You might not want to go scuba diving in the Gowanus Canal, but it’s easy to learn diving basics with lessons in a New York City swimming pool, and then get PADI or NAUI certified on your next vacation to the Caribbean, or someplace else with warm and inviting water and lots of beautiful coral and colorful fish. Here are several NYC dive shops where you can take the subway to learn scuba diving –
Pan Aqua: The largest dive shop in NYC, with year-round training courses and guided dive trips. You can learn the classroom work — which includes equipment and emergency basics — either in a group class or on your own online. There are weekly classes and intensive two-day mid-week and weekend sessions. Lessons are at the pools at the 92nd Y and at Manhattan Plaza. This is the dive shop I learned with a decade ago. Pan Aqua is at 460 West 43rd Street.
Adventure Scuba: This is the NYC location of a nationwide chain of dive schools and shops, which encourages you to do the “book” portion of learning at home, to minimize classroom time. Their program is one academic review session — which includes passing tests, including pretty complicated mathematical tables on depth pressure, called dive tables — and two in-pool sessions. The pool is two blocks from Adventure Scuba, at 1737 York Avenue. They also offer an Emergency First Response course, which is for anybody who wants to learn CPR and first aid basics, whether you are a diver or not.
Scuba New York — This is the only local dive shop with its own heated swimming pool, in Brooklyn, and a second location in Yonkers. There’s a five-week classroom program. Scuba New York Brooklyn location is 2672 Gerritsen Avenue, in the Gerritson Beach section.
Expect to spend $250-$400 on a learn-to-dive program. Once you finish the basics, the next step is to get your actual PADI or NAUI certification in open water — a lake, ocean, gulf or sea. Anybody age ten and over can become certified. It’s a great family activity.
Photo credit — The photo of me diving, in the Caribbean, is by Denise Mattia, who is both a skilled diver and a skilled underwater photographer.