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What's involved in learning to scuba dive?

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

  • 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 whilst 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 West Shore Scuba Instructor will review anything that you don't quite get until it's clear.


  • Confined Water Dives - Scuba Skills Training
    This is what it's all about – diving. You develop basic scuba skills by scuba diving in a pool or body of water with pool-like conditions. Here 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.


  • 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 West Shore Scuba PADI Instructor at a dive site. This is where you fully experience the underwater adventure – at the beginner level, of course. You may make these dives locally in Pennsylvania or at a more exotic destination while on a West Shore Scuba group holiday or perhaps by referral if you already have a trip planned.

How long does it take to get certified?

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 E-Learning options offered by West Shore Scuba. The PADI Open Water Diver course is incredibly flexible and performance based, which means that West Shore Scuba can offer a wide variety of schedules which is paced according to how fast you progress. Your instructor's interest is in you 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 West Shore Scuba and PADI E-Learning.

How much does it cost to take scuba lessons?

The Open Water Certification course is comprised of 3 main areas each with some costs involved.

  • Academic Work (E-Learning)
  • Confined Water Dives (Pool Work)
  • Open Water Dives (skills repeated in an Open Water environment)

Below are typical costs that can be expected:

E-learning = A fixed cost of $202 which can be accessed by clicking on this link.

Pool Sessions = A fixed cost of $224 covers your confined water sessions which is held right here, in our backyard!

Open Water Sessions = A fixed cost at $375 for the weekend which includes all the gear you will need to get the open water dives accomplished as well as admission for the weekend. 

The other costs that are variable are the personal gear required by each diver. These consist of a mask, fins, snorkel, dive boots and a log book. This will range depending on the gear you pick at our shop but on average you can expect to spend $200-$225.

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 in your West Shore Scuba PADI Scuba Instructor. From the first day, scuba diving starts transforming your life with new experiences that you can share with your friends. And, you can do it almost anywhere there is water. Start learning online with West Shore Scuba and get ready to take your first breath underwater!

What scuba gear do I need to learn to scuba dive?

Choosing and using your scuba gear is part of the fun of diving. West Shore Scuba will help you find the right gear that suits you. Each piece of scuba equipment performs a different function so that collectively, it adapts you to the underwater world.

When you start learning to scuba dive, at a minimum, you will want your own scuba mask, snorkel, boots, and fins. West Shore 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, West Shore Scuba will provide you with the use of a dive regulator, a Scuba Buoyancy Compensator Device, a dive computer, scuba tanks, a wetsuit, and a weight system.

Check with West Shore 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.

How do I know what's the best scuba gear?

Easy. There is no best gear. But, there is the best gear for you. The professionals at West Shore Scuba are trained to help you find scuba gear that best matches your preferences, fit and budget. These professionals can get you set with the right stuff, plus they provide service and support for years of enjoyable and dependable use.

What required to take scuba lessons?

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: 10 years old. Students younger than 15 years, who successfully complete the course qualify for the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, which they may upgrade to PADI Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15. You must be at least 13 years old to take scuba lessons online with PADI eLearning, due to international internet laws. If you're younger, you can still learn to dive – just have your parent or legal guardian contact West Shore Scuba.

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 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.

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. 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 your PADI Instructor at your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort for more information.

Learning Materials:  The PADI eLearning provides all the training materials needed during the PADI Open Water Diver course, and for your review and reference after the course.  You will also need a PADI training log book that is used to document your training and the fun dives you will encounter as well as serve for a training referral  should you choose to complete your Open Water dives at another PADI facility.

Where can I scuba dive?

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
  • Accessibility
  • Conditions and 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.

Your local dive site can be anything from a special pool built just for divers like one found in Brussels, Belgium, or more typically natural sites like Belize's Great Blue Hole, Australia's Great Barrier Reef or Japan's Yonaguni Monument. It may be a manmade reservoir or a fossil-filled river. It's not always about great visibility because what you see is more important than how far you see.

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. West Shore Scuba can help you organize great local diving or a dive vacation. Visit us today to get started!

My ears hurt when I dive down. Will that keep me from becoming a scuba diver?

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 whilst flying, you'll probably experience no problem learning to adjust to water pressure whilst diving.  Your Instructors at West Shore Scuba will teach you how to equalize and avoid discomfort while diving.

Does a history of ear troubles, diabetes, asthma, allergies or smoking preclude someone from 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. 

What are the most common injuries or sicknesses associated with diving?

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 West Shore Scuba for information about exposure protection needed for any of your diving.

What about the sharks?

When you're lucky, you'll get to see a shark. Although incidents with sharks occur, they are very, very rare. Most commonly, shark encounters involve spear fishing or feeding sharks, both of which trigger erratic feeding behavior. Sharks main food source is fish and if they can get a free feed they will. That said, most of the time, if you see a shark it's passing through and a relatively rare sight to enjoy.

How deep do you go?

With the necessary training and experience, the limit for recreational scuba diving is 130 feet. Beginning 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 than 40 feet where the water's warmer and the colors are brighter.

What happens if I use up all my air?

In the unlikely event that 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 West Shore Scuba.

What if I feel claustrophobic?

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