FAQ Diving in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Some of the most frequently asked questions about diving in Puerto Vallarta are answered here. All of the doubts related to this activity in this wonderful destination are explained in this section of questions about diving in Vallarta.
- What is sport diving ? It is a sports and recreational discipline that requires you undertake the appropriate theoretical course and training before you can become certified as a sport diver. After sport diving it is not necessary to undergo decompression because dives are done with time and depths limits, different to those commercial and professional divers do.
- What is decompression? When we dive, breathing compressed air (ambient air forced into a tank by a special compressor) a quantity of nitrogen is dissolved into our bodies due to the greater pressure from the water above us. This nitrogen forms bubbles in our body when we ascend and the pressure we support decreases. It could be compared to shaking a soda and opening it all of a sudden, a lot of bubbles appear when the pressure inside the bottle goes down right after we open it. If we keep ourselves within certain time and depth limits, estimated by immersion tables, that 'nitrogen liberation' is gradual and harmless. If we exceed these limits we are obliged to stop from time to time during the ascent to avoid these bubbles forming and putting our lives at risk. These stops are called decompression stops and in sport diving the tables are calculated to avoid them.
- What physical condition do I need to be in to go sport diving? For the basic level any certifier will require you are in a pretty good physical condition. The more levels a diver wishes to achieve, the better the physical condition they must be in.
- At what age can I start diving? Most certifiers recommend 12 years old as the minimum age to start. One can obtain different certifications according to age.
- What does it mean to be certified? It means that the diver has completed a course in one of the many agencies in Vallarta. There are different levels ranging from basic to advanced and there are also many agencies offering similar programs. When choosing a course it is necessary to evaluate your options in order to decide on the one which offers the most reliability and responsible teachers.
- Why do I have to get certified in sport diving? Being submerged under the water is very different to our natural environment. We are subject to many physical changes that we must know about and clearly understand. Motion underwater is also totally different and we have to get used to this change. Adapting to this new environment is something that we can only achieve after many hours of practice in a pool and in the open sea guided by a qualified instructor, until we feel as comfortable under the water as we do on land.
- What are the certification levels and what are the differences between them? All sport diving certificating companies issue a first or basic level certification. This basic certification has different names depending on the certificating company, and it enables the diver to descend down to certain depth and under specific conditions related to sunlight, area knowledge, weather conditions and geographic conditions. Afterwards, according to the diver's interest, additional courses can be done. Obviously, no one is going to measure how deep we go during our dives, nor under what conditions, therefore it is extremely important to understand that the limits are established by the certification for a reason and it is not safe to ignore them.
- Who will ask for my certification before diving? Each time you go to a dive shop, whether you are a Mexican national or a foreigner, to rent equipment or hire transportation to the dive sites, someone should ask for your certification. Not every operator does so and this incident should indicate irresponsibility on the operator's behalf for they are authorizing a dive to someone who's probably not trained. We must then report this situation to the certificating company or the proper authority because these actions damage the reputation of sport diving, and non divers risk their lives because of ignorance and certified divers share the dive with someone who they think is trained when they really aren't.
- How long will my certification last? If there are certain variations in criteria among different certifying companies, they all agree that if the diver maintains constant activity, diving at least once every 6 months, his certification has no expiry. They recommend, nonetheless, refresher courses if certain periods without diving are exceeded.
- How long does a diving course last? The duration of a course is perhaps the point that generates more controversy among fans and directors of the different certifying companies. There are two day courses and on the other hand there are also courses lasting two months. It all depends on how much time you want to invest in learning to dive and when you feel comfortable under the water.
- What certifying company is the best? Each dive certification company claims to be better than its competitors. The best way for you to decide is to select a place where a diver that you know did his/her course.
- Are there some other recommendations prior to my dive?
- Do not take a flight in the first 24 hours after diving.
- Do not drink alcohol in excess before diving.
- Drink lots of water to hydrate your body.
- Have a light breakfast.
- Get lots of sleep before the dive.
Can anyone dive?
No, it is not recommended for:
- People with high blood pressure.
- People with epilepsy.
- Pregnant women.
- People with respiratory problems.