What is it going to cost me to start SCUBA diving. What equipment should I buy, or which certifications should I get first and what will all this cost me?

1. Costs?

The cost varies by region and country. For example, in the Bay Area, Open Water (OW) certification averages $200. In Hawaii, it’s $475. In Mexico, it’s $350.

When looking at courses, you have to calculate the entire cost of the course. Some Local Dive Shops (LDS) offer a lower price to get you through the door, but there are add’l costs that are not advertised. The lower prices will just be the tuition.

Full Costs include
1. Tuition
2. Books and materials
3. Gear/tank rental
4. Gear purchase
5. Boat fees/park fees

2. What equipment should you buy?

You should buy as little as possible. A lot of LDS require you to buy "personal gear" which is masks, snorkel, boots, fins, and gloves (if you are in cold water). However, some LDS will rent you all the above too.

The only equipment that I believe will truly make OW certification easier is a proper fitting mask. A leaking or fogging mask will decrease enjoyment and increase stress levels significantly. Think of driving in the rain without your windshield wiper – no easy.

Everything else you should try to hold off until 1) you know you like diving and 2) you are more familiar with diving. First off, you don’t even know if you will enjoy diving and are able to do it. Perhaps you have equalization issues and cannot actually dive. If you had bought all your gear, that’ll be thousands of dollars wasted. Second, your diving will change over time. What looks good now will not be the same after you have 10 dives or 20 dives or 100 dives. In addition, what fits or looks good on land may not perform to your preference in the water.

Rent as much as possible.

3. What certification?

You will want Open Water certification (OW). You will hear PADI or NAUI or SSI, but these are just agencies. They all provide OW certification.