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Do you need special food when diving?

Posted by Peter Deth on Dec 28, 2016 11:16:04 AM

In general anybody should eat healthy and varied food. If you are a scuba diver, you need to consider a few things that you might not take into account otherwise.

Many people believe that scuba diving is an easy and even effortless sport. This is true when you drift peacefully and weightless in the water, but sometimes there are conditions in which the diver must work very hard, e.g. when diving in currents.

Do you need special food when diving?
As with any physical activity, the food you eat before a dive is essential in providing the energy and stamina during the dive. A doughnut and a coffee for breakfast aren’t adequate to keep up on diving days.

Breakfast for Scuba Divers
For a normal 2 tank dive you should start your day having a good breakfast. To stay warm underwater, our body burns a lot of calories. A good breakfast provides the necessary fuel to prevent you from spending your dive shivering constantly.

Try to eat something that will give you a long lasting energy supply; a light breakfast free from heavy fats, sugars and oils is best.

A breakfast made of cereal, fruit, natural yogurt and eggs, will give you sufficient slow burning energy which your body needs to keep warm during your dives.

Bananas are good for calories and preventing cramps. Apples are great because they have more fiber than most fruits. Combined with the natural sugar they provide, the energy gained from apples will last longer than other sugary products.

The fat and high protein in nuts will give you the energy you need to fin kick against the current. Walnuts, pine nuts, and almonds are great choices.

Dried Fruit like dates have natural sugar, high fiber, and are rich in magnesium, which all is important if you are getting easily cramps while diving.

Eggs, if scrambled, poached, or boiled - no matter how you eat them, they will provide protein and power which you need to compensate for the extra calories you will burn when diving.

Drink lots of Water when diving
You probably know that’s important to be well hydrated while diving. Not only will water help your body metabolize the nitrogen you absorb on a dive, it will also benefit digestion.

Therefore divers should drink plenty of fluids like tea, juices, and water in the morning. Drinking too much coffee before diving is not recommended as caffeine acts as a diuretic which brings on dehydration. Dehydration can play a significant role in DCS.

General food recommendations
A good way to figure out what is healthy for humans, is to look at populations that are healthy and don’t have all these Western diseases.

The conclusion unfortunately is that no industrial country fits that description. Every country that eats an industrial diet gets sick.

Therefore, we must look at non-industrial populations like modern hunter-gatherers.

According to research on non-industrial populations, the typical Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio for non-industrial populations ranged from 4:1 to 1:4.

Hunter-gatherers eating mostly land animals had a ratio of 2:1 to 4:1, while the Inuit, who ate mostly Omega-3 rich seafood, had a ratio of 1:4. Other non-industrial populations were somewhere in between.

All of these populations were in excellent health and didn’t suffer from the chronic diseases that are currently killing us Westerners by the millions. The most serious diseases we are dealing with today are: heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, many types of cancer, etc.

None of these populations were eating a lot of Omega-6. It is probably a bad idea to eat tons of Omega-6, then a whole lot of Omega-3 to compensate. Having a relatively low, balanced amount of each is best.

Scientific research shows that the ratio human beings are evolved is somewhere around 1:1, while the ratio today is about 16:1 or higher.

Eat animal foods that are high in Omega-3
One problem today is that most animals are usually fed grain-based feeds with soy and corn. This reduces the Omega-3 content, so the fats in the meat are mostly Omega-6.

Grass-fed meat is definitely optimal. However, even conventionally raised meat is healthy, as long as it is not processed.

Some conventionally raised meats like chicken and pork are particularly high in Omega-6.

It is also best to buy pastured or Omega-3 enriched eggs, which are much higher in Omega-3 compared to eggs from hens that were fed grain-based feeds.

By far the best and healthiest way to increase your Omega-3 intake is to eat seafood once or twice per week. Fatty fish like salmon is a particularly good source. Wild caught fish is best, but even farmed is better than no fish at all.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are some of the best things to eat before a dive. The high amount of protein keeps you from feeling hungry again. The vitamins in Salmon help your body convert food into energy. But, remember – when making any seafood decisions, it’s important to ensure that seafood has been caught or farmed in a sustainable manner.

Shrimp is another source high in omega-3.

Spinach is a power food. This leafy green has multiple benefits to divers. Spinach is easily digestible and helps you feel full. Spinach contains magnesium, which prevents cramps.

Brussels sprouts provides many important health benefits: gives plenty of antioxidants, helps to fight cancer and heart disease, restores healthy digestion, alkalizes the body and much more. Brussels sprouts also have a surprisingly high amount of protein for a vegetable.

Brown Rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates, which you need because your body will burn more calories when submerged in water. Your body will work hard to maintain your body temperature. This is true even if you’re in tropical waters.

Since you can’t pack a steak in your dive bag, beef jerky is a great high-protein snack. Grass-fed jerky will give you more omega-3 fatty acid than grain-fed beef.

Grass itself is actually a good source of omega-3's. When cows eat a grass-based diet, the resulting meat ends up being a good source of the fatty acids.

If you eat a lot of conventionally raised meats and/or don’t eat much seafood, then consider taking a Omega-3 supplement.

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Topics: Diver´s health

Is your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in balance?

Posted by Peter Deth on Dec 18, 2016 12:53:53 PM

Today, most people are eating far too much Omega-6 fatty acids. At the same time, the consumption of animal foods high in Omega-3 is the lowest it has ever been.

The imbalanced ratio of these polyunsaturated fatty acids is one of the most damaging aspects of the Western diet.

