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Learning to scuba dive with COLUMBIA SCUBA and PADI is an incredible adventure! With PADI as your training organization, your path to breathing underwater is accomplished in three exciting phases:

1. Knowledge Development - Learn the lingo.

During the first phase of your PADI Open Water Diver scuba certification, you develop an understanding of the basic principles of scuba diving. You learn things like how pressure affects your body, how to choose the best scuba gear and what to consider when planning dives. You briefly review what you have studied in the five knowledge sections with your instructor and take a short quiz to be sure you're getting it.

At the end of the course, you'll take a longer quiz that makes sure you have all the key concepts and ideas down. You and your COLUMBIA SCUBA Instructor will review anything that you don't quite get until it's clear.

Select the knowledge development option you prefer:

  • Start right now and learn to scuba dive online with COLUMBIA SCUBA via PADI eLearning at your own pace—anytime, anywhere (great for busy schedules)
  • Attend a scheduled scuba diving class at COLUMBIA SCUBA (great for meeting new friends and dive buddies)
  • Take advantage of home study using PADI multimedia materials (manual, video, CD-Rom) purchased through COLUMBIA SCUBA.
2. Confined Water Dives - Scuba Skills Training.

This is what it's all about – diving. But as with any sport, you need to learn the basics first. At Columbia Scuba, we work with you to master each skill, building on them as we go to give you the complete skill set you need to become a PADI Open Water certified diver!

During our pool sessions, you'll learn everything from setting up your scuba gear to how to easily get water out of your scuba mask without surfacing. You'll also practice some emergency skills, like sharing air or replacing your scuba mask. Plus, you may play some games, make new friends and have a great time. There are five confined water dives, with each building upon the previous. Over the course of these five dives, you attain the skills you need to dive in open water.

3. Open Water Dives - Locally or on Vacation.

After your confined water dives, you and the new friends you've made continue learning during four open water dives with your COLUMBIA SCUBA PADI Instructor at a dive site. This is where you begin to fully experience the underwater adventure – at the beginner level, of course. During warm weather months, we typically conduct these dives in Lake Murray and Lake Jocassee. Durng colder months (November - March), we trek down to Williston, FL to dive at Blue Grotto Dive Resort and Devil's Den Dive Resort. On alternating months, we also do a snorkeling excursion to get up close and personal with Florida Manatees! We also look forward to doing a drift dive in Rainbow River at KP Hole State Park.

At Columbia Scuba, we typically teach the Open Water course over two weeks each month. That allows us time to review the academics and start learning skills in bite sized pieces. The first weekend, we focus on confined water skills in a pool. The second weekend, we take what we've learned and apply those skills in an open water environment!

The PADI Open Water Diver course is incredibly flexible and performance based, which means that COLUMBIA SCUBA can offer a wide variety of schedules, paced according to how fast you progress. It's possible to complete your confined and open water dives in as few as two or three days by completing the classroom portion online via PADI eLearning or home study options offered by COLUMBIA SCUBA.

Columbia Scuba also offers private sessions if you need them to fit within your busy schedule. If you need this option, ask us for details.

Your instructor's interest is in your learning to scuba dive, not in how long you sit in a class. So, training is based upon demonstrating that you know what you need to know and can do what you need to do. This means that you progress at your own pace – faster or slower depending upon the time you need to become a confident scuba diver who dives regularly. You can start learning to scuba dive online right now with COLUMBIA SCUBA and PADI eLearning.

Compared with getting started in other popular adventure sports and outdoor activities, learning to scuba dive isn't expensive.

For example, you can expect to pay about the same as you would for:

  • a full day of surfing lessons
  • a weekend of rock climbing lessons
  • a weekend of kayaking lessons
  • a weekend of fly-fishing lessons
  • about three hours of private golf lessons
  • about three hours of private water skiing lessons
  • one amazing night out at the club!

Learning to scuba dive is a great value when you consider that you learn to dive under the guidance and attention of a high trained, experienced professional - your COLUMBIA SCUBA PADI Scuba Instructor. From the first day, scuba diving starts transforming your life with new experiences you share with friends. And, you can do it almost anywhere there is water. Start learning online with COLUMBIA SCUBA and get ready to take your first breath underwater!

COLUMBIA SCUBA is proud to be able to offer the PADI Open Water Course from $450 per person.

Choosing and using your scuba gear is part of the fun of diving. COLUMBIA SCUBA will help you find the right gear. Each piece of scuba equipment performs a different function so that collectively, it adapts you to the underwater world. We wor with you personally to make sure that your gear fits you and is comfortable. That's something you can't get when buying online. 

When you start learning to scuba dive, as a minimum, you want your own

  • scuba mask
  • snorkel
  • boots
  • scuba fins

These have a personal fit, and COLUMBIA SCUBA will help you choose ones that have the fit and features best suited to you. Included in the cost of your PADI Open Water Diver course, COLUMBIA SCUBA will provide a:

  • dive regulator
  • scuba BCD
  • dive computer
  • scuba tank
  • scuba wetsuit
  • weight system and weights

Check with COLUMBIA SCUBA to confirm sizing available for your course package. It's recommended that you invest in your own scuba equipment when you start your course because:

  • you're more comfortable using scuba gear fitted for you
  • you're more comfortable learning to scuba dive using gear you've chosen
  • scuba divers who own their own scuba diving equipment find it more convenient to go diving
  • having your own scuba diving gear is part of the fun of diving

The kind of gear you will need depends on the conditions where you dive. You may want:

  • tropical scuba gear
  • temperate scuba equipment
  • cold water scuba diving equipment

Easy. There is no best gear. But, there is the best gear for you. Our philosophy at COLUMBIA SCUBA is that if its not comfortable and fits well, it's not the right gear for you. We take the time to personally fit you with the scuba gear that best matches your preferences, fit and budget. You won't get that buying from anywhere online. And we provide service and support for years of enjoyable and dependable use.

