PADI Open Water Course Vs. PADI Advanced Diver Course: What to Expect

Doing your Open Water certification and your Advanced certification, the experiences are as different as night and day. While I was doing my Open Water I wasn’t even sure if I liked scuba diving and did NOT look forward to going under the water, especially because my GREATEST fear is that I’m going to drown. Literally, not being able to breathe gives me anxiety like none other.

The “confinement” area is to the left of the dock. They have a tarp at the bottom where you kneel to practice skills.

During your Open Water you spend a lot of time in what is referred to as “confined”; or as I like to call it, confinement.

Confined is the part of your certification where you’re scuba diving in shallow water and being taught skills that you’ll have to do again in open water. While in confinement, you’ll have to take your regulator (mouthpiece) out, pretend to lose it, retrieve it, replace it in your mouth and clear it by exhaling deeply. You’ll also have to fill your mask with water, take your mask off, swim around for a short distance (guided by your instructor) before returning to where you began, putting your mask back on and clearing it of water.

These are exercises that, if you’re afraid of drowning like I am, quickly become the bane of your existence. Literally, it took all I had in the beginning just to calm myself down enough to deflate my BCD (buoyance control device, aka the jacket you wear that holds your air tank and helps you sink) and get under the water. Breathing under the water for the first time was NOT a cool experience for me like it is for some people, it was absolutely terrifying. So the patience and fortitude my instructor showed by helping me through all this and making me absolutely proficient in such skills is just beyond incredible to me.

The best part about getting your Open Water certification on Utila is that at EVERY single dive shop you’ll have 2 free fun dives included in the price…. And honestly, this is the best part of the entire Open Water certification in my opinion.

While the Open Water course is difficult and plagued with skills you have to learn, the Advanced is insanely fun… all of it.

In your advanced course you’ll get to do a night dive, a wreck dive, and a deep water dive. And just like before, you get 2 free fun dives at the end. You have a couple of skills you have to learn, but these aren’t nearly as difficult – this mostly consists of working on perfecting your neutral buoyancy under the water and using a compass underwater to navigate.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that the skills I learned in the Open Water course came EXTREMELY in handy during my Advanced. During my wreck dive my regulator wasn’t working like normal (again, remember I’m EXTREMELY afraid of drowning) and I had to switch to my alternate regulator at a depth of 25 meters. If I hadn’t had such an incredible instructor for my Open Water I don’t know if I would have been able to pull this off. At a depth of 25 meters I had to willingly take my regulator out of my mouth and switch to another regulator, hoping it would work normally (obviously I checked both before I went diving while I put my stuff together, but it didn’t stop me from believing that there’s a chance I would suck in water and drown off the coast of Honduras). Thankfully muscle memory kicked in while my brain was picturing the worst and the rest of the dive went off without a hitch.

So if you’re like me and you hate the Open Water course, try doing some fun dives. If you actually enjoy that, you should definitely go for your advanced. Even though it’s more money, it’s 100 times more fun and MORE than worth it.



** BTW sorry for the lack of pics in this post. I couldn’t take my GoPro diving with me because I didn’t by the protective case for it to take to such depths and there was NOWHERE on Utila to buy one. This might be a serious business opportunity for someone, I would have gladly paid any insanely marked up price to get pics of everything I was seeing under the water. And literally the only reason people go to Utila is to scuba dive. Get on it people!

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