Query for you. I’m going diving for summer hols. In Malta. Never dived before and I’m a bit apprehensive. Any tips for a beginner? I’ve got a few long trials fixed for when I come back so death would be inconvenient. Chz. 

Dont do it!!  *shudder*  your face will be in water, **panic panic** can't breath


Get me out 

A few tips then:


1.   Do your PADI open water and then do your advanced open water asap afterwards.  Malta gets really deep really quickly (i.e. I got to 45m after a five min swim offshore) so you'll need the extra range.

2.  Malta is not a dodgy dive spot, so the instructors will be good and their kit will be reliable.  Have confidence from that. 

3.  The water is also really clear, so you won't need to worry about groping around in the dark, unlike the UK.  Enjoy it. 

4.  I can't remember whether you wear glasses or contacts (I don't think so), but if you do, it's worth thinking about getting a prescription mask before you go,m if you have time.  It's the only personalised bit of kit you'll need.  You can use contacts in a mask, but if your mask floods or one pings out, you're pretty much fucked with being able to see anything for the rest of the dive (depending on your prescription).

5.  don't think about depth, time etc. save when you need to for exam purposes.  The instructors aren't allowed to kill you, so just follow them and enjoy the diving.   

6.  If you really love it (which you may), also worth thinking about doing the nitrox (higher oxygen levels in your tank) exam as a bolt-on.  In the 30-40m range, it extends your no-decompression dive time by up to 50%, so well worth doing when looking at deeper wrecks etc.. 


Hope that helps.  Drop me a nonnymail at [email protected] if there's anything troubling you in particular. 

How much diving and study would you have to do to pass those three exams in a  two week holiday?

Gozo better for recreational diving, lots of caverns etc.  Malta itself more for deep technical diving.  Lots of wrecks.  Not many fish as the locals eat them all. 


Don't think you can do AOW until you've done a number of OW dives. Not sure how many though  - 30?



Blue Ig - nope, you can take it straight after your OW exam.  ???, I have passed Open Water students within three days.  AOW you can do within one day.  Nitrox doesn't even require any diving - it's purely theory. I passed mine within a day. 


However, the key is in diving the dives with this newly acquired knowledge.  Just because you have the card doesn't mean you're an experienced or capable diver.  And just because you can do 40m in clear, warm water in Malta doesn't mean you can do 40m in pitch black freezing seas in England.  Many people can attest to this.  Many more can't because they pushed their luck and didn't come back.

On the other hand only a maniac would want to dive in English waters when you could dive in warm clear blue ones.

Must have changed it since my day!

PADI - Pay and Die Immediately!

Blue Ig - You must have been with BSAC, who are all mouth and no trousers (i.e. I have literally had dives when I've got in the water with students when the BSAC divers were on the same beach discussing the plan when we got in, and they were still there discussing the plan when we got back out again).  But as Strutter indicates, I am a maniac and I have gone far beyond PADI and BSAC qualifications.  Now mostly UK deep wreck diving on trimix (helium based gas mixes due to depth to combat narcosis and oxygen toxicity).  So I can see the flaws and fallacies in both dive institutions, and pick and choose what I listen to.  The biggest one (common to both) being that you'll be safer if you're with a buddy.  That's a whole different debate however.

Best advice I had was to make sure you book a course in London before you go.  You need to do a day of theory (and exam?), some closed water dives and some open water dives to get Open Water certified.

Much better to do the theory and closed water in London at the weekend if you can rather than waste time pissing about with it on holiday.  Then you just need to let the people you dive with know that you need the open water dives and they can tick those off at the start.

Oh and definitely what Badders said about the prescription mask.  You have to flood your mask for the Open Water training so unless you can see reasonably without anything you'll be much happier with a prescription mask.

Also convince Mr B to do it if you can.  The quality of some "experienced" divers you could get buddy'd up with if you turn up solo is truly horrific (albeit maybe not as bad in Malta, the scariest I've come across were all Americans).

Badders - I've got PADI and BSAC qualifications, my trimix ticket is PSIA and I've done 65m so ner-ner. 

Bailey - I agree with arbiter, good to get some training before you go.  

Yeah, do the Advanced Open Water straight after. Most dive trips go deeper than the open water certification allows so you'll need it (they probably won't check but if anything were to go wrong you don't to be arguing with your insurers about it). Can't remember what courses are mandatory on AOW but do the deep dive, night dive (night diving is awesome) and navigation modules. It doesn't make you an advanced diver but it makes you a better/safer diver.

Remember to give yourself a day either side of any diving as you'll be flying.

You may need a medical before you're allowed to dive - worth checking for that before you go. Check also your travel insurance covers diving and to the appropriate depth (40m for AOW if you're doing a deep dive).

I wouldn't bother with the nitrox stuff for now (most recreational divers stick to the usual air).

Remember to breathe and otherwise just enjoy it - it's like visiting another country, only more exotic.



Heh, apologies, Blue Ig.  Dive snobbery is the worst.  I did normoxic trimix with PSAI too - how did you find them?  I thought they shot from the hip a bit, so I went with IANTD for hypoxic trimix and cave.  Much better no not as fascist as the DIR lot.  

Ah the Scuba Nazis of DIR.  Some proper mince they come out with.  

Basically Jingles said we could have any qualification we wanted but he thought PSIA was the best so we got that.  

Did you know that the only country where BSAC is bigger than PADI is Japan?  BSAC operates as a commercial operation there though.

Coracle - you only need a day off diving before getting on the flight home, no need on arrival. 

Use ear drops for a week or so before you go, even if you think you don’t need them. Struggling to clear your ears on the way down is a right pain in the bum. 

Top tip for passing your PADI tests: stick your face into water wearing only a snorkel and no mask, and get used to the sensation.

Part of the PADI course requires you to take off your mask, carry on breathing through the regulator (the bit in your mouth) and then put your mask back on again and clear the water out of it.  It's simple to do, but I've come across folk before who freaked out and didn't like the sensation of breathing underwater with no mask on and nothing covering their nose.  It feels pretty unnatural when you first try it.

I'll stress that most people have absolutely no issue with it, but some that I've trained (I'm instructor level) really didn't like it and it became a real stumbling block for them.

Otherwise - have fun. Malta is lovely for diving - some awesome drop-offs.

Coracle - you only need a day off diving before getting on the flight home, no need on arrival. 

I'd recommend giving yourself a day (or at least a night) before as well based on past experience - admittedly I'd jumped out of that plane rather than been a mere passenger but you don't want to have to call off a dive because your ears play up.

 All most helpful no doubt 


And genuinely spot on by most of the divers here


But the reason you have not heard from Bailey since her enquiry is that she is now running down the road with flapping arms out like that famous and tragic Vietnam photo of the girl covered in napalm, screaming in utter horror at the words variously used such as ‘groping around in the dark’ , ‘caverns’, ‘mask off’ etc.  The thought of losing her contact lenses, being underwater and blind as the giant shark approaches and removes her legs one by one, or (more mundanely) as she surfaces into the scything propeller of the dive boat because she cannot see where she is going...

what Badders said about the contacts... even worse is once they get salt water on them they kind of dry out while on your eye and go a bit crunchy/sticky.. which is super annoying/painful as you can't do anything about it till you surface.

It was the sole reason I ended up going and getting my eyes lasered in the end.



I dive with contacts and haven’t had any problems with them coming out during mask off drills

But I can see how that might be a worry for some folks, particularly if they have a strong prescription where if they did come out then you are basically blind.

It's not the sharks that you need to worry about in Malta, it's the fire worms...