Newcomers to scuba diving will find that a course is necessary before they can dive, as certification is required before any diver can take to the water. In a pinch, visitors who do not have time to take a training course before their water adventure can always try snorkeling, which does not require any training.
Otherwise, many courses are offered throughout the country, and not just near the ocean, as courses can be taught in pools, lakes, and even online. The required courses depends on your skill level and the type of dives you are most interested in, and can vary widely depending on the school, but there are a few basic forms of classes that most dive schools offer:
- Scuba Diver/Jr. Diver: This class begins a diver's underwater adventure. This is an entry level scuba certification course during which a diver will learn the fundamental knowledge and skills to safely scuba dive in open water. When a diver completes this class, they will be free to explore and discover the many wonders of the underwater world, as they will have earned a Scuba Diver certification card.
- Advanced Diver: An underwater adventure continues as the diver applies their scuba skills to explore new dive sites and activities under the supervision and training of an instructor. Generally, in this class, a diver can learn which diving specialties interest them, and which type of diving they enjoy most, as they gain more confidence and capability. The Advanced Scuba Diver course is an enjoyable certification course for certified divers who desire additional training, have moved from one diving area to another and desire local orientation, do not have, but wish to obtain, NAUI certification, or who desire orientation to a variety of diving sites and conditions.
- Enriched Air Nitrox Diver: This is course is to provide the diver with the information necessary to utilize EANx as a breathing medium. The course may be taught as a stand-alone specialty course to certified divers or the knowledge and skills training may be integrated into the NAUI Scuba Diver course.
- Master Scuba Diver: This class enables a diver to gain the in-depth knowledge that will establish them as a recognized authority in their diving club or group. Divers will experience open water settings that will test their abilities to their limit while expanding their diving capabilities and experience. After the course, the diver can proudly carry the most coveted and respected certification card in recreational diving - that of the NAUI Master Scuba Diver.
- Rescue Diver: This course trains divers in the knowledge and skills needed to manage risks and effectively handle limited in-water problems and diving emergencies. The course generally serves as the prerequisite rescue training for Skin Diving Instructor, NAUI Assistant Instructor, Divemaster, and Instructor certifications. Note: Adult CPR training (approximately four hours) meets the requirement for Scuba Rescue Diver certification. However, additional CPR training that includes two person CPR and the use of rescue breathing barrier devices, e.g. pocket mask® face shield, is required to meet the requirements for NAUI leadership certification.
Driving a Dream
For many people, scuba diving is not merely a hobby, it is a lifelong passion, and the scuba diving world can be a point of inspiration with its own unique and amazing stories, as evident by the story of Matt Johnston.
In April 2004, Matt Johnston was 27 years old and had a life-long dream to one day go scuba diving. This is not unusual except for the fact that Matt has Duchene's Muscular Dystrophy (DUI), is a quadriplegic and is on a respirator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"At first I thought it was great that he had a dream and he could probably use a pen pal. After all, everybody needs a dream and, if we can help another person in that endeavor, that is what we should do," said Susan Long, DUI's President & CEO. "We invited Matt to a local DUI DOG Rally & Demo Day so he could meet other divers and see what diving is all about. For Matt, it was love at first site."
Matt soon began rallying other people and organizations to help him with his dream. DUI built him a custom drysuit with a special port that allows his ventilator hose to pass through it, and over time, DUI continued to make numerous alterations to the suit based on trial pool dives.
In November 2006, at age 29, after nearly three years in pursuit of his dream, Matt achieved a huge first for the adaptive scuba community, being the first ventilator dependent individual in the world to dive in the ocean.
Since that time, Matt continues to live life to the fullest, taking steps to create new opportunities for the adaptive scuba community. Matt's vision has inspired many. In collaboration with Ocean Opportunity, the Diving a Dream project has been created as a focal point to motivate others in their pursuit to realize their own dreams, and demonstrate the unprecedented accomplishments that are made possible when a personal obsession to maximize one's potential become realized.
Whether you simply want to experience something new and are testing the waters during a North Carolina vacation, or you are a passionate diver in search of new challenges, it is clear that some of the greatest sites on North Carolina's beaches are not necessarily on land. Sign up for a class in your hometown, get your certification, and make your next vacation to the North Carolina Coast an underwater adventure you are sure to treasure for years to come.