Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Become A Scuba Diver?

Learning to scuba dive with TEXAS DIVE CENTER is an incredible adventure!  As your training center, your path to breathing underwater is accomplished in three exciting phases:

Phase 1. Knowledge Development - Learn the lingo.

During the first phase of your Open Water Diver scuba certification, you develop an understanding of the basic principles of scuba diving with our digital on-line training course. You work at your own pace and with each section you learn things like how pressure affects your body, how to choose the best scuba gear and what to consider when planning dives. You briefly review what you have studied in the fknowledge development sections as you move from section to section and take a short quiz at the end of each one to be sure you're getting it before moving on.

At the end of the course, you'll take a a 50 question written test at the dive center to show you have a good grasp of the knowledge.

Start right now and learn to scuba dive online with TEXAS DIVE CENTER via digital material at your own pace—anytime, anywhere (great for busy schedules)

Phase 2. Confined Water Dives - Scuba Skills Training.

This is what it's all about – diving. You develop basic scuba skills by scuba diving in our heated outdoor pool or at Balmorhea State Park. Here you'll learn everything from setting up your scuba gear to how to easily get water out of your scuba mask without surfacing. You'll also practice some emergency skills, like sharing air or replacing your scuba mask. Plus, you may play some games, make new friends and have a great time. There are 5-6 confined water dives, with each building upon the previous. Over the course of these dives, you attain and master the skills you need to dive in open water. We generally accomplish them over two afternoons of dive training and can accommodate most individual's schedules. Doing them at Balmorhea requires a half day or so on a Friday and Saturday morning. Then Saturday afternoon you will be ready to start Phase 3.

Phase 3. Open Water Dives - Locally or on Vacation.

After your confined water dives, you and the new friends you've made continue learning during 4-5 open water dives with your TEXAS DIVE CENTER Instructor at a dive site. This is where you fully experience the underwater adventure – at the beginner level, of course. You may make these dives at Balmorhea State Park or the "Blue Hole" in Santa Rosa NM. You may even wish to finish up at a more exotic destination while on a TEXAS DIVE CENTER group holiday. We prefer to have you do them at Santa Rosa, NM as the deeper water that is available makes you a better prepared diver for that first dive vacation. Yes the water is colder than Balmorhea but you will be a better diver. We can also give you a referral to a SSI dive shop at your vacation location to complete the 4 dives during your vacation trip.

How long does it take to get certified?

It's possible to complete your confined and open water dives in as few as two or three days if there are sufficient students to go to Balmorhea State Park where we start the pool work there on Friday and finish the course up by Sunday noon.

Our Diver courses are incredibly flexible and performance based, which means that TEXAS DIVE CENTER can offer a wide variety of schedules, paced according to how fast you progress and the size of the class. Generally we run monthly classses year-around with one trip a month to complete the 4-5 open water dives with a minimum of 4 students.

Your instructor's interest is in your learning to scuba dive, not in how long you sit in a class. So, training is based upon demonstrating that you know what you need to know and can do what you need to do. This means that you progress at your own pace – faster or slower depending upon the time you need to become a confident scuba diver who dives regularly. You can start learning to scuba dive online right now with TEXAS DIVE CENTER. Our only goal is to train and certified competent divers that can head off and enjoy the water world safely.

How much does it cost to take scuba lessons?

Compared with getting started in other popular adventure sports and outdoor activities, learning to scuba dive isn't expensive.

For example, you can expect to pay about the same as you would for:

  • a full day of surfing lessons
  • a weekend of rock climbing lessons
  • a weekend of kayaking lessons
  • a weekend of fly-fishing lessons
  • about three hours of private golf lessons
  • about three hours of private water skiing lessons
  • one amazing night out at the pub!

Learning to scuba dive is a great value when you consider that you learn to dive under the guidance and attention of a high trained, experienced professional - your TEXAS DIVE CENTER Scuba Instructor. From the first day, scuba diving starts transforming your life with new experiences you share with friends. And, you can do it almost anywhere there is water. Start learning online with TEXAS DIVE CENTER and get ready to take your first breath underwater!

TEXAS DIVE CENTER is proud to be able to offer Open Water Course from $600 per person. Scuba Diver is just $400 and a referral (where you do the required open water dives to complete your certification) is just $350. However, before you go with someone offering training for less, be sure you compare what you get or don't get - remember, "we get what we pay for."

What scuba gear do I need to learn to scuba dive?

Choosing and using your scuba gear is part of the fun of diving. TEXAS DIVE CENTER will help you find the right gear. Each piece of scuba equipment performs a different function so that collectively, it adapts you to the underwater world.

When you start learning to scuba dive, as a minimum, you want your own the following and we will help you in your selection and give you 10% off anything in the store while enrolled in the course.

