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Maui Scuba Certification: How to Prepare for Diving

Get scuba certified on Maui!

You have always wanted to get your SCUBA certification in Maui, but how can you prepare? Maui features two styles of diving: shore and boat dives. You might find shore diving most suitable for getting scuba certified. Diving along the beach you see turtles, sharks, and corals, coupled with the warm Pacific ocean. Read on to choose the best Maui scuba certification for you!

Choose a Dive Agency

PADI, SSI, NAUI, BSAC, CMAS…There are loads of scuba certification agencies to choose from regarding what kind of scuba certification you want to pursue. PADI and SSI are probably the most recognized certification distributors worldwide; PADI is the most widely recognized certifier globally.

PADI scuba certification courses to start your adventure.

Banyan Tree Divers sets up the best PADI scuba courses. Aside from being the most reputable and recognized scuba certification agency, PADI offers standardized courses that are approachable to a wide range of scuba diving abilities. Whether you are just starting your scuba diving journey or are looking to become a professional diver, PADI’s structured courses provide seamless training no matter where in the world you are learning.

You might ask, “Since my time on Maui is limited, how long does it take to get certified?” This question does not have a straightforward answer, I’m afraid. My first question in response would be, “What kind of diving do you hope to be doing once you are scuba certified?”

Shore diving in Maui welcomes all levels of experience, but you might find Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or Indonesia’s Komodo National Park requiring more advanced experience. So best to choose the diving course that best reflects the kind of diving you hope to do in the future.

PADI scuba diver card rated to 12 meters or 40 feet with a professional.

PADI Scuba Diver

If you come to Maui often, perhaps once a year, and don’t plan to dive other than that one time a year, the PADI Scuba Diver course might be perfect for you. PADI Scuba Diver is an introductory diving certification. It is valid for life and internationally recognized. It takes 1 to 2 days to complete and certifies you to a depth of 40 feet, under professional supervision.

While Scuba Diver is a certification, it does NOT allow you to rent gear or dive independently of a professional. These are the big difference compared to the Open Water Diver course. However, if you plan to keep dives shallow and always hire a guide, then PADI Scuba Diver works great!

PADI open water diver card for a Maui scuba diving certification course.

PADI Open Water Diver

The PADI Open Water course is the most widely recognized introductory dive course for new divers. Everyone takes the first step with the Open Water course, whether you want to keep your dives shallow or eventually move up the PADI ladder to more dive experience. An Open Water scuba certification allows for a maximum depth of 60ft, is valid for life, and is internationally recognized. After earning your Open Water scuba certification, you may technically rent equipment and dive with just you and a buddy.

However, Banyan Tree Divers Maui strongly recommends that you get many dives under your belt before diving without a guide. The course takes 3 to 4 days to complete and is certainly more in-depth than the PADI Scuba Diver course.

PADI Open Water Referral Course

Suppose you have minimal vacation time to scuba dive in Maui, but you still want to complete the entire PADI Open Water Diver course. What can you do? One way to achieve this is to complete your PADI Open Water Referral Dives with us in Lahaina.

The Open Water program comprises academics, confined water skills, and open water training dives. With this Referral Dives option, you would complete the knowledge review questions, quizzes, final exam, and shallow water skills with your local dive shop before arriving in Hawaii. Your local dive shop instructor supplies you with referral paperwork to pass on to your new instructor in Lahaina. Then you go for four Open Water dives at excellent diving sites like Airport Beach and Mala Wharf! The referral course significantly reduces how much vacation time you need to complete your scuba certification.

For example, I completed my PADI Open Water Diver certification using the Referral Dives process. I finished my academics and confined water skills in California before leaving for a Hawaii vacation with my family. I am too much of a wimp to dive in Monterey, California’s cold water, so I went to the Big Island for my four open water dives. This setup allowed me to get my course done quickly and still have ample time to explore the island!

How to Prepare

Before getting dive certified, the first thing to consider is assessing your physical and mental ability to complete the course. While scuba diving is both relaxing and exciting, it does require some physical fitness to pass. You must be able to complete a 200-meter unassisted swim, a 10-minute survival float, as well as snorkeling skills. It is good to practice these before starting your course if you think any of these components will cause you to struggle.

Every PADI course has an academic portion. Much of your academics get completed before you spend any time in the ocean. For example, the PADI Open Water Manual has five chapters. The PADI Scuba Diver course includes the first three chapters whereas the Open Water Diver course means completing all five sections.

eLearning or Paper Manual?

PADI offers two ways to complete the academic portion of any scuba certification. Deciding which avenue is best for you depends on your time, how much you want to spend, and how you best retain information.

PADI eLearning scuba certification, start your dive adventure anytime, anywhere.

PADI eLearning

PADI eLearning quickly became the most widely used method to complete the Open Water Diver certification. PADI eLearning is comprehensive and prepares you for the ocean training portion of the course. Not only does it walk you through the chapters in the manual, but it also administers the quizzes and final exams before you even begin working with your instructor!

This program is very beneficial for anyone with limited vacation time in Maui. Don’t spend your precious beach time answering quizzes and exams when you can utilize PADI eLearning. Get your academics done at home and focus on scuba diving while you visit Maui. Even though eLearning costs more than purchasing a paper manual, many divers prefer eLearning because of its convenience, preparation, and ease of completion! Contact us to get access to eLearning when making your Open Water Diver course reservation.

PADI Open Water Manual for a Maui scuba certification course.

PADI Open Water Manual, 2015 Edition

The PADI Open Water manual consists of 5 chapters. At the end of each chapter, you will find a list of questions called Knowledge Reviews. These questions must get filled out and will prepare you for the quizzes and final exam. If you are completing the Scuba Diver certification, you will only receive the first three quizzes. The Open Water scuba certification will consist of all four quizzes and the 50-question final.

Your instructor goes over each chapter of the manual with you to make sure that you understand all of the information before administering each test. Naturally, this requires you to complete much of the academics while on vacation since your instructor must be present to go over the chapters and administer the tests. On a typical day, this could add at least three hours per day of your scuba certification course. Six-plus hours in total!

At the time of writing, a PADI Open Water manual 2015 edition is available on Amazon for $62.00. If you want to save money and don’t mind homework during your Maui vacation, this might be your best option. But make sure to buy the 2015 EDITION or newer! The PADI Open Water course has evolved over the years, and books published before 2015 are too old-fashioned.

Invest Your Time and Effort

Earning a scuba certification gives you a rewarding experience but it takes time to become a competent certified diver. We can’t stress enough that dedicating your vacation to scuba diving and preparing for your scuba certification should lead to a massively enjoyable experience all around. If you have questions regarding scuba certifications in Maui, please email our dive service at or call (808) 446-6099.