Marco Leo is living the dream – the 31-year-old is a full time dive instructor at the luxury Atmosphere Resorts and Spa in the Philippines. Originally from Switzerland, he’s been diving all over the world since 2008, but his life really changed when he decided to become a PADI professional. Here are his essentials pointers for newbie divers:
Teaching the joy of diving is Marco's passion. © atmosphereresorts.com
Diving isn’t an extreme sport
The classic newbie misunderstanding is thinking that diving is an extreme sport. Often they think it’s a very physical sport, but the opposite is true; diving is a very relaxed activity. Water is much denser than air, and that’s why we need to move slowly and be streamlined all the time. Once I taught a yoga teacher and after the dive she said, “being underwater is similar to a yoga class”.
Different strokes for different folks
Every person is different. One person, for example, needs much more time to get the buoyancy right, while another needs less (buoyancy is difficult in the beginning, but gets easier with practice). It’s important to be patient and to find an instructor you’re comfortable with so you can relax.
© Bo Mancao
Get in shape
You don’t need to train specifically to become a diver, but it’s helpful to be in good physical shape and a strong swimmer. Before you start your course, you need to sign a medical questionnaire to make sure you are fit to dive.
One step at a time
Don’t rush in and buy all the gear immediately. Give it time to make sure you really want to commit to diving. I highly recommend buying your own dive mask, however, because every face shape is different and it’s important to be comfortable. You can use it for snorkeling, too. If you decide diving is for you, then it makes sense to buy your personal dive gear. But go step by step.
© Bo Mancao
Follow the stars
Choosing the right dive center to learn at is important. It’s best to find a five star PADI center. Taking an online diving course is a great idea too so when you finish your studies online you can focus on the practical side of things.
Dive into open water
So, you’re 100% into diving! Time to complete an open water diving course! If you finish the theory online beforehand, an open water diving course can be completed in two to three days. With the theory included, it takes between three to four days. Don’t rush it. The instructor needs to make sure the students are ready. Following this is the advanced open water diver course.
© Bo Mancao
Find a dive buddy
You should never dive alone. It’s safer and more fun to have a dive buddy, someone you trust, and whose equipment you’re familiar with. Diving is a very social activity so finding a buddy won’t be hard. You usually dive with someone you meet on a boat, at a resort, or in a dive shop. It’s important you speak about the dive and equipment before you take the plunge together.
Working with fear
Experiencing some level of fear is a very common experience for newbie divers. I was really afraid when I did my open water course. That’s when a good instructor can make all the difference. If the instructor is calm and gives the student time to adjust – because his or her brain is overloaded with new information – they usually work through it.
Marco won't be giving up his day job anytime soon. © atmosphereresorts.com
Most people dive just for fun so they mainly dive when they’re on vacation. How often you dive depends on your personal goals, but diving once or twice every six months or year is a good idea so you avoid losing skills and familiarity.
*Suunto has just released the Zoop Novo Blue, a dive watch perfect for beginner divers or people seeking new adventures. Click here for more info about this simple to use dive computer.