Diving deeper isn’t always better than at shallower depths, but sometimes it’s good or necessary to have the option to go deeper if you want or need to. And it’s important to remember that the deeper you are in the water, it gets colder & darker, colour is reduced, and your air supply runs out quicker. Plus your ascent to the surface needs more care & time the deeper you are.
The standard for recreational divers who have the advance to the initial stage of ‘recreational deep diving’ is 30 metres / 99 feet. Within this range, you shouldn’t need to perform a safety or decompression stop, even in an emergency. However, every dive to a depth greater than 10 metres should (and usually does) include a safety stop, just as an extra safety measure.
Here is everything you need to know about The Adventure Deep Dive:
- What is the Adventure Deep Dive?
- How much does it cost?
- Why do some dive operators require it?
- Does the certification expire if I don’t do the rest of the course?
- Final Thoughts
The standard first stage of autonomous scuba diver certification enables you do descend to 18, or sometimes 20, metres, depending on your affiliated diving agency. And for you to understand the safety and science of diving to this maximum depth. The second stage is to 30 metres, and although this is still within the ‘no decompression range’ you learn & practice some extra skills that are not considered necessary for Stage 1.
The second stage is usually referred to as the Advanced Level, but each agency has its own proper name. For example, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, SSI Advanced Adventurer, CMAS 2*, NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver, BSAC Sports Diver and others. Graduating from the first to second stage normally requires two or three days’ training and five or more dives with an instructor. In addition to this taking time, it costs money. Some people only move up to the second stage so that they can dive deeper. Although many people believe that they have to do the second stage in order to join Night Dives, this is not true. So, if you want to dive deeper without spending the time & money on the full Advanced Course, you can do the Adventure Deep Dive.
The Adventure Deep Dive is the training dive that you would complete as part of your second stage training. Most diving agencies offer it on its own, separate from the course.
Before the dive
You learn a bit more science about how things are affected at depth. This includes physical effects as well as your mental performance. The theory is normally kept to a necessary minimum, but it’s important for you to understand that there are big differences between 18 metres and 30 metres. Including some things that are affected exponentially.
During the dive
You will see for yourself how things behave at 30 metres, such as a demonstration with a balloon, a broken egg or another food item. You will also be required to perform a small task to ensure that your mental capacity isn’t diminished. This task is usually answering a couple of questions or completing a simple puzzle. These activities usually happen early in the dive, as soon as you have safely reached the required depth, and in most cases knelt on the sandy seabed. Then when the activities are finished, the rest of your dive is just a regular fun dive, enjoying the reef and marine life. In fact, it’s quite common for other divers who are already certified to be part of your buddy group. While you’re doing the activities with your instructor they will be waiting nearby. In the video below, the male diver is completing the 'test at depth' while facing his instructor. The other diver behind him is his wife. She had already completed the Advanced Course before this trip.
The price that you need to pay for this training dive depends on the dive centre, and where they are located in the world. In general, the dive centres which offer the single training dive do so more for everyone’s convenience than for profit. This means that they don’t promote the sale of the dives like they might do with full courses. But if you ask or need to do it, they can provide the service. Prices vary around the world, but the average price for an Adventure Deep Dive tends to be $60-80 USD. This is in addition to any trip or equipment you’ll be paying for. It only covers the cost of the instructor's time and certification with the diving agency (PADI/SSI/BSAC etc). Therefore, the cost is in addition to a fun dive or a liveaboard cruise.
If a dive centre or liveaboard operator tells you that it’s necessary for you to complete the Adventure Deep Dive before or during the trip, they have good & fair reasons. As already mentioned, this dive is not promoted for profit. They would require you to do it for logistical or insurance reasons, and not to make money. Logistical reasons include the placing of divers into buddy groups. It’s much easier for the operator to organise groups of divers if everyone has the same depth limit. Then they can decide who dives with who based on their guests’ diving experience and personal needs or requests. But if nearly everyone on the trip is certified to 30m. except just one or two diving guests who can’t go that deep, then this causes problems. Each buddy group usually consists of 4-6 diving guests and a Divemaster guide. It’s not fair to force divers who are certified to 30m. to dive with others who have a shallower depth limit. And it’s also difficult or not profitable to employ an extra dive guide just for the one or two divers to be in their own ‘shallow group.’
Also, in some cases the boat operator’s or dive centre’s insurance policy might require every diver on board to be certified to 30 metres. Because if there are Open Water Divers on the trip who descend to 18-30 metres and then suffer from a diving injury such as Decompression Sickness, then the insurance company might not pay out.
The answer to this question depends on the diving agency that certifies you. For example, at the time of publication PADI Adventure Deep Dive certifications are valid for 1 year, and in that time you need to complete the rest of the PADI Advanced Open Water Course. But other agencies such as SSI don’t set a time limit, and you can remain an ‘Open Water Diver certified to 30 metres’ for the rest of your diving life. Therefore, if you plan to complete the Adventure Deep Dive and not complete the rest of the Advanced / Second Stage course, it’s important to select a dive centre that teaches through agencies other than PADI. But in reality, most divers who take the Adventure Deep go on to complete the rest of the Advanced / Second Stage course at some stage in the near future.
Please note that each diving agency (PADI, BSAC, CMAS etc.) sometimes change their policies without warning. And some dive centres and even their instructors often interpret policies differently. In other words, what you read here may differ from what a dive centre tells you, and maybe an instructor might tell you a third version of ‘facts’.
In conclusion, the Adventure Deep Dive is worthwhile, good value, and often necessary for you to be able to join certain diving trips. Remember that you don’t have to descend to the maximum depth every time you dive, but it’s good to have the option. Like having a fast car, you usually drive no faster than in a regular car but it’s nice to know there’s extra power if needed. Most recreational dive sites have plenty to see at depths of 18-20 metres, but many also have something good to see a bit deeper. Like in our picture higher up on this page, it can be frustrating to be limited to shallower maximum depths than others, who you can see below you during the dive. Getting yourself certified to 30 metres (99ft.) as an Open Water Diver gives you the freedom to enjoy parts of the reef that Advanced & Rescue Divers can without needing to spend time and money on the full Advanced Course.