Scuba diving is a wonderful addition to your crewed charter vacation. The Virgin Islands, in particular, has some of the most beautiful diving in the world and is a great spot for beginners and advanced divers alike.
Many of our charter yachts offer diving aboard and there are a few terms that you need to be familiar with to help you decided which yacht’s diving choices are right for you.
Who can dive?
Almost anyone, as long as you are over 12 years old and are in pretty good health, can dive. Certified divers (divers who have been trained by a professional agency), need to only bring their C Card (certification card) to be able to dive and complete a medical release form.
If you are a certified diver, any boat that has a dive master or dive instructor would be good for you. From here it is a choice of how many times you want to dive and the different package each boat offers.
If you have never been diving, you have a few options of how you can dive on your vacation.
There are any number of dive companies that will meet your yacht and whisk off those in your group who wish to dive. Your yacht may then continue on with other activities and meet you in another location. If some in your group wish to dive or you’d like to dive only once or twice during your week, then your crew will be happy to arrange a professional dive company to assist you with your diving outing. There are locations around the world where government restrictions to preserve areas mean that you may only dive with a local company.
Resort Course or Discover Scuba Diving:
This is the fastest way to get in the water and diving. It starts by teaching the basics scuba diving with a review of what you have learned. Next, you will learn a few fundamental skills in the water; these are typically done in shallow, calm water. And once you have mastered these skills, your instructor will take you on an actual scuba dive in water that is less than 40 feet deep.
After successfully completing this initial dive, you can dive the rest of your vacation with your dive instructor.
To be qualified to participate in the resort course you must be over 12 years old (if a minor, have the permission of a parent or guardian) and you must fill out a medical release form. (Click here to read the PDF release form)
A dive instructor is required to teach this course.
If there is not a dive instructor aboard, most yachts can arrange for a “rendezvous course” with an outside dive agency. After this initial course, additional rendezvous dives can be arranged with the same instructor if you wish to dive more during the week.
If you want to become a certified diver you have three options:
Complete an Open Water Diver Course before your trip: The open water diver certificate is the basic scuba diving certification level. The course has three parts. Academic training is by using a textbook, lectures, quizzes and tests. Water skill training will, for most parts of the US, be done in a swimming pool or in calm shallow water. Open water check out dives are the third and final part. This consists of 4 to 5 dives over a period of at least two days. These dives have a prescribed set of skills, which the student must successfully demonstrate and complete. The full course can be completed in less than a week (if you have the time) or can take a couple of months if you only have an hour or two a week to devote to it.
Complete the first parts of the Open Water Diver Course before your trip and do your open water dives on vacation:
This is the most popular way to complete an open water diver course. Before you leave home, you complete the academic and water skills portions of the course. Then, instead of completing your open water dives in the cold northern waters (often a quandary), you can get a referral from your dive shop and complete your open water dives in the Caribbean
A dive professional is someone who has been trained and certified by a respected, qualified agency. The two most important distinctions are dive master and dive instructor.
A dive master is qualified to lead certified divers on dives. If you haven’t been diving for a couple of years they can also do a “scuba tune-up.”
A dive instructor can teach people to dive. An instructor is qualified to teach a resort course (i.e. discover scuba diving), can do your check out dives for you or can offer a full certification course*
If you are a certified diver and do not wish to take any courses, a dive master can help you plan your dives, adjust your gear, and, if you desire, lead your group on dives. These professionals are insured and have tremendous local knowledge that means your valuable vacation time is spent diving in the right places.
If you are not a certified diver and want to try diving on this vacation, look for a dive instructor who offers a resort course where you can get in the water and dive today.
Most yachts do not offer a full certification course aboard because it is time consuming. If you do want to become certified, your best option is to do your course work/class room work at home and then get a referral from your dive center to complete your certification dives aboard.