Open Water Diver

The PADI Open Water Diver Course is your key to the underwater world.

With your PADI Open Water Diver Certification you will be qualified to dive with a buddy to a depth of 18 metres. This is the most widely-recognised scuba certification and will be welcomed in resorts worldwide.

The Course.

The Open Water Diver and Junior Open Water Diver courses consist of three main components:

·       Knowledge Development: On booking the course you receive the Open Water Crewpack which contains the materials you need to study and your Diving Logbook.

The self-study work includes five chapters of the Open Water Diver Manual, each with a short knowledge review which must be completed prior to attending the course. We review these with you at the start of the course and answer any extra question you may have.

After each of the reviews for chapter 1 – 4 you will complete a multi-choice quiz (10 questions each) and then a final exam of 50 multi-choice questions after review 5.  The pass mark for these is 75%.

·       Pool Work: There are five confined water dives to complete plus a 200 metre swim and 10 minute float/treading water exercise. These introduce all of the practical skills you will need to become an Open Water Diver.

·       Open Water Dives: There are four dives to complete in open water over a minimum of two days (we can only make three training dives in one day).

The first dive simply to allow you to get used to the change from being in a pool and to introduce you to some fish. On the remaining three, you repeat the skills you have learned in the pool.

When you have completed all three sections – Congratulations, you have made it as an Open Water Scuba Diver!!


What are the prerequisites for the course?

To enrol in the PADI Open Diver course or Junior Open Water Diver course, you must:

·       Complete a medical questionaire

·       Be capable of swimming 200 metres in a just swimming costume –or- 300 metres using a mask, fins and snorkel. This must be a continuous swim but it is not timed.

·       Be able to tread water / float for 10 minutes in water to deep to stand in.

·       Be a minimum of 12 years old to enrol on the complete course with us –or- minimum 10 years old to enrol on a referral course. This is due to restrictions on age at the open water dive sites we use.

What happens if I answer “Yes” to any of the medical questions?

The medical questionnaire is used to ensure that you are generally fit to dive and must be answered truthfully. If there are any positive answers then this does not necessarily rule you out from diving but you must receive approval from your GP. The medical questionnaire contains a form for your GP to sign as well as some notes for their consideration.

Can I start the course and get medical approval prior to final sign-off?

No. We are required to ensure students are fit to dive before they are accepted on to the course and we must have a GPs approval if any conditions have been noted.

Can I persuade you to overlook this answer or give me a fresh form to fill out?

No. None of our staff are medically trained and as such are not in a position to make judgement calls on whether a particular individual is medically fit to dive. As the forms are a self-certification they should be completed honestly – if any of our staff become aware of medical conditions subsequently then they will require a GPs sign-off before allowing the student to continue with the course.

Please, please, please, can I persuade you to overlook this answer or give me a fresh form to fill out? Pretty please?


You mentioned the Junior Open Water Diver Course – what is this exactly?

To qualify as an Open Water Diver you must be a minimum of 15 years old. Below this age a diver is classified as a Junior Open Water Diver and has some restrictions as follows:

·       10 – 11 year-olds must dive with a qualified parent, guardian or PADI professional (Divemaster / Assistant Instructor / Instructor).

In addition, they are limited to a maximum depth of 12 metres.

·       12 – 14 year-olds must dive with a certified diver of legal age i.e. over the age of 18 years in the UK or as defined by local laws.

Does a Junior Open Water Diver have to do the full Open Water Course when they reach their 15th Birthday?

No, they simply apply for an upgrade to their certification. The Junior OW Card has the diving restrictions they are subject to printed on it and they will be issued with a new card to reflect their full Open Water Diver status. There is an administration fee for processing the revised certification and issuing the card.

When do the courses run?

We have Open Water courses scheduled to start every other weekend throughout the year and we visit an open water site on one weekend a month. The calendar of course dates can be found by clicking here.

How long does the training take?

The scheduled courses take a total of four days to complete over two weekends – one weekend on-site in Aylesbury and one weekend at an open water site.

Where does the training take place?

We have a pool and classroom on-site for the knowledge development and pool work and we visit various inland dive sites around the country to complete the open water dives.

What gear do I need?

The course price includes the course materials and rental of all equipment. It does not cover travel costs, accommodation or site entry fees for the open water dive sites. All you will need to bring along is a swimming costume, towel and lunch for the on-site training. If you already own equipment, e.g. that you have used for snorkelling, then feel free to bring this along too.

It is generally expected that people will purchase mask, snorkel, fins, boots and a dive watch/computer prior to qualification. The first four are a matter of personal fit/comfort and the watch/computer is an essential piece of safety equipment to enable you to monitor your dive times/ascent rates/surface intervals.

I’m worried about the exams – what happens if I don’t pass?

