Why I got my scuba diving license in The Netherlands!

My very first scuba dive ever was on Crete (in Greece). After only 10 minutes of instructions, we went into the water. We probably didn’t go deeper than 4 meters and except for a few fish, there was nothing interesting to see, but I thought it was incredible!

Flash forward to Sunday the 23th of September in the Netherlands. It is 7 o’clock in the morning, probably as cool as 11 degrees and I have just pulled on an extremely tight diving suit. My BCD with a 25 kg tank is hoisted on my back and then I can enter the brown looking water of the lake. Not surprisingly, it’s super cold (to be honest it’s 15 degrees in the shallow part, but trust me, it feels cold as ice). Why did I do this again? Well, I will tell you!


During my trip around the world, I was determined to get my scuba diving license. We would spend time in so many tropical places, I saw myself swimming towards the beautiful underwater world. After spending the first three weeks in Japan, we flew into the Philippines. There, in a very small village, Port Barton, where it was very hot, I decided to do an introduction dive day. Ries also went along and if we liked it, we would have 2 days of lessons and then have our open water license.

The first dive went flawlessly. Well, for me it did, Ries had some problems. He didn’t manage to clear his ears (which you sometimes do on the plane), he did not manage to go down and once he dropped, he used so much oxygen that he already finished his tank halfway through the dive. I initially enjoyed the beautiful fish, the coral and the feeling of being weightless. But when I noticed how difficult it was for Ries I started to realize more and more that you are very vulnerable underwater. The next dive I was, therefore, a lot less relaxed. The deeper we went, the more pressure I began to feel on my forehead. Around 15 meters, my eyes almost popped out and the headache was unbearable. I suffered from a squeeze; the pressure in my forehead and behind my eyes was different from the ambient pressure and the deeper we went the bigger this difference became. After I signalled the dive instructor, we slowly went back to the surface, but not after having done a safety stop of 3 minutes at a depth of 5 meters. Those were three very long minutes …

Greece Diving

You understand, after that, the fun was gone for me. So when Ries boarded the boat the next day for day two, I lay relaxed on the beach with friends Jorine and Tim. When he had to study in the afternoon, I was completely content with my choice. I was drinking a gin tonic, he had to study. The next day he got his license and I still didn’t regret my choice. Not even when he returned from a dive in Bali a few weeks later.

But once we arrived in French Polynesia, where you can make the most beautiful dives in the world, it started to itch. Ries went diving and was completely lyrical. He cuddled with dolphins and saw stingrays and beautiful sharks. Wauw, that was something I wanted to experience as well, but unfortunately, I did not have a license. We didn’t stay long enough in French Polynesia to do a diving course there but I figured: I have to and will get my diving license.


And well, here I am. In the murky, cold water of the Vinkeveense Ponds. We leave for Belize in a month and its a place where you can make amazing dives. It was certainly an option to learn it over there, in hot water and perhaps slightly milder conditions. But afterwards, I am very happy that I get my scuba license here in the Netherlands.

Divemaster Roel can be pretty tough (he called me multiple times a control freak, something I do not recognize at all ;-)), but there is a lot of understanding for any fear during diving. Before the first dive lesson, I talk with Roel about why I did not complete my diving training in the Philippines. You learn to dive on your own speed: I needed 5 lessons, but there are also students who need to dive 8 times or even more. The exercises are done just as often until you are really relaxed and all tension is gone. That’s different in other countries where the goal is to get as many students as quickly as possible licensed.

Another advantage: I do not have to ‘sacrifice’ vacation days to learn how to dive. However, I do need to spend five weekend days… Oh well, in this way my time in Belize is going to be fantastic. I will be able to dive the coral reef any time I want, without first having to spend three days in class. I am already looking forward to it!

Finally, one last reason why I decided to learn to dive in the Netherlands: when you learn to dive in the dark and cold waters of the Netherlands, you can dive anywhere around the world. It is pretty Spartan, with little visibility, no nice fish, heavy equipment and cold water. I am not afraid anymore when there is an unexpected little sight in the water, or the water suddenly turns cold. And how beautiful will all the dives be in tropical water, after these boring dark dives with only occasional a brown fish!


Specifications and costs of my diving training

What kind of diving training?

I got PADI Open Water certified. This is the same as the SSI Open Water license, but SSI is not that often offered in the Netherlands (PADI and SSI are simply the brand names). When you are Open Water certified, you can dive up to 18 meters deep.

Ries is also working on his Advanced Open Water license, with which he will soon be able to dive in Belize at The Great Blue Hole. With Advanced Open Water, you learn how to make night dives and dive up to 30 meters deep.

What does a diving course cost?

I paid € 395 for my PADI Open Water here in the Netherlands. This also includes my theory exam. The prices that I saw in the Netherlands are between € 350 and € 490 euros.

This can be cheaper abroad (depending on location and high/low season). Especially in South East Asia (Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines), you pay much less. In general, SSI is a bit cheaper than Padi. Ries paid in the Philippines roughly € 330 for his Open Water license. In Thailand, you seem to be able to get your license for less than 300 euro inc overnight stays. In Belize, you pay about as much as in the Netherlands.

Ries paid € 240 for his PADI Advanced Open Water.

How long does it take before you have your license?

That depends entirely on you. You must have done 5 pool dives, 4 outdoor dives and your theory exam. I did some pool dives and outdoor dives combined and needed only 5 lessons, but you can also take more than 9 lessons. The point is that you feel comfortable and confident in the water.

Do you dive in a swimming pool, in the sea or in fresh water?

Usually, you make your first dive in the pool. In the Netherlands, it is not common to dive into the sea. Visibility is far too bad in the North Sea. After your pool diving, you usually go to a lake to do your outdoor dives. This is in fresh water.

At which organization did I learn to dive?

I learned to dive at Scuba Education Amsterdam. There are still a number of other organizations in Amsterdam. Several diving schools are scattered throughout the Netherlands. Here you can find an overview of all diving schools in the Netherlands. For diving schools aboard, check out the website of PADI or SSI.

Did I get my diving license?

Yes of course! Now I can dive all over the world!

Diving


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4 Comments

  1. by C. Randen on 27 September 2018  12:17 Reply

    Congratulations Charlotte! I am working on my certification as well.

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 28 September 2018  16:28 Reply

      Thx so much! And good luck with your certification! Let me know if you got it!

      • by aquazealots on 26 November 2018  08:08 Reply

        I got my dive certification about 2 weeks ago, looking forward to many, many dive trips in my future!!

  2. by Charlotte van de Sande on 26 November 2018  08:34 Reply

    Yeah! Congratulations!!! Well done! Now enjoy all of your next dives! Anyone planned already?

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