Frequently Asked Questions

General enquiries

Learning to dive is expensive - where does the money go?


At Aquatic Adventures we do not believe in making profit out of education. We keep our courses small, so that you get a more personalised service, and in doing so we remove the profitability that other dive centres garner from larger ratios. The money you pay for your course goes towards: your learning materials, pool hire (where applicable), boat charter fees (where applicable), PADI processing fees, and the wages for the Instructor and teaching assistants.




How old do you need to be to learn Scuba Diving?


The minimum age to be a PADI Junior Open Water diver is 12 in Australia. A Junior Open Water certification comes with some restrictions. From ages 12-14 Junior Open Water divers must dive with a certified adult & cannot exceed a depth of 18m. For Junior Advanced Open Water divers there is a depth limitation of 21m. Divers over the age of 15 have no additional depth or buddy restrictions & default back to regular Open or Advanced Open Water depth restrictions.

PADI Seal Team & Bubblemaker experiences are available for 8 -12 year old’s & are conducted in the controlled environment of a heated pool.




I’m an Asthmatic, does this mean I can’t dive?


Although it was once a generally accepted medical opinion that people with asthma should be prohibited from diving, today the answer to this question is no longer a simple ‘no’. As with any other medical condition, if you’re an asthmatic & are interested in diving your best course of action is to consult with you family physician or a physician aware of your previous medical history AND a physician trained in dive medicine. A list of registered dive doctors can be found on the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. Visit http://www.spums.org.au/




Is the water cold? What sort of exposure protection will I need?


With the right exposure protection you can dive Victorian waters year-round comfortably.
In the height of summer Port Phillip Bay can reach temperatures of 23 - 24C degrees, whilst Bass Straight can reach up to 21C degrees. Many divers find a 5 - 7mm wetsuit is all the exposure protection required to be comfortable during the summer.
In the spring & Autumn months the water temperatures in both Port Phillip Bay & Bass Straight sit between 16 - 18C degrees. For many divers the addition of a hood, gloves & set of undergarments is all that’s required to make diving during spring, autumn & even into winter comfortable. During the winter months the water temperature in the bay can reach as low as 8 - 9C degrees near shore & 10C degrees in deeper water. Bass Straight stays a comparatively warm 12 - 13C degrees all winter long. In order to dive comfortably during the winter many divers opt for a drysuit, however a well fitted wet or semidry suit & good set of undergarments, gloves & a hood can be all that’s required to enjoy winter diving.




Can I cross over from another training organisation to PADI?


For recreational divers, cross over or conversion to PADI certification is easy. If your current certification is with a training agency recognised by PADI, (e.g. SSI, SDI, NAUI, CMAS, BSAC) you can become a PADI diver by enrolling in the course that is the equivalent next level of certification. For example, if you’re an SSI Open Water diver you can become a PADI diver by completing the PADI Advanced Open Water course.

If you’re a professional level diver, certified under a lesser known agency or part-way through a course with another agency, there may be additional prerequisites that need to be met. Get in contact with us to see if we can help you become a PADI Professional today!




What can I expect to see underwater in Melbourne?


We’re blessed to have a wide variety of marine environments right at our doorstep here in Melbourne. Whether you’re after sandy dunes, seagrass meadows, rocky kelp covered reefs or cold-water coral & sponge gardens, you’ll find there’s an incredible diversity of terrains & species to be enjoyed.

Some of our common critter encounters include seahorses, weedy sea dragons, cuttlefish, blue ringed, maori, pale, gloomy & sand octopus, several species of stingray with the southern smooth ray being amongst one of the largest species in the world, Port Jackson sharks, cowfish, blue devil fish & schooling fish such as Australian salmon, pinky snapper & juvenile travally. Melbourne & the bay are home to three species of dolphins & Australian fur seals, whilst migrating whales drop by for a visit during winter months.





Course enquiries

Why can't I book my course online?


At Aquatic Adventures we prefer the personal touch of talking to all of our students before they pay us any money. You need to be sure that the course you are about to book is the right one for you, and by discussing with our experienced staff you can be confident in your purchase.




What are the Student/Professional ratios


We run our courses with a maximum ratio of 4 students to 1 Instructor. We also strive to always have a Divemaster or Assistant Instructor on every course, bringing those ratios down to 2:1. As far as we know this is the lowest ratio in the Victorian dive industry, and is one of the reasons our courses are the safest on the market.




Where does my course fee go?


Depending on the course you are enrolled in, your course fees go toward:
Your PADI e-Learning or hard copy course materials,
PADI certification fees,
Boat dive fees (where there are boat dives required for your course),
Wages for your Instructor & Divemaster,
Upkeep of safety equipment used on courses,
Course related admin, Open Water Courses also include gear rental & pool fees in their pricing. We aim to be transparent with our course fee structures & are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about what the cost of your course includes. We don’t make a profit on courses, so to continue delivering high quality training we rely on your support of our Aquaholics dive club, brick-and-mortar & online stores.




