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Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

Atlanta, GA
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Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

I am looking to complete my PADI open water certification in Cozumel in mid December. My dive instructor recommended a dive shop that he has used and has confidence in. I emailed them and their referral course is about $240 includes the 4 certification dives (3 shore and 1 boat) and also includes 1 extra boat dive after certification.

The second dive operation quotes around $275 in which all certification dives are boat reef dives, price does not include any extra dives, but they say all dives include use of dive computers and higher capacity tanks. At this point the dive operator says I am the only person scheduled for OW certification that week, so I would be one on one with the instructor if this holds.

Both dive ops include all equipment and both say their boats cater to 8 or less divers per boat. Price is not really a consideration.

Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of shore vs boat reef dives while certifying?

What else should I consider or ask?

Chicago, Il
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1. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

Shore diving is fine, but you'll have to do some swimming to get to depths & Coz is known for current/drift dives. So that means you'd have to plan on possibly exiting the water at different place than you entered if the current is fast. Please don't try to swim into the current...you'll learn why in your cert classes.

The best diving is boat diving in Coz. Plus, that's why you're getting certified. Might as well take advantage of it!!!

One reason for shore dives is that it is easier to teach a skill on the beach or while standing in shallow (sand bottom not reef please) water, then drop under water to practice the skill. But if you've done most of your training in a pool, you're just completing your "check out" portion of certification, so it's more like implementing what you have already learned back home.

If on a boat dive, you'll do the talking on the boat, then practice a few skills underwater, then talk some more during your surface interval. Alternative is coming to the surface & floating while you talk/learn from your instructor. Sometimes it's choppy water making this just a little harder, hence the shore dives.

No matter what, prepare to be amazed! Welcome to the underwater world. You'll wonder why you haven't done this sooner!



Cozumel, Mexico
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2. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

My gut recommends option 1, same as your instructor who knows you best and told you to go that way.

Usually the skills tests from shore are done in protected sandy areas rather than at a reef, so current and good bouyancy control aren't big factors. (In other words, you'll pay for a boat dive to a protected sandy area near a reef.)

When you're just starting out, there are lots of things you need to think about that more experienced divers know as second nature. You want to avoid getting task-overloaded, that is, keep it simple to start and eliminate the opportunity for anxiety to set in. Diving from a boat requires skills that you probably haven't learned yet -- so get the basics down and then go boat diving.

Plus you may have to repeat skills several times during a dive so that the instructor is certain that you know and understand them. Doing it at a reef or in current, where there are other considerations may not be the best idea for your first course. Later, when you have some dives logged and take the Advanced, it's more appropriate.

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

I'm with Ds2 on this one. Using a shore location will provide a simplier set of conditions for you to overcome, as it is unlikely that there will be much of a current. Being in the normal current that runs along the reefs will just add to your work load, because you aren't used to it plus need to devote your brain to do what is expected of you. Fighting a current while adjusting buoyancy can throw you off quickly, and you just don't need that.

On the other hand it is possible that the boat would drop you & the instructor off in a calm area to go through the drill, but you really won't have time to enjoy it to the fullest anyway. Plan whatever you think is easiest to handle, irregardless of the savings, and do your testing as soon after arriving as possible, THEN go boat diving after graduating. Take the time to accurately rate your own skills at this time, then do what you think will allow you to be at your best while being tested. You can't be too good, but you could end up in conditions that may mean extra dives just to complete the skills testing. Just my thoughts, but they are from observing a lot of new divers on the reef system in Cozumel.

Cozumel, Mexico
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4. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

It might be a good question to ask as to where the shore dive would be held. A good friend of mine got certified with a company, on Melgar, but the check out dive was basically near the office between Punta Langosta and the ferry pier. There simply isn't much to see or do and there are a lot of boats in the area.

I'm with Cicopo. Do a couple of shore dives, but ask to do a boat dive or two as well. This shouldn't be a big deal for them.

Colo Spgs
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5. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

I am with the others. Option 1 (three shore dives plus one boat dive and another boat dive after certified). They already gave you the reasons.

Liverpool, New York
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6. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

Definitely option 1.

Master the basics first and comfortably. Don't do more than you think you can do. First rule, be comfortable.

I'm the first out of the water if I don't feel comfortable or I'm stressed. And I'm also the first to admit that I am easily stressed!!!

Diving is not a straighforward activity and a pool is very different from open water with currents and waves and the rest of the things that add to the overall enjoyment - once you've got your certification and feel confident.

I nearly ruined myself for diving by starting with a resort course which lasted about 20 minutes, then going out on a boat in rough water and being told to jump in. I did but I was back out again just as quickly. This was not in Cozumel, I hasten to add.

I decided at that point that although I'm nervous about diving and very cautious, that horrible experience wasn't going to stop me but it did have an effect.

Don't do that to yourself. Cozumel is wonderful and you will love it. There is plenty of time for more boat dives.


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7. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

Option one is best for the reasons already listed plus boats can make people sea sick which can throw off anyones diving really fast. Also if you encounter any problems with your skills and are on a boat you might have to repeat that open water dive (meaning you might not get certified in their time limit). If you are at the shore you have the oppertunity to come up, talk about it, and try it again. without the pressure of when the boat leaves.

8. Re: Open Water cert. dives - shore vs. boat

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