  • scuba mask
  • snorkel
  • boots (booties)
  • scuba fins
  • timing device (dive watch) or dive computer

These have a personal fit, and TEXAS DIVE CENTER will help you choose ones that have the fit and features best suited to you. Included in the cost of your Open Water Diver course, TEXAS DIVE CENTER will provide a:

  • dive regulator set
  • scuba BC
  • scuba tank(s) with all the air you can use.
  • exposure protection as needed
  • weight system and weights

Check with TEXAS DIVE CENTER to confirm sizing available for your course package. It's recommended that you invest in your own scuba equipment when you start your course because:

  • you're more comfortable using scuba gear fitted for you
  • you're more comfortable learning to scuba dive using gear you've chosen
  • scuba divers who own their own scuba diving equipment find it more convenient to go diving
  • having your own scuba diving gear is part of the fun of diving

The kind of gear you will need depends on the conditions where you dive. You may want:

  • tropical scuba gear
  • temperate scuba equipment
  • cold water scuba diving equipment

As with most sporting activity, you will want the gear to do it safely. We offer a 6 or 12 month NO INTEREST financing program for your complete dive package including the course fee so you can train completely in your own gear and have the confidence in your equipment on vacation.

How do I know what's the best scuba gear?

Easy - there is no best gear. But, there is the best gear for you. The professionals at TEXAS DIVE CENTER are trained to help you find scuba gear that best matches your preferences, fit and budget. These professionals can get you set with the right stuff, and that doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive or the unnecessary stuff. We service and repair what we sell and will provide service and support for years of enjoyable and dependable use.

You may also want to talk to other scuba divers to get recommendations on particular scuba equipment brands and models. But the most important is to buy it from the folks that can service it for you and maintain warranties. Also from a shop with the largest inventory in the west Texas region - that's us.

What we tell people is purchase what the local dive center you plan on calling home can service for you. Bringing us a regulator set we can't service that you bought elsewhere serves no purpose. Coming to class with borrowed equipment we haven't fitted you properly for will only delay your training if it fails you, is too small or big.

Going on a dive trip later and renting gear you do not know if it has been properly maintained or will properly fit or hasn't been clean sufficiently is a great way to ruin a good vacation. Own your Total Diving System and we can help finance it for you over 6 or 12 months with NO INTEREST - ask us about this program and train in your own Total Diving System.

What's required to take scuba lessons?
If you have an appetite for excitement and adventure, odds are you can become an avid scuba diver. You'll also want to keep in mind these requirements:

Minimum Age:

  • 10 years old 
  • Students younger than 15 years, who successfully complete the course qualify for the Junior Open Water Diver certification, which they may upgrade to Open Water Diver certification upon reaching age 15.

Physical: For safety, all students complete a brief scuba medical questionnaire that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, you sign the form and you're ready to start. If any of these apply to you, as a safety precaution your dive physician must assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms that you're fit to dive. In some areas, local laws require all scuba students to consult with a physician before entering the course.

Waterskills: Before completing the Open Water Diver course, your instructor will have you demonstrate basic water skill comfort by having you:

  • swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards in mask, fins and snorkel). There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.
  • float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods that you want.

About Physical Challenges: Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. Individuals with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Talk to your Instructor for more information. Texas Dive Center Inc is a Disable Diver International (DDI) Instructor Training Center and we specialize in helping you achieve your desires.

Learning Materials: You'll use the digital training materials during the Open Water Diver course, and for your review and reference after the course:

  • The Open Water Diver Digital Manual (hard copy available)
  • Open Water Diver Videos in your course digital material.
  • You will also need your Log book and Recreational Dive Planner (all digital in the SSI Divers App.

Where can I scuba dive?

You can dive practically anywhere there's water – from a swimming pool to the ocean and all points in between, including quarries, lakes, rivers and springs. Where you can scuba dive is determined by your:

  • experience
  • level site
  • accessibility
  • conditions interests

For example, if you've just finished your Open Water Diver course, you probably won't be diving under the Antarctic ice on your next dive. But, don't limit your thinking to the warm, clear water you see in travel magazines. Some of the best diving is closer than you think.

Your local dive site can be anything from a special pool built just for divers or more typically natural sites like Belize's Great Blue Hole, Australia's Great Barrier Reef or Japan's Yonaguni Monument. It may be a man made reservoir or a fossil-filled river. It's not always about great visibility because what you see is more important than how far you see.

The only truly important thing about where you dive is that you have the scuba diving training and experience appropriate for diving there, and that you have a dive buddy to go with you with the same or higher level of training and experience. Talk to us and we will help you pick a great place to go diving, or come join us on our next trip.

My ears hurt when I dive down. Will that keep me from becoming a scuba diver?
No, assuming you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the normal effect of water pressure pressing in on your ears. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to adjust for pressure changes in our ears – you just need to learn how and we will teach you. If you have no difficulties adjusting to air pressure during flying, you'll probably experience no problem learning to adjust to water pressure while diving.

