

Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
techPerils of 'text neck' revealed
News
i100
News
Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt
peopleStonewall boss says many fear it could ruin their careers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

    Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

    £30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

    Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

    Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

    Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

    Day In a Page

    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
    Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

    What are Jaden and Willow on about?

    Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
    Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

    Cold war

    How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
    Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

    Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

    From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
    Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

    Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

    New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
    Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

    Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

    ‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
    Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

    Isis takes a big step back

    Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
    Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

    Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

    Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

    How to shop politically

    Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
    The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

    Sex on the brain

    Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection