Learning to cave dive is challenging, expensive and time consuming – as it should be! When travelling into earths’ inner spaces, help is far away if you run into trouble, so being able to rely on your skills and your equipment is paramount. If you are scared and feeling uncomfortable, you will not be able to fully take in the serenity and sense of exploration.
To get into cave diving, you will need to start with a good base of diving – if you can’t hover and you constantly leave a trail of kicked up sand behind you, you will need to keep practicing. There are lots of courses out there which can help with your fundamentals in diving and help you perfect your buoyancy and get you ready for the next steps such as PADI Peak Performance, GUE Fundamentals, RAID Explorer 30 and TDI Intro to Tech Diving.
You want an instructor that teaches diving full time and is specialized in cave diving. You will be learning in some challenging circumstances, this is a time to stay safe, not to scrimp. Do your research online, ask around for recommendations, then get in touch with your instructor and ask all the questions you might have. They will then in turn be advising you what the prerequisites are for your course. These differ from agency to agency, as well as depending on what level of cave diver training you want to do. The training levels differ, but a rough outline is:
Cavern Diving is still recreational diving, where you are always able to see daylight and can make a quick exit, as well as being able to dive with a single tank. It can be a really clever idea to do the cavern class first, to see if you want to commit the time and money to progress further into Technical Cave Diving.
Intro to Cave is when you will progress further into the caves and into Technical Diving and you will need to change your equipment configuration (if you haven’t already) from single tank to either sidemount or twin tanks/doubles. The course teaches you the critical survival skills needed to be safe whilst cave diving.
Full Cave is the level of mastery of cave diving and this is where you reach the goal of being a safe, proficient, and qualified cave diver. It gets you ready to adventure into many of the planets beautiful and unexplored inner spaces.
You can as well learn in several different gear configurations. These are sidemount and twin tanks/doubles. CCR can be an option, although this is rare and you will want to have plenty of hours on your unit, before venturing into caves on it. Again, you want to choose an instructor that is specialized in the gear configuration you will be learning in.
The route of learning to cave dive is long and challenging, but the journey to get there is, in itself, extremely rewarding. You will be challenging yourself, evolving as a diver and learning to trust in yourself and your own skills, whilst working towards being able to explore places were very few people have been, and are able to go.