How we got our PADI Advanced Open Water certification

Scuba Diving in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

If you follow my blog, you already know that we got our PADI Open Water in Thailand. We booked the course before our trip to Thailand and started studying the theory while we were still at home. We literally booked our dives and everything in advance. You can read about our experience in “Learning Scuba Diving in Thailand”.


We fell in love with scuba diving. It was like a new world of adventure and a fun opportunity that opened up before our eyes. When we finished the course, we were sure that we wanted to travel and continue diving in different sites around the world. We travelled to different places for a year, but we were not able to dive because of various reasons. After a year, we finally booked a 17-day trip to the Dominican Republic.

Should we book a scuba diving course before our trip?

After booking the trip, we did some research to find some of the best dive sites in the country. We found out that there were some sites around Punta Cana where we planned to stay for a week. We thought we would be able to go on one or two fun dives to build up our confidence under water again. We didn’t book anything in advance since we were not sure how it would work there and how prepared we were for the dives.

Taking a PADI Advanced Open Water course was on our wish list because we wanted to be able to dive deeper, but we also didn’t want to be stressed about studying for the course during our holiday. Therefore, we thought it was better not to book and go for a fun trip and a few dives.

We stayed in an all-inclusive resort, in Punta Cana you are more likely to find all-inclusive resorts rather than normal hotels. On our first day, we walked around the swimming pools of the resorts and saw some scuba gears next to one of the swimming pools and two people with an instructor going down into the water at another pool. We continued on our way to the beach where we started chatting with a guy who was selling tours including scuba diving trips.

Our hotel in Punta Cana - Dominican Republic

He was trying to show us photos of all of the various tours on offer, but we were only looking at the scuba diving locations. He noticed our curiosity and he continued to talk about the dive sites around Punta Cana. We were really excited about the look of the fun dives, but without realising we found ourselves handing him $300 per person for the PADI Advanced Open Water course, which included a couple of fun dives. And just like that, we signed up for our course, it all happened in an instant.

How does the PADI advanced course work?

This was just the start. We got our receipt and headed to the PADI centre (at the resort) to meet our instructor. His name was Italo, and we had to show him our PADI card. Try to bring your PADI card when you travel as you should be able to demonstrate you are certified. If you don’t have it PADI centres should still be able to find you by your name on their system. Our instructor than handed us the books we needed to study for the advanced course.

PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Later on the same day, we went to one of the swimming pools for refreshing our scuba diving knowledge and skills. It was an easy dive and we mostly practiced what we had learned during our Open Water course. I highly recommend doing a Refresher dive if you feel like you might not be ready for your first dive after a long time without diving. We then headed to our room and started reading the book.

Scuba Diving in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

How is the advanced scuba diving course?

Apart from studying the theory, we had to do five different dives, which can be very similar to fun dives, except that you have to focus on a particular specialty and demonstrate you are able to perform the skills your instructor asks you to do. The first dive was about identifying fish and marine species. One of the dives was a deep dive, and we had to go deeper than 18 meters (60 feet) but not more than 30 meters (100 feet). We also had to do an Underwater Navigation Dive, to practice our navigation skills underwater. We managed to pass our theory test and do all of the necessary skills underwater and get certified.

PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Right after we finished our course we received the PADI email with the confirmation of our certification, which helped us to continue diving in other sites during our trip. Later on, when we arrived home in London we got the hard copy of the certification (the card).

Why did we take the advanced course?

We started searching for different dive sites around the world and found out that some of the most amazing sites are actually deeper than 18m/60ft (the maximum depth our Open Water certification allowed us to go. The advanced certification gives us access to more dive sites, especially when diving on wrecks. Some creatures and marine life also can’t be seen in shallow water, because of these reasons we wanted to enhance our skills and expand our options.

PADI Advanced Open Water Course in the Dominican Republic

Let me know in the comments why you are interested in getting the PADI Advanced Open Water certification.

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