In any case, discuss it with your instructor as they have vast experience and can help make sure you don't risk ear injury.

Does a history of ear troubles, diabetes, asthma, allergies, or smoking preclude someone from diving?
Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory function or heart function or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a physician can assess a person's individual risk. Physicians can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing a scuba candidate.

DAN has information available online if you wish to do some research or ask our instructors as they are very knowledgable on the health risks of diving physiology.

We will provide you with a form that helps your doctor understand the medical risks of scuba diving. But if someone with no arms and no legs can scuba - you probably can also. That's not to say that heart problems and other issues like severe sinus problems can't prohibit diving - lets discuss it with your doctor. Start with asking us and completing our dive medical form.

What are the most common injuries or sicknesses associated with diving?
Sun burn and seasickness, both of which are preventable with over the counter preventatives. The most common injuries caused by marine life are scrapes and stings, most of which can be avoided by wearing a exposure suit, staying off the bottom and watching where you put your hands and feet.

Contact TEXAS DIVE CENTER for information about exposure protection needed for any of your diving.

Be sure to use a reef safe sun screen lotion at all times. We recommend "Rubber Ducky" which is why we stock this 100% reef safe product.

Remember too, that sharks don't like the smell of our blood or how we taste. Cows kill more people each year in the world than sharks.

What about sharks?

When you're lucky, you'll get to see a shark on your very first dive trip.

Although incidents with sharks occur, they are very, very rare. Most common shark encounters primarily involve spear fishing or feeding sharks, both of which trigger erratic feeding behavior. Sharks main food source is fish and if they can get a free feed they will.

Most of the time, if you see a shark it's passing through and a relatively rare sight to enjoy. Your neighbor's dog is more apt to attack you than a shark.

Some myths, about sharks, that you have heard may be dispelled by taking a Shark Awareness Class, ask your Instructor who has logged over a 1000 dives with sharks of all types to photograph them in their natural environment. Sharks don't like how we taste or the smell of our blood. You are more apt to be bitten my your family pet than a shark.

How deep do you go?

With the necessary training and experience, the limit for recreational scuba diving is 130 feet. Beginning scuba divers are trained and certified for no more than 60 feet, Junior divers have additional depth limitations and who they can dive with - ask your instructor. Although these are the limits, some of the most popular diving is no deeper than 30-40 feet where the water's warmer and the colors are brighter. Taking additional training and getting additional experience and you can safety dive even deeper - ask your instructor.

What happens if I use up all my air?

You can share your instructor's, but that's not likely because you have a gauge that tells you how much air you have at all times. This way, you can return to the surface with a safety reserve remaining. But to answer the question, if you run out of air, your buddy has a spare mouthpiece that allows you to share a single air supply while swimming to the surface. There are also other options you'll learn in your Open Water course with TEXAS DIVE CENTER.

But don't worry, we have a lot of spare tanks and a compressor to keep the tanks full and we closely monitor the air consumption of our students at all times and you will too. Our owner has been diving since 1973 and with thousands of logged dives, he has never run out of air and doesn't plan too.

What if I feel claustrophobic?

People find the “weightlessness” of scuba diving to be quite freeing. Modern scuba masks are available in translucent models, which you may prefer if a mask makes you feel closed in. During your scuba diving training with TEXAS DIVE CENTER, your instructor gives you plenty of time and coaching to become comfortable with each stage of learning. Your scuba instructor works with you at your own pace to ensure you master each skill necessary to become a capable scuba diver who dives regularly. You may even want to eventually try a night dive during your vacation.

TEXAS DIVE CENTER keeps classes small so that we can give you more time to get comfortable with the amazing world of diving.

What Safety Equipment Is Needed?

We recommend the first item you should have as a diver is a quality dive computer. Entry level dive computers run just under $300 and realizing that it can save your life - that isn't a bad investment.

Another item you will receive trying on is the Surface Market Buoy or SMB. This is a visable signaling tube used at the surface for boats and rescue operations to easily spot you on the surface from almost a half mile away. Every diver should carry one, but at least between two dive buddies one should have it. The dive staff at Texas Dive Center never dive without a SMB with a whistle attached - be seen and be heard so you don't get left behind.

What Is The Next Step After Certification

GO DIVE and dive some more. But we encourage you to enroll in the Stress & Rescue Dive Course. The rescue course is not designed to turn you into or qualify to be a Rescue Diver. It is designed to make you a better dive buddy but learning and recognizing diver stress and preventing the need for diver rescue. But it also teaches you what to do should a diver need assistance or life saving skills. We believe in teaching all divers the basics and therefor include a little introduction to these skills during your Open Water Certification training.

Take the Master Diver Challenge and work your way to the top of recreational diving as a MASTER DIVER. Learn more about the program in our web pages.

Keep Learning - Keep Diving