Does cheaper always mean that corners are cut and quality is compromised? We often get asked the question how much a dive course cost and why some are more expensive than others. A dive course usually takes 3 days to complete and involves theory, pool training as well as open water dives. Let’s start with simple math to give you a feel for what costs are involved. There are 6 cost components associated with a dive course.


01 Wages – The course will be conducted by a PADI Dive Instructor who earns around $140 to $210 a day in our area. This will add up to at least $420 for 3 days. On top of this comes the need for a qualified surface watch that will keep an eye on you and your instructor whilst in the water. This person is trained in first aid and has first aid kit, emergency oxygen as well as an AED on standby.

02 Theory materials and certification costs. To get your eLearning login as well as PADI card, you will have to pay approximately $150 as a minimum.

03 Dive Equipment – A full set of dive equipment retails at around $2,300 plus ongoing servicing costs. To hire a full set of dive equipment for a single day would cost around $50 to $70 per day. The minimum charge would $150 over 3 days.

04 Pool Entry Fees – Most pool charge more for scuba training. The cost per diver is around $30 including the instructor.

05 Boat Charter Costs – Whilst conducting your 4 Open Water Dives, you will take up space on a charter vessel that could otherwise be sold to a certified diver. The cost price for a double dive trip varies with the shop and type of vessel but could probably be estimated with $80, adding up to $160 over 2 days of Open Water Diving.

06 Airfills – Over the 3 days you will breath through about 5-6 tanks of air plus the air your instructor uses so allow for about $60 cost price for airfills.


Let’s sum this up! Assuming there is only one student in the course, the total cost would add up to $970. The dive centre has now not earned any money yet as the above outline purely covers the direct costs and ongoing maintenance due to wear and tear of equipment. A dive centre has overhead costs in addition including rent, insurances, marketing, salaries, cars, fees, subscriptions, training etc.


So why are their dive courses for as little as $395 and why is an industry devaluing itself? Let’s run through the 6 components again and lets see how costs can be saved and cut to the bear minimum.


01 Wages – There are only 3 options to reduce the cost for wages associated with a dive course. First, the instructor is not paid fairly in accordance with the Fair Work Act and is taken advantage of. Second, the number of students need to increase to the maximum as 1 instructor can teach up to 8 students in most instances. Third, the course duration is squeezed into 2 days rather than 3 days, cutting down 1 days worth of wages and/or a surface watch is not utilised. Our recommendation for a dive course duration is 3 days with a maximum of 4 students per instructor to allow individualised training.

02 Theory Materials – There is not much room to save any dollars as each student requires its own set of materials. Some dive centres chose different agencies to achieve the cheapest possible student materials. We chose PADI as the overall support and benefits for us as a dive centre outweighs any sort of saving on student materials that other agencies may offer. It will also offer the student the most popular and globally most respected diving certification.

03 Dive Equipment – Many dive centres do not consider the hire costs (wear and tear) for dive equipment and assume it is already paid for elsewhere. It can certainly be seen as an investment into a potential new loyal customer. You will also find that some dive centres’s equipment is quite run down and used for longer than it should. Some dive centres hide additional costs in equipment for example by not providing a mask and snorkel for hygiene reasons, forcing the student to purchase a mask and snorkel before the course at around $120 to $160.

04 Pool Entry Fees – A small component that does not really offer much savings as most public pools charge on a per diver basis.

05 Boat Charter Costs – The most common saving on boat charter costs is to conduct Open Water Dives from shore in rivers rather than from boats. A further saving could be to take a similar approach to the dive equipment and assume the boat operation is already paid for elsewhere. Some operators do not realise how much it cost to run a compliant dive vessel over a period of 5-8 years. It is not unusual that dive businesses get into financial difficulties years down the track when suddenly huge maintenance and repair bills hit without a maintenance fund that was build up over previous years to cover the larger 1 in 5 years expenses.

06 Airfills – Similar to dive equipment and boat charter costs. Turning on the compressor to fill 10 tanks seems for free in the moment but there is an inarguable cost for each tankfill to cover power, filters, maintenance and compliance testing.


It now becomes more clear how we can achieve $395 per course but why are course offered that actually make no-one any money? One last thing to consider is every business owners commercial freedom and decisions on price. It is undeniable that Open Water Courses are sometimes used as a promotional product  so please ask some questions before signing up for cheap course.

01 How many students will be in my course?

02 Do I dive from shore or from a boat?

03 Do I dive inshore or offshore?

04 Are there any hidden costs such as equipment hire?

If the answers to these questions satisfy you then please go for it.


Finally, please bear in mind that diving is not the cheapest hobby. If you believe that you can’t afford $595 to $645 for a personalised dive course, then chances are you will not be able to afford diving as a regular hobby. The cost for dive charters once certified range from $120 to $250 for a double boat dive trip depending on you gear hire needs. Cheaper options are to buy your own gear and dive from shore.


We hope you found this information useful and it provided you a basic understanding why dive course prices vary in between dive centres. If you like to find out more about Gold Coast Dive Adventures 3 day PADI Learn to Dive Experience, simply click on the link below.