Divers often ask instructors, “What’s the best course for me to take next?” It’s an understandable question, but often surprisingly hard to answer. Your “best” next course really depends on you, what excites you about diving, where you dive and where you want to dive.

But that said, assuming you’ve completed your training through at least PADI Rescue Diver, if I had to choose just one “best” next course, it would be the PADI AWARE Specialty. Why this one out of all the many other popular specialties and courses one can take? Because it’s the foundational course for Ocean Torchbearers, or really, anyone who wants to make a difference in what the future holds for the oceans – and that’s vitally important. In the PADI AWARE Specialty, as you’d expect, you learn about what’s threatening the seas, but more importantly, how, by working together and making simple changes in our day-to-day routines and choices, we can reduce those threats. In other words, it’s a course that shows us how to use our dives and lives to help shape a more positive future.

Open to All

Like all PADI Specialties, the PADI AWARE Specialty can credit toward your PADI Master Scuba Diver rating, but you don’t have to be a diver to take the course. This not only means anyone can take it, but we can share the diving, ocean-saving lifestyle with non-divers by inviting them to take the course with us. Regardless, the PADI AWARE Specialty empowers anyone to be an Ocean Torchbearer involved in marine conservation.


With most PADI courses, what you learn applies when you’re planning and making dives. Nothing wrong with that; they’re dive courses. But, the PADI AWARE Specialty differs because you not only learn how to make a difference while diving, but when you’re not diving, too. It teaches you to make more informed consumer choices, ways to advocate for ocean conservation and protection, and things you can do to engage others in making essential changes. That is, this is a course that applies what you learn all the time, not just when diving.

two men laugh while sitting in front of a PADI AWARE flag

Easily Accessed and Completed

The PADI AWARE Specialty is a “dry” (non-diving) specialty, so it’s easy to schedule and complete. Ideally, you complete it in a couple of hours in PADI eLearning, followed by a few hours in workshops with your Instructor. These are usually in person, but they can be held via video conferencing. You can even give the PADI AWARE Specialty as a gift.

Supports the PADI AWARE Foundation and Those the Foundation Supports

A portion of the eLearning fee goes to the PADI AWARE Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organization with more than three decades of ocean conservation impact. This is due to many Ocean Torchbearers making differences in their local marine environment and taking conservation actions that collectively protect the ocean. Over a quarter of donations received from this course will fund community grants that protect marine life, rid the ocean of marine debris and advocate for vulnerable species. By taking the PADI AWARE Specialty, you directly support these efforts and learn how to get involved from anywhere in the world.

Other PADI AWARE Courses

Think of the PADI AWARE Specialty as a foundation for the Dive Against Debris®, Shark Conservation Specialty and other AWARE courses. By completing the PADI AWARE Specialty, you better understand how these issues tie together, and how millions of Ocean Torchbearers acting together can help ensure that we have viable seas for generations to come.

Fortunately, we don’t have to pick just one best next diver course – there are many you can choose from, so get going with the ones that interest and excite you. But, include the PADI AWARE Specialty among them if you have not taken it already – contact your local PADI shop  and log into PADI eLearning to get started.

Seek adventure. Save the ocean.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

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