Learn To Scuba Dive

Learn to Scuba Dive in Southeast Asia

Butterflyfish credit David Spencer on flickr

Learning to scuba dive may seem daunting but it is straightforward and enjoyable.

Scuba divin is an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed throughout the world. Southeast Asia has some of the best destinations in the world.

This guide will help you to decide how to begin, and continue, you scuba journey.

Which Organisation

There are a number of international organisations and dozens of national and regional regulatory bodies that will provide training and certification.

The largest organisations, PADI and SSI can be found worldwide. Some countries own organisations have a significant presence, in the USA, NAUI, in Europe, CMAS and in the UK, BSAC. Most local organisations will be affiliated to an international body to ensure that certifications are recognised worldwide.


With more than 6,600 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, and 128,000 individual PADI Professionals who have issued more than 28 million certifications around the world, you’ll find PADI diver courses and scuba diving services nearly everywhere.

The PADI System of diver education is based on progressive training that introduces skills, safety-related information and local environmental knowledge to student divers in stages. PADI courses are student-centered and provide maximum practice and realistic application.


For more than 45 years, SSI has provided training, scuba diving certification, and educational resources for divers, dive instructors, dive centers and resorts around the world.

Started in 1970, SSI has expanded to include more than 30 Service Centers, is represented in more than 110 countries with over 2,800 International locations, and has materials printed in more than 30 languages.


The CMAS has developed a CMAS International Diver Training Certification System that consists of Diver, Speciality Diver, Technical Diver and Leadership Diver Training Standards and which allows divers,that have been trained in accordance with the prescribed CMAS International Diver Training Standards, to have their certifications recognised throughout the world in countries that are members of the CMAS family of divers.

Dive Courses

Diving in Bali. Credit Sebastien Penna Lambarra on Unsplash

PADI Dive Courses

The worlds most popular dive certification programme is available both in your home country and in resorts making it a highly flexible learning programme. Many people may complete e-learning and/or introductory diving at home before completing certifcation abroad. SSI follows a similar format.

There are a number of specialty courses available to qualified divers to learn new skills, techniques and equipment use.

Discover Scuba Diving

Generally in resorts this one day course will take place on the boat as you head to your 2 dives to depths of 12 metres, always with a professional dive instructor. This is not a qualification. Minimum age 10 years.

Scuba Diver

The entry level course from PADI certifies successful students to dive to 12 metres in the company of a Dive Professional. This two-day course covers a number of elements of the Open Water course and candidates must be at least 15 years old (10 for Junior Scuba Diver).

Open Water Diver

The world’s most popular scuba course that has introduced millions of people to scuba diving. The Open Water certification allows divers to dive to a maximum depth of 18 metres. This three day course is available to candidates 12 years and older (Junior Open Water Diver available from 10 years old with maximum depth of 12 metres).

Advanced Open Water

The follow on course to Open Water helps to build confidence, build skills and improve knowledge. Key skills include Peak Performance Buoyancy and Underwater Navigation plus 3 modules chosen from a list that includes: Underwater naturalist, Deep diver, Wreck diver, Digital underwater photography, Night diver, boat diver, Enriched air diver (NITROX), Search and Recovery.

Divers must have the Open Water qualification and be at least 15 years old. Junior Advanced Open Water is available for those age 12 and above. 2 days.


The first step into becoming a dive professional, you learn to become a dive guide and be prepared for your next step as an dive instructor.

To start the divemaster course you must be at least 18 years old, hold advanced open water and rescue diver certifications, have a valid emergency first responder qualification, be fit for diving and have completed at least 40 dives (60 required for completion).

Dive Schools

Clownfish. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr

Choosing A Dive School

Your first choice will possibly to decide if you want to complete some, or all, of your learning at home before you travel or if you will learn on your trip.

The main advantage of learning at home is that you will spend less classroom time on holiday and more time exploring the incredible dive sites. Disadvantages may be the diving experience at home. Do you want your initial dives to be in warm, crystal clear water surrounded by spectacular marine life or do you want your first dives to be like mine, in a cold, murky, former quarry in England?

If you do decide to learn abroad then there are a few things that you should take into account before parting with your money:

  • Does the dive school have instructors who are fluent in your language? English is spoken in many schools but other languages may be harder to find in resorts that do not have significant numbers of visitors speaking that language.
  • What qualifications do the instructors have?
  • How many students will be in a group? Larger numbers can be more sociable but you will get less one-to-one time with the instructor
  • Do they undertake confined dives in a swimming pool or in the ocean?
  • Do they have good quality equipment available in your size?
  • Do they supply a dive computer? Is there an extra charge?
  • What time is the course? Be prepared for early starts on many courses and dives.
  • How much does it cost? Dive schools in resorts will often have very similar prices. Don’t let price be the deciding factor if the difference is small, go for quality. Remember to be aware very cheap prices, they may be legitimate but take care.

Scuba Diving Locations

Yellow Boxfish. Credit rickard Zerpe on flickr

Thailand has an incredible variety of diving locations. Koh Tao is one of the most popular locations on earth for beginner divers courses. The Andaman Sea has a number of world class dive destinations.

Scuba Diving in Bali. Credit Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Diving in Bali has it all, wonderful coral reefs, fish of all shapes, sizes and colours, wreck dives, cave dives, you name it and Bali probably has it on offer.

Scuba Diving in the Gili Islands. Credit Guillaume Marques on Unsplash

The Gili Islands in Indonesia offer stunning locations for scuba diving with incredible scenery on land and some of the best marine life in the world underwater.

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