Basic Open Water

In this section, we answer all of the most common questions about learning to dive, including:
Nevertheless, if you have a question this section doesn't answer, just call us at
912-882-7078 or email us at We will be happy to answer it.

Who Can Learn

Just about anybody who is comfortable and relaxed in the water - and who has the desire - can learn to scuba dive. This includes children as young as ten and seniors well into their seventies.

  • Do you have to be an athlete or a competitive swimmer?
    Hardly. The only requirement here is that you be able to swim 200 yards (no time limit, any stroke). You also need to be able to tread water, drown proof or float in water too deep to stand for ten minutes. Rarely do we find anyone who has difficulty with this.
  • What about kids?
    Children ages 12 to 14 can qualify for junior certification, which requires they dive with an adult until age 15. Kids ages 10 and 11 can also learn, but must have a parent present during all course activities, and meet other requirements as well.
  • Don't certain medical conditions disqualify you from diving?
    Only very few. So long as you are in good cardiovascular and respiratory health, and not on any drugs that might cause complications under water, getting a physician's approval to dive is generally easy. And, if you can honestly answer No to all of the questions on the medical history form, you won't even have to get your doctor's okay.

You would be surprised at the range of people who dive. There are even special programs to help paraplegics and quadriplegics experience the underwater world. More than anything else, it just takes desire.

What is involved in learning to dive?

Becoming certified consists of three phases. These are:

At one time, a beginning scuba class could drag on for weeks. These days, few people have that kind of time - nor is it needed. With NASE's state-of-the-art learning materials, the adventure can begin almost the moment you sign up.

NASE eLearning is the newest convenient and enjoyable way to master the academic learning objectives associated with learning to scuba dive. It combines text, photos, illustrations, charts, graphs, animations and live-action video in a way that makes learning easy and fun. You will be able to easily complete all of the necessary academic learning when and where it is convenient, and at your own pace.

Once you have acquired the important background information, it's time to get in the water and start mastering fundamental scuba skills. This takes place in Diver's Den's own indoor, heated pool, under the watchful eye of your instructor. You will first see a demonstration of how each skill is done, then have the opportunity to practice until you are comfortable.

When you've completed your academic and confined-water training, you'll be ready for the final and most important phase of earning your entry-level diver certification: your open-water training dives.

Open water training consists of four dives conducted over two days. Each of the dives consists of the opportunity to apply the skills you mastered in confined water, and to make a guided dive under the supervision of your instructor and his or her assistants.

Here in southeast Georgia, we enjoy the opportunity to train year round in Florida's nearby freshwater springs. These springs are famous for their crystal-clear water and constant, 72-degree temperatures. We try to take students to at least two different springs during their open-water training dives.

And, When You Are Finished...

Once you've completed your academic/confined and open-water training, you'll be awarded your NASE Open Water Diver certification. Bear in mind, however, that this is only the beginning.

As soon as possible, you will want to obtain (as a minimum) your Advanced Open Water Diver and Enriched Air Nitrox Diver certifications. These two ratings will allow you to participate in a much wider range of activities, both here at home and on vacation.

Your learning opportunities don't stop there. Depending on your interests, you can take further training in activities such as underwater photography or video, and wreck diving. By taking five such Specialty Diver courses, and earning Rescue Diver certification, you can eventually obtain the coveted Master Scuba Diver rating.

Where Do I Learn

Academic Review/Skill Development Sessions:
All of our pool sessions take place right here at Diver's Den Directions. We are fortunate enough to have our own indoor, heated swimming pool.

Having our own pool provides us with several advantages.

  • We can conduct pool sessions whenever it is convenient for students.
  • Our instructors don't have to shout to be heard over noisy kids or competing events.
  • There is never any pressure to hurry up and get out of the water before the next group gets here.
  • The bottom line is, having our own pool helps our students learn better. It is just that simple.

Open Water Training:
As south-Georgia residents, we're fortunate to have nine of the world's best freshwater dive sites right in our back yard.

Several of these sites, including Devil's Den, Blue Grotto, Ginnie Spring, Troy Spring and Manatee Spring are particularly well suited for entry-level diver training.

We try to give all of our entry-level students the opportunity to sample at least two of these sites.

