The waters along the central coast are not just for kayaking or going to the beach. Scuba diving is a popular activity and a unique way of exploring the ocean.
I love scuba diving the central coast because it offers an aquarium view with fish swimming through forests of swaying kelp. The only difference is that there is no glass window. You are a vulnerable visitor in the midst of wild, unpredictable nature.
For those just beginning scuba diving, there are Sports Chalets further south (in the Ventura area) that offer free introductory classes the first Saturday of the month. All you have to do is fill out a simple form before you get started. In this course, a certified instructor reviews the basic rules of scuba safety, the components of scuba equipment and how to use the equipment. After the quick introductory lesson, you jump in the pool and try scuba diving with all the gear on! When I went, they had hula hoops and underwater toys set up in the pool to play around in. It’s a fun, free way to see if scuba diving is an activity you want to take up.
Once you decide to “jump in the water,” you need to take a scuba certification course and get the necessary equipment. There are two major scuba certification agencies, SSI and PADI. As a PADI certified diver, I recommend going with this agency.
There are lots of places to rent or buy equipment from and get your certification from. Of course, Sports Chalet is always an inexpensive price, but I have found that the best quality equipment and service is found at the small scuba shops.
If you live near…
try Dive and Sport
San Luis Obispo:
try SloDivers (note though, that they only offer diving, not instructor courses)
There are also many levels of scuba certification, starting with Open Water Certification.
After Open Water, you can go on to get Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, and Divemaster. There are also many specialty courses offered with PADI.