After I had finished my Open Water Diver course, I felt confident and capable and trusted the diving skills I had developed during the course, which stood me in good fast!
- Water in my mask? – No problem!
- Buoyancy control? – Check!
- Mastery of underwater communication via hand signals? – I can do that!
- A low-on-air situation? – No scare for me!
Become an Advanced Open Water Diver and take the next step.
And the more I dived, the more confident I grew, and with confidence came curiosity and the revelation that as an Open Water Diver, I had barely scratched the surface of the underwater world and the wonders it had in store for me!
And I wanted more! I wanted more adventure and more thrills; I wanted to go deeper, dive on wrecks, see bigger fish. But of course most of these things are off-limits for beginner divers, so to do all that, I needed further training.
Do not get me wrong; I know quite a few people who are Open Water Divers and have never felt the need to seek out further training since they have all they wanted. Me, however, am not one of them, so becoming an advanced open water diver was the logic next step for me.
I quickly realized, that while the Open Water Diver course had prepared me well, there was so much I did not know about diving in different environments, and my training was far from being as complete as I had first assumed.
Of course, you are not required to continue to more advanced levels of certification, but the options are out there if you love to dive, you want to improve your skills, and you want to experience dives that you are restricted from doing with a basic certification.
Why should you become a (PADI) Advanced Open Water Diver?
One reason for me becoming a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver was the extended depth I could go to, which for PADI is 30 meters or 100 feet.
You should know that each PADI certification comes with certain depth limits. The PADI Advanced open water depth is set to 30 meters or 100 ft vs 18 meters or 60 feet for the maximum PADI open water depth.
I enjoyed the feeling of being deep under the water’s surface, colors slowly fading to blue as you descend, and the sensation of adventure it created for me.
And although I was nervous on my first couple of dives to this sort of depth, it also held an exhilarating thrill for me, and that is even without any of the big pelagics coming to say hello!
What will you learn during the PADI Advanced Open Water certification course?
During the PADI advanced open water certification course, you will be taught more skills that will make you even more comfortable with diving in a variety of environments and a more proficient diver.
Your training will go beyond what you have already learned in the basic Open Water Diver course, and you will be exposed to new types of dive sites and environments during your training as well.
At the end of the course, you will be able to confidently dive deeper sites up to 30 meters, or 100 feet. You will also learn more ways to use your underwater compass, and have knowledge of the physical effects of deep diving, like the myth-enshrouded nitrogen narcosis, for example.
Also, you will learn how to navigate underwater and estimate distances using, kick-cycles, and landmarks, which you will use once you start diving without a guide!
What are the PADI advanced open water requirements?
You should be at least 12 years of age to enroll in the Junior Advanced Open Water Diver course. To take the “standard” Advanced Open Water Diver certification course, you need to be at least 15 years old.
Also, you have to be a certified PADI open water diver, which gives you the necessary core competencies and experience required to move up to the advanced level.
As with the open water diver course, you need to be in good overall health, especially since advanced dives are more challenging physically.
Depending on the certifying agency you choose, you will be required to perform a series of dives, usually around five, requiring special techniques, abilities or skills, beyond the scope of the Open Water Diver course. Your instructor will monitor your progress and help you wherever you need it.
You can choose from three advanced open water adventure dives, in addition to the two mandatory dives; deep and navigation
1. Deep “Adventure” Dive (Mandatory)
Before you make the obligatory deep advanced open water adventure dive your instructor will probably have you complete a simple task like writing your name backward, or you will be asked to solve a simple calculation. Your instructor will note the time it took you to complete the task.
The fun starts when your instructor asks you to complete the same task at a depth of 30 meters or 100 ft. You will learn that it will take longer to complete the tasks and some might not be able to complete it entirely.
This exercise is the perfect demonstration of the physical effects that deep diving has on your body. At this depth, most divers will get nitrogen narcosis which will impair your ability to solve simple tasks and think “straight” Experiencing getting “narced” in a controlled environment should help you understand the possible consequences of deep diving.
Remember that the PADI advanced open water depth is max 30 meters or 100 feet. You should not dive beyond this point without any further and specific deep dive training.
This deep “Adventure” dive is the first dive from the PADI Deep Diver course and give you a glimpse of what lies beyond.
