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I'm looking to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef next year. I've not yet been certified, but I plan to do it soon.

If my only scuba experience is the certification course, do I need to worry about the trip not being beginner-friendly enough?

Are there things I should look for in the trip description to tell me if the trip is beginner friendly?

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    This is going to depend on what operator and what itinerary. – whatsisname Jun 24 '18 at 20:41
  • Most operators are used to a broad spectrum. – Jon Custer Jun 25 '18 at 1:34
  • @whatsisname I was looking at something like this or this – David says Reinstate Monica Jun 25 '18 at 4:09
  • The one thing you should be aware of is diving off a large boat - especially one set up to host 30+ divers at once - is a lot different from lake, river, or beach diving. Just the way equipment is managed/handled, the enter/exit water process, etc. I learned to dive here in Florida, and first ocean dives were off a dive boat. Took a trip for me to learn the ins and outs of how it is done. – ivanivan Jun 25 '18 at 14:38
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If your certification is to be PADI, and you go to a certified PADI diving shop/centre, you will be fine, I'm very sure.

The instructors will most probably ask for your log book to assess your level of skills, and they will only offer to take you on dives, that you are certified for, and not try to push you into doing stupid or crazy stuff.

  • What ended up happening was that when I reserved the trip they asked me what my level was, so they will work off that I guess – David says Reinstate Monica Jul 14 '18 at 18:29
  • Glad to hear it - I wish you enjoy your trip immensely, and never stop learning :) – Dennis_DK Jul 17 '18 at 6:23
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There is no ‘formal’ way to find out. However, rest assured you’re not alone in your situation. Many many people only dive rarely just when the opportunity presents itself and most diving operators, unless specifically aimed at a more experienced audience, will be able to accommodate you. You could contact some operators for ease of mind though.

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A common way of getting experience is to join a local club and go diving. Of course this depends on where 'home' is, but the only way to get experience is to get under water and go diving. Even diving in pools, lakes, quarries and the like will mean you get to sort out your core skills: buoyancy, finning and trim. Not to mention practising all the skills from your course.

Most clubs will welcome you with open arms. You will need to do some research on the best clubs to join; this can be on the basis of how much you "like" the club and spend a night or two with them to get a feel for the people and the facilities available.

If you live in colder climes, then find a club with regular pool nights. Whilst it's nice to sit around in a bar talking about diving and drinking beer/whatever, it's not gaining experience! You need a wide variety of people in a club with a range of experience; from recreational to technical. You need some instructors in the mix too.

Be aware of the Local Dive Shop (LDS) who are after selling you lots of courses. Whilst courses are an essential part of diving, you must have plenty of time to practice and assimilate these skills before you go on to the next level.

Same goes for buying kit. We all love looking at diving bling, but be careful of what you buy as you don't know what's good and what's bad (I've very little of my initial purchases left as virtually all of it was wrong for my current diving -- most of the kit was unsuitable!). The LDS is an essential part of diving but they are most definitely not all created equal -- their primary purpose is to sell stuff even if it's not right for you (i3 BCD anyone?)

Again; get diving. Find buddies either in a club or online. There's lots of different dive forums to use. Oh, and beware of the internet "divers" who frequent some of those forums, especially the ones who don't! Whilst there's a lot of helpful info out there, there's also a lot of not so good advice.

As for commercial dive trips, as long as you're honest and up front with them for your experience -- even if very limited -- they will be able to buddy you up with someone suitable. You will need your certification card, PADI's a good enough agency to get started with. Cannot stress how useful it is to find your own friends or shop/club to go diving with for practising.

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I can tell you that no liveaboard operator will go on trips where they do not provide for diving opportunities for people on entry and advanced levels.

All dives will be with a buddy and most likely there will be a divemaster familiar with the areas you will be diving to assist you with any issues you may experience and lead you on all dives.

Depending on how long the trip is you are booking, you could even do your Advanced Open Water course with them while you are on the liveaboard. But this should not be required.

Finally my suggestion is that you contact a few companies doing day and multi-day liveaboard trips and finding out what the costs are, what sites you can dive with an entry level certification. You could also ask them what they would charge you to combine your Open Water and/or Advanced Open Water certification with your liveaboard adventure.

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