The best places to get your diving licence
Getting a diving certification opens up a whole new world of excitement for you. Diving not only improves your mental and physical health, but allows you to explore stunning coral reefs and historic wrecks as well as have close-up encounters with spectacular marine life. It's also a fun way of meeting new people with shared interests while supporting ocean conservation.
Whether you choose to get a PADI or SSI certification, you can start your training at home and complete it when you next travel or book a resort where a diving course is the main focus of your holiday. There is no right or wrong type of water to learn to dive in, so the destination for your first underwater experience is very much a matter of personal preference. We're sure you can't wait to start exploring the world's hidden depths so to help you, we've gathered together some of the best places to get your diving licence.
Whatever certification route you choose, you'll start by learning the fundamentals of diving. You can read up on this, do it online or take a course at your nearest swimming pool. Next, you'll need to learn the practicalities of checking and setting up your diving gear as well as practising basic underwater skills. To complete your certification, you'll need to make at least four dives. These can be in the ocean, a lake or other suitable body of water. The cost of learning to scuba dive varies from destination to destination. An initial course should start at just a few hundred pounds while getting fully kitted out cost a lot more.
There are two routes to a scuba-diving certificate. A PADI Open-Water Diver Card is the most-recognised recreational scuba-diving qualification in the world with millions issued since it was launched in 1966. There are over 6,000 PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) centres and resorts worldwide offering six levels of recreational scuba diving. These run from accompanied PADI Scuba Diving right through to Master Scuba Diver which allows you to do night, deep water and wreck diving. Started in 1970, SSI (Scuba Schools International) is another international organisation that teaches scuba diving. It also offers a recognised and valued certification and has centres around the globe. Its founder was Robert Clark, a pioneer in scuba diving training. Both are safe, highly-regulated and approved by the World Recreational Scuba Training Council.
Shallow waters for newbie divers
If you are totally new to scuba diving you may feel more comfortable making your first dives in shallow waters. If so, the clear waters around the Bahama Islands are ideal. Start at Tiger Beach for close-up underwater photos of tiger sharks, nurse sharks and hammerheads. Wakatobi in Indonesia offers shallow current-free waters and offers a good introduction to the awesome colours and aquatic life of coral reefs.
Budget-friendly diving for novices
If you want to learn to dive but your budget is limited then Thailand is an affordable (and beautiful) destination, particularly the resorts of Koh Tao and Koh Chang. Accommodation is inexpensive while the wide choice of diving schools keeps instruction prices competitive. The resorts also offer specialised diving courses such as underwater videography. Competition at Gili Trawangan in Indonesia also keeps prices budget-friendly. The Gili Islands buzz with life while its waters are warm and clear.
All-year-round diving destinations
There's nothing quite like escaping the grey winter skies and enjoying some sunny days and warm seas. The Canary Islands offer great all-year-round diving. The Gulf Stream keeps water temperatures at 17-18°C throughout the year while visibility is good enough to guarantee sightings of rays and octopus. Dahab on the Red Sea in Egypt has long been known for its diving schools. It offers year-round visibility, warm waters and stunning coral habitats.
Diving with a touch of luxury thrown in
There is nowhere more typical of a tropical paradise than North Male Atoll in the Maldives. Healthy coral and abundant marine life reward your diving efforts while warm waters and good visibility ensure this is a year-round dive destination. If you want a touch of luxury when not diving then book a stay at the Ocean Paradise Dive Centre on Gili Lankanfushi. Other diving destinations with luxury accommodation options include Qualia on Australia's Great Barrier Reef or Fregate Island Private in Seychelles.
Like many sports, diving comes with some risks but if you sign up to an accredited dive school that offers PADI or SSI certification, and follow a few basic safety rules, you'll be learning a skill that guarantees lifelong pleasure and adventure. Always do some research and check your dive school and instructor are legally certified and that their gear is properly maintained. Ask them where the nearest emergency services and decompression chamber are just in case something goes wrong (a very rare situation). When you're ready to start going solo, always plan your dive carefully. Be realistic about your experience and limitations and above all, check your air gauge regularly and never dive alone. Finally, give your body a chance to recover fully and avoid suffering decompression sickness by not flying home until at least 24-hours after your final dive.
Your diving licence is just a holiday away
If we've whetted your appetite for getting your scuba diving licence and exploring the underwater wonders of the world then why not sign up for an initial diving course near your home? Then, start planning a holiday where you can finish qualifying for your diving licence in safe and exciting surroundings.
At BudgetAir we can help you plan your holiday as well as find flights and accommodation that match your needs and budget.
Go back to top
Want to read more travel tips?