First Timers Guide to Learning to Dive

Post Reply New Thread

First Timers Guide to Learning to Dive


Total Posts: 3

Joined 2011-12-21

All of us have an adventurous side, but some people just need a little push to join in on
the adventure! In a lot of cases it is the fear of the unknown that holdʼs us back.
Just the thought of learning to scuba dive or going diving for the first time can make
some people feel very nervous and apprehensive because breathing underwater seems
so unnatural.
Here at Pro Dive Cairns we believe that if you want to throw caution to the wind, live life
to the max and take the plunge, we can have you underwater experiencing the
spectacular wonders of the Great Barrier Reef with the right dive company in no time.
Below are a few tips from people who have completed their dive course with us. These
comments might help you get a better understanding of what to expect when you decide
to take your first dive in Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
1. Take time to research the course. Where do you want to learn? Which company do
you want to go with? Does that company have a good reputation for safety and
2. Choose a good location – The Great Barrier Reef was perfect with warm water, good
visibility and spectacular shallow dive sites.
3. Face your fears and donʼt give up! The end result will a memorable experience and
take your breath away!
4. Listen to the instructors – theyʼre very professional and know what theyʼre talking
5. Learning the basics in the pool and then doing your first ocean dives in warm, clear
shallow water – gives you a feeling of comfort.
6. Learn with a group – everyone is at the same level of experience, more fun.
7. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
8. Take seasick medication if youʼre not sure how you will go travelling on a boat!
9. It helps to have HOT Instructors 
10. Group size is important – You donʼt want to be in too large a group, up to 8 is a good
11. Do a liveaboard dive course that you gives you more dives than just your 4 training
or qualifying dives. The extra practice really helps and the night dive was amazing
12. Try and dive again as soon as you can after youʼve done your course as itʼs good to
practice what youʼve learned while itʼs still fresh in your mind.
13. Donʼt hold your breath! Just remember to keep breathing and try to relax.
14. Diving is not a race. Take it slow and steady as this helps with your air consumption
and you see more of the amazing scenery.
15. Buy a good mask & snorkel. You will appreciate being more comfortable when scuba
diving and a good mask is less likely to let water in.
16. When you buy a new mask you need to clean it out with toothpaste or defog it before
using it for the first time.
17. Make sure you are comfortable with your dive buddy – learn to dive with a friend if
you can or make sure you are happy with your allocated dive buddy. If not let your
instructor know so they can help you find a new one!
18. Try to relax and breathe slowly so you donʼt consume your air too quickly.
19. Liveaboard dive trips and courses are much better value for money because you get
a lot more dives thatʼll help you to feel more comfortable underwater and youʼll get
see heaps more stuff.
20. Scuba diving or breathing underwater can be a strange feeling at first but stick at it
as it gets better dive by dive and youʼll love it.
21. Donʼt drink too much alcohol the night before your dive trip – hangovers arenʼt good
for seasickness if itʼs a bit bumpy and being seasick is the worst thing.
22. Remember not to fly for 24 hours after diving.
23. Bring a book or your ipod. There is nothing more relaxing than laying out on the sun
deck in between dives and reading or listening to music.
24. Donʼt bother with a cheap underwater camera. While most underwater disposable
cameras are cheap but the picture quality is low, the memory storage is limited and
you cannot preview them!
25. SO STAY POSITIVE! You are about to embark on one of the most exciting and
spectacular adventures possible.
We hope the above comments from people who have recently “taken the plunge” and
completed their PADI Open Water Dive Course has put you at ease and answered any
of your concerns or fears about becoming a scuba diver. So what are you waiting for,
contact us and book your dive course today!


Total Posts: 22

Joined 2011-05-30

If one of your selling points is ‘9. Having hot instructors’ I think I’ll go elsewhere cheers - far more important to me is ‘1 - Don’t die’ - it says a lot about your company imho, and I’d rather learn with someone less flippant and childish.

I want to be looking at the fish at any rate, not the instructor.

Well done for a good anti-advert though….


