The cavern zone is the part of a cave from which daylight is still visible. It is probably the most beautiful part of the cave, and has some incredible scenery. It is essential that curious divers learn the proper techniques to safely explore this new environment without endangering themselves or damaging this fragile environment.
Cavern diving is NOT for everyone, but does help to prepare and train divers that want to safely venture into the cavern zone of caves and overhead environments like wrecks. It is a very hands-on, fun course, where you will learn to multi-task like never before!
Cavern diving is in NO way intended to provide instruction for cave diving.
What it is:
The cavern course develops the minimum skills and knowledge for safe cavern diving. Topics include cavern diving planning, good cavern diving techniques (line and light use), body positioning (trim), cavern propulsion techniques, emergency procedures, problem solving, and other specialized needs of cavern diving (silting, entanglement, disorientation, and equipment modifications). Throughout your cavern course you will learn how to streamline your equipment, and use new gear such as using a reel, a backup spool, and a long hose on your primary regulator.
You will also learn how to fine tune your buoyancy, you will NOT learn the basic skills of buoyancy in a cavern class.
Divers witness some stunning scenery in cavern diving.
Agencies we teach for:
TDI, NSS-CDS and IANTD
See our Price Page
This includes your cavern study guide, your dive training, a certification card from your chosen agency, and photos (above and below water).
What not included is gear hire, gas fills, food, lodging, dive site fees & transportation. Dive site fees range from $15-$30 (annual pass is $60), depending on site. We normally use Nitrox
while cavern diving, which costs more than air.
A book called Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint For Survival by Sheck Exley is strongly recommended for our Cavern students.
The more you read and prepare for your cavern course, the more enjoyable it will be for you!
Gear you need to provide:
You will need to have your own basic scuba gear, required for open water diving. Remember: No Snorkels! No Gloves!
* Mask (preferably a low volume mask)
* Fins (no split fins!)
* Computer or watch and tables
* Tanks and weights and tanks (which can be hired from us if you are from out of town).
You must also OWN the following gear to participate in cavern class:
* Your own primary reel
* A 7 foot hose on your regulator
* Two battery powered underwater lights (The Sun is the primary light)
* A small knife (recommended is a Z knife, to be arm or chest mounted).
* Slate or wetnotes with pencil
What the course entails:
The cavern course is an academic and water based course that adds to the students overall diving skills and knowledge. Your standard basic open water gear and a few cavern essentials are all you need to enroll in cavern class, but be prepared to modify your open water gear slightly to become a more streamlined, efficient cavern diver.
How we teach it:
There are two parts, the academics and the "wet" portion.
The academics are done at home from your Cavern Study Guide. This guide is very well structured, and written by the instructors here at Dayo. It is a very informative learning tool, and excellent alternative to multiple day or evening lectures.
After you work through the study guide, you will do a written test, either at home or some point before your cavern course begins. You need to achieve at least 80% on your written test to pass.
When you meet with your Instructor you will do lots of land drills such as:
- Learning how to lay and follow a safe guide line
- Emergency procedures (loss of visibility, lost buddy, lost line)
- Air share procedures
and a full review of the academics including:
- Cavern terminology and geology
- Accident Analysis
- Psychological considerations
- Equipment used in cavern diving
- Propulsion techniques
- Accident prevention procedures.
- Conservation and Land owner relations
- Underwater communications
For the wet training, we typically do two days in the water (and at least 4 dives), and a series of vital skills such as:
- S-drill (Share air and equipment check to begin every dive), and gear matching
- Demonstrate buoyancy compensator use and body positioning via weighting and distribution
- Demonstrate specialized propulsion techniques without disturbing silt in the surrounding area (eg frog kick, modified flutter).
- Effective communications with both light and hand signals.
- Gas management
- Following a line (in open water) with your eyes closed, without a mask.
- Running and following a safe guideline
- Familiarization and exploration of caverns
All dives include a pre-dive briefing, gear matching, bubble check, ‘s’ drill, good dive team skills, safety stop and post dive critique.