Why care about Omega-6 and Omega-3?
Omega-6 and Omega-3 are both essential poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Our bodies cannot produce them and therefore we must get them from the food we eat.

If we don’t get any from the diet, we develop a deficiency and become sick. That is why they are called “essential” fatty acids.

These fatty acids are different than most other fats. They are not simply used for energy or storage; they are biologically active and have important roles.

Omega-6s and Omega-3s do not have the same effects. Omega-6s are pro inflammatory, while Omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect.

What is inflammation?
Inflammation is essential for our survival. It helps to protect our bodies from infection and injury, but it can also cause severe damage and contribute to disease when the inflammatory response is inappropriate or excessive.

Inflammation is a process that can have both positive and negative effects on our health. The acute inflammatory response is generally positive. It is an important part of the body’s defense against invading pathogens, and the response to injury. Symptoms include swelling, redness, pain and an increase in temperature in the affected area. But if acute inflammation fails to resolve the problem, chronic inflammation may develop, and this is generally negative.

Chronic inflammation is now known to play a critical role in driving most if not all the chronic degenerative diseases. It is one of the leading drivers of the most serious diseases we are dealing with today, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, many types of cancer, etc.

There is overwhelming evidence that we have recently become far more prone to chronic inflammation, due to the progressive removal of anti-inflammatory compounds from our diet, such as Vitamin D and long chained polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols.

What is omega-3?
Omega-3 is a collective term for a group of long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential fatty acids meaning that you can only get them through your food, and that your body can not produce them itself. There are different types of omega-3 fatty acids, but the omega-3 fatty acids with chain length of 20 or more carbons are the most important. These are called EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid).

Where can I find Omega-3 in food?
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are mainly found in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon etc.

There is also plant sources of Omega-3 such as alphalinolenic acid (ALA) found in some vegetable oils. Our bodies can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but this process is very limited and inefficient. It is hardly possible to achieve a recommended Omega-balance through mainly eating a vegetarian diet.

Where can I find Omega-6 in food?
Animal meat and eggs constitute the food groups that are highest in the omega-6 fatty acid. Other type of omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil and so on, and therefore in most of the foods that we eat on a daily basis.

Is your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in balance?

Why is it important to be in balance?
Put it simple, a diet that is high in Omega-6 but low in  Omega-3 increases inflammation, while a diet that includes balanced amounts of each reduces inflammation.

The problem today, is that people who eat a typical Western Diet are eating way too many Omega-6s relative to Omega-3s.

Therefore the present western diet is “deficient” in omega-3 fatty acids with a high omega-6 to omega-3 balance. The increased amounts of omega-6 in the typical western food and low intake of omega-3 may cause an increased susceptibility to lifestyle related problems.

Humans were “designed” to have a 1:1 balance between omega-6 and omega-3. Therefore it is important that there is a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 in your diet. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an Omega-6:3 balance of 4:1 or better for cardiovascular health.

What can you do to get into balance?
Most people are storing immense amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids in their body fat.

Make to following adjustments to optimize your balance of the Omega fats:
• Avoid vegetable oils high in Omega-6 (and the processed foods that contain them).
Eat plenty of Omega-3 rich animals, including something from the sea at least once or twice a week.
Exercise regularly doing some sports
If needed, take Omega-3 supplements.

What is an omega-3 supplement good for?
Omega-3 supplements are important to increase the omega-3 content in your diet and to achieve balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory components in your body. In addition omega-3s are important for a natural and healthy development and growth. Growing scientific evidence show that omega-3 (EPA and DHA) are important for our cardiovascular health, cognitive performance, mood and behavior, and not at least fetus development.

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Topics: Diver´s health

Gibraltar visa for Russian citizens

Posted by Peter Deth on Jul 20, 2016 8:24:48 PM

I usually go twice per year to Spain on a holiday. I love the clear blue sky there, the sea, the great food, the nice surroundings and its people. Being in southern Spain, in Marbella on the Costa del Sol, I have also heard a lot about Gibraltar. Lots of my friends in Europe are telling me that Russians need to have a special visa to visit this close by rocky peninsula. Because nobody of them knew any details about the visa needed they decided not to take me along to their diving trips to the waters of Gibraltar. Why should they also know about it? They have always been free to enter, whenever they wanted.
Therefore I decided to clarify the visa situation for myself and finally could visit this English outpost in the Mediterranean Sea. Vacationing in the south of Spain and not visit this symbolic place? This would be inexcusable nonsense!

Your visit to Gibraltar holds a lot more in store than just the history and landscape. The above ground attractions of Gibraltar are amazing enough, but when you broaden your horizons and permit yourself to explore a little deeper into the underwater aspects of Gibraltar, you will truly find a whole new world opening up that offers almost more than that which lies above the water’s surface.

If you want to see Gibraltar from above and below one day is short. You will need to stay several days or visit this small country a few times.

What is Gibraltar?
Gibraltar is a city and country in one with an interesting history.

Once this piece of rocky land was considered the edge of the world, and is now one of the most popular tourism destinations in the Mediterranean.
Gibraltar is a Crown Colony of Great Britain; is largely self-governed, with its own parliament and government, though the UK maintains responsibility for defense and foreign policy. Its economic success has made it one of the wealthiest areas of the European Union.

My first visit in Gibraltar
After doing some research, I found out that it was enough to use my multiple entry Schengen visa, which I always use to go to Spain. The same visa allows me also to enter Gibraltar for a maximum period of 21 days of repeatedly crossing the border.

