How to make scuba diving affordable

Think of scuba diving and you think of clear, tropical waters, exotic fish, foreign travel and – ultimately – a huge bill to match. But if you’re interested in getting into this luxurious pastime, it needn’t cost the earth. Here’s our guide on how to dip your toes in the water, without watching your finances plunge.

Forget exotic locations

If you think scuba diving means a trip to Thailand, think again. While you may wish to venture to foreign waters eventually, there are plenty of places to develop your skills back in Britain. Learning to dive usually starts in the safe waters of a swimming pool, so Google local Dive Schools and save a fortune on travel.

But be flexible

While cutting out international travel makes sense, be prepared to buy a train ticket or tank of petrol to get to your classes. Sites like Groupon or Wowcher often advertise offers of up to 70% discount on diving courses, so if you’re open on location you could save a fortune.

Don’t splash out on gear

With scuba diving equipment priced at a premium, beginners would be well advised to stick to hiring the necessary kit. Many dive schools include the price of kit hire in their beginners’ courses, or hire out dive gear for around £20 per day.

Be clued up

Most dive schools offer a beginners’ session, which can come in at a reasonable £25. However, to achieve your scuba qualification, many schools charge around £500 for a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water course (which qualifies you to dive up to 18m). Prices do vary, however, so it’s worth shopping around for discounts: Learn to Dive offers the course for £325 per person if two friends sign up together and Above and Below offers the PADI Open Water course for £350.

Be prepared

To participate in a PADI diving course, you have to be able to swim 200m, tread water for 10 minutes and be in good physical health. So, if you’re feeling a little rusty, or you haven’t swum for a while, it’s best to work on your general fitness before taking the plunge.

Be careful

While we’re all about saving the pennies, make sure the course you invest in is worth the paper it’s printed on. The main diving certification boards in the UK are Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) and Scuba School International (SSI), so check your club’s credentials before diving in.