Note: this is not a fully inclusive list, just an overview!
Specific skills depend on training agency.
Proficient handling of the reel is one of the essential elements of the cavern course.
Another basic aspect of overhead diving is an understanding and appreciation of the fragile nature of cave and cavern systems. You are there by choice; the caves are not, so respect their delicate ecological balance. Caves have been there long before us, and is it our responsibity as divers, to ensure their survival for future generations. Caves are important for geological and archaeological reasons, as well as for providing homes for a multitude of animals.
It should be noted that participation in the cavern class does not guarantee certification.
Each student must do the required number of dives, all the skills, and demonstrate that they are comfortable with planning and executing safe and fun cavern dives before they receive their certification card.
After successful completion of your academics and water work, you will awarded your certification as a Cavern Diver. This is your ticket to explore other caverns, with other dive buddies. However, at Dayo Scuba we also "mentor" our students (at no extra cost), so you can gain additional experience in your favorite type of diving.
You must be at least 16 years old to receive a Cavern Diver certification, there is no maximum age.
Minimum number of students per class:
We need 2 or more people to make a Cavern Diver class; private, one-on-one classes can be organized for a separate fee.
How many people are in each class?
Our Cavern Diver classes range in size, from 1-3 students (3 is the maximum per instructor). As we travel out of town for this class, usually there are at least two instructors, and another cavern/cave class going on at the same time as yours.
Schedule/Timing for Cavern Course:
We train all the time, and have multiple instructors on staff
, many full time, so we do weekday and weekend classes.
Call us or check out our Calendar
for dates of upcoming courses.
How long does the course take?
Usually we complete the wet portion of the Cavern Divers in 2 days, with at least four dives. Sometimes it is necessary to be in the water more than 2 days because of learning difficulties or weather issues. If necessary, you can come back, free of charge, and join in another Cavern Course to finish your training. We will also train you for any extra days you may need to get you properly certified. It is our mission to make you a safe and competent diver.
Where we do our course:
We usually do our Cavern Diver training in North Florida, the caverns there are very beautiful, and ideal for cavern training (Orange Grove Springs, Peacock Springs and Little River Springs). We are somewhat limited to cavern choice around the Orlando area. We dive at least two different caverns for the cavern course, usually three.
Prerequisites for Course:
* Before participating in the cavern diver course, you will be asked to fill out a standard liability release form and a medical statement. If you answer YES to anything on the medical form we will require that you get it signed off by a physician.
* Open Water Diver
certification, or equivalent.
* Advanced Open Water
certification is recommended
* You must be Nitrox
certified, or enrolled in the Nitrox
is HIGHLY recommend for all diving activities.
* This class requires that all student divers already have good buoyancy skills. Do NOT take this class if you have none. We recommend the Peak Buoyancy class if you do not.
Standards for the Cavern Course:
* All dives are conducted within the lighted zone
* All cavern dives are conduced within 200 feet (61 meters) linear distance from the surface.
* Maximum depth for cavern training dives will not exceed 100 feet/30 meters.
* All cavern dives will be started with at least 30 feet of visibility.
* No decompression diving
* No restrictions (tight areas)
* All cavern dives will be started with a minimum of 50 cubic feet in the students cylinder.
* Cavern students will plan dives using 1/3 air rule on single tanks, and 1/6 on doubles.
What you can do afterwards:
* Dive, dive, dive in the MANY caverns across the state of Florida, indeed anywhere!!!
* The cavern course also trains you to dive safely in the overhead environments of shipwrecks.
* You will be a safer, more competent and comfortable diver after completion of your cavern course…..knowing you are a better diver, that now has the ability to multi-task while diving.
* The safe diving practices learned during your cavern course will apply to all types of diving you do in the future, including open water recreational diving.
* Continue your diver training with more specialized training.
* The Cavern Diver course is a prerequisite to Cave Courses.
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