Five steps to diving on Guam

Five steps to diving on Guam

by Jessica Peterson
The Guam Guide

Getting dive certification can be an overwhelming thought for the beginner diver. However, Guam is one of the easiest and least expensive places to get your certification, so what are you waiting for? Follow our step-by-step guide and start discovering the 12 Best Dives on Guam.

Register for a PADI Open Water Dive Course at any PADI resort or dive center such as MDA or Blue Persuasion Dive Boutique. This begins your primary education in dive equipment, procedures, and safety. You have the option of learning in a classroom with other students or online at your convenience. Micronesian Divers Association (MDA) offers PADI courses online so you can learn from the convenience of your home. Unfortunately, this course isn’t available on mobile devices or tablets just yet, so you’ll need a laptop or desktop computer and about a week or two to finish the course.

Take the course
The PADI Open Water Diver certification qualifies you to dive independently, procure air fills and scuba equipment, and plan, conduct, and log open water dives consistent with your training. The course consists of reading material, videos, quizzes, and tests. You must pass the final test before getting in the water with your instructor. You will learn about dive equipment, buoyancy, water pressure, and safety, to name a few. It’s pretty technical, so take your time and repeat any sections you don’t understand well at first.

If taking prescription medication, you will need approval from a physician to dive. A basic physical exam is required for this paperwork.
It’s more fun and can be more relaxing to take the course with a friend or family member. As you will learn, having a buddy is an essential part of your diving experience.

Note: If you’re just visiting Guam, check with your PADI dive center about flying after diving recommendations. You need to wait 12-18 hours to assure you remain symptom free from decompression sickness.

Gear up
Head to your dive center and either rent or buy diving gear and apparel. Divers can rent all necessary diving gear and equipment, but it is recommended you purchase snorkel, mask, fins, and apparel. Cylinder (tank), BCD vest, regulator, and dive computer are standard rental items, though avid divers may purchase them. See our Basic Scuba Diving Equipment Glossary for details.

Your dive instructor will help you choose the best fitting mask, as there are many styles and shapes. If you plan to dive or snorkel once a month or more, it makes financial sense to buy. Not all snorkels are created equal. Look for a snorkel with a splash guard to avoid wave water entering your snorkel.

Wet suits and swimwear cannot be rented, so choose the level of body coverage you desire. Body skins are lightweight, non-insulating one-piece suits that cover your entire body like long underwear. These are great for Guam’s warm tropical waters. A thicker neoprene exposure suit provides insulation for those who often get cold in the water. They cost about twice as much as the thinner body skins. Other divers may opt to wear swimsuits and rash guard shirts, short- or long-sleeved. Dive boots with felt soles are recommended for traction on slick underwater rocks.

Confined water skills
You’ll start applying what you learned in the classroom in confined water first. On Guam, your first time in the water may be in a swimming pool or at a calm beach. But first you’ll learn how to put on all your gear and how to do pre-dive safety checks. If you’re performing the confined water skills at a beach, you’ll move seamlessly into deeper water to master the open water training.

Open water skills
Your instructor will demonstrate then watch as you perform nearly 30 essential dive skills such as clearing and removing your mask, using an alternate air source, and proper ascent. While some adapt to diving like fish, others of us need more time to feel comfortable (eh hem, me!). Don’t fret if you get water in your nose or feel anxious when trying to clear your ears! Many say the toughest skills to master are flooding, clearing, and mask removal and replacement. A good instructor is patient and will work with you until you can comfortably complete each task. Ask a variety of experienced divers and you’ll see that many had fears to overcome too!

Once you complete your open water certification, congratulations, you’re certified for life! It’s wise to brush up on your skills from time to time by reviewing your course material.

You may consider earning your Advanced Open Water Dive Certification by going on 5 dives including an underwater navigation dive, a deep dive, and three adventure dives. Check out more PADI specialty courses available from MDA.

Email, call, or visit Micronesian Divers Association (MDA) today to get started on these 5 Steps to Diving on Guam!

Gearing up for your first big dive

Alternate Air Source
The Alternate Air Source is often called the Octopus and is your backup second stage regulator. It works just the same as the primary second stage regulator and can be used in the unlikely event that your primary fails or your dive buddy needs to share air. It is usually a bright color such as fluorescent yellow or pink and is normally secured somewhere within the triangle between the chin and the bottom of the rib cages, normally on the right side.

BCD – Buoyancy Control Device
A Buoyancy Control Device or BCD for short (also known as a Buoyancy Compensator or BC) is the jacket that scuba divers wear.

In colder water it is normal to wear neoprene boots with open heeled fins to keep the feet warm. These boots are normally called booties. They are also used to protect the feet, particularly when shore diving, and some divers find them more comfortable than full foot fins.

An underwater compass is a very handy navigational tool and is a common piece of equipment for divers to carry. Compasses can be attached to gauge consoles, worn separately on the wrist, attached to the band of a watch or dive computer, and digital compasses are now even built into the latest dive computers.

The dive cylinder is also commonly called a tank and is what you use to carry your compressed breathing gas (usually air). Dive cylinders are typically made out of aluminum or steel and come in various sizes with the most common size being 90 cubic feet / 12 liters. Breathing gas is compressed inside the cylinder at up to 3000psi/210bar.

Depth Gauge
This gauge shows you how deep you are. Depth is measured in either feet or meters.

Dive Computer
The most basic dive computers will tell you your depth and dive time but it is also common for dive computers to calculate no-decompression limits over multiple dives. Many newer dive computers will also track air consumption and temperature and some even have built-in electronic compasses. Dive computers are commonly found attached to gauge consoles or worn on the wrist like a watch and can now be found built into masks.

Dive Knife
It is good practice to carry a dive knife or shears. Dive knives are not used as weapons, they’re used to free yourself from entanglement, particularly from fishing line. Many divers carry more than one knife for added safety and it’s advisable to wear one on the BCD and one strapped to a leg.

Fins are commonly called flippers by non-divers. They are long flat rubber or plastic extensions of your feet that allow you to swim with much greater ease and speed. The two primary varieties of fins are full-foot and open-heeled. Full-foot fins completely cover the foot like a shoe and are most commonly used in warm tropical water. Open-heeled fins have a strap across the back and are worn with booties to allow the feet more warmth and comfort.

This is what you use to breathe the air from the cylinder.

At its most basic a snorkel is a plastic tube that allows you to breathe while you’re swimming on the surface. It is normally attached to the left side of the mask. It’s a great way to conserve the air in your cylinder while swimming on the surface. Snorkels also come with such features as purge valves (to make it easier to clear any water inside) and splash guards (to make it hard for water to splash in the top).

Submersible Pressure Gauge
The Submersible Pressure Gauge (more commonly called SPG) is the gauge that tells you how much air you have left in your tank. Air pressure is measured in PSI or bar. Most SPGs have a section of the dial highlighted in red which shows you when you’re getting low on air.

Weight System
Most people need weights to sink in water. There are two common weight systems: The Weight Belt and Integrated Weights.

Wetsuits keep you warm while underwater. They are made from neoprene and designed to be worn snugly in order to allow little water to move against the diver’s skin. They work by insulating the diver from the cold water. Wetsuits come in many sizes from one millimeter to seven millimeters or more, with the most common sizes being 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm.

Get started with our 5 Steps to Diving on Guam or 12 Best Dives on Guam.


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