05 October 2022.
Scuba diving holiday resort and accommodation information.

Scuba Diving Holidays

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Scuba Diving Holidays Overview

The world beneath the waves is one very alien to us terrastrials. For the most part it’s a world of vast abyssal plains and massive mountain ranges, located at such crushing depths that it is completely inhospitable to human life. Parts of it are even way below the reaches of our most advanced submersibles. In the shallows closer to shore however, down to about 40 metres, there are marine environments, that with the aid of scuba gear become readily accessible to humans.

Of course some specialist scuba gear, used with certain gas mixtures, allows divers to go much deeper than 40 metres. But below this depth life becomes more limited so there is little reason for recreational divers to go there. And coral reefs which generally team with life, are mostly located between five and 40 metres. These marine habitats – as anyone who’s been there will tell you – are environments of exquisite beauty supporting a mind boggling array of life.

When it comes to scuba diving holidays you have two main options – either to be shore based or go on a liveaboard. Both have distinct advantages depending on what you want from the holiday. The shore based approach is the way most people are introduced to scuba diving and is certainly the most flexible. In fact when people experience scuba diving for the first time it’s often because they’ve signed up to a one-off try dive while on another sort of holiday, after which they might be convinced to pursue an internationally recognised qualification.

If you go on a liveaboard scuba diving holiday – almost in all cases – you need an advanced diving qualification and a certain number of logged dives. That’s because livaboard’s spend most of there time cruising between off-shore reefs and wrecks, some of which – particularly wrecks – are at least 40 metres deep, and in order to dive them without an instructor, you must be properly accredited. The main benefit of livaboard’s though, is some truly exceptional diving. You can wake up and go for a dive before breakfast. There’s increased opportunity for night diving, and even if you’ve gone on holiday alone there’s always someone else to dive with.

By staying onshore however, you can dine at a different restaurant and drink in different bars each night. If you’re inclined to do a bit of mountain biking or kitesurfing you can do so. And if your partner doesn’t dive and would prefer to read books on the beach or wander round ancient ruins, then you can still go on holiday together. Everybody’s happy!

Our resident scuba diving expert has hundreds of dives under their belt and has dived everywhere from the Great Barrier Reef to the Galapagos Islands and from Scotland to Sipidan. They’ve dived Red Sea reefs and wrecks. They’ve been diving in the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. They’ve scuba dived in the Andaman Sea, the Hebridean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea, the South China Sea and the Tasman Sea. Their wealth of experience has helped us pull together our diving destinations resort guides which will hopefully help you decide on where to take your next scuba diving holiday whether it be your first or fiftieth.

Scuba Diving Qualifications

The good news is, you don’t need a scuba diving qualification to go on a shore based diving holiday. In fact one of the goals of a holiday can be to gain accreditation. However, a scuba diving qualification is usually a pre-requisite for anyone wishing to go on liveaboard diving holiday, hire equipment, fill air tanks or join a dive that isn’t instructor led. And as you might expect there are several ways of gaining certification with several national scuba diving bodies offering diver training programmes that lead to internationally recognised qualifications.

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) are probably the most well known diving organisation with more dive training centres worldwide than any other governing body.

In the UK, BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) are the official governing body with affiliated clubs and training centres operating at local level around the country. It’s common for BSAC clubs to host regular dive training sessions and club meetings on weekday nights at local swimming pools. Absolute beginner’s embarking on a diver training programme can spend quite a few hours in the pool as this is often the most convenient way to practise and learn the skills needed for diving in the natural environment.

However, if you’re learning to dive while on holiday it’s likely that you’re beside the sea or some other body of open water, so there’s usually no need to bother with the pool. Although, because some individuals are more comfortable in the pool initially, some dive instructors will conduct preliminary lessons there. For beginner’s the most important thing is that they dive in relatively sheltered shallow waters.

The first level of certification offered by PADI is the Open Water Diver. The Open Water Diver qualification arms first timers with a general knowledge of standard diving equipment and safety procedures and actions on drills for in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong. Participants spend quite a lot of time practising buoyancy control while floating up and down in the water column. And get to experience diving to depths of 20 metres, which is more than deep enough to enjoy most reef systems.

Candidates need to perform five scuba dives, accomplish several underwater tasks, and watch several hours of instructive video as well as reading their manual and completing a short written test to gain the Open Water Diver accreditation. The course usually takes between three to five days, but if this is too long a slightly shorter version of the course leads to a relatively new qualification called the PADI Scuba Diver.

The equivalent qualification offered by BSAC is the Ocean Diver. This accreditation is very similar to PADI’s Open Water Diver except BSAC like trainee divers to spend more time practising safety routines in a sheltered environment before letting them enter open water.

Advanced Open Water Diver is the next level of qualification in the PADI system and it builds on what was learned on the Open Water Diver course. En route to gaining this accreditation diver’s get to explore a whole host of diving specialism’s from deep diving down to 40 metres, to drift diving where divers zoom along in the current watching the underwater world go by, to wreck diving on ships sunk during one of the world wars for example, to night diving and underwater photography to name a few.

PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver course takes roughly five days to complete and follows a similar training pattern to the Open Water Diver course with a combination of practical underwater tests and some classroom work followed by a written examination at the end. As with Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver has a cut down version of the course which results in the attainment of the Adventure Diver qualification.

From here the next step is to go for a Rescue Diver qualification after which anyone interested in pursuing a career in diving can undertake the Divemaster programme which is the first level of professional qualification in the PADI system. Divemasters are qualified to lead groups of divers on dive expeditions but are not qualified to teach. Instructor qualifications begin at the next level up and there are seven levels of accreditation above Divemaster in total, the highest being Course Director.

Dive Leader is BSAC’s Divemaster equivalent and follows on from their Sport Diver qualification which again is akin to PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver. However, to become a BSAC instructor, divers can bypass the Dive Leader course and go straight onto an Instructor Foundation Course which will enable them to operate as Assistant Instructors. The top instructor accreditation in the BSAC system is National Instructor which is only three levels above Assistant Instructor. And on the recreational side there are only two more levels above Dive leader – Advanced Diver and First Class Diver.

Master Scuba Diver is the highest qualification available to recreational divers under the PADI system and is attainable to anyone with the Rescue Diver certificate. PADI qualifications are internationally recognised as are BSAC’s and those offered by other scuba diving organisations such SSI (Scuba Schools International) or NASDS (National Association of Scuba Diving Schools).

Children and Scuba Diving

Children as young as eight can experience scuba diving but, only in a swimming pool. Once they reach ten kids can enrol on PADI’s Junior Open Water Diver course which covers just about everything the adults get on the full course except the depth restrictions are stricter.

BSAC allow children age twelve onto their Ocean Diver course where as in the PADI system they have to fifteen-years-old before they can sign onto an adult course.