I’m now a certified Open Water Advanced diver and I can barely believe it myself!!
Advanced certification is the fun level. If you get through your OW, you really should go for the Advanced. It also means you have access to almost any dive site. You pick 5 Adventure dives amongst a fairly long list (more about it here), 2 are mandatory though: the Deep dive and the Navigation. I’ll tell you why I enjoyed each of the Adventure dives I did:
Peak Performance Buoyancy – besides being really useful, the exercises were fun! I had to go through hoops, stay upside down, slowly “kiss” the sand and hover in a Buddha position. All of it just by using your breath, how much air goes in and out of your lungs. Some dives take you through tight “corridors” or you might have to swim between 2 walls to get to a cave and mastering buoyancy is key if you want to: not get stuck, not damage the corals, have more fun.
Night dive – I was scared at first I’m not going to lie…but I saw the cutest baby octopus! It’s one of the most incredible animals, the colours are stunning (pastel green and purple and changing as they move). Night dives tend to be a bit more individual as you can only see what your torch is pointing at and you can’t see the others (you can feel them though as you tend to stay very close to each other!) and you see creatures you wouldn’t necessarily see much during the day (big lobsters running around, lionfishes and the coral is a lot more “active”). It turned out a lot more captivating than scary.
Deep dive – this is one I had to do as that’s the one taking you to the maximum depth of 30m which is what qualifies the Advanced level. As a bonus, this was a shipwreck dive! Interesting observations down there at -30m: I didn’t get nitrogen narcosis (although that could have been funny – here to read more about this – my instructor said that once a diver tried giving his air to a fish!), reds and oranges look brown/dark green, and you can crack an egg and play with the yoke as if it was a ball – until big groupers fancy a snack. It was so impressive to see what was left of a boat and its mast!
Underwater Navigation – this one too is mandatory and it seems that I’m not too bad at it! I had to make a square underwater using the compass, swimming and keeping my neutral buoyancy and half way through the dive I had to get us back to the boat. For the first time I really paid attention to the composition of the surroundings to get my bearings and find the initial point, which I did AND my square was nearly perfect! Score.
Last but not least was the Underwater Naturalist (not to be confused with Underwater Naturist which is a completely different story!). My instructor really wanted to do this one with me so I did and I didn’t regret it!! I’m now obsessed by corals and sponges and it has helped me pay attention to the details a lot more. What’s the difference between a soft coral and algae? How can I be a more responsible diver? How could my actions affect the ecosystems? I even managed to convince a fellow student to choose that for his last qualifying Adventure dive 👌🏼😁. Little creatures are just as fascinating as the big ones after all.