I decided to discover Gibraltar in my own way. Because I am a diver and a PADI instructor I started with Gibraltar’s underwater world, going there with friends in a minivan for a day’s diving trip, mentally prepared for the worst case. That could have meant that I wasn’t allowed to enter the country, being returned at the border and had to wait for my freinds for several hours.

When crossing the border and my passport was checked, I was given a short questionnaire and the car driver was asked to pull over and wait on the side. As you can imagine I started to get nervous as things got tense. We had to wait for quite a while, but 10 minutes later the border officer came back with my passport in his hand…I opened it and couldn’t believe what I saw…a stamp of Gibraltar with a visa for 21 days. That was actually a very straightforward procedure, which didn’t take too long.

The first thing my friends did was going shopping. In Gibraltar everything is tax free. Especially tobacco, alcohol, jewelry and electronics are much cheaper than in Spain.

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Topics: Info about Spain

Things to do and see in Gibraltar

Posted by Peter Deth on Jun 9, 2016 3:46:44 PM

The Rock of Gibraltar is well visible from the Costa del Sol, the Costa del la Luz and the northernmost coast of Morocco. It is an impressive sight, and for travellers approaching by air this impact is heightened by the unique experience of the peninsula’s airport landing strip, which is partially built out onto the ocean and bisected midway by a working highway.

The territory's area measures only 6,7 square kilometers. Most of the land area is occupied by the steeply sloping Rock of Gibraltar which reaches a height of 426 meters. The town of Gibraltar lies at the base of the Rock on the west side of the peninsula. A narrow, low-lying isthmus connects the peninsula to the Spanish mainland. The only land access to the town is via a coastal strip about 350 meters wide.

Gibraltar's recorded history began around 950 BC with the Phoenicians, who lived nearby. The Carthaginians and Romans later worshipped Hercules in shrines said to have been built on the Rock of Gibraltar, which they called Mons Calpe, the "Hollow Mountain", and which they regarded as one of the twin Pillars of Hercules.

Gibraltar became part of the Visigoth Kingdom of Hispania following the collapse of the Roman Empire and came under Muslim Moorish rule in 711 AD. It was permanently settled for the first time by the Moors and was renamed Jebel Tariq – the Mount of Tariq, later corrupted into Gibraltar. The Christian Kingdom of Castile annexed it in 1309, lost it again to the Moors in 1333 and finally regained it in 1462. Gibraltar became part of the unified Kingdom of Spain and remained under Spanish rule until 1704. Since 1704 until today Gibraltar has been under British rule.

Things to do and see in Gibraltar
Many people don’t believe that a visit to Gibraltar is worth the time or effort to go through border controls and possible visa issues. Gibraltar is full of amazing experiences that shouldn’t be missed.

If you are staying nearby, a day trip is often best rather than staying in Gibraltar which can be rather expensive. Businesses on the rock will accept Euros but the currency here is Pounds Sterling.

On the main tourist trail
Following the main tourist trail you can go tax-free shopping in Main Street, take the cable car to see the monkeys, see the Siege Tunnels, hang around Casemates Square or the Landport Tunnel, see the Trafalgar cemetery or relax in the tropical gardens of Alameda.

Gibraltar’s Main Street it's were you can find a lot of shops selling duty free items as cigarettes, drinks, electronics and jewellery.

There are also shops as they can be found in Great Britain like Marks & Spencer’s, Morrison’s, BHS, Dorothy Perkins and many more.

The cable car brings you from the town centre to the top of the rock. On top, there is little more than a viewpoint and a little shop. Paying the cable car price has one advantage. You will get a free audio guide which helps you to explore the rock on your own.

The Great Siege Tunnels are a very impressive defends system made by humans. It was excavated during the Great Siege of 1779-1783 using the simplest tools and gunpowder. In some places you can see the chisel marks on the rock. Looking through the holes in the tunnels you have exceptional scenery with views over Spain, the airport and the Gibraltar marina.

See a little more of Gibraltar
If you decide to add a little more to your Gibraltar trip you should also consider…

Due to the rock's long military history with Great Britain, the rock has various places that go underground and beneath rock. A trip up the rock and a visit of St Micheals cave is a must see.

St. Michael's cave is a very large natural cave with lots of tunnels filled with stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and sizes with different lightning changing every few seconds.

You do need more than half an hour in there to enjoy all the natural beauty the cave has to offer. There’s also another section at a lower ground called St Michael's Lower cave which you need to pre-book and pre pay for a guided tour. The tour will also take you down to a lagoon.

Gibraltar has always been a real fusion or mix of different cultures, whilst remaining independent, but with a strong allegiance to the UK. When the border was closed in 1969 by General Franco, the Spanish people who worked on the rock had to be replaced, so the Gibraltar government looked across the water to Morocco and now many North African people work alongside Gibraltarians and British people on a daily basis.

After some time the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque at Europa Point was built for the Muslims here. It's a great building that is recommended to see. It was built by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and is the most southerly mosque in Europe and one of the largest outside of a non-Muslim country.

There are many ways to reach the top of the rock, where you of course find a cafe, a viewing platform and of course the famous monkeys. Don't think that the monkeys of Gibraltar are cute as some of them are quite aggressive and might run away with your purse or other belongings in no time if you get too close to them. On a guided tour, your guide will know which apes to approach and which ones to leave better alone!

Gibraltar has a variety of monuments scattered around the peninsula. If you want to go monument spotting make sure you don’t miss the Sikorski Monument, the Pillars of Hercules, the Royal Memorial Plaque, the Cradle of History Monument, the Gibraltar Museum, the British War Memorial and many more.

