Ever thought of exploring under the sea in Abu Dhabi but aren’t sure where to start? Here’s everything you need to know.
As a coastal city and an emirate with an extensive shoreline, Abu Dhabi is an ideal place to check out what’s going on beneath the surface and learn how to take those first steps as a diver.
If you’ve never worn a pair of flippers before and aren’t sure how to start exploring the big blue, read on for some top tips on learning to dive right here in the UAE.
Taking the plunge
“I would describe diving in the UAE as cathartic,” says Rachel Anne Galvan, member of the UAE Scuba Diving Community Facebook group.
“Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to learn scuba diving as most of the diving sites are relatively shallow and do not have heavy currents.
“It’s also abundant with marine life, including colourful fish, whale sharks, sea snakes, octopuses, dolphins, turtles and sharks, too.”
“Each dive site has something different to offer; the views have never failed to take my breath away,” adds Rachel.
Before you dive in – quite literally – what should you keep in mind before signing up to take part in a scuba diving course?
“My only advice is to be patient when learning the technicalities of diving as this will ensure your safety once you’re metres deep underwater,” says Rachel.
“You will learn everything during the course. It’s all a matter of being prepared and knowing what to do once you’re in the water.
“When you do get your diving licence, dive not only for leisure, but also to contribute in making our earth’s ocean cleaner and safer for both humans and marine animals.”
Getting in the water
In order to dive in the UAE and around the world, you need to gain certification. The most popular type of accreditation in the world is a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) licence.
Achieving this involves a mix of classroom style learning with theoretical lessons and quizzes, swimming in a controlled environment and finally, open water dives. Courses will vary but you will need to attain the knowledge and experience and gain certification before you can seriously consider getting in the water on a dive.
There are also certain health requirements you’ll need to meet; those with conditions that affect the lungs, breathing and ears, for example, may not be able to qualify for safety reasons. Little ones under ten are advised not to scuba dive, but they can get a taste of the sport with the PADI Bubblemaker program. To find out if you meet the health requirements, visit: bit.ly/2FomovT
Back to school
To take your first foray into the underwater world, be sure to use a reputable company
with qualified instructors.
Ocean Dive Center helps newcomers to learn the sport and take the first steps in becoming a certified diver. Offering a range of courses including open water and advanced open water training, the centre welcomes new and experienced divers over the age of ten to find their way under water or secure further qualifications. Visit: oceandivecenter.ae
Take the plunge with Al Mahara Diving Center to achieve PADI certification. Instructors will take you through the basics, starting in a pool or pool-like conditions before progressing to open water, while learning essential skills along the way. Visit: divemahara.com
WORDS Colin Armstrong