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Try diving – part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Experience counts in the water as well, as the longer established firms are usually the ones that are better versed in helping first-timers. Also check the centre’s level of insurance and whether it’s affiliated to a dive training agency, the BSAC, PADI and SSI are common examples. All the equipment you use should also have been tested, monitored and cleaned. Check the smell the air inside the oxygen canister, it should smell of nothing, but if it seems a bit off then it’s likely that the canisters haven’t been well maintained or cleaned. Also look for any signs of a green around the seals of the mask as this is as a result of bacteria build-up. This is caused by bacteria from the sea and people not washing the masks properly. Feeling secure in the company of your chosen instructors is an important part of any dive. Try dives should be enjoyable and you will enjoy the experience more if you are comfortable with the instructors. Just remember you should not be afraid to ask questions at any time.

If you don’t fancy open water diving straight away, many hotels offer poolside try dives in conditions similar to those of shallow water. Most centres will carry out a medical to ensure you’re fit to dive, so if you’re thinking of booking before you go, it’s best to get checked over by your GP in case you need written permission. If you have a cold or sinus problems, it’s advised you don’t dive until they’ve cleared up. It also helps if you’re a confident swimmer, although you don’t need to be of Olympic standard. Even if you aren’t, don’t let that stop you trying out diving as the neutral buoyance means you don’t need to keep on the surface. Some people even give it a go to conquer their fear of open water. If you’re likely to feel at all claustrophobic then pick a clear mask instead of one with black surrounds, which can often limit your peripheral vision. If you decide you like it and want to buy your own wetsuit pick a long sleeved version over short sleeves. This will protect you against stinging sea creatures, which can be a fear, particularly for first-timers.

How do you find the best dive sites? If you are shore based diving then Malta is Europe’s best spot. Head to the islands of Gozo and Comino for shipwrecks, marine life and even a 30m deep sunken Madonna statue at Marfa Point. Further afield Thailand’s island of Ko Tao has calm, shallow waters where you’ll be joined by reef sharks, rays and a host of tropical fish. Also the British Virgin Islands are also famed for their shipwrecks, with many found at shallow depths which is ideal for first-timers. The UK coastline is great for spotting seals, but its waters aren’t that clear, except in and around the Isles of Scilly.

Wherever you choose for your first dive, make sure you’re prepared and pick your dive centre wisely. But most importantly, enjoy the experience as there’s a whole new underwater world waiting to be explored.

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