PADI Scuba Diver vs PADI Open Water, what's the difference?

PADI Scuba Diver vs PADI Open Water, what's the difference?

So, you've tried scuba diving with the Discover Scuba Diving program and loved it to bits – we totally get you! Now, as you plan your next holiday with scuba diving in mind, you're super excited about becoming a certified diver, and while you're eager to book your PADI Course, you might feel a bit puzzled about the different options for your first scuba certification. No worries – we've got your back!

The PADI Open Water Course is the go-to choice for many, but for those just starting their diving journey, alternatives like the PADI Scuba Diver course are also on the menu at Coral Grand Divers on Koh Tao. When faced with the choice between scuba diver vs open water diver, figuring out the best fit for you means understanding the significant differences between these two courses. Getting this insight will make the decision-making process a breeze in selecting the perfect scuba diving course for your needs!


Certified diver diving with a sea turtle , Koh Tao . Thailand

What is a Scuba Diver?

A Scuba Diver is a diver with basic scuba training, allowing them to dive up to 12 meters accompanied by a PADI professional. Attaining the PADI Scuba Diver certification involves learning diving theory, practicing foundational skills in a pool, and completing two open water dives. Following certification, Scuba Divers are limited to diving under the supervision of an instructor. Considered the entry-level scuba certification, the PADI Scuba Diver course typically spans two days. Progressing beyond Scuba Diver leads to the next level, the Open Water Diver certification.

What is an Open Water Diver?

Being PADI Open Water certified signifies the successful completion of the PADI Open Water course, typically spanning 3 days. It marks the beginning of a broader exploration, equipping you with the skills and knowledge necessary to dive both locally and internationally, with a depth limit of 18m. While diving with a same-level buddy is an option, it is recommended to dive with experienced professionals or buddies trained to the rescue diver level for a secure and enjoyable underwater experience. The Open Water Diver certification serves as the minimal requirement for participating in regular guided groups during scuba diving holidays.

Scuba Diver vs Open Water Diver: The Major Differences

  • When comparing Scuba Diver to Open Water Diver, it's evident that Scuba Diver is a lower and more limited certification, achievable in just 2 days. The PADI Scuba Diver course is also more cost-effective than the PADI Open Water Diver course. You can upgrade your Scuba Diver certification at any PADI Dive Center worldwide later on, though a certification fee will apply.


  • In contrast, achieving Open Water Diver typically takes 3 days, and basic swimming skills are prerequisites for this course. A swim test, covering 200 meters unaided or 300 meters with a mask, snorkel, and fins, is part of the requirements. There's no time limit for the swim, allowing the use of any comfortable swimming style, with the focus on ensuring your comfort in the water. After the swim, a 10-minute float without swim aids, either lying on your back or treading water, demonstrates your ability to stay afloat in deep water comfortably. Finally, you'll complete basic snorkeling skills. The extended duration of the Open Water Course is attributed to a more in-depth exploration of dive theory, enhanced skill practice, and twice as many open water dives.


Open Water Diver Student in Koh Tao, Thailand

Going for the PADI Open Water Diver course in Koh Tao is a fishtastic choice! However, there are also some compelling reasons to consider the PADI Scuba Diver course initially. It's not just more budget-friendly; it's the perfect fit if you're testing the waters of diving. Firstly, you'll acquire a more extensive set of skills than a day of Discover Scuba Diving, providing a heightened comfort level underwater. Secondly, you'll walk away with a dive certification valid for a lifetime. And here's the beauty – if you find yourself falling head over heels for diving, upgrading to the PADI Open Water Diver certification is a breeze.


Happy newly certified divers in Koh Tao, Thailand

Still grappling with doubts about which PADI course suits you best? Reach out to us anytime for a chat and more information.

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