GETTING MY PADI SCUBA CERTIFICATION WITH BOCAS DIVE CENTER

Over the last couple of weeks, I have gotten my PADI Open Water Scuba Certification in Bocas Del Toro with Bocas Dive Center and holy crap what a thrilling experience. This has been something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time, I just never had the opportunity to do it. I’ve done a couple beginner scuba classes while on vacation but it’s the first that I’m living somewhere near the ocean for a longer period of time and I have 3 full days to spare.

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About Bocas Dive Center

I contacted Bocas Dive Center telling them that I would love to get certified and I received an email almost right away from Jess saying to come to the shop we can figure everything out. I loved that she emailed me immediately; because Bocas is an island a lot of tour companies are on island time and take a while to respond to you (have you heard of island time, lol). This showed me that they value their customers and have great customer service as well.

When I first got to the shop two different people greeted me with the warmest smiles. This shop is absolutely stunning; there are two building to this shop, the main building with some of the most amazing scuba décor ever and where you will find the front entrance, classrooms, and even a bar. The back shop is where the diving gear is located as well as the dock to the boats.

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Jess came out shortly; she was extremely sweet from the very beginning and would make any person feel welcomed (even those that fear diving). She and I went to chat for a bit and I explained to her that I’ve been diving before and am looking to get my Open Water done. I also told her that I work during the days and she was extremely understanding about my situation and we worked around my schedule. I had planned to come in on Wednesday afternoon, Friday afternoon, and all day Saturday and Sunday.

The dreading class work

This was my least favorite part, and when I mean least favorite, I mean LEAST FAVORITE. Who likes sitting around for 2 days watching videos that might frighten you a little. Not scary scary, just “oh crap if anything goes wrong I might die” kind of scary. There were 5 videos in total each about 1 hour long, and after each video, you have to do a review followed by a quiz. BDC was super high tech and their reviews and quizzes were all on iPads, pretty cool if you ask me. The quizzes were short, only 10 questions each, and were based on the materials in the videos, so you need to pay attention. After each quiz, Jess and I sat down to review my answers and answer any questions I might have had or have gotten wrong. Jess was really great about explaining (sometimes even drawing pictures) everything to me in terms I could understand.

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Getting my hands on the gear

After two days (or 1 if you don’t split it up into two evenings like I did), it’s time to get my hands on all the diving gear. This is how the easiest way for me to learn anything, to actually sit there and practice with the real gear. I’ve been reading and watching videos about the gear for two days now and it wasn’t until I actually played with everything that things started to make sense for me. Jess was great about showing me and explaining to me what everything was and how to assemble everything. Once she showed me she watched me assemble the gear, pointing out anything I missed or might have been doing wrong.

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Confined Waters

Now that our gear is all ready it’s time to finally jump in the water!!!! The first part of the certification requires you to do a swimming, snorkeling and floating test. Jess was next to me the entire time throughout these and helped me out tremendously during my snorkel test (I just couldn’t get one of the activities, who would have thought snorkeling was the most difficult part for me, haha). Once we were done with the preliminary tests it was time to jump in the water with all of our diving gear and start the fun scuba stuff!!!!

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After a 20 minute break, we geared up, did a buddy safety check, and jumped back into the water from the boat. The confined water tests included everything from a basic swim, taking your mask off underwater, what happens when you’re out of air, how does it feel to be out of air, doing an emergency exit and many other useful skills. Because I’ve been diving before I was familiar with most of these skills and ran right through them. Jess was impressed with my quick I advanced and was able to easily catch on.

Disclaimer: Take your time when you’re going through these skills, if you’re not getting something continue to work on the skill. Your life really might be on the line if you’re caught in a situation and you don’t know what to do. Breathing underwater is way different than breathing above water, I actually had a panic attack the first time I went scuba diving and I didn’t want to go back for a couple of years because it frightened me so much. Scuba is a lot of fun, and you get better the more you do it, but keep practicing your skills, there’s no need to rush. (OK, rant over; sorry now I’m sounding like those videos I was talking about earlier).

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After all of the skills were completed I had one more video to watch and complete a quiz and test. Similar to the videos and tests that I did before these were all on the computer and Jess was great about explaining all of the questions that I missed. The final test was 50 questions, but don’t worry if you fail the first time there is a chance for you to retake it. But I only missed a few and got an 80% so no more tests for me!!!!

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Exploring the Open Waters

On the final day of my Scuba certification in Bocas del Toro, I did my open water dives. This is 3 separate dives and mine were divided into two-morning dives and an afternoon dive. The first two dives incorporate all of the skills I learned from the day before but we actually got down deeper than the confined waters and one fun dive. PADI Open Water divers can go down to 18meters.

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The open water dives were a lot of fun, Jess and I went diving to two different points where we saw some awesome fish I’ve never seen before. My favorite were two extremely large puffer fish, spotted eagle rays, and trumpet fish. Jess was awesome at pointing out all the new fish for me and making sure that I was doing alright. When we were done diving she was great at asking me what I thought I did great, what I thought needed improvement, and giving me some pointers as well. The entire experience was just thrilling.

