While the Sunshine State is home to some more than 100 of the best scuba diving sites in the nation, Florida does not legally require any certification for those who want to give it a try, but you won’t get very far from land until you earn one anyway.
Dive Center and Resort Certification Requirements
It’s unlikely that you’ll find a dive shop anywhere in the state that will take you out for dives or rent equipment to you without a scuba certification card. Dive centers and resorts require proof of certification before they will rent scuba equipment, fill scuba cylinders, or book dive excursions. Don’t worry, though. Earning that certificate is a straightforward and enjoyable experience for those who are serious about (literally) taking the leap.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) offers courses designed to make the best of your time, money and safety, at any level of expertise you need. The first step to sign up for any of PADI’s many scuba diving courses in Florida is to stop by a local PADI dive shop to enroll in the course and set up your in-water training time.
You can check out all of their 125 PADI dive shops in Florida, which can be filtered by several options.
PADI’s Open Water Diver Course
PADI’s Open Water Diver course is the basic class for a beginner looking to earn a diving certificate, and it includes three parts:
- Knowledge development: usually offered online, this segment covers basic scuba diving principles and terms needed to understand the process.
- Confined water dives: in person, hands-on experience in which you will learn and practice scuba skills in a pool, going through scenarios that mimic the same steps followed in actual open water dives.
- Open water dives: Your training will be completed when you demonstrate the skills you have learned at a local dive site.
As a certified open water diver, you’ll be trained to a maximum depth of 60 feet. To be eligible to take this beginner course, participants must be at least 10 years old and in good health, have good swimming skills, and be willing to make a time commitment of eight to 10 hours. (If you are short on time and wish to take a faster-paced class for what could be a one-time dive, there’s a class for that, too.)
Dive shops will help you choose the gear needed for safe, successful dives. Among those items will be a wetsuit, fins, dive mask, snorkel, scuba tank, regulator, buoyancy compensator, depth gauge, and dive computer.
Florida Regulations for Vessels
Once you feel confident with making dives in open waters, Florida has a number of laws and regulations for both divers and people operating vessels near divers, regarding the positioning, design, and size of a dive flag.
For those seeking enjoyable diving destinations in Florida, PADI provides information not only on where to go, but when to dive in Florida, thorough lists of dive sites and dive shops around the state, common marine life sightings, popular diving courses and even booking your Florida diving trip.
Insure Your Scuba Gear
If you own your own scuba gear, Florida Farm Bureau Insurance can help protect it with a personal articles insurance policy. To learn more about how we can insure your expensive belongings, use our Agent Finder to locate an agent near you.