Learn To Dive
Deeper Into Diving
Q & A
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Ocean Explorers Aquatic Center
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Edison, New Jersey 08837
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MAP & DIRECTIONS
answers to some of the most frequently asked
questions about recreational scuba diving:
Q -What, exactly, is SCUBA?
A . SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater
Breathing Apparatus. Unlike snorkeling, where
you stay on the surface or free diving, where
you hold your breath and go under the water,
scuba divers carry an air supply with them and
can stay under water for long periods of time.
Do I have to know how to swim to learn to scuba
A- Yes and no. If you
know how to swim it will be easier to meet the
water skills requirements. If not, no
problem. We have nationally certified swim
instructors who can teach you how to swim enough
to take lessons. For more information on our
swim school go to: www.oeswim.com.
How do I learn to scuba dive
A- The 2 most common ways to learn how to scuba
1- Discover scuba or “try scuba” as it is
sometimes called, where you would go to a
swimming pool with an instructor. He or she
would help you put on scuba equipment, give you
a few basic safety rules and take you diving in
2- Discover Scuba Diving is where you and the
instructor, after the pool orientation, would
actually go diving in an open water setting. The
instructor would be right with you the whole
time making sure you have a safe, enjoyable
These can be extremely fun, however each time
you want to go diving you would have to go
through the entire process again. If you would
like to go diving on your own without direct
supervision or not have to pay for an instructor
each time you want to go diving, you would have
to become “certified.”
Q- How do I become certified to scuba dive?
A- Becoming a certified scuba diver takes 3 easy
1 – Academic sessions. This is where you learn
the “What” about scuba.
This part of the program can be taken on-line or
in a traditional classroom setting. Which way is
best depends on several factors.
Convenience. Anytime, anywhere you have access
to a computer. You can take as much time as you
need to complete the lessons.
Expense. There are fees involved in computer
based training. No face to face interaction. No
one available for help when you need it.
Taught by real people. These professionals know
how to teach students with different needs and
Questions can be answered immediately.
There is often an instructor and several
assistants to help you through the material.
These staff members will not only teach the
material, but because they are experienced
divers themselves, they will share their
knowledge of the real world of diving and show
you how what you are studying relates to
different diving environments.
The sessions are usually held at a specific time
and place. This could create conflicts with
people who find it difficult to schedule these
lessons into their lives.
2- Pool or confined water session. Here you get
the “How” of scuba.
This is where the fun begins. You will be in
shallow water wearing all of your scuba
equipment. Over a series of session (5 is the
most common) the staff will teach you the skills
required to safely enjoy the sport of scuba
diving. These skills are progressive, starting
with the simplest and working up to the more
complex. They are also performance based. You
will not be asked to do any complex skill until
you are comfortable with the previous ones.
3 - Training dives. Now you learn “Where” we
You will take the skills that you learned in the
pool and show an instructor that you can do them
in an actual diving environment. You will need
to do a total of 4 dives over a 2 day period.
Again, you have a few options here.
Local dive site You can go with your instructor,
staff and fellow classmates to a dive site close
to home. It may be the ocean, a lake or in many
cases such as with us, a flooded rock quarry
that has been converted in a scuba training
Close to home. No expense of travel. You will be
doing the dives with the person or people who
trained you in the pool and are aware of your
strengths and the areas where you may need a
little TLC. Most instructors and dive shops try
to make this a fun, social event where you will
meet other people learning to dive or taking
For those of us in the northern part of the US
these lakes and quarries can be somewhat
daunting. The water can be chilly most of the
year and there usually isn’t much to see. In
cold water we need more wetsuit material to stay
warm and more weight to stay down.
Destination dive training Because most of the
academic and pool training is standardized, you
can complete the open water training dives
virtually anywhere around the world. Most of the
training agencies have a referral service that
would allow you to complete your course in a
more climate friendly setting. You can take a
formal referral form to almost any dive resort
and complete the training dives with one of
their instructors who would then issue your
Usually done at a place where you would be
vacationing. Usually warm water. Less equipment
requirements. More to see on your dives.
Expense. These dives with an instructor can be a
little pricey. The instructor did not do your
initial training. He or she will not be aware of
your initial diving experiences. You will be
just another paying customer who will be leaving
on the next plane off the island. Often these
dives are done from a boat adding additional
stress to a completely new experience. Also, you
will be devoting the better part of 2 vacation
days to complete your course.