Total Posts: 3

Joined 2011-12-21

Dear Gapper - We appreciate your above comment however we sourced this list from our many fans from our facebook page who have either learnt to dive with us here in Cairns or somewhere else. I think the comment about the instructors should be taken in light humor.. We have taught over 140,000 people over a period of 28 years in operation and pride ourselves on our professional service. Please have a look at our website and check out our Facebook page for customers feedback and experiences traveling out with us.. I’m sure you will see not only will you feel very safe with us you will have a lot of fun at the same time…

Avatar for *nikki180188*

Total Posts: 1137

Joined 2009-03-17

Going to add my two pence in here, seeing as you’ve advertised on a site I regularly feed back to.

1- If you are ALREADY a qualified diver, DON’T do a live-aboard with these guys unless you know the levels of other customers on your boat first.. My boyfriend and I (DM’s) booked on one of these back in Oct 2010… We soon realised everyone else on the boat was doing their OW & AOW courses. What did this mean? We were taken to poor sites that were pretty much sand and broken coral…I only ‘enjoyed’ 1 of the dives, which was a real shame.

2- Our room was pumped with cold air conditioning that we couldn’t seem to stop/turn down even after complaining- by the second day, 4 customers on the boat (including myself) had blocked sinus, therefore- WE COULDN’T DIVE! I missed out on a night dive and the last day as I just couldn’t descend.

3- The second night dive ended up being led by my boyfriend because you told the newly qualified divers just to go in by themselves and they were all too nervous to go alone (which is understandable!) So he lead 3 buddy pairs, even though he was a paying customer, as he didn’t mind helping.

I will say the food on the boat was excellent, the chef was brilliant and she catered for us as we had a special dietary need. She always made sure we were seen to first, and i really appreciated that.

It’s just a shame we got lumped in on a course boat- I saw your other two boats out on the reef, so maybe they were qualified boats that went to better sites? Who knows.

If you’re qualified and looking for good diving on the East Coast, the SS Yongala wreck off Townsville/Ayr is a much better diving experience.

Avatar for Warrick

Total Posts: 6389

Joined 2005-12-31

Agreed. The Yongala is an awesome dive.

Live-aboards are only as good as the dive sites they visit. I agree with Nikki that’s it’s always a good idea to agree dive sites before signing up for a live-aboard.

No qualified diver wants to end up watching a load of OW trainees finning up silt for 45 minutes.


Total Posts: 3

Joined 2011-12-21

Wow.. this is our first time working with Gapyear and certainly surprised by our first three posts..

To Nikki and Warrick - Here at Pro Dive Cairns we are first and foremost teaching people to Learn to Scuba Dive (PADI) for the first time.

The experience is enhanced by spending 3 Days on a Liveaboard Diving the Great Barrier Reef. So not only do you complete your PADI Open Water certification you then have the opportunity to experience 5 additional dives as a certified diver. So yes there will be students onboard plus our 3 day liveaboard dive trips are a great way to obtain your PADI Advanced certification as this is more difficult and expensive doing via day trips to the reef out of Cairns at least.

The liveaboard trips that are possibly best suited for the experienced divers are the dive trips to the Ribbon Reefs/Cod Hole and Coral Sea… I have dived this area now a number of times as I live in Cairns and it is fantastic diving..

What people need to understand is these trips cost (3) times the price as what we and other operators charge for a liveaboard dive trips out from Cairns.. The main reason for the big difference in price is the distance you have to travel to get to the far northern reef dive sites.

So our liveaboard trips appeal to the novice to intermediate divers or holiday divers as well.. Having up to 16 different dive sites to choose from gives us a lot of flexibility in which dive sites we visit..

Nikkie I appreciate your feedback and we certainly do not market our liveaboard dive trips for the experienced divers but certainly if you can’t afford to travel to the Cod Hole/Coral Sea then we are a great option.

We don’t have dive crew available to guide all dives but in the case of the students or certified divers on there night dives we always will have one of the dive crew available to guide the night dives but certainly due encourage people to go diving in their buddy pairs.

With respect to diving the Yongala it is a fantastic dive and I certainly recommend diving the wreck out from Ayr with which I have dived many times over my 14 years diving experience. (It helps if you live in Cairns)

You can only dive the wreck via day trips and you are required to hold an Advanced level of certification whether it be PADI or any other Dive Certification… Yongala Dive can assist you with this if you don’t have an Advanced Certification.. Happy to assist anyone with more information on this dive..

