You found “the one” who is just right for you. All of your questions have been answered. You finally took the plunge. You found a great scuba instructor and had an awesome open water course to become a certified scuba diver. What else do you think I am talking about? Just like in our personal relationships, our relationship with scuba diving needs to have longevity. In order to have a long life of underwater enjoyment, you must first survive the “honeymoon” phase that almost every new diver goes through.
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I’ve seen it many, many times before. People finish their open water class and are in love with scuba diving, but then slow down on how much they dive or worse yet, stop diving altogether. Scuba diving has brought me so much enjoyment, it ranks right up there with spending time with my kids. Everyone is capable of having the same amount of joy. To do that, we must recognize what the honeymoon phase is and how to have a long, enjoyable marriage with scuba diving.
The honeymoon phase is the short term enjoyment many people get right after trying scuba diving or getting certified. In simple terms, it’s the newness of doing/seeing something new. The keyword here is short term. For many people, this is a critical time in their diving career as diving starts to compete with other activities in ones life.
When I was going through my PADI instructor course, my course director discussed this phase. He said that this was was an important time to get in front of the student to sell the next level of classes, gear or trips. The theory was, if a person invests a significant amount of time and money into diving, they will force themselves to continue diving to maximize their return on the money they spent. By taking advantage of a persons new found passion, quickly, it will keep them diving. In my experience, it just leads to more dive gear on eBay and people upset about how many classes they took.
I’ll admit it, when I was a new scuba instructor, I bought into this concept big time. For two or three years, I did as much selling for the dive stores as I could. Until one of my former students contacted me outside of the dive store to see if he could sell me all of his gear. He didn’t want to dive anymore. His thought was that he spent about $10,000 in less than a year and wasn’t getting the same enjoyment out of diving as he did right after his open water class. It was at that time, I decided that I was no longer going to sell diving to people, but rather to bring the enjoyment of diving to people.
In order to get past the honeymoon phase and not give up diving so quickly, I came to realize that my PADI course director was wrong. People don’t need to take another class or buy gear so quickly to keep diving. I’d like to share with you a couple of things that I feel will keep a new diver diving, which buck many trends/recommendations by the diving industry.
- Don’t take classes – Don’t get me wrong, you need a solid education for safe and enjoyable scuba diving. However, you don’t need to take an Advanced Open Water class the weekend after passing your open water class. Space out your classes. Space them out by number of dives rather than a time frame. Tell yourself that you will take the Advanced Open Water class after you log 25 dives AFTER your open water class. Do this for all classes you take. By spacing out your training, you can start to appreciate what you learned in your prior classes. The biggest mistake I ever made was rushing my training. I did my open water and advanced open water classes on back to back weekends. A month later I did rescue diver. By the time I hit 20 dives (including training dives) I was already in the Divemaster program. I barely broke 100 total dives when I became an instructor. I was like a tornado inside a beer bottle.
- Don’t buy gear – Of course you need gear to dive. We can’t get around this. There isn’t anything wrong with renting quality gear for a while. You don’t need to drop $5,000 right away on shiny new gear. Just like with my advice on training, space out your equipment purchases. It doesn’t really matter which piece of gear you buy first. Even if you have the thousands of dollars to buy all new gear right away, don’t. Wait it out. Make sure you are truly enjoying your diving activities before dropping your hard earned money on gear. Don’t be afraid to buy used equipment as well. Just make sure you are aware that there will be no warranty on your scuba gear and you’ll be responsible for getting it serviced once you buy it.
- Don’t wait for people to dive with you – Join a shop-independent dive club. Many dive clubs that are sponsored by a dive shop tend to be biased towards only doing business with the sponsored dive store. This can lead to some of the problems I’ve mentioned earlier. Look around, there is always a good group of folks who just want to dive and they don’t care if they buy from one dive shop or another.
- Don’t just dive on vacation – Hey, nobody loves looking at pretty fishes and being in 85F water more than me. But you shouldn’t forget about your local diving areas. Diving locally gives you a chance to meet many new people who share your same passion for diving. Plus, if funds are tight (like in my case), local diving is a lot cheaper than trip someplace warm. Diving in colder, darker water may not be as nice as some place like Hawaii, but diving locally once or twice a month keeps your diving skills fresh and gives you more experience. Plus, it gives you a chance to hang out with your diving friends more.
Don’t get sucked into buying gear or more scuba classes to soon into your diving career. There will always be equipment to buy and classes to take in the future. That stuff will never go away. Space them out and enjoy the process. But the most important advice I can give you for a long life of enjoyable scuba diving is to dive more. A lot more.