Can’t decide whether to get your scuba certification while on holiday or at home before you travel? With a PADI Open Water referral, you don’t have to choose. A PADI referral allows you to complete most of your scuba training at home and finish your certification dives anywhere in the world. Avoid studying during your vacation and support your local dive shop at the same time.
Becoming a certified diver has three phases: Phase one: knowledge development, Phase two: confined water, Phase three: open water. With an open water referral, you’ll complete some or all of the two phases (knowledge development and confined water) before leaving home. You can finish the final part of your scuba course, the open water dives, anywhere in the world. The final portion of the course typically takes a day and a half to complete.
To put it another way, instead of spending 4-5 days on your holiday studying and practicing skills in a pool, you’ll arrive with the majority of your open water course done. Once certified, you can spend the rest of your time exploring with your dive buddy and gaining additional dive experience.
An open water referral is valid for up to 12 months, but it’s better to complete your training as soon as possible (while your knowledge and skills are still fresh). Your local PADI Instructor will fill out an official student referral form and check off which skills you’ve completed and the date. You can give this form to any PADI Instructor worldwide and pick up where you left off. PADI eLearning allows you to start your knowledge development online, whether you plan to do a referral or complete your course from start to finish in the same place. PADI eLearning is the most popular option for knowledge development, but you can also study with a book and DVD and attend classroom sessions instead. The instructor at the receiving dive shop will have you gear up and review scuba skills in a pool (or pool-like environment) before taking you to open water. If you have any questions or aren’t feeling comfortable, let the instructor know.
With a PADI referral course, you can take as much time as you need to complete your knowledge development and pool work. You won’t feel rushed or like you’re “cramming” for a test. You’ll also support the nice people at your local dive shop and become part of your local diving community.
What are the disadvantages of an open water referral? Sometimes students allow too much time to pass before finishing their course. You can take up to a year to complete your certification, but it’s better to complete your knowledge development and pool training as close to your holiday as possible. Also, you’ll probably end up using different brands of diving gear. If you’ve gotten comfortable with a certain gear configuration, using different gear can be an adjustment – just like riding someone else’s bike or borrowing someone’s car. It’s basically the same, but the handling and placement of certain things will be unfamiliar at first.