Your visit to Gibraltar holds a lot more in store than just the history and landscape. The above ground attractions of Gibraltar are amazing enough, but when you broaden your horizons and permit yourself to explore a little deeper into the underwater aspects of Gibraltar, you will truly find a whole new world opening up that offers almost more than that which lies above the water’s surface.

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Topics: Info about Spain

Who needs a visa to visit Gibraltar?

Posted by Peter Deth on May 26, 2016 10:08:26 AM

Where are you going on vacation? To Spain!
For many decades, Spain has a special sound as a holiday destination. To cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Granada and Cordoba probably everybody would like to go; at least once in a lifetime. Spain is also known for a holiday on the beach. Always sun, good food, relaxed and happy people and lots more make Spain world known. Also the rich and famous like to be in places like Marbella and the Costa del Sol. And once you are in southern Spain, of course, you also plan a visit to Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a strange but alluring fusion of British life from days gone by, with added Spanish weather, and a few other bits thrown in to the mix that are unique to the Gibraltarians.

Where is Gibraltar?
The history of Gibraltar has been driven by its strategic position near the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a narrow peninsula at the eastern side of the Bay of Gibraltar. Gibraltar is on the far south coast of Spain at one of the narrowest points in the Mediterranean, only 24 kilometres from the coast of Morocco in North Africa.

What is Gibraltar?
Gibraltar is a Crown Colony of Great Britain; is largely self-governed, with its own parliament and government, though the UK maintains responsibility for defense and foreign policy. Its economic success has made it one of the wealthiest areas of the European Union.

To visit Gibraltar you will need a valid ID card, a passport and in some cases also a visa to enter the country.

Things to do or see in Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar is well visible from the Costa del Sol, the Costa del la Luz and the northernmost coast of Morocco.

It is an impressive sight, and for travellers approaching by air this impact is heightened by the unique experience of the peninsula’s airport landing strip, which is partially built out onto the ocean and bisected midway by a working highway. Read more>

Who needs a visa to visit Gibraltar?
When planning your holiday, make sure that you have the necessary documentation for your trip. Each country has its own travel requirements for entry, as does Gibraltar have their own. Make sure that you have the proper documentation to assure that you can enter the Rock of Gibraltar for your vacation.

As a general rule you can say that those who require a visa to enter the United Kingdom also require a separate visa for entry to Gibraltar.

ID card or passport?
EU nationals do not need a visa. They can either use a passport or a valid national identity card to visit Gibraltar. Nationals of the EU can stay in Gibraltar of up to six months.

EU nationals can enter Gibraltar having a valid national identity card. All other nationals will need to present a valid passport.

A valid Passport is required by all visitors from Australia, Great Britain, Canada and the USA. Citizens from those countries do not need a visa. Nationals of Australia, Canada and the USA can stay in Gibraltar of up to three months.

Schengen visa
Nationals or citizens of Morocco, the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, India or Russia do not need a visa for Gibraltar if they are holders of multiple entry Schengen visas with a minimum remaining validity of 7 days on the date of departure. These persons are allowed to enter Gibraltar for a maximum period of 21 days.

Gibraltar is not part of the Schengen area. However, Schengen visa holders from some countries may visit Gibraltar visa-free for up to 21 days, provided they have at least seven days remaining on the visa; check with the Government of Gibraltar for a list of eligible countries.

Persons who hold a Schengen visa and intend to enter Gibraltar from Spain should also take steps to assure that they will be able to return to Spain again once they have left Gibraltar.
Stateless people or nationals from several other countries will need a visa to enter Gibraltar.

What is Schengen?
Schengen is the world’s largest passport-free zone. In broad strokes, “Schengen” refers to the passport-free zone that covers most of Europe. It’s the largest free travel area in the world: 400 million EU citizens can move around as they please, and tourists can travel by land from Portugal to Northern Finland without any passport control.

Schengen states apply common rules for people entering the EU, including rules on documents checks and visa requirements. But they’re also required to maintain close police and judicial relations with each other to avoid criminals exploiting the system. National police in the Schengen states, for example, can cross into other countries in hot pursuit.

Police cooperation also extends to the Schengen Information System, a common database and alert system for suspect persons or objects, which members are required to use.

Twenty two out of 28 EU countries are now Schengen members, along with four non-EU countries: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Of the six EU countries outside Schengen: The UK and Ireland chose not to enter, while Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus still have to adopt the host of rules required for entry.

History of Schengen
The Schengen Agreement - named after the wine-making village in Luxembourg where it was signed - kick-started the process that gradually erased internal borders and allowed freedom of movement across much of the EU.

The 1985 Schengen Agreement was signed as a standalone agreement outside EU competence by only five of the then 10 member states - Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It proposed cooperation to limit border restrictions.

But the commitment to freedom of movement was bolstered in 1990 with the signing of the Schengen Convention, which almost fully removed border controls and established a common visa policy for the Schengen Area - effectively allowing complete freedom of movement across the bloc.

Discover Gibraltar from a different side?
Your visit to Gibraltar holds a lot more in store than just the history and landscape. The above ground attractions of Gibraltar are amazing enough, but when you broaden your horizons and permit yourself to explore a little deeper into the underwater aspects of Gibraltar, you will truly find a whole new world opening up that offers almost more than that which lies above the water’s surface.

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Topics: Dive sites

What is a National Geographic Open Water Diver?

Posted by Peter Deth on May 2, 2016 10:45:39 PM

Are you at a point in your research about different scuba diving course options?

