Scuba Lessons‎ > ‎

Get Certified

Ready to get started? Send me e-mail at for more information, or sign up for one of my group classes at Diver Dan's.

Open Water Diver

Your first scuba certification.  Accepted worldwide.

So, about those questions...

Is it hard?

Not really.  

All of your scuba gear is designed to make diving easier.  Fins mean you can swim longer with less effort.  Your regulator lets you breathe freely underwater, unlike free diving where you can only stay underwater as long as you can hold your breath.  You'll learn to adjust your buoyancy control device (BCD) so you float effortlessly in the water, instead of bouncing around on the surface as a snorkeler.  And your wetsuit will keep you from getting cold, so you can enjoy the dive.

The classroom portion is designed to be accessible to new divers as young as 10 years old.

And we practice all the skills in the pool before we head to the ocean, so you'll be prepared before you touch salt water.

Who can do it?

Really, just about anyone who is at least 10 years old.

You do need to have basic swimming skills (able to swim 200 yards without stopping, though you can swim slowly, and float or tread water for 10 minutes) and be reasonably comfortable in the water (because it's hard to dive if you don't like getting wet).

How long does it take?

We can do it all in two weekends
  • Weekend 1 at Diver Dan's:
    • Friday evening we do paperwork, start learning about scuba, and do an easy swim test
    • Saturday we continue classroom in the morning, and spend the afternoon practicing skills in Diver Dan's indoor pool.
    • Sunday we finish the classroom and pool work.

  • Weekend 2 in Monterey:
    • Saturday we do two dives in the morning.  For each dive, we practice some skills, then I'll take you on a tour and show you marine life.
    • Sunday we do two more dives in the morning, then we fill out some paperwork and you're certified!
If you're nervous or need additional time, we can schedule additional pool sessions in between the two weekends.

For private lessons, our schedule is much more flexible.  We can do classroom and pool skills over the course of several weeknights, and we can do the two ocean days on different weekends.  You can also do the classroom portion online or on a phone/tablet, through PADI e-Learning.

What do I need?

You'll need the PADI Open Water Manual or e-Learning so that you can do the classroom portion.  You can rent the Open Water DVD from the shop.

You should have your own personal gear (mask, snorkel, fins, boots, gloves).  Yes, dive shops can rent some of those things to you, but nothing spoils a dive like a mask that doesn't seal to your face or fins that chafe your feet.

Diver Dan's will rent the rest of your equipment to you (wetsuit, hood, BCD, regulator, dive computer, tanks, weights).

Is it cold?

In a properly fitted wetsuit, it's no colder than being on a ski lift at Tahoe.  You'll be aware you're not in the Bahamas, but it's totally manageable even if you don't have a seal-like layer of blubber around your middle.

If you're particularly sensitive to the cold, you may want to take the Drysuit Specialty Diver certification next.  Drysuits are like rubber suits you wear over soft thick fuzzy pajamas, which stay dry during your dive.

What about sharks?

They're really uncommon in Monterey.  I've done over 250 dives in Monterey, and I've seen a total of 3 sharks.  Two of them were babies, and the other was a 3 foot long leopard shark that swam away so fast I didn't get a good picture.  I've never seen a great white shark in the water.

Yes, there are sharks off of Santa Cruz.  That's a sandy beach with lots of seals.  Sharks like seals.  Sharks occasionally mistake surfers or kayakers for wounded seals, because they're flopping around on the surface.  So they take a taste, and then go away (because surfboards and kayaks don't taste anything like seals).

But see, scuba divers aren't on the surface.  We're underneath it.  And divers breathing through regulators don't sound anything like seals.  So sharks know we're not food.

If you DO want to see sharks, you have to put some effort into it.  There's a boat that goes out to the Farallon Islands and lets you cage dive.  You can go to Maui and do a drift dive off of Molokai to see hammerheads.  Or you can go down to Guadalupe Island off of Mexico.  Try to stay away from operators that chum the water; that changes natural shark behavior.

Don't even get me started on 47 Meters Down.

What if I don't want to dive in Monterey?

You have two choices:
  • You can do the classroom and pool portion of the course here, and then transfer to another dive shop somewhere else; that's called a Referral (see below)
  • You can fly me somewhere tropical.  If you do, I'll teach you any courses you want at my cost while we're there.  Seriously.  Take me with you.

Open Water Diver Referral

If you're planning on going diving on vacation, and don't have the time or ability to do your certification dives in Monterey, you can do a Referral.

You'll do the classroom and pool portions of the Open Water Diver class with me.  Then you can complete the ocean dives with a PADI dive center at your vacation destination any time in the next 12 months.

I can help you find a dive center at your destination and make sure all the paperwork is transferred across.

You'll still spend some of your vacation time doing skills in the ocean before getting to tour the dive site.  But it's still a lot better (and cheaper) than doing the entire course during your vacation; who wants to spend vacation sitting in a classroom?

Try Scuba In The Pool

So, you're still not sure about the whole scuba diving thing, and not ready to commit to signing up for a class.

Good news.  Diver Dan's offers Try Scuba on Friday evenings.  This is an opportunity to try on scuba gear in the pool with the help of an instructor, and see how much you like it.  You don't need to bring anything but a swimsuit and a towel.