Dive shop group trips A good dive shop will have
a schedule of guided dive trips to some of the
more popular dive destinations. They may be
short, weekend getaways, weeklong vacations or
extended exotic adventures to far away lands.
These are led by the shops instructor staff.
Often with the one who trained you and with whom
you have developed a personal relationship.
Everything is done for you; airfare, hotel,
transportation, dive schedules and social
activities. The staff knows you and has a vested
interest in your safety and making sure your
trip is an enjoyable one. The social aspect of
our sport is accentuated on these trips. You
will meet other divers from the shop and build
your own little dive group.
Scheduling may be a problem. The shop may not be
going where you want when you can get away. The
shop may not cater to the type of diving you
want to do. For instance some shops simply don’t
do cave diving trips. Some will not do what is
considered technical diving beyond the limits of
traditional sport diving.
Q- How are scuba classes scheduled?
A – There are several formats for you to choose;
private, semi-private and group classes.
Private classes allow you to meet with your
instructor on your schedule.
You will be working one on one at your pace.
Class is done at your convenience. You have the
instructor’s total attention. Entire course can
usually be completed in a shorter amount of
Expense. Private classes are always the most
expensive. You don’t get any interaction with
other students. Hard to make new diving friends
when you are the only one in the class. But when
you graduate, you will be at the head of the
Semi-private or small group This is where you
would take the class with one or two relatives
or friends who have the same timeframe free.
Similar to private class. Usually some cost
savings over private lessons.
You have to share the instructor and staff. It’s
going to take a little longer to complete. Still
no new friends. You already know your
Group lessons These are regularly scheduled
classes which are determined by the dive shop
and/or the instructor. Most common is one day a
week for 5 weeks. Occasionally a condensed
course may be offered. This might meet twice a
week or all work may be done in a weekend.
Group classes are the most economical. You will
not only learn from the staff, but also by
watching others progress through the program.
You have time to establish a good working
relationship with the scuba staff. This will
become more important as you continue your scuba
education. You will be able to take advantage of
their vast diving experiences.
have to arrange your schedule around the course.
Because the course is progressive, you should
try to attend all of the segments. If you miss
one you cannot continue until you have made it
up. This can get costly as you will now be
paying for a little private instruction.
– What equipment will I need to become
A - This would depend on where you decide to
take your lessons. Equipment falls into two
categories: personal equipment and life support
Personal equipment – mask, snorkel, fins with or
without booties and usually a weight belt and
some weights to help you get underwater. Booties
are required where safety or cold water are
Sometimes the use of this equipment is included
in the course (usually at resorts.) Each time
you go into the pool you pick out gear from a
pile that has been used before by many other
people. Each time you have to find a mask that
fits, a snorkel that has been in who knows how
many mouths, and fins that fit you feet. This
takes up valuable pool time.
Most often you will be asked to purchase your
own personal gear. Then you have new, unused
equipment that you know will fit properly, and
has been properly cleaned and maintained.
Life support system – tank, regulators, buoyancy
control device, information console and
This gear will always be provided to each
student in the pool. It is included in the cost
of the course. It is not always included for use
in your open water training dives. This is
because we don’t always complete the pool
sessions and training dives with the same
people. Also, many students decide to purchase
some or all of their life support systems while
they are learning skills in the pool. This has
many benefits. Everything fits properly. You
become familiar will all the components of the
system. You don’t have to relearn each time you
use rented or borrowed gear.
Q- Do I rent or purchase my life support system?
A – This is a tough question. There are many
factors to consider.
– Isn’t it cheaper to rent than to purchase?
A – Yes, maybe for the first few times. After
that all you have is a bunch of receipts and
nothing to show for it. Once you purchase your
gear you won’t have to spend any more on rental
– Can’t I get what I need at the dive resort
where I am vacationing?
A – Sure, but do they have enough? Do they have
everything in your size? Has it been properly
cleaned and maintained? Each time you rent you
have to wait in line, fill out the forms, leave
a deposit and make sure it is returned in the
same condition as it was when you took it.
– Isn’t it a bother and an expense to take the
equipment with me when I fly?