Are you interested in dive training where you will learn to explore the underwater world?

Would you like to learn to observe and explore like an underwater scientist?
If so, it’s time to have a look at the PADI National Geographic Diver certification.

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Topics: Diving courses

What entails a PADI Open Water Diver course?

Posted by Peter Deth on Apr 10, 2016 10:30:55 PM

PADI divers are the most respected divers in the world. 80% of all scuba divers worldwide are PADI divers. The PADI certification card will be recognized wherever you go. On most dives you do you are surrounded by divers who did the same then you - to train with the world’s largest and most respected scuba diving training organization.

The PADI System of diver education is the most instructionally solid system in diving. PADI courses are designed to make learning enjoyable and worthwhile. Under the guidance of your professional PADI Instructor, you gain confidence while mastering important safety concepts and skills. PADI Instructors are trained and held to diving’s highest standards, backed up by a solid, proactive quality management system.

All PADI programs and courses, from entry-level (Discover Scuba Diving) through scuba instructor training, fall under strict educational standards monitored for worldwide consistency and quality. PADI takes a proactive approach to quality management and frequently surveys PADI divers to confirm that the courses they have taken meet PADI’s high standards as well as the divers’ expectations. No other diver training organization has this approach to maintain this level of professional reliability and integrity.

Generally a PADI Open Water Diver course, like all other PADI courses, is a standardized course. This means that all PADI courses worldwide include the same course content. Due to the flexibility of the course structure each instructor or dive centre might organize the Open Water Divers course slightly different than others; this due to varying infrastructural needs of each location.

What entails a PADI Open Water Diver course?
The PADI Open Water Diver course is flexible, modular and performance based, which means that dive centers can offer some different schedules. 
It usually takes four to five days. Your course can also be run over several weekends.

The instructor will focus on helping you become a confident and comfortable diver, not on how long it takes. This means that you progress at your own pace – faster or slower depending upon the time you need – to become a competent scuba diver.

The PADI Open Water Diver course consists of three sections: Pool and/ or Confined Water Dives, Knowledge Development (theory) and Open Water Dives.

During the Pool and/ or Confined Water Dives you will experience what it’s all about – diving. You'll develop basic scuba skills in a pool or in confined water. 

“Confined Water” means pool like conditions – in some areas of the world there are no pools available; like on the Maledives and some other tropical places.
In these areas the beginner training can be done in shallow water in the sea. 

The basic scuba skills you learn during your certification course will help you become familiar with your scuba gear. Some of the essential skills you learn include: Setting up your scuba gear, How to get water out of your mask, Entering and exiting the water, Buoyancy control, Safety procedures and a lot more.

You'll practice these skills with an instructor until you're comfortable. When you're ready, it's time to continue your underwater adventure in open water.

Parallel to your confined water dives you`ll do five theory (Knowledge Development) lessons. You'll learn the basic principles of scuba diving such as how to choose the right scuba gear for you, what to consider when planning dives, underwater signals and other diving procedures.

You'll learn this valuable information by reading it in the PADI Open Water Diver Manual or by using the tablet version - PADI Open Water Diver Touch™, or online with PADI eLearning®. At the end of each chapter, you'll answer questions about the material to ensure you understand it. Along the way, let your PADI Instructor know if there is anything you don't understand. At the end of the course, you’ll take a final exam that ensures you have thorough knowledge of scuba diving basics.

You'll also watch videos that preview the scuba skills you'll practice in a swimming pool or pool-like environment. In addition to the video, your instructor will demonstrate each skill for you.

After your confined water dives, you'll head to "open water", where you and your instructor will make four or more dives, usually over two or three days. On these dives you'll get to explore the underwater world.
You'll apply the skills you learned in confined water while enjoying what the local environment has to offer.

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Topics: Diving courses

Dive sites of the Costa del Sol

Posted by Peter Deth on Apr 4, 2016 2:45:37 PM

Many divers focus on the tropical waters of Thailand, Australia, the Philippines or places like the Red Sea for what they would consider to be the best diving, but the Mediterranean has much to offer to both the novice and the experienced diver. The Mediterranean Sea is around 4000 km long and is in fact the largest enclosed sea on the planet.

The subtropical waters are warm and temperate, never too cold and never too warm. Generally the waters of the Mediterranean are too cold for the formation of coral reefs (which need a minimum of 20°C all year), but the Mediterranean Sea has developed a rich and diverse spectrum of flora and fauna of its own.

Where is the Costa del Sol?
The Costa del Sol, which means "Coast of the Sun" or "Sun Coast" is a region in the south of Spain, being part of Andalusia, comprising the coastal towns and communities along the coastline of the Province of Málaga.

The Costa del Sol is situated between the coastal regions of the Costa de la Luz and the Costa Tropical. Formerly made up only of a series of small fishing settlements, today the region is a world renowned tourist destination.

The Costa del Sol includes the city of Málaga and also towns like Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Marbella, San Pedro de Alcántara, Estepona, Nerja, and Torrox.

This shoreline region extends from the cliffs at Maro in the east to Punta Chullera in the west. The coast shows a diversity of landscapes: beaches, cliffs, estuaries, bays and dunes.

What is the best time to dive on the Costa del Sol?
The Costa del Sol is renowned to have the best all year round climate in Europe and this makes it possible to dive at any time of the year.

The stretch of coast between Marbella and Estepona is especially interesting for its variety of marine life. In this area two seas are meeting each other – the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. Being so close to the Atlantic the influence of this ocean can still be felt; between the Straights of Gibraltar and Malaga waters are still tidal.

