Many are lured to the delights of scuba diving by images of swaying reefs and azure waters on TV or online. It’s a beautiful, interesting, and exciting hobby to enjoy. Often though, potential divers are deterred by seemingly prohibitive upfront costs, and give up on their dream at the first hurdle.
While it’s true that scuba diving is hardly the cheapest pastime to get involved in, it should be said that it also needn’t be quite as expensive as it may first appear to beginners.
The quick answer is that the average diver spends between $1,600 and $2,100 for licenses, insurances, equipment and private classes.
On average, how much should you be looking to spend on diving?
We ran a poll looking for answer to common diving costs and the areas that you can’t really budge on spending. 520 divers of various experience levels kindly responded, and the data is now available below so that you can get a full idea of how much you’d be looking to spend:
- Average spend on completing required certificates – $415
- Average cost of diving insurance – $110
- Average cost of equipment – $1,375
- Cost of diving per session (private classes and/or dives) – $80
Tips on saving money for first-time divers
Find out if you like it first!
Before you go splashing out on stacks and stacks of diving equipment (and trust me, there’s plenty you can spend your money on!), it makes sense to first make sure that scuba diving is something that you actually want to do.
There’s not necessarily a need to jet off to some exotic climes to get your first taste of scuba diving: there’s miles and miles of American coastline that hosts a number of dive schools that will help you take your first steps. Introductory lessons often don’t require any prior certification, and at certain centres can even gain credits towards future PADI certification.
These sessions are typically priced between $140-$175. This is by far the most inexpensive way for beginners to get a taste of diving.
So you took the introductory lesson, and now you’re hooked! The next step is to gain certification through one of the organisations that train scuba divers. There’s several agencies that you can train through, but the two best-known are probably PADI (Professional Associate of Diving Instructors), and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors). Both certifications are roughly equivalent to one another, and will stand you in good stead to begin your diving adventure.
Prices do differ between organisations, so it’s worth looking around to see if any suit you better geographically, or in terms of pricing.
All scuba-diving certification courses consist of three different elements: the academic course, pool diving, and then open-water diving. Each of these can be paid for separately, though when it comes to the open water dives, the location of where you choose to take them dictates how much this portion of your accreditation will cost. Certain places are more expensive than others, but as a whole, you should budget for between $300-$500 for gaining your certification.
As with any sport or pastime, there’s a huge range of prices depending on how far you want to get into it. As a bare minimum, you’ll typically want to kit yourself out with a good mask, wetsuit boots, fins, and snorkel. While there’s no need to get the most expensive equipment, it also makes sense not to skimp too much here, as some of this equipment could end up saving your life. For a good-quality full set that includes a buoyancy compensator, dive computer and regulator, you can expect to pay around $1,000.
Of course, if you’re not planning on diving regularly, renting might work out better for you. For many though, the cost of their own personal gear is paid for within a couple of dozen dives renting.
As mentioned in the open water element of certification, this can vary greatly depending on where it is you’re diving. Even in America, you’ll find large differences between the east and west coast. In general though, you should factor in an average $100 per person for a two-tank dive.
Insurance isn’t legally required, but it’s certainly a good idea to have. Health insurance often doesn’t cover any diving accidents, which can rack up some costs.
Specialist diving insurance covers such things as transport costs from the dive site to the hospital, purchasing new equipment if stolen, and any medical treatment or rehabilitation costs as a result of injury. As with any insurance, there’s a number of variables that can affect the price. A general price of $130 for a year’s cover can be expected though.
When wondering if scuba diving is an expensive pastime then, it’s fair to say that it is to an extent. These fees can be trimmed though by being smart with your purchases. If you can, make friends with some experienced divers at your dive school. They’ll be able to give you pointers on what things you can afford to shop around a little on. Keep an ear out for people upgrading their gear too. Often they’ll be looking to offload their older equipment at a cut price.
Ultimately though, the incredible world that opens up to us underwater comes at a cost. It can be a dangerous place down there, and it’s only down to specialist equipment that we can enjoy it. When considering that the training that we receive and equipment we use can be the difference between life and death, it’s actually a relatively small price to pay.