PADI Open Water Course in Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.
During our time in the Perhentian Islands I have been doing my PADI Open Water Scuba Diving course. We decided to do this at the start of the course so that we can enjoy the dive sites together later during our trip. Serena has already done a lot diving a few years earlier so she took a quick refresher course as well.
I did the course at the Quiver Dive Team centre on Pulau Kecil Perhentian with an instructor called Karim, a very friendly Egyptian. He greeted us when we stepped onto the island and talked to me about the course, what it entailed and there was availability to start the next day, which was a total winner. There were other dive centres at Coral Bay Beach where we stayed, however we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere at Quiver Dive Centre.
I’ll talk about the actual experience in a few minutes but some hard facts first.
What: PADI Open Water Scuba Dive Course
Where: Quiver Dive Team centre on Pulau Kecil Perhentian
How much: 950 ringgits – at time of writing £177/$262
Boring stuff: 5 modules of theory and 6 exams (one for each module and 1 final exam)
Exciting stuff: 2 confined water dives and 2 open water dives
Course Structure and Instructor
The on land training was quite simple: watch a few videos and answer some questions. There’s a small amount of science and maths involved but they’re not too challenging. If you remember your GCSE physics about pressure and are comfortable reading spreadsheets then you’re ready to rock, if you’re not then don’t worry as they teach it quite basically.
I think in total that took almost a full day, the videos were about 4 hours long in total and the exams took another couple of hours.
On water training was a total of 4 dives. The first two were in confined water, although because this is an island with no fresh water that involved a roped off part of the sea, so there was still plenty to see and experience. The last two were boat dives in the middle of the sea: taking the boat out, plopping off the boat and enjoying the scenery/wildlife.
I managed to do all of this in two and a half days, even squeezing in a fun dive on the afternoon of the third day,
Then you’re done! A certified PADI diver, able to dive up to 18 metres.
It’s hard to describe the experience in one word, so I’ll try a few.
Scary, exhilarating, liberating.
The scary part I’m sure I don’t have to describe too much. You’re under water, under a lot of water. So much you can’t see the sun anymore. Your life depends on some metal strapped to your back and your own control over it.
It’s not actually that difficult to get in the water and suck air from a cylinder, there’s just a lot going on you have to think about. Don’t sink too quickly, don’t rise to quickly, blow air into your mask, squeeze your nose and blow to keep your ears from hurting, keep breathing constantly. That lasts one’s rather important, if you don’t keep breathing your lungs could burst … no joke. Feeling scared yet?
But once you get past all of that and actually start to enjoy what’s going on around you you can see why so many people enjoy this – I can start to appreciate why Serena has been on over 60 dives and progressed so far in her training.
I didn’t see as much as Serena did in one of her fun dives, but I saw some stingrays, triggerfish, clownfish (Nemo, found him!) and lots and lots of coral of all shapes and sizes. Serena managed to see a turtle… so jealous.
I think the worst part was sat waiting for the other divers to surface after I used up all my air quicker than them. Rocking from side to side … I feel ill just thinking about it.
It’s all an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world, even if I do feel ill and absolutely exhausted after it all.
Right now I’m set up to go on all the dive sites we encounter going forward in our travels: Langkawi, Bali, Borneo, Philippines here we come!