Open Water students at work

Scuba Diver vs Open Water

I’ve been bugging Tony to write this post because we often see advertisements related to this subject, to no avail, so I thought I’d just go ahead and do it. It’s about the distinction between two PADI courses – one of which is downright bizarre, if you ask me… but I guess suits some people otherwise it wouldn’t exist.

The course I think is bizarre is called Scuba Diver. The official PADI webpage for it is here. It qualifies you to do the following:

Dive under the direct supervision of a PADI Divemaster, Assistant Instructor or Instructor to a maximum depth of 12 metres

The other course, with which you are probably very familiar, is called Open Water. Here’s the PADI page about it. It involves a bit more theory and more sea dives than the Scuba Diver course, and qualifies you to do the following:

Dive independently (with a certified diving buddy) to a maximum depth of 18 metres

Here’s the catch: because the Scuba Diver course is a lesser qualification, and takes less time to teach, it costs less – often about half what an Open Water course costs. Of course, you can upgrade it to an Open Water course at any time, but that involves more theory, more skills and more dives. And of course, a small cash payment!

If you’re shopping for a dive course, be very sure that you understand what you’re getting and how it stacks up against what’s available. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the dive centre advertising that they’ll “turn you into a scuba diver” for a fraction of the price of the other operators is offering the same product… They’re probably not! The Scuba Diver course is great if you plan on doing lots of shallow dives with an Instructor by your side, but you may want to plan your own dives one day, and for most dive sites, 12 metres is going to limit your options!

Published by


Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

2 thoughts on “Scuba Diver vs Open Water”

  1. Hi. The Scuba Diver rating is great for you to be relatively safe with your kit and therefore how to stay safe at above 12 mts to enjoy the experience of a different world, whilst the pressures of navigation time under and supervision are left to instructor. Have fun.Ta.x

Leave a Reply