Abundant marine life from both seas is guaranteed. Don’t expect the “big ones”, you won’t see them. They are here, but more in deeper waters. It’s more the small and pretty animals you`ll see.

Typical marine species to see are: octopus, cuttle fish, different types of shoaling wrasses, blennies, gobies, scorpion fish, spider crabs, conger and moray eels, many different nudibranchs and a lot more… the diving season is year-round.

Water Temperature: It ranges from 14°C in the winter months to 24-27°C in summer and in autumn. The water reaches its lowest temperatures between January to March and starts warming up from April onwards with its peak temperatures between July and October. Depending on winds the water can be still very nice and warm in November and December.

Weather: Air temperatures average 10-15°C in January and 25-40°C in July and August. The Costa del Sol gets sunshine most of the year with January being the wettest month, but it has less than 10 days of rain on average.

Dive sites of the Costa del Sol
Keeping in mind that the Costa del Sol is more than 150 km long, following a description of some of the coasts dive sites.

La Herradura and Marina del Este is home of Europe`s first ever Marine National Park and one of Spain`s most popular dive sites. Visibility ranges from 10 to 30 meters. 

The Costa Tropical has a number of protected bays to satisfy both beginner divers and the more experienced. Lying at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, this rocky shoreline hosts a variety of marine life.

Octopus, conger and moray eels, lobster, grouper, damsels, different wrasses, scorpion fish and nudibranches, together with a variety of faunas and corals, can be seen during most dives. With a little luck there are also sun fish around.

Diving on the various dive sites, like Cerro Gordo, La Calita and Punto de la Mona, which are in a depth range from 8 to 40 meters, gives a wide area with different dive options, catering for all levels of experience.
Cerro Gordo is a site in the Marine National Park where divers will find several caves, caverns, chimneys, cliffs and tunnels. It is a great dive site for divers of all levels. Thanks to rich marine life it may be a spectacular dive. Species likely to be seen in this area include octopi, cuttlefish, congers, morays and damselfish. Advanced divers may try cave diving in this area. The entrance to the Cerro Gordo Cavern is situated at a depth of 16 m. Inside the cavern there is a hole in the ceiling and light coming through it create spectacular views.
La Calita is also often called “Los Gigantes”. It is famous for abundant marine life and a great site for underwater photographers.
Another dive involves following the cliff wall, which forms the eastern part of Punta de la Mona. Huge rocks protrude from the cliff face. Of particular interest is the rich marine life on the vertical walls, where sponges and soft corals show off their colors.

Depth:          10 - 30 m
Type of dive: boat dive
Requirement: PADI Open Water Diver/ PADI Advanced Open Water Diver

Torre Marbella (Marbella Tower) is the most famous dive site in Marbella. The Tower is an old iron ore cargo loading tower from the 1950s and 60s which was used until the 1970s. Now it serves as artificial reef and home to many marine species.
It is located close to the fishing port of Marbella. The dive site consists of 2 towers which are about 100 m and 250 m off the shoreline in the sea.
The tower closer to the shore is rarely visited by divers even though its walls are nicely covered by interesting marine life (depth 6 m).

During one of the 2004 winter storms this tower tilted over and ever since has been lying on its side completely submerged by water. The second tower was the cargo station where cargo ships were loaded. It is standing on a hill which ranges from 6- 11 m in depth. Underwater on the tower’s walls there is a lot to see. Small conger and moray eels, different types of crabs, nudybranchs and so on can be found in cracks and holes.

On the upper side of the hill, in only 6 metres of depth, is the home of both octopus and brittle stars. On the sea bed at a depth of 11 metres you can find some of the tower’s segments broken off. These are up to 30 metres long. Even here a lot of marine life can be found. At this dive site there are always schools of wrasses. There are also two small wrecks of cargo ships in this area.

Depth:           10 - 11 m
Type of dive:  shore or boat dive
Requirements: PADI Open Water Diver

Barco antiguo (antique ship) are the remains of an ancient ship. It is a mere 150 metres off the shore at a depth of 5-6 metres. The locals call it the "Galeón" which means galley and they tell us that the cannons were stolen years ago.
According to research the wreck is the French galley “Lys”. This sank in 1703 after being set alight by the French army themselves whilst escaping from the Spanish.
Nobody was killed and the French army fled towards Marbella.

Today there are the remains of the wooden hull and some of the frame. The length of the wreck is an impressive 60- 70 metres. The whole wreck is covered by marine plants and animals. Schools of wrasses and the Mediterranean trigger fish can be frequently sighted here. Furthermore, a rich sample of Costa Del Sol marine life seems to be concentrated here.

In terms of both variety and concentration of marine life Barco antiguo is a very interesting dive site. For this reason and its shallow location, it is also the favorite dive site of the "diving kids".

Depth:            6 - 7 m
Type of dive:  shore or boat dive
Requirements: PADI Open Water Diver

Punto Atalaya and Arrecife; west of Estepona in the direction of Gibraltar, the Costa del Sol starts to become very rocky. The dives at this part of the coast are largely situated off the beach.
They consist mainly of underwater landscapes, cañons and interesting rock formations. "Sea fingers" and "Green Bonellia" can be found at a depth of only 6 metres.
Punto Atalaya is quite a large dive site offering many opportunities. The underwater landscape is dominated by rock formations which are up to 6-7 m high. Between the rocks patches of sand can be found.
Arrecife, which means “reef”, can be only dived by the more experienced divers. The actual dive site is about 300 metres off the shore line. In order to retain enough air for the dive itself the site must be accessed by a surface swim. From the shore the dive site can only be viewed at low tide, when the rocks break on the surface. Once the site is reached you will descend to about 7 metres to the east of the rock formation that breaks the surface. Here you will find a small wall thoroughly covered by very pretty glowing orange corals. Continuing you will dive through swim-trough’s and pass 5-6 m high rock formations. At the latest you should start to return to shore when you have a “half-tank”.