The quizzes and exam are our means of finding out what you have learned and which areas you still need to work on. Any questions which you have missed the answer to are discussed to help you understand what the correct answer should have been and, when you are ready, you can re-sit an alternative exam paper.

If there is a topic which you are really struggling with then we can schedule additional sessions to help you over the hurdle – there is no requirement to complete this in a particular time. The objective is to help you get to the point where you understand what you need to.

I have a reading or learning difficulty. Is this going to prevent me completing the course?

The PADI Course materials include a written manual and an accompanying DVD. If people learn better watching the DVD then this is fine.

The Knowledge Review sheets have to be completed by all students, as do the quizzes and exam but if you are struggling to understand the written questions then we have the option of talking you through them to help you arrive at the answer.

I’m worried about some of the things I have to do in the water. What happens if I can’t complete a skill?

All PADI courses are performance-based, meaning that you progress through the course by demonstrating that you have met specific objectives. If a particular skill is causing you difficulty then this is not a problem – we can schedule extra time to help you achieve the goal.

I’ve got a problem doing one of the skills and I’m stressed about holding everyone up.

If you find a specific skill difficult to master (it happens!) then you may feel that you’re slowing the group down and taking too long – especially if other people have already finished to task! Don’t worry, we can always schedule in more time and maybe have a one-to-one session to help you overcome the obstacle. We are here to help you become a diver – if necessary we can arrange for the whole course to be run in this way.

Isn’t diving in the UK cold?

It’s true that water temperatures in the UK are lower than, say, the Red Sea but with the appropriate equipment this isn’t a problem. Over the summer months a 5mm wetsuit will keep you comfortable and it is possible to dive all year round in a drysuit with a suitable undersuit.

If you wish to learn to dive in a drysuit then this can be arranged, either as part of the Open Water Diver course or as a separate specialty course at a later date.

What if UK Diving doesn’t appeal to me?

We understand that cold-water diving isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and for some, diving is an occasional, holiday activity. At Scubaducks, we run two versions of the course:

·       The complete course in which all of the classroom, pool and open water diving is completed with ourselves and

·       The Referral course where you complete the first two parts with us and then take a Referral form away with you to complete the course in a resort. This means you can complete the course in warm water without burning valuable holiday time in the classroom and pool.

I haven’t got time to complete everything before I go away on holiday.

If time is at a premium then we can offer the PADI Scuba Diver qualification instead of the Open Water Diver qualification. This consists of the first three Knowledge Reviews, the three pool dives and the first two open water dives.

This would take 2 days to complete the whole course (plus the self-study) and can also be done as a referral with 1 day on site and 1 day in a resort.

The Scuba Diver qualification imposes a 12 metre depth limit and you must always dive with a PADI Professional.

Is there a subscription to pay to keep my Open Water Diver qualification?

Happily, no. Once you have successfully completed the course, you maintain your qualification either by diving regularly or by completing a Scuba Review if you have a gap of six months or more without diving.

How do I prove I have dived regularly?

Your Open Water Crewpack contains a Diving Logbook in which you record your diving activities. This is used to show when you last dived and whether you need a Scuba Review. All resorts will require you to complete a Scuba Review if you haven’t dived in a while.

So what is a Scuba Review?

The Scuba Review is a combined knowledge review and pool session which acts as a refresher for anyone who hasn’t dived in the last six months. This can take place on-site in Aylesbury and usually lasts around 3-4 hours in total. We need to see your certification card plus Logbook and we make an entry in the Logbook to show you have completed the Review.

I’m off on holiday next week and I haven’t dived for a year. Does this mean I can’t dive this time around?

No. If you get in touch with us, we will do our best to arrange a Scuba Review at a time to suit. This has the advantage that you complete the Review before your holiday.

If you’re stressed with the packing and we can’t find a time which is convenient for you then don’t panic! The resort will arrange a Review before you dive – but wouldn’t it be nicer to make that first holiday dip a proper dive?

I did a Scuba Review with you before I went on holiday and the resort made me do a check dive. Is this right?

In many resorts you will be required to do a “check dive” as the first dive of the holiday. This is simply a dive at a site with easy conditions, probably within the 18 metre range, and allows the dive leaders to assess everyone’s level of diving. Generally this will apply to anyone who visits the resort, regardless of their qualification level.

I’ve recently qualified and I’m itching to go diving – do you have a club?

We have an active dive club with frequent trips and social events. The membership form can be found here and joining will bring you the benefit of reduced entry fees at a local dive site, priority booking on club trips and discounts at local restaurants as well as much more - see the site for up to date information.

I have my Open Water Diver certification – what next?

Well done. Now you have a range of courses to choose from including several of the PADI Speciality Courses and the PADI Advanced Open Water Course