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What makes people strap a heavy tank on their back, wrap lead weights around their waist, don unflattering, “show every bulge” neoprene suits and then throw themselves into water that might just be home to creatures that want to eat them?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that scuba diving offers ordinary people the chance to see and do extraordinary things and find out what lies beneath the surface and venture to places that are seldom visited.

Two thirds of our planet is covered in water and it has been said that we know more about the moon than we do our oceans. The thrill of slipping into the water away from the stresses and strains of our everyday life is part of the attraction that makes divers take to the water as often as they can and why so many people are taking up this sport.

SCUBA is acknowledged to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world and there are hundreds of dive centres, instructors and dive associations all vying with each other to teach you how to dive.

You cannot expect to just don your gear and go, you must first have training and taking a course can, for some people, prove a little problematical.  “Should I take a NAUI course or PADI or SSI or one of the many other dive association courses “ Ultimately, the choice is yours and the first steps you take should be talking to people who already dive, getting their recommendations and then talking to your potential instructor. He or she may be qualified to teach, be insured and have a great reputation but, unless there is a degree of rapport between you, then it ain`t gonna work!  You have to feel comfortable with your trainer.

Before committing yourself to a course – and spending a lot of your hard earned cash –take a Try or Tandem dive to make sure you actually enjoy being under the water. Mostly everyone does but sometimes, what seems like a great idea turns out to be an experience equal to “Tried it, glad I`ve done it but don`t want to do it again”.  In most cases people try it and can`t wait to continue but it would be foolish to pay for a course if, half way through, you decide that this isn`t for you.

So you have decided that you want to do more, you’ve made your choice of association and you’ve picked your instructor, what happens next? This largely depends on where you are learning and which association you’ve picked but the first steps should involve gaining an insight into the world of SCUBA. You will be expected to read books AND watch videos, handle and familiarise yourself with SCUBA equipment and assess your stamina.  All that before you even use SCUBA.

Once you are certified and, more importantly, qualified to dive, a whole world of adventure is waiting for you to explore.

One thing you must remember though, you are qualified to dive in the conditions in which you were taught. This means that if you gained your qualification in the calm, clear, warm waters of, for example Las Galeras in  the Dominican Republic, before you venture into diving in cold quarries or inland lakes, you will need further training.

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