A - Yes, you may need and extra bag, but not
always. Much of it will fit in a carry-on bag.
And the rest can go in with the small amount of
clothing you will be taking any way. What do you
need? Couple of bathing suits and a few tee
shirts. Besides, most divers appreciate the
security of have their own systems with them
every time they dive.
Q- If I decide to purchase my own scuba gear
where do I get it?
A- There are 2 main sources; a full service dive
center or a discount online seller. Each has
pros and cons.
Your local dive center.
these are dive professionals. They exist to
create divers and keep them diving. They have
invested heavily in a brick and mortar location
to serve the local community. They will provide
you with the essential 3 “E’s” of diving;
Education (the courses you need to learn to do
Equipment (knowledgeable in all facets of the
gear they are selling. Not only will they sell
it to you but can do repairs and maintenance.)
Experiences (this is vital to you continuing
your enjoyment of the sport. You need and want
to go diving with people who have been there and
will share their experiences with you.)
Dive centers can not afford to offer all of
these services to you and sell products at a
deep discount. Yes, you will pay a little more
but you get value in the services, personal
attention and social relations you get from a
full service dive shop.
Savings are just a click away. We can buy most
anything on line today.
Once you have bought on-line you are on your
own. Don’t bring it into a dive center and ask
for it to be assembled properly. And you
probably won’t be asked to join the “club” and
be invited on the next dive outing or vacation
trip. The dive center only has so many resources
in the way of personnel. They will spend most of
it on customers who have supported the dive
center and not the on-line retailer. So be
prepared to go it alone. You’ll have to use
Travelocity for you next dive trip.
– How much does scuba equipment cost?
A - For your personal equipment you can expect
to pay between $100 - $300 depending on your
taste and pocketbook.
For your life support system it’s hard to give
an exact amount. There are high end, middle of
the road and economy systems. Again, which is
right for you depends on preferences and
pocketbook. A good rule of thumb would be that
you can expect to spend as much on a good scuba
system as you would on a week’s vacation.
Q- Where are beginning scuba classes from Ocean
A – We use several pools in the area; Rahway,
Metuchen and Scotch Plains YMCA’s and a couple
of private swim clubs. In the warmer months we
have access to outdoor private pools.
Q- Do I need to take other classes after the
basic or Open Water course?
A – Due to the limited time devoted to training
in this first course there is only so much you
can learn about scuba in five sessions. When you
finish the course you will be certified to dive
under limited conditions. The continuing
education programs are designed to expand your
underwater abilities. For example:
The Open Water course gets you comfortable with
your equipment. Like learning to drive, this is
more a learner’s permit. It is a license to
begin learning how to dive.
The Advanced Open Water introduces you to
different situations in the diving environment.
The Rescue Diver or “What if?” course teaches
you how to be a good dive buddy. You will learn
how to identify a potential problem before the
dive and how to deal with it should something
occur during the dive.
These three courses make up a good diver’s core
– What is the difference between a Dive Center
and a Dive Resort?
A - A Dive Center is your local, neighborhood
Dusty’s Dive Shop. Their primary mission is to
create scuba divers. The staff will teach you
how to dive, sell you the equipment you need and
take you diving.
The Dive Resorts are destinations where you go
to dive. You will find them on islands like
Grand Cayman, Cozumel and the Florida Keys.
Putting divers in the water is their main
objective. They may do training but usually only
a small amount. They may also sell some gear but
due to high import duties and shipping costs the
equipment tends to be a little on the expensive
– What is “diver dropout?”
This is the bane of our industry. Diver dropout
is when someone takes a course or two, buys a
few pieces of gear and tries a dive trip on
their own. They take a “been there, done that”
attitude and move on to something else.
Here is where a full service dive center is your
best friend. Our job is to keep you diving by
offering new and challenging dive experiences.
When you support your local dive shop you become
part of a dive club or family.
- What if I am not really a water person?
A - While scuba diving may not be for everyone,
as long as you are comfortable in the water, a
good instructor and staff can get you through a
course. A reputable dive center will allow you
to start a program and if it turns out not to be
for you, they should offer a complete refund.
So, you have nothing to lose, give it a try.
Hopefully, we have provided answers to the
questions you may have about becoming a
certified scuba diver. If not, give us a call
anytime. We would be happy to spend some time