While on my recent trip to Bocas, I decided to take a leap into the big blue and get PADI Open Water Diver Certified. Take a look at the incredible experience I had learning to dive with La Buga Dive and Surf!

As I’ve mentioned in countless posts, I’m terrified of heights and the open ocean. (I’m not sure if it’s the going up or going down part that scares me more.) So naturally, to conquer those fears, I’ve jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet and have dived with sharks.

It’s funny how our fears will keep us from doing something before we’ve ever even tried it. After skydiving for the first time, I got to see the world from an entirely new perspective and felt an adrenaline rush unlike anything I could have ever imagined. It was incredible.

Learning to scuba dive, however, is one of the best things I have ever done in travel.

Want to get your PADI scuba diving certification? Instead of watching it on the Discovery Channel, get out and experience it!

What to Look for in a PADI Dive Center

I found La Buga Dive and Surf after scouring the internet for the best PADI certified school in Bocas del Toro. There are some important factors to consider when choosing where to get your certification:

  • PADI 5 Star Dive Center: PADI is the world’s leading scuba diving training organization so you’ll want to find a 5 Star rated dive center. These dive shops actively promote underwater environmental awareness and embrace the PADI System of diver education, with a commitment to providing quality training, products, services and experiences.
  • The Quality and Care of Dive Equipment: Always put your safety first. The equipment should be in good working order and carefully looked after.
  • Well Organized Dives: Getting certified should be fun! Make sure you’re signing up for an unforgettable experience!
  • Friendly and Knowledgable Staff: The staff should be warm, helpful and there to help you through the whole PADI process.


What to Expect in a PADI Course

There are a few things to expect in getting PADI Open Water Diver Certified:

  • It Takes Time: While you can’t get certified in a day, it’s entirely possible to complete the course in 3-4 days.
  • Dive Theory: You’ll be given a Scuba Manual and have 5 sections to study throughout your course. Each chapter includes a quiz and the staff should review the answers with you to ensure you understand all of the material.
  • Confined Diving: The first time you take a breath underwater will be in a very secure and comfortable confined environment before going into the open ocean. Your instructor will walk you through the full dive procedure step-by-step.
  • Open-Water Diving: You are required to go on 4 open water dives. You’ll be guided by your instructor at each dive while practicing diving techniques and safety procedures.
  • Passing the Final Exam: You’ll need to pass an exam after you’ve finished all five quizzes from your manual and completed your open and confined dives.

You might be thinking, “What? An exam?!” The exam is implemented to make sure you understand very important factors of diving that could affect your safety, ie. water pressure and breathing underwater.

Trust me, you want to know this stuff!


My Overall Experience

I honestly could not have asked for a better diving experience or a better dive school than La Buga. I saw sharks, seahorses, a shipwreck, a lobster and countless tropical fish.

In just three days I completed my PADI Open Water Diver Course and am now certified to dive around the world!

I felt completely confident going into the final exam and La Buga was able to certify me on the spot. Plus, I received my actual PADI Certification Card at my home address in the USA in less than two weeks.

It goes without saying that I would highly recommend diving with La Buga in Bocas del Toro!



Have more questions or comments about my diving experience? Comment below!

Kiersten Rich on FacebookKiersten Rich on InstagramKiersten Rich on PinterestKiersten Rich on TwitterKiersten Rich on Youtube
Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.