If you have never tried scuba diving, then it is time to take the plunge and enjoy your first scuba dive. There are many dive sites to discover during your holidays. Here is a summary of everything you need to know to choose where to try scuba diving for the first time.
What is an introductory dive?
An introductory dive usually takes between a few hours to half a day. An introduction to scuba diving includes a safety briefing and a few signs to communicate underwater. After a series of exercises in confined water, which is either in the pool or in shallow water, you will be ready to tag along with your diving instructor, hovering over gardens of corals.
How to choose where to dive?
There are several criteria to be taken into account when choosing where to enjoy your first scuba dive. First, have a look at the maritime conditions: is the sea usually calm? Is underwater visibility (i.e. the distance that I can see underwater) acceptable? What is the water temperature? etc … Most diving destinations have a high season and low season, tourist season generally corresponding to better weather conditions.
Then comes the question of the underwater life: what is there to see beneath the surface? Is this the right season to meet certain marine species such as turtles?
Finally, other factors may come into consideration when selecting where to go diving, such as language and price.
A good compromise for a successful first dive is to dive in the tropics where the water is warm and underwater life abounds, especially at low depth.
Now, taking into account the criterion “price”, your best option is to dive in Asia.
Scuba diving holiday destination for a first scuba dive
Take the opportunity to discover scuba diving during your holiday in Thailand. On the west coast, where you will find Phuket and the Koh Phi Phi archipelago, the best diving season is from November to April. The islands of the Gulf of Thailand, including Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao are a bit more sheltered, and you can dive almost throughout the year.
Then, of course, Indonesia is great for diving with its many dive sites, with Komodo being the most sought-after due to the presence of manta rays, dolphins and sharks, but strong currents means divers need experience to dive in Komodo. For a first scuba dive in Indonesia, head to Bali or Sulawesi.
Further north, there are the Philippines, another great diving destination in South East Asia. Be careful when choosing your dates, avoiding the typhoon season from May to November.
A trip to Malaysia is equally a fun opportunity for a first experience in diving, especially on the islands of the east coast, including Tioman, Redang and Perhentian, as well as the western part of Malaysia, called Sabah on Borneo.
What do I need to bring for a first scuba dive?
You’re on vacation so you don’t have to do anything! For an introductory dive, equipment is generally provided and includes everything needed i.e. the wetsuit, the scuba tank, weights, buoyancy jacket and the regulator (to breathe).
A medical statement certifying you fit for diving is usually not necessary if you do not show major health disorders or if you are not considered “at risk”. Are considered “at risk” , people over 50 years , smokers , asthmatics etc … In any case, it’s recommended to bring one just to be on the safe side.
Which diving organization should I dive with?
There are several diving organizations in the world, each with its own standards. The choice of diving organization in the case of a first dive will have no impact if later you decide to complete a beginner course in scuba diving.
This being said, depending on the diving organization with which you decide to do your introductory dive, and depending on the country where diving takes place, the program and the authorized depth may vary.
In the world of diving, the winner is the American organization PADI, which is widely recognized around the world. In general, a certified PADI diving club will take you, depending on your comfort underwater, up to 12m depth. SSI, the “challenger” of PADI, offers the same maximum depth. CMAS diving centers in France and in the overseas territories are generally limited to 6m depth.
The “desirable” depth depends on many factors including the marine fauna and water temperature. In the tropics, most corals live below 20m depth.
Ready to take the plunge?
Check out these introductory dives in Asia :