Diving Course in Taganga, Colombia

Completing a diving course in Taganga was one of my favourite things I did in Colombia. There are plenty of reliable dive operators, there’s a great coastline to explore, and it’s one of the cheapest places in the world to become a certified diver.


Adam and I opted for an open water SDI qualification with the wonderful Reef Shepherd. For more about choosing a diving course in Taganga, click here. Or, to find out how my open water diving course in Taganga went, read on!


Woman underwater with scuba equipment doing a diving course in Taganga

Me in my scuba gear- Photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers


Open Water Diving Course in Taganga: Day 1

We had booked the course with Reef Shepherd on arrival in Taganga, and the following day we headed to the dive centre to begin our training. The course started off with an hour and a half of instructional videos, where we learned about diving safety and the basics about equipment. Though it was interesting, it became a bit monotonous towards the end. I was glad we hadn’t signed up for a PADI course, which involves a tedious four hours of video instruction.


We were introduced to our instructor, a friendly man named Santiago. He gave us instructional manuals and a questionnaire to fill out as homework during the course, and told us to come back at 2pm for our first dive.


We were given the choice of taking our first dive in the sea or in a swimming pool. I had recently met a girl who told me horror stories of her first time in the sea- desperately trying to stay afloat as her mouthpiece filled with water and her instructor was nowhere to be seen. So, on her advice, I opted to start in the pool (Santiago seemed really surprised by this, as most people start in the sea- I spent the next few days trying to convince him that I was not, in fact, terrified of diving).

After being shown how to put together our gear, we strapped it to our bodies and stood in the shallow pool. Santiago walked us through the different parts of our equipment, and showed us how to check our remaining air levels, inflate and deflate our jackets, and breathe through our regulators.


We then ducked down under the water to practise our basic procedures. These would become very familiar to us over the next couple of days, and included losing our regulator and finding it again, signalling that we are out of air and using our dive partner’s backup regulator, and flooding our masks and expelling the water. After an hour or so in the pool we had practised all of the basics, and we eager to get into the sea the next day.


Photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada

Photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers


Open Water Diving Course in Taganga: Day 2

We arrived at the dive centre early the following morning, and after putting together our equipment, we left to take our first trip into the sea. Some other diving groups joined us on the boat, and together we headed off to the dive point.


I had my first bout of nerves as we were donning our gear, when we were instructed to fall backwards from the side of the boat. Being weighed down with heavy equipment and falling blindly into the water is a frightening start for a beginner! But I managed it, and together Santiago, his assistant, Adam, and I sank to the sea floor.


And so we were off exploring the beautiful underwater world. We swam through stunning coral reefs, among eels, anemones, and a massive array of colourful fish.



Photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers


One of the more interesting sights was a lion fish, a large creature with delicate protruding fronds. Santiago later told us that this was a beautiful but invasive species. They are in high demand as exotic pets in the U.S., and, when their tanks are cleaned, their eggs are flushed into the ocean, where they are flourishing without natural predators.


We practised our procedures from the previous day: borrowing each other’s emergency air supply, flooding and clearing our masks, and removing and replacing our regulators. This last one came in handy a few minutes later, when Adam accidentally yanked my regulator from my mouth, leaving me flailing to find it again.


Sharing an underwater kiss- Photo

Sharing an underwater kiss- Photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers


Open Water Diving Course in Taganga: Day 3

On our final day of diving, we headed out early on the boat to a nearby dive spot. This time we slid into the sea and practised putting on our equipment in the water. It didn’t go well. I bobbed about trying fruitlessly to get my arms into my jacket, while being splashed constantly in the face by waves. I ended up needing someone to steady my gear while I strapped it on.


I was already in a frustrated mood, and we hadn’t even begun to dive yet. My mood didn’t improve as I failed to sink with the others to the sea bed, instead bobbing helplessly near the surface.


When we were all finally sitting on the sea bed, we practised our procedures once more, before trying a new one- floating cross-legged in a Buddha pose, at neutral buoyancy. Adam nailed it on the first try, while I rolled every which way but up. With Santiago’s help, I finally managed to hold the pose for a few seconds.


We then headed off for a swim around the reef.



Photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers


Adam was a natural, moving effortlessly through the water. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, and with the added challenge of controlling my buoyancy I was struggling to move along with the others. My body seemed to move towards either the surface or the sea bed at random.


After a break on the shore, we went in for our final dive. I slowly started to get better control of my buoyancy, and by the time we reached the obstacle course, a series of metal rods that created a pathway to swim through, I managed to make my way through it with minimal crashing.


Meeting a sea turtle- Photo

Meeting a sea turtle- Photo courtesy of Santiago Estrada, Reef Shepherd Divers


As our final dive was nearing an end, the ocean had one last surprise in store for us- a sea turtle who swam right by us, completely unbothered by us invading his home. The underwater world is a fascinating place, and I’m already looking forward to our next diving opportunity.


We returned, shivering, to the shore, and dismantled our equipment one last time. After checking our completed questionnaires and printing our SDI id cards, Santiago declared that we were now fully qualified open water divers.


Open water, here we come!

Open water, here we come!


Check out a list of tips for choosing a scuba diving course in Taganga, or, for a more relaxing experience, why not try floating down the river in nearby Palomino.

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