Life & Style | Leisure

Want to go scuba diving?

Ajman Beach Hotel launches PADI-certified beginners and advanced level courses at its new diving centre.

  • By Rachna Raman Talwar, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 October 30, 2004
  • Tabloid

Ajman Beach Hotel launches PADI-certified beginners and advanced level courses at its new diving centre

A white sandy beach, sparkling blue water and diverse marine life make the new Blue Planet Diving Centre at the Ajman Beach Hotel a good scuba diving location. A PADI-authorised (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) centre in the UAE, it offers beginners and advanced level scuba diving courses. It also arranges for day-diving outings.

Fees range from Dh1,000 to 2,500. On completion of a course, students get a PADI-certified card. A lifetime dive permit card that is recognised worldwide.

"The silver card allows individuals to dive up to 12 metres with an instructor and the gold card permits independent dives up to 18 metres," says Alla Druzhynina, a PADI-certified diving instructor from Ukraine.

"Your certification class is just the beginning, an introduction to basic skills. Like any physical skill that involves complex equipment, diving requires constant learning and refinement. Every time you pull your fins on and dip beneath the waves, you'll learn something new," adds Alla.

To join any scuba diving course or simply enjoy the thrill of diving you need to be 12 years and above. Diver's fitness and past experience is assessed before you are allowed to dive.

"All divers undergo a two-hour training before the first jump. We tell them about the equipment, brief them on safety rules and also tell them how to maintain buoyancy, timings and airflow. Once this is done we dive to enjoy the underwater beauty," says Alla.

Divers can choose from a list of exotic dive spots based on their ability to dive depths. "Apart from countless hard and soft coral reefs and colourful sea creatures there are numerous wrecks that divers will love to visit," says Alla.

M.V. Dara, a 5,000-tonne cargo vessel that sank in 1961; HB6, a hopper barge lying upright and the Turtle barge that houses small hawksbill turtles are a few dive spots in Ajman.

The centre also arranges East Coast excursions. Shark Island, Cathedral Cave and Octopus and Dibba rock are some of the dive spots. Two dives cost between Dh150 and 400 depending on the dive spot. Equipment is provided at an extra fee.

"Northern Oman has many fascinating dive spots. We take only experienced divers to these locations. We also provide them with transport and lunch," says Alla.

Prior booking is neccessary.

Equipment needed
A tank of compressed air carried on the diver's back.

A first stage regulator attached to the tank that serves to lower air pressure delivered to the diver.

A second stage demand regulator and mouthpiece that delivers air on inhalation and closes on exhalation.

A face mask that covers the diver's eyes and nose, to allow underwater vision and equalisation of air pressure within the mask.

An extra second stage regulator and mouthpiece, carried by the diver in case of emergency. When attached to a long hose, this extra second stage is called an octopus.

Two submersible gauges, one to display an accurate depth and the other to show how much air remains in the tank.

An inflatable vest, worn to provide a means of establishing positive buoyancy when needed.

A weight belt and weight, worn to compensate for the positive buoyancy of the diver and scuba apparatus.

Fins to facilitate self-propulsion in the water.

A wet suit to prevent hypothermia (a condition of having abnormally low body temperature) and to prevent cuts and abrasions under water. Gloves and a hood may also be worn in cold water.

Optional equipment for scuba diving include a snorkel, dive knife, small tank of extra air, dive computer, compass, dive lights, writing slate, whistle and inflatable signalling device.

Depending on the circumstances, some of these items - lights for night diving, a snorkel for surface swimming - may at times be essential, but they are not part of the basic scuba equipment.

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