I want to do SCUBA dive in the Philippines!

A statement I often hear! Firstly when it comes to SCUBA diving there is no such thing as a PADI unless you are referring to either a rice field or an Irish man (sorry Irish men!) However there is a training agency called PADI which stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Indeed PADI is just one of 65 training agencies which along with the other 64 are all regulated by the WRSTC(World Recreational Scuba Training Centre. PADI are indeed the largest of all the training agencies with over 6500 centres throughout the world. They have been the dominant agency for over 50 years now but maybe that will change within just a few years?  

Who owns PADI ?

A consortium of family wealth investors has now taken over the world’s largest dive training/membership organisation, which was founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson. In the message from PADI’s President and CEO, Drew Richardson, the new owners constitute a group of “conservation-minded family investors” based in North America.

Number 2 in terms of size is SSI, Scuba Schools International established some 45 years ago with more than 3500 centres and acknowledged now as the quickest growing training agency

Who owns SSI ?

They owned by Head N.V.  an American-Dutch sports and clothing company, which sells alpine skiing and tennis equipment who also own the SCUBA diving manufacturer Italian Mares one of the largest equipment manufacturers in the world

Aloof Nerd in a Rescue PADI certification

Other major agencies include:





I often get asked which or who is better. When it comes down to the actual training…there’s not really a lot of difference when you are in the water with your instructor. In fact the differences in the exercises for the open water course is minimal.

On a personal basis I believe the SSI training to be much more thorough. Let me give you an example to back this up. Once you have done your open water course with PADI you can immediately move on and do the Advanced course with them which consists of 5 speciality dives such as deep and navigation. At the end of this 2 day course you are now classified as PADI Advanced Open Water Diver. So you have total of 9 dives and are Advanced? Really? You may have just over 2 hours total time in the water and Advanced? Come on guys!  So what’s the situation with SSI I hear you say? Ok to get the Advanced Open water qualification you would need a total of 24 dives and have completed 4 speciality courses including theory and exam for all 4 specialities.

Personally the PADI system at this stage is about clever marketing whereas the SSI system is about experience.

So a question for you? If you had to choose a buddy for your next dive and one was just newly qualified PADI Advanced and the other newly qualified SSI Advanced…who would you choose?

SSI do have an alternative to the PADI Advanced course which is called Advanced Adventurer. Designed to give Open Water students a “taster” in 5 different types of diving such as deep, perfecting your buoyancy and maybe even a wreck dive (yes we have two ship wrecks in Port Barton!)

However when you look at things like training materials..SSI do seem to appear to be a long long way ahead.

If you don’t believe me download the app named MySSI. Everything available in digital format and in many cases 33 languages! A great deal of stuff is free with SSI but with PADI you will find yourself paying considerably more for a similar items (if they even exist). We even have an electronic log book making logging your dives all at the tap of a few buttons and then a scan of the centres QR code and job is done!

Another big like for me is SSIs dedication to the water world….not all about SCUBA diving but courses exist such as:

  1. Swimming Teaching
  2. Life Guard
  3. Mermaids
  4. Free Diving
  5. Mono Fin
  6. Technical diving

Carrying a dive tank to the waterBut there heaps more good stuff SSI have to offer such as

Free on line learning at Myssi.com At the time of writing PADI are charging $199.00 for similar

Free decompression sickness insurance on all entry level courses…including Free Diving (Apnea)

Special offers on Mares dive equipment

80/20 rule put simply is all about flexibility in the training of students. 80 percent by the book and 20 percent down to the instructor. It could be as simple as altering the order of the exercises particularly when you have a nervous student (yes sometimes we have the odd one!)

Free learning…check out on the SSI app Mission Deep Blue, Coral identification, Fish identification and Sea Turtle ecology…so well put together and informative and all FREE!

At the end of the day when you are in the water it’s just you and the instructor and I can assure you that a good SSI instructor is better than a poor PADI instructor and vice a versa.

One thing that may interest you is that you do not have to remain with the one training agency as most of the major training agencies recognize each other. Put another way you could do your next course with another training agency.

Still want to do a PADI, shoot us an email ?