Diving Certification Courses and General Diving Questions

PADI Dive Courses Offered on the Island

Our volunteer trips are for both non-experienced and experienced divers.  Not certified?  No worries, many of our volunteers come to the island to learn to dive. Looking to further your dive credentials?  Many of our volunteers come to our island to further their diving certification status.  Regardless of your diving level, our island is a wonderful place to learn with calm, clear waters and little current. We swap the cold swimming pool for the Caribbean Sea and the classroom for a hammock under a palm tree!

We have many dive courses available to help you develop your scuba and marine conservation skills while on the island volunteering with us.  Below is the price our program charges for each PADI certification course and how long it will take you to complete the certification course on the island.

PADI Certification Courses Offered on the Island

  • PADI Open Water Certification – $150 USD (3 days)
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Certification – $200 USD (1 week)
  • PADI Rescue Diver Certification – $250 USD (1 week)
  • PADI Dive Master Certification – $400 USD (4 week minimum stay)

PADI Specialty Certification Courses Offered on the Island

  • PADI Specialty Course: Invasive Lionfish – $100 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Coral Reef Conservation – $100 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Fish Identification – $100 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Deep Diver – $100 USD (3 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Emergency First Response – $100 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Underwater Photographer – $175 USD (2 days)

*Please Note:  The PADI Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Dive Master, and Underwater Photographer require the PADI eLearning prior to arrival.  All other courses do NOT require the PADI eLearning prior to arrival.  You must be a fully certified Open Water diver before taking any PADI Specialty Courses.  You can sign up for your course at check out!

PADI Course Certification with ReefCI

In order to be certified on the island, you will need to complete the PADI eLearning portion of your course (Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Divemaster, or Underwater Photographer) prior to your arrival to our island. PADI is the world’s leading scuba diver training organization that governs and regulates scuba standards and diver certifications. You can get started immediately with the classroom portion of your certification course and work at your own pace using the PADI eLearning system at home. With this convenient online study option, you will complete the classroom/theory portion and theory exam of your course before your arrival to the island.  At the end of the eLearning program, you must print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island. Once on the island, we will finish off the appropriate in-water diver portion of the course. PADI charges around $185 USD for the eLearning and the cost is paid to PADI via their website.  We find our guests like to avoid the book work and theory portion of certification courses while on the island and this provides the best option to get in the water immediately upon arrival to our island.  You must click here to register for PADI’s online eLearning and complete it before your arrival.  This link will affiliate you with ReefCI and lets us know you are registered and taking the course with us.  Don’t forget to print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island upon completing the eLearning.

Frequently Asked Diving Questions

Dive Equipment – What Should I Bring?

You must bring your own dive mask, booties, fins, and wetsuit. These items are size specific to each individual -especially wetsuits, fins and booties for your feet.  We do not provide dive computers since almost all of our volunteering dives and conservation efforts are at depths less than 18m/60ft.  However, a dive computer is mandatory for any diver that wants to dive deeper than 18m/60ft or for those taking the PADI Advanced Open Water certification course with us.  There are no reliable places in Placencia, Belize to buy or rent these items; therefore, it’s important you have them prior to your trip departure.

We provide the rest of your dive gear – BCD’s, tanks, regulators, and weights for a $25 USD per week dive gear rental fee.  You are welcome to bring your own dive gear if you prefer.  Anyone wishing to participate in our optional night dives MUST bring their own dive light/torch.  Please note that in order to participate in night dives one must be a certified Advanced Open Water diver.

Wetsuits – Full, Short, or None at All?

Do I need a full or short wetsuit in Belize and what thickness?  Or do I need one at all?   That is a tough question as it varies from person to person.  The surface water temperature is consistently around 80F/26C, but much cooler at depth so a 3mm wetsuit (short or long) is just about right for most people.  However, it just depends on how much you feel the cold; some do dive without one while others prefer a wetsuit. During the months of October through March, the water temperature is a degree or two cooler and most choose to wear wetsuits during these months. April thru August some dive with just a rash guard while others use a wetsuit.  I highly recommend bringing a 3mm wetsuit regardless of the time of year; being cold while diving is no fun at all.  It is reassuring to know you have one in case you need it.