I hope the above information is helpful and clarifies the points raised…

Steve - Pro Dive Cairns

Avatar for Jordan85

Total Posts: 583

Joined 2009-01-07

Hi Steve,

I must say that I echo Niki’s concerns here as a fellow DM. Above you say that:

1 - ‘our liveaboard trips appeal to the novice to intermediate divers or holiday divers’

2-  ‘we certainly do not market our liveaboard dive trips for the experienced divers’

3 - ‘We don’t have dive crew available to guide all dives’

Even as a DM when i dive at a site in which I am not familiar, particuarly if it is in a country or reigon where I am not used to the conditions, then I would always look to be accompoanied by someone who is. The fact that you are happy to take novice divers on trips and then not offer the support of a member of staff to guide them is extremely worrying to me. As Nikki raised above this then leads to the more experienced divers (who have also paid for their trips) taking on the responibilities that you as the operator should be undertaking. This then leads to feelings of resentment and unforunatley taints the view of the operation (again as echoed by Nikki).

Finally just wanted to say I thought the list of 25 things to think about was quite nice and helpfull for any perspective divers reading it.


Total Posts: 3

Joined 2011-12-21

Hi Jordan (I hope I have your name right)..

Without getting into a war of words about our diving standards having been in operation for 28 years & rated by PADI (Worldwide) as one of most professional International dive organisations..

Safety is our first concern for all divers and for the certified divers we always offer the first dive guided and as an orientation dive. All crew onboard dealing with our divers are Dive Instructor level.. Under no circumstances would we let someone enter the water uncomfortable..

It is something we are looking at to have a spare crew member as a “Dive Guide” as like you say for a lot of novice divers we are seeing that have just learned to dive are somewhat nervous when first in the water..

Personally and also a Dive Master myself one of the things I like about liveaboard diving is the number of dives you receive over 3 or days depending on the trip you are on and how very quickly your confidence increases for all your diving skills.. Being navigation and other diving skills like improving on your air consumption, buoyancy control etc…

One of the great things about learning to dive or just diving on the Great Barrier Reef out of Cairns Australia is the fact that you are not in deep water, their is wall to wall coral, low currents and warm water all year round.. 

I hope my comments has reassured you & Nikkie’s perceived concerns about diving “unguided”, our safety standards & operation..

I really appreciate the feedback we have received from everybody and certainly I will take it to management & as I said early we have looked at how we can provide dive guides as a service.. One thing we are looking at is creating a Dive Master Trainee ship program..

Should this get into the system this year I will post it on Gapyear as I’m confident it will appeal to a number of people travel on a ‘working holiday visa’...

Yours truly…

Steve - Pro Dive Cairns

Avatar for *nikki180188*

Total Posts: 1137

Joined 2009-03-17

Sorry late reply, I’ve been meaning to reply on here.

I wasn’t meaning to start any ‘war’ with you guys, just stating my own experience (which is what this site and forums are all about) as thought you’d appreciate the feedback. Here’s my last points on the issue:

- I had a quick look round your site and It doesn’t state anywhere that the trip we did is for those on a course, it just says ‘live-aboard to the outer reef’. See link:
Not making a dig, just informing you that might be why it’s misleading to other qualified folk. If it does say it somewhere and I missed it, then fair enough and apologies.

- We booked your trip through a backpacker shop down the street- I must be honest i’m not really sure why we did, I think they gave us something else for free. It might be worth you contacting those shops in Cairns and getting them to be more clear on what people are actually buying…We had no idea about the other trip you guys offered until you just mentioned it!
Not that that’s your fault, but unless we’d known it before we landed in Cairns, the only way we would know, is by word of mouth or from those we’re booking with, you see? I must be honest though, at the time we wouldn’t have been able to afford it (as you quite rightly pointed out) and i doubt anyone else on this site going travelling would be able to fork out the $1500 per person price tag for a 3-day dive trip. I totally understand that’s a different market altogether.

I wouldn’t knock you guys for safety at all, considering you give every diver a computer to dive with (you’re the only country I’ve personally been to that has done that) and your standards in gear/ the boat are obviously in another league compared to some places…

All of the issues we’d encountered could have easily been avoided/sorted, it was just general human error/ lack of common sense, you know?

I would definitely discuss the idea of having one employee on the boat who is simply there to guide dives and talk through what they might see to newly qualified divers. Obviously even as DM, there is so much that I still don’t know and I see something new on every dive, it’s nice to have someone talking you through it afterwards!

