Introductory Scuba Diving

Are you a first-time diver with no certification or prior experience? Then a Discovery or Introductory Scuba Dive is the best way for you to explore what lies beneath the surface of the majestic Great Barrier Reef.

What is a Discovery (Introductory) Scuba Dive?

These dives are specifically tailored to visitors with little or no diving experience but who want to still get up close with the Great Barrier Reef. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a certified Scuba diver, you can still enjoy a specially modified and safe underwater adventure. You’ll benefit from individualised attention with instructors leading a maximum of four people on each Discovery Dive. You may even find yourself linking arms with your instructor when you’re underwater to stay close! You dive to a maximum depth of 12m which is still deep enough to discover the reef’s hidden gems.

What skill level do I need for a Discovery (Introductory) Scuba Dive?

An Introductory Diver is someone who:

  • Does not have a Scuba certification
  • Has little or no training or experience with Scuba diving

5 Best Scuba Diving Sites for Beginners

  1. Lady Musgrave Island, Bundaberg: The shallow waters surrounding this large coral cay are teeming with schools of colourful fish, molluscs, gardens of vivid coral and even reef sharks and turtles.
  2. Hardy Reef, Whitsundays: Introductory Scuba Dives leave several times a day from Heart Pontoon. You’ll see resident Maori wrasses, Queensland groupers and dazzling coral formations.
  3. Lady Elliot Island, Bundaberg: A small coral cay near the continental shelf, this is the best dive site to see manta rays and whales. It’s also home to nesting turtles.
  4. Green Island, Cairns: A 6000-year-old coral cay located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Green Island’s warm waters are a fertile playground for marine life and spectacular coral.
  5. Moore Reef, Cairns: Take the plunge from Marine World Pontoon, anchored on the Outer Reef and explore an underwater world of fish, turtles, molluscs and striking coral gardens.

What is the difference between a Discovery (Introductory) Scuba Dive and a typical Scuba Dive?

Scuba diving is for experienced divers who have PADI, NAUI or SSI certification to at least Open Water level. Instead of partnering with an instructor, divers are paired with another certified diver – known as a dive buddy – and they can explore the reef together, descending to a depth of 18-30m.

What happens on a typical Discovery (Introductory) Scuba Dive?

The experience begins on the boat or shore where you’ll learn some general dive knowledge, basic underwater hand signals and practice simple dive skills. Discovery Scuba Dives are conducted at a leisurely pace with qualified instructors ensuring everyone feels safe and confident before they enter the water.

  1. General briefing: You’ll learn general diving knowledge, then take a look at the equipment to see how it works. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like!
  2. Suit up: You’ll be fitted for a wetsuit or stinger suit, an adjustable face mask and a pair of fins. The instructor will help you into your scuba gear and make sure you feel comfortable.
  3. Equipment check: Your instructor will double-check your equipment with you before you enter the water and make sure you feel confident using it.
  4. Entering the water: Now comes the fun part – getting into the water! You won’t submerge straight away, rather, you’ll spend a few minutes floating on the surface and getting comfortable in the water. The instructor will confirm that your mask and gear are correctly fitted.
  5. Descent: When you are ready, you will descend to one metre with your instructor to practice breathing through your regulator. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll descend a few metres further then pause until you feel comfortable. When you’re ready to explore, give the instructor the hand signal for “OK” and they’ll link arms with you or take you by the hand and lead you on your first Introductory dive!
  6. Ascent: As your dive nears its end, the instructor will help you ascend slowly and safely.

Do I need to be certified for a Discovery (Introductory) Scuba Dive?

No, even first-time divers with no open water experience can explore the depths of the Great Barrier Reef. If you’d like to continue Scuba diving after your Discovery Dive, many of our tour operators and dive schools can help you enrol you in a short course to attain internationally-recognised Open Water Diving certification.

I’ve successfully completed a Discovery (Introductory) Scuba Dive. Does this mean I’m now a certified diver?

No. An Introductory Dive is a one-off experience and does not provide qualifications or certification for later dives.

TIP: If you’d like to attain an internationally-recognised PADI, NAUI or SSI Open Water Diving Certification and continue your Scuba diving adventures, you need to take a short Learn to Dive course. These involve a medical assessment, theory exam and four open water dives. Ask your dive instructors for more information. They will be more than happy to help enrol you in a course.

I am not a strong swimmer, can I still Scuba dive?

You don’t need to be a champion swimmer to Scuba dive but it will make the experience easier and more enjoyable if you feel confident in the water and are comfortable kicking your legs to move around. A weights belt and buoyancy control device keep you at a steady depth so a simple freestyle kick is all you need do to propel yourself forward or up to the surface. You do not need to use your arms at all.

TIP: If you decide to become a certified diver, most courses require you to swim 200m in a pool and tread water for 10 minutes.


How long does an Introductory Scuba dive last?

Instructors spend between 30-60 minutes with first-time divers on the boat or pontoon for dive and safety briefings, medical assessments, equipment checks and to answer any questions you may have. Once you’re in the water, your Introductory Scuba dive generally lasts about 30 minutes. Instructors will tailor the experience to each diver’s confidence, level of skill and – of course – air supply.

How deep will I dive?

Most introductory dives reach a maximum depth of 12m.

Do I need to bring my own equipment?

No. Dive operators supply the equipment needed for an Introductory Scuba Dive.

How old must I be to Scuba dive?

The minimum age for an Introductory Scuba dive is 12. All divers under the age of 18 require parental consent.

What is a Resort dive?

Some resorts offer guests the chance to experience the sensation of Scuba diving in a pool. Divers are fitted with masks, fins, air tanks and regulators and practice basic Scuba skills in the pool before they hit the open water.

I’m nervous about Scuba diving in the open water, what can I expect?

The Great Barrier Reef does exactly what its name suggests, it provides a great barrier between the coastline and the depths of the ocean. This means the inner sections of the reef where you will dive are calm and protected.

What if I see a shark?

Lucky you! Small reef sharks are often spotted swimming along the coral shelves and spotting one of these is considered a highlight by divers. If left unprovoked, reef sharks are not known to be aggressive. Larger sharks do not frequent the Great Barrier Reef’s introductory dive sites as they are often too shallow for them to navigate. If you are diving from a pontoon or large tour boat, a staff member will act as a “spotter” from an elevated vantage point and can alert you and your instructor if sharks are nearby. If you do see one, stay calm, signal to your instructor and marvel as this awe-inspiring creature swims past.

Will my ears will hurt when I dive?

You will be taught how to equalise the pressure in your ears as you descend and ascend so your ears shouldn’t hurt. If you have trouble equalizing, signal to your instructor. An easy fix is to ascend until your ears equalize then slowly descend again.

What if I panic?

Relax, it’s normal to feel a little apprehensive or over-excited before you hit the open water for the first time. If you are worried, speak with your instructor. If you have the time, you may be able to try a pool dive a day or two before your reef trip. This is a great way to familiarise yourself with the equipment and the sensation of breathing through a regulator. If you do start to panic underwater, signal to your instructor immediately and follow their instructions for a safe, controlled ascent.

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