Number of Dives Per Week?

We typically do 12 to 13 dives each week.  Two on Monday (first dive is a check-out dive), three dives on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  In addition, we do at least one night dive per week.  On Friday’s, we do a pre-breakfast dive, have breakfast then debrief and return to the mainland anywhere from 11am to 1pm   We only take small groups and our instructors are great at concentrating on helping individual divers and techniques.

Minimum Age to Dive?

For PADI certification, the minimum age is 10 years old. Divers who are younger than 15 earn the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, which automatically upgrades to PADI Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15.

Check-Out Dive/Dive Refresher?

No worries if it has been a while since your last dive.  Feel free to share any concerns you have with the team upon arrival and they will give you a refresher on basic skills on land before your dive if requested.  Most of our volunteers are excited about getting in the water but are a little nervous having not dived for a while. Our dive team is here to help and our first dive is a shore dive from the island which will help regain your confidence.

PADI Course Descriptions 

PADI Open Water Diver Certification

If you’ve always wanted to take scuba diving lessons, experience unparalleled adventure and see the world beneath the waves, this is where it starts. Get your scuba diving certification with the PADI Open Water Diver course – the world’s most popular and widely recognized scuba course. At the first level, Open Water Diver, divers gain basic knowledge of skills, equipment use, and theory for diving to a recommended depth of 18 meters/60 feet. Once certified as an Open Water Diver, PADI will send you your personal Open Water license card, usually within 4 weeks via mail.  This certification card allows you to dive with every PADI dive shop around the world!

PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certification

You don’t have to be “advanced” to take it – it’s designed to advance your diving, so you can start right after earning your PADI Open Water Diver certification. The course helps build confidence and expand your scuba skills through different Adventure Dives.

Your Adventure Dives will include five of the following:

  • Deep Dive (maximum depth 30 meters/100 feet)
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy
  • Night Dive
  • Underwater Navigation
  • Fish-ID

You get to try out different specialties while gaining experience under the supervision of your PADI Instructor.  The AOWD also allows the diver to explore a broader variety of diving to a maximum depth of 30 meters/100 feet.

PADI Rescue Diver Certification

The PADI Rescue Diver course prepares you to deal with dive emergencies, minor and major, using a variety of techniques. Through knowledge development and rescue exercises, you learn what to look for and how to respond. During rescue scenarios, you put into practice your knowledge and skills.  The course covers the following topics in seven scenarios:

  • Self-rescue and diver stress
  • Emergency management
  • Panicked diver response
  • In-water rescue breathing protocols
  • Egress (exits)
  • Dive accident scenarios
  • CPR/First Aid

Rescue Diver Certification can be completed in one week regardless of the option you choose above.

PADI Dive Master Certification

The Dive Master Certification (DM) rating places you in an elite group of respected divers who have earned this rating through both significant experience and scuba training. Fewer than 2% of divers ever achieve this rating.  The course will develop leadership skills and deepen your knowledge of diving.   Prerequisite: Certified Rescue Diver, 18 years old, logged 40 scuba dives, completed EFR Primary and Secondary Care training within 24 months, medically evaluated and cleared for diving by a physician within 12 months.

The PADI Dive Master Certification requires the following:

In order to be certified on the island, you will need to complete the PADI eLearning portion of your Dive Master course prior to your arrival to our island. You can get started immediately with the classroom portion of your DM certification course and work at your own pace using the PADI eLearning system at home. With this convenient online study option, you will complete the classroom/theory portion and theory exam of your DM course before your arrival.  At the end of the eLearning program, you must print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island. Once on the island, we will finish off the appropriate in-water diver portion of the DM course. PADI charges around $250 USD for the eLearning and the cost is paid to PADI via their website.  You must click here to register for PADI’s online Divemaster eLearning and complete it before your arrival. Don’t forget to print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island upon completing the eLearning.   You will also need to purchase before arrival the PADI Dive Master Crew Pack and bring it with you.

Cost and requirements for the Dive Master Certification Course

  1. PADI Dive Master eLearning -estimated cost 250 USD (eLearning MUST be completed before arrival)
  2. PADI Dive Master Crew Pack – estimated cost 225 USD (purchased before arrival)
  3. 4-week minimum stay at ReefCI to complete all in-water dives required for DM – ReefCI charges 400 USD to complete the DM course on the island.