Definitely look into this, even if it’s just having a DMT on the boat leading the already qualified divers, would make a big difference.

I will say- anyone looking at doing their Open water course- please don’t let the above put you off. The guys on our boat doing their course had a fantastic time and really enjoyed it, and the standard is much higher than you’ll find in Asia close by. It’s just different for those who are qualified already!

Avatar for Seth_Karlo

Total Posts: 68

Joined 2011-01-09

Hey, no experience with the above guys, but I loved my dive on the Great Barrier Reef. Fantastic, beautiful and a great trip overall. I would highly recommend doing your first few dives here. I had my 4th-8th dives along this, and I loved it. My girlfriend did her Open Water here and thought it was great too.

I personally did my OW in Thailand on Kho Pha Ngan with Sail Rock Divers, around Sail Rock, which is a beautiful place to dive.

I personally hated the swimming pool. I’m an ocean guy, and in the pool I felt nervous and closed in. As soon as I was in the ocean I was just a fish again, but that may just be me.

Wishing you lots of customers smile


Avatar for Monica

Total Posts: 30

Joined 2012-08-24

Hey guys,
I’ve been on two liveaboard trips with ProDive and can’t recommend these guys enough. The first time I went I was a real newbie and found the support to be brilliant. Our first few dives were guided but once I got some confidence I was happy to dive with my buddy after a full briefing.

The second time I went with ProDive I was much more experienced and still had a great time. I also really like liveaboards because you get to dive so much in a short amount of time. Diving in Australia is super expensive and I found that liveaboards were the best way to get your fix.

I tried to dive the SS Yongala wreck twice but both times the weather was too bad which was a massive shame because I would have loved to. It’s a shame there isn’t much to do in Townsville because I would have waited around for better weather.

Avatar for Warrick

Total Posts: 6389

Joined 2005-12-31

Monica - 25 February 2013 10:36 AM

Hey guys,
I’ve been on two liveaboard trips with ProDive and can’t recommend these guys enough. The first time I went I was a real newbie and found the support to be brilliant. Our first few dives were guided but once I got some confidence I was happy to dive with my buddy after a full briefing.

I’m a DM and I’d think twice about buddy diving in deep water, off shore, without knowing the area. I’d much prefer to have a local guide, if for no other reason than it’s so easy to miss things when you don’t know the sites. 

I’ve never liked the fact that OW divers can go off and buddy dive once they’re qualified. Someone who has been a diver for less than a week is not competent enough to deal with things in deep water should something serious occur, IMHO.

Not knocking the company in this post, but personally if it were my dive school, there’s no way novice divers would be buddy diving off the shore - let alone off a live aboard.

Just my 2 cents.

Avatar for RobYoung81

Total Posts: 138

Joined 2013-01-05

I have to agree with Warrick about the whole buddy thing.

I am OW qualified but no more, done about 30 odd dives in various sites around the world, not exactly experienced (and not helped by the large gaps in between each dive back in the real world!) but fairly comfortable.

I personally can not see the time come when I’m happy to go off unguided in unfamiliar waters, whether its due to currents, terrain or just pointing out some of the incredible sights a guide is always beneficial and will always make me feel much more relaxed and therefore enjoy the dive as much as possible!

Will be doing my AOW in Koh Tao on my RTW towards the end of this year and all this Diving talk is getting me very excited again!!


Avatar for BarrattsMini

Total Posts: 272

Joined 2005-11-30

I love how this topic keeps getting bumped - it’s well over a year old now ha

Avatar for BarrattsMini

Total Posts: 272

Joined 2005-11-30

Funny how I commented on bumping the post without even realising I have just completed my Open Water Course through Pro Dive – Coogee.

I do not have a single complaint.

I bought the course through GroupOn, great value. Great instructors. Nothing was made light of and the training was very serious. The owner, Rod took those who were struggling to one side to work with them in a smaller group and even offered the one who he failed to come back for free at a later date to practice and do a free dive to try and get her card. I was very impressed.

My only complaint was how pushy they were over upgrading to future dives and buying kit but they are a business and they subsidise the course price and hope to make up elsewhere so only a mild complaint as the value for the packages they offered were fantastic though I did not take them up on any.

Such a shame the Cairns post was aimed more towards ‘crazy backpacker kid dives’ as my experience was extremely professional and mature.