Depth:           6 - 12 m
Type of dive:  shore or boat dive
Requirements: PADI Open Water Diver

Las Bovedas is one of the top ten dive sites in Spain! Placer de las Bovedas (which means the Domes) is a large reef that is situated about 3 nautical miles (approx. 6 km) off the coast from San Pedro de Alcántara.
The reef is about 1 km long and 500 metres wide. From the shore side the reef rises from approx. 30 metres in depth to its shallowest point of about 20 metres deep. It then drops down to its deepest point on its southern side.

Dives starts at about 20 metres and continue to a maximum of 40 metres. Due to the fact that here no commercial fishing is carried out groupers over 1 metre in length and other large specimens of sea life can be seen. The visibility is around 20 m. In general the reef is rocky and has beautiful canons, valleys, walls and overhanging rocks.
The nicest flora and fauna from both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean can be found here. Huge schools of fish accompany the divers, making dives at Placer de las Bovedas unforgettable.

Dives can only be carried out here when the weather is good and the sea is calm. Due to the depth of the dives (20 - 40 metres) only advanced divers should dive on this site. 
Usually 2-tank dives will be carried out, which means 2 followed dives with a surface interval in between. As the dive sites in Las Bovedas are situated in the open sea, very close to the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean, tidal currents can exist. Demanding current- , drift- and deep dives are guaranteed. Due to the expansion of the reef a good deal of dive sites are yet to be discovered.

Depth:           20 - 40 m
Type of dive:  boat dive
Requirements: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver/ PADI Deep Diver

For those who have dived already a few times on the Costa del Sol`s local sites and now want to see something different there are also the diving areas of Gibraltar and Tarifa close by.

The fantastic dive sites around Gibraltar are known for its nice wreck diving. It is possible to see a total of five wrecks in two dives.

Have you ever been diving on the furthest southerly point in Europe? In Tarifa the diver can expect crystal clear waters, good visibility and nice rock formations all covered with abundant marine life. Tarifa is famous for its nice wall dives.

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Topics: Dive sites

Scuba diving in Estepona

Posted by Peter Deth on Mar 27, 2016 8:24:24 PM

Everyone knows Marbella or at least has heard about it. Estepona is nearby but a little less known than Marbella. Why not going there on a holiday? It has so much to offer for everyone. You can go to Estepona on your own, as a couple or with your whole family. For sure there is a lot to do and discover for every type of holidaymaker; also for people who are interested in scuba diving in Estepona.

Where is Estepona?
Estepona is a town and municipality on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. It is located in the province of Málaga and part of Andalusia. Spain’s Costa del Sol has been famous for long for those in search of sunshine, good food and nice surroundings.

The Costa del Sol is laying on the Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and the Strait of Gibraltar. Its district covers an area of 137 square kilometers in a fertile valley crossed by small streams and a mountainous areas dominated by the Sierra Bermeja, which reaches an elevation of 1,449 m at the peak of Los Reales.

Estepona is renowned for its nice beaches, which stretch along some 21 km of coastline. It is a popular resort and holiday destination. Due to its natural environment, surrounded by the sea and the mountains, Estepona has a micro-climate with over 325 days of sunshine per year. It’s never very cold in winter and never extremely hot in summer. In winter the average temperature is about 16 °C and in summer it’s about 25-30 °C.

Estepona is a popular year-round holiday destination; it has two EC Blue Flag beaches, a modern sports marina with many tapas bars and restaurants. The white-walled town center has many shops and picturesque squares. In the early 1990s, the Walt Disney Company chose Estepona as the original site for its Eurodisney project, but Paris, France was later awarded the installation.

Gibraltar Airport is the nearest international airport to Estepona. It is 45 km away and has direct flights mainly to the UK, like to Manchester, London Gatwick and London Luton. 

Málaga Airport is the next nearest international airport to Estepona and is located approximately 80 km away. Estepona is served by the A7 Autovía which runs along the Costa del Sol. There is also a toll road, called the AP7 Autopista, which provides faster travelling along the route between Málaga and Estepona by-passing many of the urban areas, such as Marbella.

What is Estepona?
It is the second most important tourist city of the Costa del Sol and throughout most of the year is an international tourist attraction, due mainly to its climate and tourist infrastructure.

The population of the city is around 70.000 inhabitants; but it is a real floating population with much higher numbers than mentioned before. Estepona is a second home and summer destination.

Estepona also has one of the highest percentages of foreign population in Andalusia which is up to 25% of its total population. The composition of new inhabitants is multicultural, people from 103 countries from five continents.

Spain’s Costa del Sol has been famous for long for those in search of sunshine, good food and nice surroundings. Its appeal doesn’t show any signs of slowing down and while the resorts of Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola continue to attract the tourists, Marbella and Estepona steals the crown for its sunshine chic.

Golf is another of the Costa del Sol’s specialties. You’ll be spoilt for choice with courses in and around Estepona. Estepona Golf, Valle Romano Golf & Resort, Flamingos Golf Club and Atalaya Golf & Country Club are just some of the places you could tee up, many with great views of the sea.

