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Why follow the rules when you can live life on the edge? Scuba diving without any certification means throwing caution to the wind and embracing the rebellious side of adventure. But let’s face the harsh reality: it’s a bad idea that can put your life at risk and have serious consequences.

What you can do instead is to get a semi-certification in scuba diving without having to entirely sacrifice the rebel in you.

Numerous groups provide what they call “introductory” scuba diving lessons. While these courses won’t get you certified to dive on your own, they will teach you the fundamentals of diving and how to stay safe while doing it. Different institutions may or may not offer such courses.

Do You Need A License To Go Scuba Diving?

Scuba diving certification is not required legally. However, without a Scuba Certification Card, most dive shops would not allow you to go on dives or rent equipment not to mention the numerous safety concerns.

Scuba diving requires a specific set of skills that only a meticulously structured professional certification course can teach you. Try to learn the basics of diving, such as the gear required, the physiological impacts of diving, buoyancy control, and the correct processes for clearing and equalizing your ears, before enrolling in the certification process.

I highly recommend reading Scuba Diving: Beginners Crash Course by Ryan Lewis to learn everything there is to learn about the theory portion of scuba diving. The book is extremely well-structured and helps you get familiar with the different terminologies, safety procedures, hand signals, and pressure and depth gauges associated with scuba diving.

Destinations that Allow Scuba Diving without Certification 

Although very few and far between there are indeed some popular dive destinations that allow you to scuba dive after taking a crash course right then and there.

Cancún, Mexico

Diving in Cancun can be done “without” your usual scuba certification. Aquaworld’s Discover diving course is a one-day resort crash course that certifies participants (aged 10 to 65) to dive in the ocean.

You’ll start in the classroom and then move on to actual swimming. The next step is an open-water dive lasting one tank at either Manchones Reef or the Cancun Underwater Museum, both of which are likely to be teeming with marine life such as coral, tropical fish, starfish, sea turtles, and stingrays. Everything you need to go scuba diving will be supplied by the local dive center.

If you want to keep diving with Aquaworld in Cancun with your temporary dive card, you’ll need to enroll in their three-day Open Water Diver course. You will then be assigned a dive instructor cum tour guide to assist you during your dive.

How to Scuba Dive Without a Licence

One-time dive experiences are available at some scuba diving schools. You won’t have to worry about being certified if you work in an environment full of other qualified people.

After a briefing in which some basic safety procedures are emphasized, the program moves on to an actual swimming pool. You’ll start in a pool and then progress to open water once you’ve mastered the fundamentals.

When you go scuba diving for the first time, a certified instructor will be there to guide you through the experience. They’ll take care of everything, even regulating your buoyancy, so all you have to do is relax and take it all in.

The program’s goal is to encourage people on the fence about taking a course to do so.

Getting Scuba Certified Will only Help You in The Long Run

A proper scuba certification unlocks a whole new realm of possibilities including a wide array of breathtaking dive sites that open up before you, increasing the diving depth limit, not having to bear with your dive instructor breathing down your neck everywhere you go (can’t blame him; he’s just doing his job), seamless access to rental gear, a chance to flex on your non-diver buddies, and so on.

Besides, getting scuba certified is a one-time affair as it never expires. Once you get your certification it becomes a lifelong testimony of your expertise in this watersport. However, you can take a refresher course if you haven’t dived recently.

Most scuba shops require certification proof to rent equipment. Even if you buy your gear and live in a diving paradise like Hawaii, you need a certification to fill your tanks (although there’s always the option to fill your scuba tanks at home). But in the end, without proper certification, you will just be met with a lot of obstacles during your dive trips.

To pique your interest further let me share a fun fact with you: Astronauts at NASA are required to take scuba diving lessons as part of their preparation for space journeys.

Which Certifications Are There for Scuba Diving?

There’s a wide variety of certification courses to choose from and many scuba enthusiasts get confused about which one to choose. The open-water certification is the first and mandatory stepping stone from where you can branch out to other advanced dive certifications if you wish to.

You will learn the fundamentals of scuba diving, including safety, in-water and post-dive consequences, and how to manage them, during your Open Water Course. You can dive to a depth of 18 meters (60 feet) with this certification, and you’ll be able to join dive expeditions and tours at a reduced rate compared to the cost of a discovery dive.

If you find the Open Water Diver course to be insufficient, the next step is to complete the Advanced Open Water Diver course. The Advanced Open Water course is designed to help divers improve upon their skills acquired in the Open Water course and to introduce them to new types of diving. 

This certification will allow you to dive to 30 meters (100 feet) and requires you to do three additional courses from a list of 18. These courses can range from fish identification to underwater photography.

If you want to learn more sophisticated Scuba rescue skills, the next certification to pursue is Rescue Diver. This course will teach you how to be a better dive buddy and safer Diver in general, but it requires you to have completed CPR and first aid training within the past 24 months.

Divemaster training begins after these three certifications and continues to the highest level. If your instructor thinks you have what it takes to be a Divemaster, he or she may offer you the Divemaster Candidate Program.

How Long Does It Take To Get Scuba Certified?

Obtaining your scuba certification is a quick and convenient process. The PADI open water diver course takes 3–4 days. E-learning lets you complete the initial theoretical components of scuba diving at your own pace without even setting foot at the diver center.

Although not common, scuba certification at your local dive facility may take several weeks since sessions are usually held once or twice a week.

How Hard Do Scuba Certificates Pinch Your Pocket?

Scuba certification costs $350–$500 per person, depending on the country and certification agency. This price should include all training materials and rental scuba gear needed during your training phase.

Scuba diving theory 

You’ll learn the fundamentals of diving during this phase of your PADI open-water certification. You’ll learn about gear, how diving will affect your body, how to clear and equalize your ears, and other water skills. Practical instruction will teach you about this new three-dimensional environment.

Or you can completely ignore buying the Theory and E-learning modules from PADI and choose to learn them from Ryan Lewis’s Crash Course Book instead. For an old-fashioned person like me, learning from hard-bound books is always preferable over fancy ebooks.

Scuba diving theory is essential to learning to dive. However, most open water diving courses are designed to be understandable by 10-year-olds, so don’t worry about this section of the course.


Most prominent training companies now offer e-learning for the diving theory section of your open water course. Online scuba certification allows you to work at your own pace and take as much time as you need.

Second, taking your scuba training overseas saves you time on vacation since you don’t have to spend much time in class! Take action after the theory! Practice is next.

Practical Scuba Diving Training

Your first hands-on instruction will likely be in a pool or “pool-like” circumstances. This second part of your scuba diving certification involves learning Open Water Diver skills in the water. Your teacher will teach you all the skills in a swimming pool or calm body of water.

Expect three to five pool sessions. As you advance, your instructor will teach you more methods and skills.

Open water dives

Finally, you’re getting real. Open Water Dives are course step three. Depending on the training agency (PADI or SSI are the most likely options) and your performance, you will likely do four to five of these. The final certification dives are your first time diving. Explore the ocean and demonstrate your Confined Water Dive skills.

You can dive confidently with an instructor. Over numerous dives, the instructor will prepare you to plan and execute dives with your companion or in a led group.

At this time, you can go scuba diving without a certification because it is not against the law. This is not advice to go ahead and try it. Inexperienced divers rarely survive an attempt at scuba without severe consequences. So, it’s time to get your credentials in order.

A legitimate scuba certification not only equips you with practical skills but also boosts your confidence to explore the underwater realm. Once you complete the certification course, you’ll have a solid foundation of scuba diving knowledge, allowing you to dive independently or join guided excursions with ease.

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