PADI vs. SSI vs. NAUI vs. BSAC

How does PADI stack up against SSI and others

A common question asked when walking down the street in Koh Tao or Gili Trawangan is should I train with PADI or go with a scuba school that offers NAUI, SSI, or BSAC training? Lets break it down why you would go with each.

strengths of PADI diving courses

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors):

Founded in 1966, PADI has grown exponentially to become the world’s leading scuba diving training organization. With a presence in over 175 countries and territories, they have certified millions of divers, dive professionals, and dive shops around the world. We break down the PADI course list here.

  • Strengths:
    • Global Recognition: PADI certifications are universally acknowledged, allowing divers to explore almost any part of the world’s oceans.
    • Diverse Course Offerings: PADI offers a vast array of specialty courses, catering to almost every diving interest.
    • Conservation Focus: Active emphasis on marine conservation with specific courses and initiatives.

Why Choose PADI? Ideal for divers who want universally accepted certification, a wide variety of courses, and an organization with a strong emphasis on marine conservation.

Why do SSI courses (logo)

SSI (Scuba Schools International)

Founded in 1970 in the US, SSI has always emphasized the importance of strong business relationships between dive shops and its members. It is a for-profit organisation.

  1. Strengths:
    • Digital Learning: Offers modern, online-based training materials for convenient learning.
    • Integrated Retail Relationship: SSI has strong ties with dive shops, ensuring seamless integration from learning to gear purchase and dive trips.
    • Cost: PADI is notoriously expensive and even after you have done the course they have the cheek to ask for more money for an e-card. SSI is more affordable and dive centres often pass that saving on to customers.

Why Choose SSI? Best for divers who appreciate digital learning tools and a streamlined experience from learning to diving trips and gear purchases.

Why do BSAC courses (logo)

BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club)

Starting its journey in 1953, BSAC has been promoting safe and responsible underwater adventures for over six decades. Proudly British and with a strong community ethos, BSAC offers training that’s tailored to UK conditions while also being recognized globally.


  • Community-Based: Being a club rather than just a certification body, it offers a strong community feel.
  • Higher Initial Training: Their entry-level certification includes training that’s equivalent to advanced courses in other organizations.
  • UK-Focused: While recognized worldwide, it’s the premier choice for UK divers, with training tailored to UK conditions.

Why Choose BSAC? Suitable for UK divers looking for comprehensive initial training, a community feel, and training tailored to local conditions.

Why do NAUI courses (logo)

NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors):

Established in 1960 in the US, NAUI prides itself on being the “Dive Safety Through Education” association. NAUI has been at the forefront of innovative scuba training, setting standards that others often follow. NAUI is a non-profit association of scuba instructors.


  • Emphasis on Dive Mastery: Known for its rigorous training, ensuring divers deeply understand the science and skills of diving.
  • Flexibility in Training: Instructors have more discretion in customizing their courses to the students’ needs.

Why Choose NAUI? Perfect for those who appreciate thorough training and a deep understanding of scuba principles, and for those seeking more personalized instruction.

Why do SDI courses (logo)

SDI (Scuba Diving International)

Scuba Diving International (SDI) was conceived in 1998, breaking into the scuba industry with a fresh perspective on diving education. As the recreational diving arm of the esteemed Technical Diving International (TDI), SDI has quickly gained a reputation for offering top-tier training.


  • Comprehensive Path: As SDI’s curriculum flows seamlessly from beginner to advanced levels, it offers a well-rounded dive education. Its alignment with TDI means that transitioning from recreational to technical diving is smooth and intuitive.
  • Deep Technical Expertise: TDI, being the world’s largest technical diving certification agency, brings a depth of expertise to the table. Their course range spans from basic technical diving to highly specialized disciplines, ensuring divers have avenues to consistently upgrade and challenge themselves.

Why Choose SDI/TDI? If you see yourself stepping into the world of tech diving and then SDI might be a good option. However, it isn’t a prerequiste to participate in TDI technical diving training.

Full guide to scuba diving here.

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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