What will my Open Water Diver course be like?

Learning to dive, to breathe underwater in an alien world, is a daunting experience at the best of times, so we thought we’d try and explain what you can expect to happen when you do your Open Water (OW) scuba diving course with ScubaQuest.

Where will my Open Water Diver training take place?

Your Open Water Diver training has three main components:

1) Theory

The theory section of the Open Water Diver course is mainly completed online and in the classrooms at the ScubaQuest Dive Centre at the National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC) and/or a combination of online learning modules and video sessions.

Location and directions to ScubaQuest »

2) Confined Water training

You will start your scuba diving career in the 3m deep pool at Thornbury Leisure Centre. Here you will practise the core skills that are required of an Open Water diver, such as clearing your mask of water that might have leaked in, or controlling your buoyancy.

Location and directions to Thornbury Leisure Centre »

3) Open Water training

Once you’ve practised your skills in the swimming pool at Thornbury, we move on to the final stage of the start of your diving journey, with four open water dives at the National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC) near Chepstow. This will be five dives if you’re doing our Open Water & Drysuit together as a bundled course.

The open water dives will be spread over two days, so it will be a busy but rewarding weekend!

The ScubaQuest Dive Centre

If you are learning to dive with ScubaQuest, you will benefit from our on-site Dive Centre at the National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC) inland dive site.

The ScubaQuest Dive Centre is a comfortable space in which you can relax before and after your dives, with two multi-media classrooms in which we will talk you through the plan for the day, debrief you after your dives, and chat about what went well and areas for improvement.

You will be the envy of all the other students learning to dive with other schools as our facilities cannot be matched.

ScubaQuest is the ONLY Dive Centre EXCLUSIVELY based at The National Diving & Activity Centre.

ScubaQuest Reception area
ScubaQuest Training Room
Inside ScubaQuest

What do I do in my Open Water Diver training?

We generally start the Open Water Diver training at 08:00 - yes, it’s an early start, but there’s a lot to do and we don’t want to be rushing anything!

You’ll get a thorough briefing on the plan for the day, and an opportunity to ask questions right from the start.

We realise that you might be nervous, anxious, excited and eager to get in the water etc. So our instructors will be there to talk you through what to expect from the day, and reassure you if you have any concerns.

Many people have what they think are “stupid questions” about diving. Don’t worry, we’ve heard them all before, so you can rest assured that we won’t be surprised by anything you say or ask! We want you to be confident in the care and attention that you will receive from the whole dive team who will be looking after you for the day.

Scuba divers preparing to descend at the National Diving & Activity Centre

How long does the Open Water Diver course take?

You will need two full weekends to complete your Open Water Diver course.

The first weekend will be the theory and closed water pool sessions, followed by two days of open water diving at The National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC).

You will be thoroughly briefed before each dive and debriefed afterwards. Your instructor will go over what you did well, what needs working on, and offer advice on how to improve your scuba diving.

Who else will be with me when I’m scuba diving?

Each of our Open Water Diver courses will have a minimum of an experienced instructor and in-water safety Divemaster, assisted by a surface support team member. So there is no need to worry, you will never be left on your own.

Between them, they will take very good care of you throughout your course, and will be on hand with tips, guidance and some funny stories about stupid things they’ve done underwater over the years, so you can be reassured that you’re not expected to be the perfect diver by the end of the Open Water Diver course!

Think of it just like learning to drive. Experience will come with time in the water after you have passed the course.

Tracy and Julia

What next? What can I do after my Open Water course?

The Open Water Diver course will hopefully just be the start of your diving journey, and there are many follow-up courses.

Typically the Advanced Open Water (AOW) is the next step most Open Water divers take.

There will be opportunities for you to develop your skills and gain more experience, as well as broadening your skillset through learning new specialities. To repeat - time spent in the water is the key!

If you do take the Advanced Open Water course, you will further develop your existing skills and learn some new ones - Advanced Open Water gives you some further insights into areas like buoyancy, trim and teamwork.

Many people take the Advanced Open Water Diver course as it introduces you to the possibility of deeper diving. After your Advanced Open Water, you’ll be certified to scuba dive to 30m, rather than the 18m that Open Water permits. The Advanced Open Water training involves additional theory plus 4 more open water dives, all at the National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC), Chepstow.

What is The National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC) like?

The National Diving & Activity Centre is located just outside Chepstow, near Tidenham. It’s a former limestone quarry that has been converted into a multi-sports activity centre, complete with Wooden Wigwam Accommodation, the View Cafe Bar, dive shop and changing facilities.

National Diving & Activity Centre

After being welcomed at the ScubaQuest Dive Centre and having received an initial briefing, you’ll normally need to sign in and pay your entrance fee at the NDAC Dive Shop.

The current COVID -19 operational requirements mean that you will need to book on the National Diving & Activity Centre website.

This allows the NDAC team to keep track of who is on-site.

It is likely that this process will continue beyond the current restrictions as it makes the whole booking process more time-efficient on the day.

You can find more details about the National Diving & Activity Centre and book in by visiting ndac.co.uk.

National Diving & Activity Centre, Chepstow

What if I don’t get things quite right when I’m diving?

There is nothing to worry about, we’re all human, and we don’t always get things right first time – the key in diving is making sure you understand when things have not gone according to plan, the impact on the safety of your diving and what you need to do to prevent the same thing happening again.

Careful pre-dive buddy checks will ensure that all your equipment is working, and your instructor will double-check just to make sure.

With ScubaQuest, you will be in the hands of a team of professional instructors and divemasters who will never compromise your safety or the safety of others. We will be there to help you check your equipment on the surface, assist with your pre-dive buddy checks, and we’ll be on hand and close by throughout your dives.

We know that starting off in scuba diving can be overwhelming, and at times it seems like there are lots of things to remember and concentrate on, but you will be in safe hands and we’ll be right there with you during your first experiences underwater.

Interested in learning to dive? Contact us now!
You can book a Try Dive or Open Water course.

Scuba Divers in Pool

Try Dive

Have you ever wanted to feel what it is like to go scuba diving, but don’t want to commit to signing up for a full course? 

Then the ScubaQuest Try Dive experience is perfect for you.

Experience the thrills of swimming underwater with the comfort and  safety of a heated swimming pool.
Find out more
Scuba Diver in Ocean

Open Water Course

Take the plunge and sign up for an Open Water Course!

Open Water Diver certification is the beginning of your scuba diving journey and teaches you all the foundational knowledge and skills you need.


We also offer the Open Water Course packaged with the Drysuit Speciality at a bundled discounted rate of only £600

Find out more
Diver & Turtle

Open Water Scuba Referral

Planning to learn to dive whilst on holiday but don’t want to spend valuable holiday time completing the theory/confined water elements? Or perhaps, you simply do not relish the thought of anything less than warm blue water for your first diving experience.

ScubaQuest's solution is the Open Water Referral Course. Complete the knowledge development and confined water portions of the Open Water course before you travel and undertake the four qualifying dives at your holiday destination.
Find out more
Divers Hand Signal

Scuba Review

Haven’t been diving lately and want a quick scuba refresher?

The SDI Inactive Diver or PADI ReActivate programmes are the perfect way to update your dive knowledge and review your basic scuba skills. 

Update your dive skills and knowledge with a ScubaQuest Scuba Review from the Open Water diver course before jumping back into the water
Find out more
Scuba Diving International (SDI)
TDI (Technical Diving International)
First Response Training International
Emergency First Response
SDI TDI Professional Development Centre
Development Centre
SDI TDI Professional Development Centre
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© 2018-22 ScubaQuest Ltd. All rights reserved
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