How to Find a Diving Course in Taganga
Visitors flock to Taganga for pretty much one reason: scuba diving. The tiny town is overrun with dive centres. Each one offers knowledgeable staff, beautiful underwater landscapes to explore, and internationally recognised PADI and SDI courses. But perhaps the main attraction for divers is the price. This is one of the cheapest places in the world to become a certified diver. Here’s how to find a diving course in Taganga
Choosing an Operator
There are no shortage of dive operators in Taganga, so be sure to shop around to find the right one for you. Most offer similar prices, and this price is fixed. Though you may get a discount if you book more than one course.
When looking for an operator, ask about exactly what is on offer. Find out how many dives you will do, will the instruction be in English or Spanish, whether food is included, etc. Also, be sure to read reviews, ask for advice from your hostel, and talk to other travellers, to make sure you find a reliable and safe operator.
Adam and I did our diving course in Taganga with Reef Shepherd, whom I strongly recommend. Our instructor, Santiago, was wonderful. He always put us at ease, gave very clear instruction, and explained everything in flawless English (our Spanish is improving, but I doubt I’d trust myself to translate “now here’s what you do if your air supply gets cut off..”). Santiago is also an avid underwater photographer, and sent us professional photographs from our dive free of charge!
Booking a Diving Course in Taganga
There’s no need to book a course in advance. We just showed up, signed up, and started the following morning. Courses run every day, including weekends, and there’s no minimum number of people required.
Our open water diving course with Reef Shepherd cost COP600,000 (£140/ $206). We were able to pay by debit card (avoiding the long queues at Taganga’s sole ATM).
PADI or SDI?
We thought that PADI was the only internationally recognised diving qualification, but most dive operators in Taganga offered a choice of PADI or SDI. After doing a little research, we found that SDI was a similarly recognised qualification. Though the course itself has a few differences to PADI:
PADI courses include four hours of instructional videos, while SDI only requires one and a half hours.
PADI courses end with a final exam, while SDI courses use a take-home questionnaire instead.
SDI courses are cheaper (COP600,000 instead of COP700,000 or higher for PADI).
PADI also recognises SDI qualifications. This means that even though we opted for an SDI open-water course, should we decide in the future to proceed to an advanced course (spoiler alert: we will!), we still have the options of an SDI or a PADI course.
Read more about the differences between a PADI and and SDI course here.
Except for one fun dive many years ago, neither of us had really dived (dove? diven?) before. So we signed up for an open water course. This is a three day course that takes learners through the basics of scuba diving. Read more about our open water diving experience here.
Once learners have completed their open water course, they can continue on to the advanced course. During this course they dive deeper, and learn skills such as navigating underwater.
Learners can also progress to becoming Adventure Divers, where they undergo a number of speciality dives, and Rescue Divers, where they learn to become part of an underwater emergency rescue team.
The final step is to become a Master Scuba Diver. This status is achieved through a combination of multiple courses and many dives.
Speciality courses include: Underwater Naturalist, Night Diver, Wreck Diver, and more. For a complete list and description of each course, click here. Not all courses are offered by every dive centre, so for specialist courses, it’s best to find an operator before you arrive in Taganga.