Do I require a diving medical?


Before enrolling in any course you’ll be required to complete a general medical questionnaire for SCUBA diving. Depending on your answers to the questions in the questionnaire you may be required to obtain an AS4005.1 Dive Medical. Consultation with a physician trained in dive medicine is generally recommended if you have any existing health conditions or are otherwise concerned about your fitness to dive. A list of registered dive physicians in Australia can be found here: spums.com.au




What sort of equipment will I need?


All students enrolled in the any of our recreational level SCUBA diving courses are required at a minimum to have their own personal set of appropriate & well-fitted mask, snorkel, boots & fins. Continuing educations courses (PADI Advanced Open Water course & PADI Specialty courses) may require you to have your own accessories, such as a torch, compass or reel. Victorian Law also mandates that each diver carry their own cutting tool, signal marker buoy & whistle. Buying SCUBA equipment can be a daunting experience at first so we offer rental of tanks, weights, wetsuits, regulators, computers & BCD’s. Once you’re ready to consider purchasing your own gear our friendly & knowledgeable staff can help you select the right gear for you & the type of diving you’d like to do! All students enrolled in professional level courses, PADI Divemaster & above, are required to have their own personal full set of SCUBA equipment, along with any other required accessories, tools & spares.




What’s the difference between PADI SCUBA Diver & PADI Open Water Diver certifications?


Both PADI SCUBA Diver & PADI Open Water Diver certifications are entry-level courses designed to teach you the skills you need to confidently enjoy recreational SCUBA diving. Both certifications also require the completion of theory, confined water & open water components. The difference between them is that the PADI Open Water course is the full course which qualifies you to dive with a certified buddy or dive professional to a depth of 18m. A PADI SCUBA Diver certification is awarded to students who have completed at least 3 out of 5 theory components, 3 out of 5 confined water dives & 2 out of 4 open water dives. This qualifies you to dive to 12m under the direct supervision of a dive professional. Once you’re a PADI SCUBA Diver is easy to qualify for your Open Water certification. Simply complete the final components of the PADI Open Water course!




Can I rent all of my SCUBA gear?


We offer full SCUBA gear rental including tanks, weights, regulators with computer & compass consoles available, wetsuits & BCD,s. Masks, snorkels, boots, fins & other accessories aren’t available for hire however we stock a wide variety of dive software & accessories available for purchase bat out store.





Open Water Diver

Why should I choose a PADI course for my Open Water Diver certification


PADI is the largest and most widely recognised & sought after scuba certification agency in the world. This means that when you earn your PADI certification, you can dive worldwide knowing that you have received internationally recognised training and that the dive centres and professionals you meet will all know what skills you have, and what sort of diving you are qualified to do.




Why take my Open Water Diver certification in Melbourne?


We believe Melbourne has some of the best diving Australia has to offer. We also believe Melbourne produces better divers. Whilst temperate water diving may seem more demanding, training in temperate water exposes you to a wider variety conditions & challenges under the guidance & supervision of a PADI Instructor & Divemaster. We believe this means there’s a higher standard of training when learning in Melbourne, which will better prepare you for situations you might encounter when diving in the future. It also means when you’re diving in fairer, tropical waters you can better enjoy it, confident that you can easily fall back on the skills you learnt during your training. Why do all the hard work on holidays when you can do it at home?

Learning to dive in Melbourne also opens up an entire world of adventure & discovery for you right at your doorstep. Many new divers are surprised to learn about & see the stunning animals, terrain & incredible biodiversity that we have within our bay & nearby back beaches.




What is included in the cost of the Open Water Diver?


The cost of your course includes all your PADI e-Learning materials & certification fees, all your gear rentals (including tanks, regulators, wetsuit a BCD & weights), your pool reservation & your boat dive fee. The remainder of your course cost goes toward your instructor & divemaster.




Why do I need to have my own mask, snorkel, boots & fins?


There are many reasons to invest in your own set of dive equipment & the most important one is that a comfortable set, fitted to you, will make the whole experience easier & help you to keep diving!

Having the right mask & snorkel will mean they won't give you a headache, and having the right fins & boots will mean fewer cramps, more efficient finning & safer diving. These things alone will make learning to dive easier & a whole lot more fun. There is, of course, also the hygiene factor. For these reasons we require all of our students to have their own set of mask, snorkel, boots & fins for all courses. During colder moths we also recommend a hood & pair of gloves too.

If you’re unsure of what you're looking for & how it should fit, drop by the store & our friendly staff who will offer all the right advice to get you in the gear that’s right for you!




What kinds of dives can I do once I’m Open Water certified?


