Scuba diving is a fascinating activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. However, there are definitely costs involved. How much or how little a person spends on this sport depends on their level of interest. There are three main areas of cost in scuba diving. They are training, equipment and the actual diving.
Scuba Diving Training
More than most other activities, scuba diving demands proper training. Since humans aren’t designed to breathe under water, learning to do so properly not only means more enjoyment while diving, it means the difference between life and death. Breathing underwater is an unnatural activity, so the instinctual responses that are hard-wired into human brains are usually the opposite of what a scuba diver needs to do. Proper training gives divers a new set of reactions, or at the very least allows them the ability to think their way out of tight spots. Training is not a place to skimp on prices.
The first level of training is an introduction to scuba. For about $25 or so, a resort or dive operator will give the novice enough information and practice in a pool to be able to function underwater while under direct supervision. This can be a good choice for those who aren’t convinced that scuba diving is for them. Learning to breathe underwater in the closed conditions of a pool can give many nervous beginners the confidence to enroll in a full course. The subsequent dive in open water is extra.
The basic certification course for scuba diving is the Open Water training course. This involves multiple classroom sessions as well as time spent in the pool practicing skills. After completing this course, the diver will be qualified for basic scuba diving. Cost for these classes usually runs in the $250 to $300 range, but they are worth every penny.
In addition to the Open Water training course, it is necessary to pass a certification exam in the open water. This can be done in either a lake or the ocean, as the diver prefers. Costs can vary based on whether the diver gets certified by the same operation that did the training course or if the exam is taken while on vacation. Normally, there are about 5 to 6 dives required to complete all the skills and the cost for the Open Water certification runs an additional $200 to $300.
Since this is a lifetime sport, advanced training is available, for a price. Each course is different in the content and degree of difficulty, so prices can vary greatly. As the diver gains experience and wants to move into new areas of diving, talking to a local dive shop can help plan out a course of continuing education.
Scuba Diving Equipment
As the student learns in Open Water training, scuba diving is an equipment intensive sport. Being in a foreign and somewhat hostile environment, the diver has to bring their environment with them. Some of the equipment involved includes breathing gear, masks, fins, exposure suits and buoyancy equipment. Prices are all over the board on this equipment, depending on whether it is meant for casual use or is of professional quality.
There are benefits to purchasing equipment, although a complete ensemble can run into the thousands of dollars. However, having personal equipment means that the diver does not have to become familiar with the operation of new equipment on every dive trip. At the very least, a diver should consider buying a mask, fins and a snorkel as these tend to require a more personal fit. A moderately priced set of these three items should cost about $200, but will probably last the diver a lifetime. As time goes by, other items, like an exposure suit (wetsuit), breathing regulator and buoyancy control vest can be added. Prices vary greatly depending on style, usage and quality.
Another option is to simply rent equipment as needed. Beginners will usually go this route, although some advanced or occasional divers may also choose to rent, especially while on vacation where lugging around a lot of dive equipment can be difficult. The advantage to this is that the diver simply shows up at the dive site and everything is right there. The disadvantage is that there is no way to know prior to arrival just what the condition of the equipment might be. Renting a full set of scuba gear can cost between $25 and $50 per day or more, depending on location, diving conditions and diver preference.
Apart from airfare, hotel and other travel expenses, the cost of the actual dives can also vary greatly, also depending on the type of diving and the location. For example, some dive shops in the Midwest offer a weekend of lake diving with lodging included for $150. In some locations, it is possible to dive right from the shore, so the diver might only need to pay $5 to $10 for a tank of air. In other locations, a boat is required to get to the dive sites, so costs will be higher. In Cozumel, for example, the cost for three dives per day, two in the morning and an afternoon dive, runs from $65 to $100. It is always best to check with a number of dive operators before deciding, as prices and quality can vary. As a word of caution, cheaper is not always better.
Scuba diving is a fascinating sport, but it can become very expensive, very quickly. However, the budget conscious can also enjoy diving with a bit of planning and forethought.