Differences Between PADI OpenWater and PADI Advanced OpenWater

Differences Between PADI OpenWater and PADI Advanced OpenWater

If you’re reading this, chances are, you are thinking about taking the plunge (excuse the pun) and becoming PADI certified. That’s great! But it can be confusing to know the differences between PADI OpenWater and PADI Advanced OpenWater. We wrote this in order to answer some questions you may have about becoming a scuba diver and PADI in general. 

There are some key differences when choosing between PADI OpenWater and going further to become a PADI Advanced OpenWater diver. We know it can be daunting. Especially when there is new terminology and you have someone trying to sell you a course. 

But do not fear, we have tried to make it easier for you! 

Maybe you have a specific goal in mind or just want to know what different options you have. Or maybe even dream of starting a career in diving? 

Find out the differences between OpenWater and Advanced OpenWater below!

What Is PADI OpenWater?

PADI OpenWater is the first step in the PADI journey. But it is not technically the first step on the ladder. PADI bubble maker, scuba diver and SkinDiver are experiences you can live before deciding to undertake the OpenWater course and give you a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, OpenWater is the first ‘real’ qualification you can get. 

Becoming PADI OpenWater certified allows you to dive to a maximum depth of 18m/60ft. The course will take 4-7 days to complete although it can be longer if you have other commitments. 

The course is split into different parts such as knowledge development and open water/confined dives. 

Reef Diver

You will undertake 5 confined (pool) dives in which you will practice different skills and become comfortable with the equipment. Your instructor will show you how to use the equipment and teach you basic skills to ensure you dive correctly and safely. 

During the course, you will also be conducting 4 OpenWater dives. You will put your new skills into practice and be diving in the Ocean. You will be doing some skill practising here along with actual diving. This is the ‘best’ part of the course for some as they will be diving with the fishes and getting their first real dives in. 

Lastly, you also will learn the fundamental concepts relating to diving. This is either through PADI’s E-Leaning system or in a traditional classroom setting. There will be videos to watch, manuals to read and tests to take. You need to pass the final exams in order to be certified, but these shouldn’t be too difficult. Just make sure you read the manual! 

You could see Lionfish on the AOW Dives

What Equipment do I Need to Bring?

You will not need to bring anything for this course. Everything will be supplied by the Dive centre you choose. 

After completing the PADI OpenWater Course, you can dive everywhere in the world. Some sites will still be off-limits to you, however. Indeed, some sites are classified as advanced due to prevalent conditions. There may be strong currents or other factors that make OpenWater divers unable to dive here. You need to gain additional qualifications in order to access these. 

If you are thinking about diving deeper and more advanced spots. You will need to become PADI Advanced OpenWater qualified.

What Is PADI Advanced OpenWater?

PADI Advanced OpenWater is the next step up from PADI OpenWater. It is quite literally, the more advanced version of OpenWater. It adds new knowledge and allows you to gain additional skills. This also allows you to dive deeper to 30m/100ft. This course usually lasts around 3 days. 

This course is more practical than the Openwater course. There is minimal classroom time. The course is designed to give you the maximum exposure to diving. You will be diving a lot and learning whilst in the water.  These skills will make you a better diver and more confident in the water. There are two mandatory dives to do. The Deep dive allows you to safely dive to 30m/100ft. The underwater navigation dive teaches you how to navigate underwater. You will be practising a few drills with your instructor such as using a compass underwater.

Visiting Ray’s on a Dive

STW Top Tip

The underwater navigation course is compulsory so you have to be able to use a compass underwater. You will be plotting your route with your instructor and returning to them after a set distance. 

Some people get nervous before this as they aren’t familiar with a compass. 

If you ask your instructor nicely a few days before, they may let you borrow a compass to practice. It is much easier to practice on land before than in the water in full gear. And, it is much more relaxing when you know what you are doing. Practice before and you will smash it! 

After the two compulsory dives, you have to pick 3 other specialities out of a possible 26. This is entirely up to you but we would recommend the Peak Performance Buoyancy dive. This dive teaches you better buoyancy and air management. By increasing your knowledge of buoyancy, you are getting longer dive times! Sign me up! 

In order to complete the PADI Advanced OpenWater course, there are a few things you need. You need to be OpenWater certified and be medically fit to dive. It also helps if you have dived recently, as the knowledge is fresh in your mind. This is why a lot of people choose to complete OpenWater and Advanced OpenWater together. 

If you haven’t dived recently, don’t worry. Just let the dive centre know and they may suggest you take a refresher course. Or, if you are confident you can continue. 

Can I Do PADI OpenWater and Advanced OpenWater Together?

A common question is whether you can become OpenWater certified then move straight onto Advanced OpenWater. Of course you can! The OpenWater course is designed to give you the fundamental knowledge required in order to dive. Whilst the Advanced course is designed to maximise your diving and enhance those skills through practice. That’s why there aren’t any exams in the advanced course, you spend all your time diving! 

Some Dive centres like to encourage students to complete both courses together. This can be a good option for some as it means you will gain more experience in a shorter time. By doing this, you will also have access to more international dive sites, especially the ones that would have been too deep to explore for a diver who only acquired an OpenWater certification. 

STW Top Tip

If you take OpenWater and then do not dive for a few months or years, you will be rusty. It’s only natural and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You may even forget half of what you learnt. It’s natural to forget things and it’s no problem. But it is better to let the instructor know this before you are fully suited and then realise you can’t remember how to sign that you need to ascend. Tell the instructor and they will decide if you need a refresher or just a quick run-through of some information. That’s why they are there and they will prefer that you checked.  

PADI OpenWater vs PADI Advanced OpenWater

The main differences between PADI OpenWater and PADI Advanced OpenWater are that once certified, you can dive more sites if you are Advanced OpenWater certified. You also can begin to take speciality courses such as wreck diving.

By furthering your training you become a more advanced and confident diver, you will also be able to dive to 30m/100ft compared to 18m/60ft. 

This opens up more locations that you can explore. Many species are found at deeper depths and the ‘better’ spots usually have challenging conditions. So, you need to be Advanced OpenWater if you want to dive somewhere, well… advanced. 

In terms of the actual course, many divers say the advanced course is more fun as there is less classroom activity and no exams. The OpenWater course is more theory-based and you are required to study and pass exams. You also will be practising skills in the pool with the instructor.

The Advance course is fully Ocean- or Lake-based and there is no classroom element. There is also no confined element. So you spend nearly the whole time in the water. Divers that decide to take the advanced course come out of the course with more confidence and are better divers. They have a better understanding of the diving process and have better technical knowledge. 

Becoming AOW Certified means you can dive more sites!

PADI OpenWater Price

A PADI OpenWater course will set you back anything from £250-£400. This depends on where you decide to complete the course and what season it is. Some areas’ prices increase during peak tourist season. 

Very popular places in SouthEast Asia or South America will have the cheapest diving courses and the cheapest cost of living generally.

Places in Europe or the USA will command a higher price but there may be added benefits. Some of the dive centres that command a premium are very professional and have excellent facilities. That’s not to say that dive centres in SEA or South America do not, but you get what you pay for. 

PADI Advanced OpenWater Price

A PADI Advanced OpenWater Course can cost between £200-£350. Again, depending on where you decide to do it. As there is less theory based work and teaching for the center to do, this course tends to be cheaper. 

You could be cheeky and ask for a special price if you decide to do both courses at once, you may get lucky. 

Hopefully, this has covered any questions you have. If there is something you want answering, send us a message below. Thanks, STW. 

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