After scuba diving made our list of most memorable experiences we knew that a major goal of ours in 2015 was to get Padi Scuba certified. It was a long time coming, our first dive back home at the Great Barrier Reef left us wanting more. We were addicted, we went again and again but unfortunately we couldn’t go deeper or farther than what was allowed during introductory dives.

2015 was coming to an end and it was depressing to know that there was a big possibility that our goal would not be achieved… until a little opportunity arose. During our most recent trip to South Africa we got together with fellow diving enthusiasts to get PADI certified at Coral Divers in Sodwana Bay, South Africa.

Where should you get PADI certified?

If we put aside personal preference on countries and marine life then all we are left with is the quality of the course, equipment and staff.  We highly suggest you go to a dive centre (or resort) with a 5 star rating. Just use the simple online Padi tool to check. Scuba diving can be both dangerous and life threatening so you want to ensure you learn the correct procedures and a grade A diving school.

After finding your Padi centre you want to make sure that the quality of general care taken of the dive equipment is in good working order. Carefully looked after equipment will lead to safer dives.

This last suggestion may be a bit harder to find out (check reviews, travel blogs), but the knowledge and generally friendliness of the staff will make for a way better experience.

If you are torn between a few places and you want to save money, head to a country where wages are lower but also offer diverse marine life for you to explore (however, you don’t want to save a buck and not see anything). Remember, you get the exact same Padi certification wether you get it in Australia (where its very expensive to get certified), or South Africa (where its much cheaper) – however where you go is up to you.


What to expect in a PADI course?

So, you have decided you want to do the course! What can you expect to do in the PADI Open Water Diver certificate?

It’s not quick: Don’t expect to walk out with a qualification after one day, ours took 2-3 days

Back to the classroom: The theory is just as important as the practical part so be prepared to sit through 5 learning modules, each ending with a quiz and yes there are tests.

Pool dives: Your first practical dive is a confined dive in a pool. They organize it this way to ensure you feel comfortable with the equipment, environment and most important – breathing.

Open-Water dive: This is the fun part. To complete your qualification you need to go on 4 open water dives whilst completing practical tasks learnt during the confined dive stages.

The Final Exam: This test includes questions from all 5 previous chapters and quiz’s. Pass this and congratulations you are certified!!

Our experience at Coral Divers

We were quite the mix group, some of us never diving before, some, like us, who have been on a few fun dives but nothing further, and others who were already open water certified and ready to get their advanced. Our group was perfectly handled by the friendly staff at Coral Divers, if one member didn’t understand a task they ensured we all completed it as a team before moving on.

Part of our package including accomodation (which is an option at Sodwana Bay). Though nothing fancy beyond a bed and outdoor shower we loved the rustic feel of the place. This is the perfect place to go if you want to have a holiday and get certified at the same time.

In terms of marine life, I would be lying if I failed to mention that I had the best scuba dive ever at Sodwana Bay. In just one of the dives we swam with two giant manta rays, a turtle, eels and too many species of fish to name.

Coral Divers offers both a cost effective way to get your PADI Open Water Dive Qualification, accommodation packages and incredible marine life – we can’t recommend them enough!

Book to get your Open Water PADI Scuba license and 5 nights (tented – standard cabins is additional) for R3000 per person, or about $260AUD.

Where would be your dream location to get scuba certified?

Stephen and Jess signoff

A huge thank you to Coral Divers for being so accommodating and allowing Flying The Nest to finally be scuba certified! As always, all opinions are our own.