Face it, with scuba diving, you can’t just jump in and go. Even on vacation, would-be divers must receive training before diving in with the fishes. Learn equipment, tips and techniques, and have a little fun in the process at D.C.’s best dive classes. From underwater photography to top-notch gear rental, these scuba schools offer so much more than the city’s best diving lessons.

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National Diving Center
4932 Wisconsin Ave. Northwest
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 363-6123

Price: from $249

The National Diving Center offers courses including open water certification, boat diving, deep water scuba, night diving and search-and-recovery diver specialty courses as well as first aid, underwater photography and technical diving options. Courses include both classroom and pool training sessions at the Yates Field House at Georgetown University. The National Diving Center also repairs scuba diving gear and features a scuba gear shop.

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SPE Dive School, LLC
4600 N. Park Ave., Ste. 111
Chevy Chase, MD 208
(301) 657-2266

Price: $65 to $95 preregistration/$295 scuba course starts

Since 1972, SPE Dive School, LLC has trained and certified more than 10,000 scuba divers. Its scuba school provides both a lecture facility and a state-of-the-art training pool in one convenient location. It also offers flexible training schedules, international certifications and pre-arranged dive trips to local destinations and/or the Caribbean to help expand the scuba diving experience on educational trips. SPE Dive School, LLC also offers free scuba diving orientation sessions.

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Blue Planet
1761 S. St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 527-9419

Price: $115 to $120 classroom/$275 to $475 pool training sessions/$150 to $215 open water check-out dives

Blue Planet does more than just teach its students how to scuba dive; it also teaches environmental awareness. Each class consists of no more than eight people and includes scuba diving training as well as information about how to scuba dive without disrupting underwater ecosystems. The scuba school also offers pre-arranged dive trips both to local and cross-country destinations, one-on-one training and kid-friendly scuba diving programs. Scuba diving courses available at Blue Planet include beginner and advanced open water and rescue diver as well as specialty courses including enriched air-nitrox, fish identification and dry suit diving.

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Adventure Scuba Company
13901 Metrotech Dr.
Chantilly, VA 20151
(703) 263-0427

Price: from $375

Adventure Scuba Company, the first diving school in the area to provide eLearning training, offers options to fit any schedule. The scuba school also boasts traditional classroom-style programs at its facility. Sign up for either a recreational diving or technical diving course here. Pool training sessions are held either at Oak Marr or Cub Run Recreation Centers. Open water training sessions are held at Lake Millbrook from April to November. Students are responsible for bringing their own scuba gear for these courses.

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Aquatic Adventures
7700-B Richmond Hwy.
Alexandria, VA 22036
(703) 619-1500

Price: from $335

Recognized as the DC area’s first National Geographic Dive Center, Aquatic Adventures provides a state-of-the-art classroom training program and flexible scheduling as well as a full line of scuba diving products and gear for purchase or rent at its training facility. Aquatic Adventures has provided scuba diving training for more than 20 years and offers courses appropriate for both children and adults. The scuba school does not charge for equipment used during pool training. Available courses include scuba diving, snorkeling, rescue diver and instructor development.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.