Which adventure dives should you choose for the PADI Advanced Open Water Course – 5 of my favorites

Getting ready to take your PADI Advanced Open Water course? Your instructor will tell you that of the 5 adventure dives needed to complete the course, you get to pick 3 of them. The other 2 are required – Deep Diver, and Underwater Navigator. So you start looking over the options and now you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the adventure dives that are offered, right?  I know I was! As a PADI Dive Instructor here in sunny Cabo San Lucas, let me tell you about five of my favorite adventure dives. 

Peak Performance Buoyancy

Buoyancy is one of the most fundamental and important skills in diving. Ask any diver how their buoyancy is and you will hear something along the line of “it’s getting there” or “it could use some work”.  Ask Jay Clue, with over 7,000 dives, how his buoyancy is and he will say “I still love doing practice drills with my photography, tec, & Sidemount students as well as finding new ways to improve or tweak it to make it even better”. Buoyancy is something you will always want to improve. Yet as a beginner buoyancy is often overlooked or neglected. A quick weight check at the start of the dive and a minute or two under the water to get yourself comfortable then you set off to explore. We all spend too little time working on our buoyancy.

If you take on the Peak Performance Buoyancy adventure dive you will spend the dive improving your buoyancy skills. You will practice gliding and breath control, and get help streamlining your equipment all whilst learning how to dive in proper trim position. This will benefit not only you, but also the underwater environment that you love. Peak Performance Buoyancy is a must in any PADI Advanced Open Water course. 

PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy adventure dive
night dive in Cabo San Lucas with jeweled moray eel

Night Dive

Night diving offers a whole new range of weird and wonderful creatures to observe. The closer you look the more you will find. You could spend an entire dive looking at a 10ft x 10ft area of a reef. Alternatively, you can set out to find larger creatures hunting such as moray eels looking for a snack or lobsters out wandering along the reef. You will also see plenty of animals that you are familiar with but they will often behave very differently. You never know what you might find and that’s part of the fun.

I recommend this adventure dive to everyone, but admit I am extremely bias as I LOVE night dives. If you have never dived at night then it is something you should add to your bucket list. I especially recommend this adventure dive to those that find the thought of diving at night a little bit intimidating. The advance course is the perfect time to try out something new as you will be under the watchful eye of a trained professional.  With a little training night dives are safe and rewarding. They are also potentially the most relaxing dives you will ever do. You won’t regret undertaking a night adventure dive.

Dive Against Debris

Participating in a Dive Against Debris in your local area is one of the more fun diving activities that I have experienced. You not only get to dive, but you also get the chance to meet new and similarly minded people and socialize whilst doing something good for the environment. At the end of the day you go home with a warm fuzzy feeling knowing you’ve done something that matters. 

Doing a Dive Against Debris adventure dive will help you learn more about the processes behind the Dive Against Debris and what the project hopes to accomplish. You will also learn how to log a clean dive as well as how to organize events. You will learn that every dive can, and should, be a Dive Against Debris and that they don’t necessarily have to take place underwater. The Dive Against Debris adventure dive is highly rewarding and a great choice for your advance course. You can also upgrade and do 1 more dive to get the full PADI AWARE Dive Against Debris Diver certification too!

PADI Dive against debris course in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
PADI Rescue Diver Course in Cabo San Lucas with Dive Ninja

Rescue Diver

Rescuing a panicked or injured diver is best suited to those with experience, training and confidence in their abilities………. But……… Recognizing the signs of a distressed diver and fixing a small problem before they escalate can be done by anyone. Recognizing a cramp or tired diver and helping to remedy the issues can prevent a minor inconvenience turning into something worse. Likewise recognizing a larger issues and alerting others so they can render assistance can save a life. 

This new adventure dive will teach you a few critical skills you hope to never use, as well as more confidence in your diving. It will also give you an idea of what the next core course, the PADI Rescue Diver course, is like and why it is regarded as one of the most rewarding and fun to undertake. The Rescue adventure dive should be high on your list. 

Self Reliant Diver

Self-reliance is a mentality and trait of every good diver. We should all strive to be self-reliant under the water in order to be a safer diver, and a better dive buddy. 

In this adventure dive you will learn the importance of dive planning, self-checks, redundancy, air consumption management, and more. You will also be trained in the use of, and get to dive with, a redundant air supply.

This adventure dive is a little more challenging and I would suggest it for divers who already have a few dives under their belt. It is especially suited to those that want a glimpse into the tech diving world as well as anyone that eventually wants to learn about solo diving. It is not available at all dive centers as it requires Self Reliant Diver Instructors and may require a little extra time in the classroom, but it is definitely worth it! Dive Ninja’s technical diving instructor team are all Self Reliant Diver Instructors as well as highly experienced technical & cave diver instructors — so they will jump in to teach this adventure dive when scheduling permits. This way you know you’ll be learning this important adventure dive from highly accomplished instructors.

Self reliant diver course in side mount, in Cabo San Lucas mexico
sea turtle

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the number of adventure dives available in the PADI Advanced Open Water course intimidate you. They are all fun, and no matter which you choose it will teach you something new. But most importantly it will get you in the water sharpening your skills. If you still find that you can’t decide which, then I’d recommend asking your instructor. They might also be able to recommend adventure dives that are unique to their area, marine life, or environment!

Also keep in mind that many of the adventure dives can be credited towards a specialty course too. So you could continue on to take the specialty course as a package. For example with Dive Ninja you can take your Advanced Open Water Diver course along with the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy or PADI Enriched Air Nitrox diver course as a package and save $50 USD as well as as score an extra fun dive for free! There’s not much better than saving some cash and getting a free dive! Talk to your shop today about a package deal that will help you get the most bang for your buck.

Ryan Sault - profile pic with manatee. PADI Dive Instructor & PHotographer

Ryan Sault

Underwater photographer, PADI instructor, shark whisperer and sea potato aficionado.
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