Although obtaining an Open Water certification is just the first step in exploring & discovering a seemingly limitless underwater world, some of the best diving both here & abroad is done between 5m - 18m where the colours are brighter & the water is warmer.

From the shore (0m - 12m):

Port Phillip bay & the Mornington Peninsula are home to some spectacular shore dives, many of which are sheltered & located under structures such as piers, making them ideal for the beginner diver. No structure dive is the same & each is a completely unique marine ecosystem comprised of colourful sponges & ascidians, sea grasses & algae, resident & transient species of marine fishes & invertebrates. Many shore dive sites are also important breeding grounds, nurseries & shelters for some of our special native species such as weedy sea dragons, giant cuttlefish & Port Jackson sharks, making them wonderful sites for photography & interesting animal sightings.

For more experienced Open Water divers, the Mornington Peninsula’s back beaches, Phillip Island & the Surf Coast offer more challenging shore dives. Exposed to the awesome power of wind, weather & waves coming straight off the Southern Ocean, these dives are characterised by rocky reef environments covered in forests of kelp, colourful sponges, ascidians & temperate corals, all of which provides an important habitat for the much sought-after Southern rock lobster. Many of these sites are only accessible from shore on handful of days when the swell is down & winds are favourable. Extreme caution must always be exercised when considering these sites as potential shore dives, however they can also be accessed by boat.

By boat (6m – 18m):

The bay & back beaches host an excellent variety of dives which suit Open Water certified divers. The easiest & often safest way to access back beach dive sites is by boat. Here, with a valid fishing licence & cray tags, you can try to nab yourself Southern rock lobster or simply enjoy the scenery as you gently sway back & forth in the surge like the kelp that covers the reef.

Within the bay plentiful scallop beds make diving the sandy expanses a popular choice. With a valid finishing licence, a catch bag & drift dive experience or training, you can lazily glide across the sands spotting octopus, spider crabs & flathead, whilst carefully selecting your scallops. Artificial structures, such as the historic islands of Pope’s Eye & South Channel Fort, are easy to navigate dives that can offer protection from tidal currents. These islands are an abundant oasis of life compared to their sandy surroundings, attracting an amazing diversity of brightly coloured fish & invertebrates.

Moving into the mouth of the bay is the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park, which encompasses Pope’s Eye, Swan Bay & parts of the Lonsdale Wall system. For the most part Lonsdale Wall starts at a depth of 9-12m & drops to depths of over 60m, however much of the wall can still be enjoyed with an Open Water certification. Whilst the top of the wall is primarily rocky & kelp covered terrain, Lonsdale Wall is best known for its extraordinarily vibrant sponge gardens. The wall’s many overhangs house local favourites such as the southern blue devil fish, rock lobster, cuttlefish & colourful wrasse species. Lonsdale Wall sites are predominantly dived on slack water, when tidal movements through the heads are minimal.




Do I need to be able to swim?


Whilst you don’t need to be a champion swimmer or surf life saver to dive in Melbourne, some water skills are an absolute necessity. As part of your Open Water course you’ll need to complete a 200m swim & 10 minute float or tread water. You’ll also need to be comfortable in the water. If you’re unsure as to whether you’ll enjoy SCUBA diving, snorkelling can be a great to establish some confidence in the water before you take the plunge into diving.




How long does it take to get certified?


Our public Open Water courses take 3 & 1/2 days. We run our public courses across one weeknight theory session & two consecutive weekends, weather permitting. Private or 1-on-1 Open Water courses can be taught in 2 or 3 days & can also be taught mid-week, on consecutive days, or across 1 or 2 weekends - whatever suits you!




I’ve done a Discover SCUBA Diving experience, does this mean I still have to complete the full Open Water course?


A Discover SCUBA Diving experience is a great introduction to the underwater world & a fantastic way to find out whether SCUBA diving is for you. However, due to the way that we structure our Open Water courses we may still require you to complete the full course even if you have been given a DSD referral form. We do this in order to ensure you get the most out of your training & so that we can deliver training of the highest quality standard.




What if I don’t like it?


We understand that sometimes diving isn’t for everyone, which is why we give you the option of completing your theory & pool components before committing to the open water dives. When you enrol in your PADI Open Water course you’ll be asked to pay a deposit which secures your place on the course & covers your PADI eLearning materials. On the first day of your course you’ll be asked to pay the balance of your course to cover your spot in the pool, as well as our instructor, dive master, boat & certification fees. If, after your pool session, you don’t enjoy the experience or decide diving simply isn’t for you & don’t wish to continue, we’ll refund you half of your course cost. This means you’ll have only paid for your theory & pool session.





Advanced Open Water Diver


Rescue Diver


Divemaster


Instructor


Aquatic Adventures is part of the AAA Scuba Group