You may also want to talk to other scuba divers in PADI's online scuba community to get recommendations on particular scuba equipment brands and models.

If you have an appetite for excitement and adventure, odds are you can become an avid PADI scuba diver. You'll also want to keep in mind these requirements:

Minimum Age:

  • Students between 10-11 years can earn their Junior Open Water certification. Upon completion they must dive with a parent/guardian or PADI Professional no deeper than 40 feet.
  • Students between the ages of 12-14 years, who successfully complete the course qualify for the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification. They must dive with an adult certified diver to a depth no greater than 60 feet. They can upgrade to PADI Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15. 

Physical: For safety, all students complete a brief scuba medical questionnaire that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, you sign the form and you're ready to start. If any of these apply to you, as a safety precaution your dive physician must assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms that you're fit to dive. In some areas, local laws require all scuba students to consult with a physician before entering the course.

Waterskills: Before completing the PADI Open Water Diver course, your instructor will have you demonstrate basic waterskill comfort by having you:

  • swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards in mask, fins and snorkel). There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.
  • float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods that you want.

About Physical Challenges: Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. In fact, Columbia Scuba has set a goal for every staff person to become certified as an Adaptive Techniques Specialist to facilitate a growing community of physically challenged divers.

Individuals with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Talk to the staff of Columbia Scuba for more information.

Learning Materials : Unless you choose PADI eLearning, you'll need and use the following training materials during the PADI Open Water Diver course, and for your review and reference after the course:

  • The PADI Open Water Diver Manual
  • PADI Open Water Diver Video on DVD or the PADI Open Water Diver Multimedia (combines manual and video for computer based learning).
  • You will also need your PADI Log book and Recreational Dive Planner (Table, The WheelTM or eRDPTM).

You can dive practically anywhere there's water – from a swimming pool to the ocean and all points in between, including quarries, lakes, rivers and springs. Where you can scuba dive is determined by your:

  • experience
  • the difficulty of your chosen site
  • accessibility
  • conditions interests

For example, if you've just finished your PADI Open Water Diver course, you probably won't be diving under the Antarctic ice on your next dive. But, don't limit your thinking to the warm, clear water you see in travel magazines. Some of the best diving is closer than you think.

We dive regularly in Lake Murray or Lake Jocassee, and even take trips to the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina. In the colder winter months, we organize trips to dive in the Florida springs including Blue Grotto Dive Resort and Devil's Den Resort in Williston, FL. If you join us on one of these trips, you might also have the opportunity to snorkel with manatees and do a drift dive down the Rainbow River at KP Hole State Park.

Columbia Scuba also offers a wide variety of trip excursions during the year. In the coming year, keep on the lookout for trips to West Palm Beach, Key Largo, the Bahamas, Roatan in Honduras, Cozumel in Mexico and even a liveaboard dive trip.

The only truly important thing about where you dive is that you have the scuba diving training and experience appropriate for diving there, and that you have a dive buddy to go with you. COLUMBIA SCUBA can help you organize great local diving or a dive vacation. Visit today to get started.

No, assuming you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the normal effect of water pressure pressing in on your ears. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to adjust for pressure changes in our ears – you just need to learn how. If you have no difficulties adjusting to air pressure during flying, you'll probably experience no problem learning to adjust to water pressure while diving.

Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory function or heart function or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a physician can assess a person's individual risk. Physicians can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing a scuba candidate. 

DAN has information available online if you wish to do some research.

Sun burn and seasickness, both of which are preventable with over the counter preventatives. The most common injuries caused by marine life are scrapes and stings, most of which can be avoided by wearing gloves and an exposure suit, staying off the bottom and watching where you put your hands and feet.

Contact COLUMBIA SCUBA for information about exposure protection needed for any of your diving.


When you're lucky, you'll get to see a shark!

Although incidents with sharks have occurred, they are very, very rare.  Most commonly shark encounters primarily involve spear fishing or feeding sharks, both of which trigger eractic feeding behavior. Sharks main food source is fish and if they can get a free feed they will. 

Most of the time, if you see a shark it's passing through and a relatively rare sight to enjoy.

Beginning Open Water certified scuba divers stay shallower than about 60 feet unless you are a Junior Scuba Diver then it is 40 feet. Although these are the limits, some of the most popular diving is no deeper 40 feet where the water's warmer and the colors are brighter. With the necessary training and experience, the limit for recreational scuba diving is 130 feet.

That's not likely because you have a gauge or computer that tells you how much air you have at all times. This way, you can return to the surface with a safety reserve remaining. But to answer the question, if you run out of air, your buddy has a spare mouthpiece that allows you to share a single air supply while swimming to the surface. There are also other options you'll learn in your PADI Open Water course with COLUMBIA SCUBA.

People find the “weightlessness” of scuba diving to be quite freeing. Modern scuba masks are available in translucent models, which you may prefer if a mask makes you feel closed in. During your scuba diving training with COLUMBIA SCUBA, your instructor gives you plenty of time and coaching to become comfortable with each stage of learning. Your scuba instructor works with you at your own pace to ensure you master each skill necessary to become a capable scuba diver who dives regularly.

COLUMBIA SCUBA keeps classes small so that we can give you more time to get comfortable with the amazing world of diving.