When Can I Start

Strictly speaking, you can start whenever you want. With NASE's eLearning program, that can be within the next few minutes, if you sign up now. You have the option of paying NASE for a portion of the training right over the web. Just be sure that Diver's Den is selected as your training facility. You will need to come by the shop to pick up your training materials, schedule your pool sessions, and to pay for the remaining portion of the class.

Plan on taking approximately six to ten hours to complete the self-study program.

When you come to the store on your start date, we do a quick review and then we jump right in!

Academic Review/Skill Development Options
You have three choices here. These are:

Regularly scheduled group lessons take place every two weeks (see schedule above).

Academic Review Session is a 20 question "quick quiz" conducted prior to the pool sessions.

Skill Development (pool) sessions take place Tuesday Wednesday and Thrusday, 6:00 until 10:00 pm.

We allocate two evenings for the in-water sessions, but we are not limited to two days. Sometimes it takes longer, it really depends on how quickly everyone is able to complete the required tasks.

With semi-private lessons (groups of 4 or more), you make your own schedule. This is something we are able to do because of the flexibility afforded by having our own pool on premises. We can work out scheduling details when you sign up.

Figure on 3, 3-4 hour sessions of time in the pool.

With private (one-on-one) lessons, you make your own schedule. This is something we are able to do because of the flexibility afforded by having our own pool on premises. We can work out scheduling details when you sign up.

Figure on 3, 3-4 hour sessions of time in the pool.

Open Water Training
Open water training takes two full days. For our private students, this can take place any time after Skill Development sessions are completed. For students in our regularly scheduled group lessons, Open Water training generally takes place on the 4th Saturday and Sunday of each month.

Because the open-water training sites we use are approximately two hours away, you will want to plan on either camping out or staying in a motel near the training sites. Your instructor can make recommendations.

Learn more about some of the sites we use.


The good news here is that how much you will spend learning to scuba dive with Diver's Den Georgia is largely up to you. You have control over factors such as whether you want to take a private or group class. All these factors have a direct bearing on how much you spend.

Our course fees cover all of the following:

  • All in-water instruction (including open-water training).
  • Use of tanks, weights, regulators, BCs and wet suits.
  • Check out dives
    • one at the springs
    • one day in a local private access fresh water lake!
  • Certification card processing.

The course fees themselves are:

  • $375 for group or semi-private courses
  • $699 for Private

What You Provide. This list is short:

  • Personal equipment items such as masks, snorkels, fins and dive booties (see complete list).
  • Transportation to and from training sites.
  • Meals and accommodations, if needed.

If you have any questions about the costs involved in learning to dive, please ask us. We find that students are much happier knowing this information going in, rather than being surprised by it later.

What Equipment Will I Need?

Diving is an equipment-intensive activity. This means that the quality of the equipment you use, and its suitability for specific diving activities has a tremendous bearing on your overall comfort, safety and enjoyment. Few things can ruin the investment you make in learning to dive safely than having the wrong equipment.

The good news is, we supply most of the equipment you will need, including wet suits, cylinders and regulators. This is top quality equipment that we would not only be happy to use ourselves, but have our friends and loved ones use as well.

The only equipment you need to supply is:

  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Wetsuit boots
  • Adjustable scuba fins
  • Surface marker buoy

These personal equipment items are ones for which comfort and fit are not only important, they're critical. They are also items that, as a certified diver, dive operators expect you to own. In other words, you do not want to go anywhere as a diver without them.

It's also important to understand that, to be suitable for scuba diving, masks, snorkels and fins must meet a very different set of requirements than they might for casual snorkeling. Therefore, it's important you not purchase any equipment items without talking to us first.

How much can you expect to spend on these items?You will see packages advertised for as little as $150 or less.

Generally speaking, however, such cheap equipment is not a good investment, as you will only end up replacing the items with better quality ones that fit correctly, perform more satisfactorily and last longer.

It is less expensive, in the long run, to buy the right items to start with. These can last ten years or longer, and (more importantly) will enhance your learning experience rather than detract from it. Most of our students choose to spend between $260 and $500 on good quality masks, snorkels, fins, boots and related items. This is a more realistic number.