PADI Specialty Course – Invasive Lionfish

Thirty years after their accidental introduction, lionfish have conquered the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans and are wreaking havoc on coral reef ecosystems. Unlike in its native Pacific Ocean habitats, there are no natural predators in the Atlantic and Caribbean to keep this invasive species in check. Hence, lionfish populations have exploded, gobbling up native coral reef fish that have no natural defense mechanisms against this invasive species. Lionfish threaten the very survival and sustainability of coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans. Learn what action is needed to control the lionfish population and, learn practical ways to safely and humanely capture and euthanize these fish.

Prerequisite: PADI Open Water Certified and be at least 15 years old.

PADI Specialty Course – Coral Reef Conservation

Everyone likes to scuba dive or snorkel in warm, clear water on a vibrant coral reef, yet many people know little about what they’re seeing or the importance of reef ecosystems. The Coral Reef Conservation Specialty course helps you appreciate the complexity of these habitats and teaches you how you can help conserve these vital systems.

The Coral Reef Conservation specialty course will cover the following topics:

  • How coral reefs function and the complex nature of life on a reef.
  • Why coral reefs are so important.
  • Why many coral reefs are in serious trouble.
  • What you can do to prevent further decline.
  • How Project AWARE unites divers and water enthusiasts to make a difference.

No Prerequisite: Anyone who has an interest in the aquatic world can take this course. There are no prerequisites or age restrictions for this Specialty Course.

Please Note: This is a non-diving certification and no water dive sessions are required to earn this PADI Specialty.

PADI Specialty Course – Fish Identification

“What was that fish?” is a common question heard after a dive. If you want to be the scuba diver with the answers, instead of the

one asking the questions, then take the Fish Identification Specialty course. You’ll enjoy your dives even more when you recognize the creatures that you see and can identify the main fish families and their characteristics.  During two scuba dives, you’ll learn:

  • Identify characteristics of local fish families and species
  • Fish survey techniques and strategies
  • Project AWARE activities that can help protect aquatic life

Prerequisite: PADI Open Water Certified and be at least 10 years old.

PADI Specialty Course – Deep Diver

The lure of the deep. There’s something exciting and mysterious about exploring deeper dive sites while scuba diving. Sometimes it’s a wreck that attracts you below 18 meters/60 feet, and on wall dives it may be a giant fan or sponge. Whatever it is, to scuba dive with confidence at depths down to 40 meters/130 feet, you should take the PADI Deep Diver Specialty course. During four deep dives with your instructor, you’ll go over:

  • Specialized deep diving equipment
  • Deep dive planning, buddy contact procedures and buoyancy control
  • Managing your gas supply, dealing with gas narcosis and safety considerations

Prerequisite:  Advanced Open Water Certified and be at least 15 years old.

PADI Specialty Course – Emergency First Response (EFR)

Emergency First Response training focuses on building confidence in rescuers and increasing their willingness to respond when faced with a medical emergency. Course participants learn simple to follow steps for emergency care and practice applying skills in a non-stressful learning environment.

The EFR Specialty Course meets the CPR and first aid training requirements for the PADI Rescue Diver course and all professional-level ratings.  The following EFR topics will be covered:

  • Primary Care (CPR)
  • Secondary Care (First Aid)
  • Care for Children
  • CPR & AED

No Prerequisite: Anyone who has an interest in emergency first response can take this course. There are no prerequisites or age restrictions for this Specialty Course.

Please Note: This is a non-diving certification and no water dive sessions are required to earn this PADI Specialty.

PADI Specialty Course – Underwater Photographer

Underwater photography is one of the most popular diving specialties, and with so many underwater cameras to choose from, it has become easier and more fun than ever to capture images of your underwater scuba adventures. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course gets you going quickly, whether you use a point-and-shoot camera or a sophisticated dSLR like the pros.

Prerequisite:  Open Water Certified

Please Note: This PADI Specialty requires the PADI eLearning course:   Digital Underwater Photographer. This must be completed prior to arrival.  No camera is required.  We have all the equipment one needs to complete this PADI Specialty successfully.