Scuba diving in Estepona
The Costa del Sol has long been recognized as one of the most interesting places in Spain to dive, benefiting from year round sun-shine and warm temperatures making it an ideal holiday destination for divers and non-divers alike.

The stretch of coast between Marbella and Estepona is especially interesting for its variety of marine life. In this area two seas are meeting each other – the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. Abundant marine life from both seas is guaranteed. Don’t expect the “big ones”, you won’t see them. They are here, but more in very deep waters. It’s more the small and pretty animals you`ll see.

Who can dive in Estepona?
There are literally dive sites for all training levels. For the in-experienced dive beginner or holiday divers, the advanced divers as well as for the ambitious scuba divers and technical divers. 

Dive sites like the Barco antiguo and Tubo are nice and easy sites to dive; whereas the large area of Las Bovedas with its many different sites, Pamela and Roqueillos are exclusively for advanced and more experienced divers. For those who want to do longer and/ or technical dives Las Bovedas and Roqueillos are both sites of great interest.

People who are more interested in full day trips can go on day excursions available to the many wrecks in Gibraltar and to the stunning wall dive sites of Tarifa.

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Topics: Dive sites

How to equalize ears when scuba diving?

Posted by Peter Deth on Mar 20, 2016 8:23:28 PM

One of the first things you learn when you start scuba diving is to equalize your ears. Let’s have a look into why we need to equalize the ears and how to do it to prevent discomfort and problems while diving.

Why do divers need to equalize their ears?
Water pressure increases as we go deeper. The outer ear is directly affected by the pressure of the surrounding environment (water) and the pressure in the outer ear increases as a diver descends. The middle ear is sealed to the outer ear by the ear drum so the pressure in the middle ear does not change. If a diver descends without equalizing his ears, the increased pressure in the outer ear relative to the middle ear flexes the eardrum inwards. A discomfort is felt as the eardrum bends inwards.

A diver must equalize the air pressure in his middle ear to the same pressure in his outer ear or he risks a squeeze or even rupturing his ear drum. In technical terms this is called a middle ear barotrauma which is a pressure related injury. Fortunately, ear injuries are preventable.

Your middle ears are dead air spaces, connected to the outer world only by the Eustachian tubes running to the back of your throat.

Equalizing your ears refers to opening up the lower ends of your Eustachian tubes (located in the mouth) allowing air to enter the cavity in your middle ears, to counter the pressure from the outside as you dive deeper.

If you fail to increase the pressure in your middle ears to match the pressure in your outer and inner ears, the result is painful middle ear barotrauma, the most common pressure-related ear injury.

The key to safe equalizing is opening the normally closed Eustachian tubes. Each has a kind of one way valve at its lower end called the “Eustachian cushion,” which prevents contaminants in your nose from migrating up to your middle ears. Opening the tubes, to allow higher-pressure air from your throat to enter your middle ears, normally requires a conscious act.

How to equalize ears when scuba diving?
All methods for equalizing your ears are simply ways to open the lower ends of your Eustachian tubes, so air can enter.
To equalize the air pressure in his middle ear during descent, a diver must manually open his Eustachian tube to allow high pressure air to fill the middle ear. This is easier than it sounds. Divers can equalize their ears using any of the following common techniques.

Valsalva maneuver
The most common way to equalize taught to most divers is known as the “Valsalva maneuver”. The Valsalva method is done by pinching your nose so that no air can pass through your nostrils, and then gently “blow” your nose. This action forces air into your middle ear, equalizing the pressure within to the outside pressure. The resulting overpressure in your throat usually forces air up your Eustachian tubes. Often you can hear a popping or clicking sound.

Swallow or wiggle your jaw
While keeping the regulator in your mouth, swallow or wiggle your jaw.

Frenzel Maneuver
Preform a very gentle Valsalva maneuver by breathing against pinched nostrils and swallowing at the same time.

What is the best method to equalize your ears?
All above mentioned methods are different ways of opening the normally closed Eustachian tubes, reducing the pressure differential between the outer ear and middle ear. The safest equalization methods utilize the muscles of the throat to open the tubes (swallowing and wiggling the jaws). Unfortunately, the Valsalva maneuver that most divers are taught does not activate these muscles, but forces air from the throat into the Eustachian tubes.

That’s fine as long as the diver keeps the tubes open ahead of the exterior pressure changes. However, if a diver does not equalize early or often enough, the pressure differential can force the soft tissues together, closing the ends of the tubes. Forcing air against these soft tissues just locks them shut. No air gets to the middle ears, which do not equalize so barotrauma results. Even worse, blowing too hard during a Valsalva maneuver can rupture the round and oval windows of the inner ear.

Blowing against a blocked nose raises your internal fluid pressure, including the fluid pressure in your inner ear, which may rupture your “round windows.” So don’t blow too hard, and don’t maintain pressure for more than five seconds.

How often should you equalize the ears while descending?
The answer varies from diver to diver. The general rule is that a diver should equalize his ears before he feels pain or discomfort. Most divers equalize their ears every few meters while descending. Keep in mind if a divers ascends a little bit, he will have to re-equalize his ears as he descends again. A diver cannot over-equalize his ears, so when in doubt, equalize!

Do you have to equalize the ears while ascending?
Usually, divers do not have to manually equalize their ears as they ascend. As the water pressure decreases on ascent, the pressure in the middle ear becomes greater than the pressure in the outer ear.The extra air pressure usually bubbles out the Eustachian tube automatically.

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Topics: Diving courses