Common Name: “Open Water”
Open Water Diver training is your gateway to the world of scuba, providing you with full PADI certification that qualifies you to dive with a buddy to depths of 60'. In the dive park, where we train, those first 60' contain almost all the kelp forests, fish and reefs, and even a few wrecks!
In the span of two weekends, you’ll go from your first introduction to dive theory, all the way to making free open ocean descents surrounded by the world famous kelp forests of California. Once you've completed your certification, you’ll be ready to start exploring the waters right off the coast on any of the dive boats that we charter regularly. If you want to experience the underwater arches at San Clemente Island, or play with a curious sea lion at Santa Barbara Island, your journey begins with the first step of Open Water Diver Training certification.
Who can participate…
Anyone 10 years of age or older in good health is qualified to begin Open Water training. For prospective divers between the ages of 10 and 14, they may participate in the Junior Open Water Program, which is a slightly restricted form of the normal Open Water certification. You will be required to verify your health by signing the standard medical statement before class begins. We invite you to review the medical statement here.
What is the class like…
The class is conducted over the course of two consecutive weekends. The first weekend is classroom and pool practice, the second weekend is ocean diving.
You’ll begin in the classroom, meeting your instructors and receiving an introduction to dive theory. It’s nice to know why it is that we do certain things underwater, like equalizing our ears. Your work in the classroom is coupled with learning in the pool. We’ll cover everything from what each piece of equipment is called, to teaching you the basics of neutral buoyancy. The pool we train at is the gorgeous $14.5 million San Fernando Valley Regional Pool facility with fantastic locker rooms, showers and changing areas. Everyone is encouraged to participate and ask questions during the class so you’ll know how it all works inside and out by the end of that first weekend.
Once all the pool and classroom work is over, you move to the ocean for the second weekend. With your instructor watching, you'll demonstrate all the skills you practiced in the pool and spend a part of each dive exploring the underwater world right off the coast. On your dives you may see anything from schools of mackerel to sea lions, rock crabs to lobster. The Open Water program requires you to complete four dives in the ocean, and we'll be with you the entire time, coaching you along the way. You won't do anything in the ocean that you didn't do in the pool, so by the time you get to the ocean, you'll be rock solid with all your skills.
Where will you learn…
One of the benefits of participating in PCH Scuba's Open Water certification is the flexibility you have with how you want to structure your class. Everyone's time demands, ability to travel and budgets are different, so we've developed options to allow you to choose different paths towards certification.
The knowledge development and pool training portions of your Open Water certification are all conducted at the San Fernando Regional Pool in either the classroom or the pool facility.
The ocean dives have various different possibilities, but they all start with three dives at Casino Point on the island of Catalina on Saturday. This allows us to get the bulk of the check out dives completed at the the easiest shore dive location in Southern California: concrete steps and hand rails right into water teeming with life! If you'd like to spend the weekend in Catalina, then you can continue with your training right at Casino Point on Sunday, and roll right into the Open Water Upgrade after you complete your first certification! Alternatively, you can choose to come back to the mainland and spend Sunday on one of our chartered dive boats, completing your certification while exploring a variety of dive sites in either the northern or southern chain of the Channel Islands. Another option is to complete your training with a beach dive at a local dive site here on the mainland on Sunday. Whatever your time commitment or budget, we can tailor your training to match your needs!
Your ocean dives in depth...
Most students choose to come to the island with us for the whole weekend and that is by far the most relaxed option available - there are no rushed mornings. Usually we are done early in the afternoon on Saturday, so you'll have time to get back to the hotel, shower, relax and grab a bite to eat. Students that participate in our Open Water Upgrade will start their Nitrox training right in the hotel conference room on Saturday afternoon. That leaves Saturday night free to go out and grab dinner and have a blast on the island! The ferry ride to and from the island is the only time spent on a boat, so divers sensitive to motion illness might want to consider this. It really is a vacation mixed with dive training! The best feature of this option is also it's greatest potential drawback: you spend the entire weekend on the island, and we understand that simply isn't feasible for everyone's schedule.
If you want to continue your training on a dive boat, you gain the opportunity to seek out the greatest variety of dive sites and also increase the potential for finding the most pristine possible conditions, since the boat can move from site to site to find the best diving. You can arrive at the boat the night before the boat leaves or the morning of the boat trip, allowing you the ability to adapt the training schedule more easily into your busy schedule, and not be required to spend a full weekend away from home. This option does have a slightly higher cost for the additional travel. Boats that allow Open Water students on board will be clearly marked on our dive boat schedule so you can begin planning a schedule for your training before the spots sell out.
Finally, if you choose to finish your dives at the beach, you won't have the added expense of dive boat tickets or hotel rooms and won't have to spend the night anywhere other than at home. For students whose primary concern is training cost, completing your certification at a mainland beach provides the largest amount of diving for the least expense. The trade off though is that it can be very challenging some times to find a beach site to dive that offers the same vibrant life and fantastic conditions available at Casino Point or diving from a boat. Since the conditions can vary from weekend to weekend and from dive site to dive site, we'll work hard to pick a site that best matches the needs of open water students, meaning easy entry, easy exit and as much sea life as we can muster!
Regardless of what path you take to your new Open Water certification, in our experience class mates from our training program wind up becoming very good friends and come back out on PCH trips together on future weekends. So whether your ferry returns to the mainland on Sunday afternoon, or you walkout of the ocean onto a beach a newly certified Open Water diver, or you return to Ports 'o Call village on the Sand Dollar, we make sure there's time for hugs and the usual exchanging of phone numbers and Facebook names with all your new dive buddies. Each class helps our community grow, and we look forward to having you join us!
When is the class offered…
Open Water classes are offered every weekend with the exception of major holidays. Summer classes tend to sell out faster, so booking a spot early is highly advised. All you need to get started are two weekends.
How much does it cost…
The cost of the class is dependent on the path you choose to follow to complete your ocean dives.
In addition to the training costs, we request that you provide your own mask and snorkel. These are highly personal fit items, that are difficult to generalize as rental gear and it’s important for your comfort level that you have a mask that fits you correctly. We will be happy to help you purchase a mask and snorkel kit at the beginning of your classt. If you prefer to purchase it elsewhere or already have snorkeling gear, that’s okay too. You just have to have your own mask and snorkel to start class.