Scuba diving holidays: from beginner to advanced

Scuba diving offers a window to a whole new world beneath the waves. There’s nothing better than exploring the reefs and shallows on a beach break, so here’s our guide to everything you need to know about scuba diving holidays.

How to start scuba diving

PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the largest diving organisation in the world, and beginner courses are offered at beaches, pools, lakes and resorts all around the globe – so if you’re interested in learning to dive there are plenty of easy ways to get started.

“The PADI entry-level course is called ‘Open Water Diver’, which takes about four to five days from start to finish,” says Mark “Crowley” Russell, PADI Master Instructor and senior correspondent for DIVE Magazine.

There are three components: theory, shallow ‘confined’ water training [in a pool], and deeper ‘open water’ training. If you are going on a 1-2-week holiday, you might want to do the theory online before you go. The shallow water training could also be completed in a pool in the UK, although Crowley advises doing all the practical aspects of the course in the same place.

“This allows the student diver to build a better rapport with their instructor, who in turn is better placed to monitor the student’s progress and deal with any problems as they arise,” he explains.

Scuba diving holidays are a great way for beginners to immerse themselves in the sport whilst having a relaxing break at the same time. Although you can choose to visit a dedicated dive centre, Club Med offers beginner and advanced PADI diving courses (at extra cost) at 17 of its resorts around the world, in destinations including Greece, Thailand and the Maldives. Learning to scuba in a more relaxed environment might take the pressure off – especially if you are a little nervous – and you’ll be assured of a good meal and a few drinks at the end of each day too!
If you’re not sure whether you will like it, many PADI centres offer “taster dives” – so you can decide whether or not it’s for you before you sign up for an entire course.

Furthering your scuba diving training

Once you’ve completed your basic training, there are lots of options to progress your skills and learn more. “For me, the complete recreational diver is somebody who has progressed through their PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Rescue Diver courses,” says Crowley.

If you want to take things further, there are a huge range of options available to you at dive schools around the world – where you can specialise in skills like night diving, wreck diving, deep diving, rescue diving, underwater photography and even ‘Divemaster’ training that lets you instruct other people. But the best way to improve your technique and challenge yourself if simply to try diving in as many different places as possible. Try the waters in other parts of the world and look out for as many different opportunities as you can – at home and abroad.

Scuba diving for children

What better fun to have on holiday than to all go scuba diving as a family? Children can begin to learn scuba with PADI from the age of eight – the only requirement before they start is that they are comfortable in water. They’ll love learning new skills, and exploring the world underwater is exciting for anyone of any age. It’s never too young to start learning about the ocean, and Club Med offers the PADI Bubble Maker course for children aged between eight and ten.

It’s a good idea for them to be comfortable swimming and that you ensure they really do want to dive — rather than you want them to learn. Children need to learn at their own pace, so a holiday is an ideal time for them without pressure and time constraints.

Where is the best place to go scuba diving?

There are fantastic scuba diving destinations all over the world – from Scotland and Dorset to the Caribbean and Australia. Almost wherever there is sea, there is an opportunity to dive.

Indonesia is widely regarded as having some of the best diving in the world, especially places such as Raja Ampat for its reefs and Lembeh for the weird critters, and there’s great diving in Komodo and around Bali too,” says Crowley, who has dived in locations all over the world. “The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is spectacular as are parts of Southern Thailand, especially around Khao Lak and the Similan Islands; also Tubbataha and Malapascua in the Philippines.

“There is wonderful scuba diving in the Maldives – Ari Atoll is regarded as one of the best spots, especially for big fish, also North and South Malé, and the Baa and Raa Atols.

“My heart belongs to the Egyptian Red Sea, however. I learned to dive in Sharm El Sheikh and later worked there for four years as an instructor. The reefs are spectacularly colourful thanks to the clear water and cloudless skies, and a wide range of critters to find around the reefs.”

Closer to home, there is superb scuba diving holidays in the Aegean Sea around Greece, which is teaming with marine life. With some 240 inhabited islands there are miles of coastline to explore – with some dive spots letting you swim through shipwrecks and seaplane wrecks. Club Med offers scuba diving packages and courses at its all-inclusive resort in Greece, Gregolimano).

Find out more about beginner and advance scuba diving courses, run with PADI at Club Med resorts around the world.

Newsletter sign up

Be the first to receive our latest news and offers.

Register now