2. Navigation “Adventure” Dive (Mandatory)
During the navigation advanced open water adventure dive you will learn how to use:
- A compass to navigate underwater
- Natural navigation to find your way underwater
Before you use a compass underwater, you will practice on the mainland. Your instructor will have you “walk” specific patterns using a compass. As soon as you understand how a compass work works, you will practice the utilization of a compass underwater.
Your instructor will probably ask you to swim a particular pattern, like a triangle or a square underwater using the compass. The goal of this exercise is to come back to the point where you started. When you can do this successfully, you should also be able to find your way back to the entry point of shore during a “real” open water dive.
The three remaining adventure dives you choose from can include:
- AWARE-Fish Identification
- Underwater Naturalist
- Enriched Air Nitrox
- Underwater Navigator
- Peak Performance Buoyancy
- Underwater Photography
- Multilevel and Dive Computer
- Side Mount
- Dive Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) – underwater scooter
- Search and Recovery
- Underwater Videography
During my Advanced Open Water certification course, I decide to go and visit a wreck which was breath-taking and a lot eerier than I had suspected. To see the remnants of a once majestic vessel lying on the seafloor, slowly being conquered by nature and covered in corals and sponges is just beautiful, and if you ever decide to take you Advanced Open Water Diver course, I would recommend a wreck dive, if you have the possibility.
I also did the mandatory navigation dive, of course, and after struggling a bit to grasp how a compass works (yeah, I know!), it was fun (once the compass training was over), and I learned a lot of very useful navigation skills I am still using today.
The biggest highlight during my advanced scuba certification course were the night dives, which I was very nervous about beforehand.
Once in the water, I was amazed to see how much the reef that I knew so well had changed at night and found the darkness outside the rather small circle of light cast by my diving torch rather intriguing.
It is very relaxing just to concentrate on the things you can see on the limited surface that is illuminated by your light, and incredible what critters and fish are revealed at night.
My last adventure dive was a Search & Recovery dive that the instructor had organized as a treasure hunt, which was heaps of fun. I learned about different search patterns and how to recover and lift heavy objects with a lift bag, in case I ever find that treasure on a deep night dive on that old wreck! (Oh, don’t tell me it is not something you have ever dreamt about!)
If you are ready to take your diving to the next level, it is time to take the Advanced Open Water Diver course.
What are the costs of the PADI advanced open water certification?
The exact costs of the PADI advanced open water certification will differ per country and dive center. Some dive centers will offer packages that include the Open water diver course and the Advanced open water diver course together. A package deal like this is often cheaper than buying two separate courses.
But you may expect to pay anything between $300 and $400 per person to get your advanced scuba certification. This price should include all course materials and certification fees, though.
In addition to practical part of the course, you will have to do some theory. Your dive center/instructor will provide you with (e)learning materials to assist you.
You should know that the advanced scuba certification course felt the least like work to me and was one of the most fun classes I have ever taken in my whole life, besides developing a multitude of important dive skills that I am using on an everyday basis as a diving instructor today!
What materials do you use during the advanced scuba certification course
Throughout advanced scuba certification course, you will use all of the necessary scuba diving gear that you are already accustomed with, including your wetsuit, BCD, compass, mask, tank, and dive computer.
However, you will also learn to utilize even more pieces of equipment to make your dives even more unforgettable.
Depending upon what types of specialty dives you choose, you may end up using underwater photography equipment, reels, buoys, lift bags, a dry suit, a dive light, a dive flag, or even DPVs, which are underwater scooters, and more.
But no matter what type of dives you choose to go on throughout the advanced diver course, you are guaranteed to learn many valuable skills that you will use on your future dives around the world.
You will be a happy, comfortable and capable diver, confident in your competencies in a variety of environments and even at depth until you feel that itch again, the one that lets you know, it is time to look for a new adventure! And there are plenty!
What is your level of certification? Let us know in the comments below
Would you like to get certified as an advanced open water diver? Feel free to contact us. We have multiple partners that offer dive packages + accommodation and scuba lessons.
This article is written by Rutger and published by The Scuba Page, the online magazine for Scuba Dive lovers around the world. The Scuba Page is part of RUSHKULT: the online booking platform for adventure sports. Visit the RUSHKULT platform to book your next Scuba Dive training, guided trip and accommodation