Overview

Someone once said “Scuba diving is sensual. To breathe underwater is one of the most fascinating and peculiar sensations imaginable. Breathing becomes a rhythmic method of inhalations and exhalations. The cracks and pops of fish and crustaceans harmonize with the rhythmic chiming of the bubbles as you exhale. Soon, lungs act as bellows, controlling your buoyancy as you achieve weightlessness. And as in your dreams you are flying. Combine these otherworldly stimuli and you surrender completely to the sanctuary of the underwater world.” My goodness, whoever said this couldn’t have been more right. I can not describe the feeling of scuba diving other than these words. This is such an incredible sensation and I am so happy that I was able to get scuba certified with Bocas DiveCenter. The entire experience working with the company, and my instructor made me feel welcomed and secure. I am happy to be a part of this new family.

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Thanks Bocas Dive Center!!!!

Have you ever gone scuba diving? Tell me about your experience below.

Xoxo Ania Travels 💜


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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Bocas Dive Center. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links which will earn me a few cents to contribute to the running of this site if you make a qualifying purchase at no extra cost to you.

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  • Nikky Rademaker

    Congratulations on your PADI! I did an intro dive 2 months ago and loved the underwater world as well. This post really inspires me to take the course & go for my PADI as well. Thank you for sharing & have fun on your upcomming dives!

    • Ania Ewelina

      Thanks girl, and awesome!!! Hope you take the next step and get certified as well.

  • Cătălina-Iuliana Nini

    Congratulations Ania ! I did scuba diving in Tenerife one year ago and I can`t wait to repeat the experience. I always wonder how long does it take to get a scuba certification.

    • Ania Ewelina

      Hope this post gave you some insight on the process.

  • I think that is amazing that despite your scuba scare a few years ago you were able to come back to it and confront your fears head on that is brilliant. And even better that you were able to take classes and be able to dive, it must have been such an incredible experience. For me I would lov to be able to dive but I need to become a better swimmer first because if I am underwater too long I panic- ironic considering I am a part time mermaid so definitely need to work on that. But its on my bucket list!

    • Ania Ewelina

      It really is an incredible experience, and yes I was so proud of myself for facing my own fears and being able to complete the certificate. Now it’s your turn!

  • Shona Grant

    You’ve inspired me Ania. I have had scuba diving on my list for as long as I can remember. Truth be told I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to the underwater world. I should simply get over it. 😉

    • Ania Ewelina

      You need to face your fears 😉 it’s such an incredible experience, and a whole nother world out there.

  • Sabrina Barbante

    diving is so fascinating and, as far as I know, so hard as a technique! Nothing like a game at all! Congratulations for you certification and for the amazing natural experience you’ve been doing!

    • Ania Ewelina

      It really was an incredible experience. I had so much fun learning how to dive properly.

  • James Costello

    Congratulations on getting your PADI cert. I did my PADI in Koh Tao. I enjoyed it and felted the swim test was the hardest part. Its been great to have when traveling around as there some really amazing dive sites.

    • Ania Ewelina

      Seriously, me too!!! Who would have thought that swimming and snorkeling would have been the hardest part of getting a diving certification.

  • Kristine Nicole Alessandra VA

    Wow. What an achievement! I would find it difficult to learn to breathe through my mouth, but you breezed through it and get certified. Congratulations!

    • Ania Ewelina

      Sure did 🙂 it does get easiser every breath you take 😉

  • Ohhh yay! Well done Ania, so happy you managed to pass and gain your certification 😊 I am so jealous – I really want to get into diving, but I have serious problems wit him equalising my ear pressure when I go down, so it puts me off 😔 X

    • Ania Ewelina

      Yeah you probably should stay away then. Safety first!!!! You can always stick to snorkeling 🙂

  • Ana Ojha

    Congratulations Ania on your certification! You go gal! This is one of the amazing accomplishments in anyone’s life!

    • Ania Ewelina

      It really was, such an achievement. Thank you

  • Ut Minh

    I tried diving a few times, but I was tired. I admire you so much. Congratulations on receiving your certificate!

    • Ania Ewelina

      Thank you so much 🙂

  • Preeti Rajnish Jha

    I have never been to diving But I have that in my bucket list.By the way congratulations for your certificate

    • Ania Ewelina

      Thank you 🙂

  • Hi Ania,

    Sounds like a fun experience. I would love to see those exotic fishies. When we spent a month in Koh Lanta our neighbor was a dive instructor. He wanted to get us in the tank but we never got around to it. Pretty sure they have awesome diving there as well.

    Congrats on getting your certification!

    Ryan

    • Ania Ewelina

      Yes, I heard Koh Lanta has some of the best dive spots int he world, and super affordable too. Hope you get to do it one day 🙂

  • Christiana Acha

    Congratulations on your certificate. I’m so scared of swimming or even diving. But reading this achievement has given me quite a bit of inspiration to try it out sometime.

    • Ania Ewelina

      You should try it out, at least do an introductory class, or you can always stick to snorkeling 🙂