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When I did my diving course, I was told that it was much easier diving in warm waters so if you finish your course in colder seas, you don't have to have a diving skill check before your recreational dive with a new diving operator. On the other hand, if you finished your courses in warm waters, they test your basic skills before they let you underwater.

If I understood correctly, cold waters are considered those that are not in tropical seas so not that chilly to start with but I would like to know where the coldest place that offers PADI diving courses is? That diving school should not be specializing in cold-water diving but should have all the courses, starting with Open Water Diver course.

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Try learning in the UK in the winter in a lake, they don't quite have to crack the ice but it's pretty close... –  Gagravarr Nov 2 '12 at 22:21
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Is this on topic here or just another candidate for outdoors.stackexchange.com? –  PERSONA NON GRATA Nov 2 '12 at 22:41
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Considering I would visit the location would qualify this question for this site. I don't believe I have to mention that in each question. –  John Doe Nov 3 '12 at 13:14
    
I don't know much about diving, but maybe the Norwegian diving association would have some hints toward an answer to this question. –  gerrit Nov 3 '12 at 13:51
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4 Answers 4

The PADI Dive Centre at Scapa Flow in Orkney is the coldest in the UK, and at a latitude of 59 degrees north it has to be a contender.

It would certainly qualify as a cold water dive centre, and as a bonus you can see the German High Seas Fleet that was scuttled there on 21st June 1919.

From their website, they have the following courses:

  • Try a dive
  • Open Water Diver 4 day course
  • Advanced Open Water diver
  • Rescue Diver
  • Emergency First Response
  • Divemaster

From the Dive Site Directory, the water temperature and guidance is:

Water temperature: 4°C (39°F) in April to 14°C (57°F) in September

Suit: A drysuit is highly recommended

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Source when you quote ;) –  Mark Mayo Jun 6 '13 at 4:03
    
Interesting - is that an official scraper site? –  Rory Alsop Jun 6 '13 at 6:16
    
doubt it - doesn't give any links back, pretty bad :/ Clever idea, scrap SE sites (they're creative commons, no?) and chuck ads on. Kinda poor form tho. –  Mark Mayo Jun 6 '13 at 6:43
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I am not sure if latitude alone is a good candidate to decide upon whether or not a spot is the coldest. Remember that the south of Spain shares a latitude with quite some cold regions in the US/Canada. The water temperature in the UK is hugely affected by the warm currents. –  andra Jun 6 '13 at 14:01
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According to this page (and this)there is a dive centre at Nusfjord on the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway - well above the Arctic Circle. I'm pretty sure a dry suit is compulsory there.

EDIT: So I finally found a good-looking map of sea surface temperature and it turned up some surprising things.

  • Kongsfjord (Norway) seems to be in around 8 degrees (C) and Nusfjord about 10 - both surprisingly warm.
  • Alaska as a whole is colder than Norway, but Kodiak is well in the south of Alaska. The sea temperature there is around the 6 degree level. Kodiak Alaska is probably the coldest place you can get basic SCUBA instruction (kudos Andra)
  • Scapa Flow is 12 degrees - almost tropical by comparison (EDIT AGAIN: Just read the addition to the Scapa answer - I'm thinking my map is average or maybe current temperature)
  • Silfa in Iceland is indeed colder than all the above at 2 degrees - but the only instruction it offers is the extremely specialized 'PADI Tectonic Plates Awareness Course', which seems to be unique to the site. I'm note sure if it counts.

I did find a new contender for coldest dive site: Arctic Canada Dive Adventures will take you on a dive trip to Iqaluit Nunavut, where the water temperature is -1 degrees and the sea ice is 3 feet thick. But they don't offer instruction there.

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You could try Silfa in Iceland. I haven't tried it myself but it is supposed to be pretty awesome.

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Google maps might be your friend here. Zoom in to a cold region and search for "scuba". Two suggestions that pops up are:

Norway:

Alaska:

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I've added some data to my answer and I now believe that Kodiak is indeed the coldest place that offers regular Scuba instruction. –  DJClayworth Jun 7 '13 at 21:36
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