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Home 9 Get Certified 9 Specialty Certifications 9 Underwater Naturalist

Underwater Naturalist Certification

Want to know more about our local ecosystem? Become a certified PADI Underwater Naturalist! The Casino Point Dive Park is a Marine Protected Area with stunning kelp forests and is abundant with hundreds of species of fish.  It’s the perfect location to learn new skills.

Imagine gliding seamlessly through the towering kelp with light shining down from above or hovering motionless to observe Garibaldi protecting their nests! When you know more about symbioses, underwater ecology, and aquatic plant and animal habitats, you notice behaviors and see creatures you may have previously missed. In addition, this specialty will count toward your Master Scuba Diver rating.

As divers, we already share a deep connection to the sea. Ocean Conservation is vitally important to us. PADI AWARE is a global movement for ocean protection, and we are proud to be a PADI 100% AWARE Partner. The more you learn about our underwater environment, the more you can appreciate it.

Your class will cover a range of topics including:

  • major aquatic life groupings, interactions and dispelling myths
  • key differences between terrestrial and aquatic worlds
  • finding, recognizing and identifying organisms (with special emphasis on those found in local waters)
  • buoyancy control and environmentally friendly diving techniques
  • interacting safely with undersea creatures in an eco-friendly way
  • steps you can take toward ocean conservation and sustainability

You’ll learn to be a safe, independent diver – understanding the “how and why” of each skill so you’ll be able to make informed decisions when your instructor isn’t around to offer guidance. In this class, you’ll have an instructor right by your side, so you’ll feel comfortable while you gain more confidence in your abilities.

PADI underwater naturalist

All of our classes are private, limited to just you or your small group. This class is generally planned over a minimum 1-day period, but with us, learning happens at your own pace.  Rushing through is not the way to go.

Our belief in the art of possible and adaptive approach to teaching empowers you on a journey that is unique to you.

Our approach is different than you’ll find elsewhere: we celebrate inclusivity and diversity and ensure that everyone is treated with respect, patience, empathy and kindness.

All PADI courses are performance-based, meaning that we modify skill techniques to meet performance requirements by leveraging what individual students can do.  Your purchase a class, but you earn your certification. Call us if you feel you might need additional adaptive support. Learn more 

What to Expect
  • Your minimum 1-day class will include 1 Checkout Dive and 2 Open Water training dives.
  • If you are already certified as a PADI Advanced Open Water or Adventure Diver and completed an Underwater Naturalist dive as an Adventure dive, only one additional dive is required, and the second dive will be a fun dive.
  • Similarly, the first dive of this certification may count as an Adventure Dive for PADI Advanced Open Water or Adventure Diver certification. Please ask your instructor for details.
  • Pacific water is considered cold water year-round (upper 50s-low 60s F in winter and upper 60s – low 70s in summer), so you will be wearing a 7mm wetsuit, boots and possibly a hood.
  • NOTE: Use of any kind of camera during your training dives is not allowed.

Plan for the Day

  1. Your class will be conducted at the beautiful Casino Point Dive Park, which is a world-class marine preserve located in Avalon with a shore entry down a short flight of stairs. (Adaptive accommodations are available.)
  2. The price of your course includes the Underwater Naturalist manual, so once you’ve purchased your class we’ll send you the book ahead of time. The Knowledge Reviews  must be completed prior to your arrival on Catalina Island.
  3. Once you’re here, you’ll complete a quiz about the information you learned. We’ll discuss the results and answer any questions you might have to make sure you have a clear understanding of the information.
  4. Next, you’ll complete a checkout dive to allow your instructor to evaluate your abilities and level of comfort in the ocean.
  5. We will complete a minimum of two Open Water training dives, with surface intervals between each dive, including time for rest, water and a healthy lunch.
  6. Some divers need additional time to complete the class, and multiple options are available to do so. PADI standards allow up to 3 training dives per day.
  7. If you’ve completed all performance requirements, TA-DA! You’re now a certified PADI Underwater Naturalist Diver!

 There’s always time for questions – we’re here to help you every step of the way!

 PLEASE NOTE: The Park is considered Confined Open Water by PADI standards.  None of your class will be conducted in a pool – there are no pools available on the island.

What’s Required
  • All divers must currently hold Open Water or Jr. Open Water certification.
  • Class Size: For the Underwater Naturalist Specialty, we prefer to keep the class size to a maximum of 4 divers in one party so that everyone has enough time to learn in comfort at their own pace. However, if you have a larger family group, please call us and we will try to accommodate your needs.
  • We have had requests by friends or family members to join divers on certification classes. Generally, this is not allowed, as both the student and instructor need to be focused on diver skills and safety. If this is something you feel strongly about, please call us to discuss your concerns.
  • Minimum Age: Certified divers ages 10 and up may participate, but no more than two 10- or 11-year-old divers may be in the same class per PADI standards. (Depth limits also apply.)
  • Insurance: You must purchase DAN Dive Insurance for every member of your group and provide proof of insurance prior to your arrival on Catalina Island. Learn more 
  • Logbook: Please bring your current Logbook for your instructor to review.
  • Medical Clearance: All certification classes require medical clearance before arrival on the island. Please download and complete this form immediately, returning it signed via email as soon as possible before your arrival.
  • Depending on each diver’s unique circumstance, signoff by a medical doctor may be required. Please contact us immediately if you have any concerns whatsoever. If you need medical signoff and you do not have that before your arrival, you will not be allowed to proceed with your class.
  • If anyone under the age of 18 is participating, there are additional forms which will be provided, and which must also be completed and signed by a parent or guardian and returned via email as soon as possible before your arrival.
  • You must have relatively good buoyancy skills, be able to swim and be in good overall health.
  • Do bring your own bathing suit and towel. We also recommend bringing a warm jacket for surface intervals.
What’s Included
  • Underwater Naturalist manual: You will be sent the book ahead of time and the Knowledge Reviews must be completed prior to your arrival on Catalina Island.
  • Private Instruction: Your class will be yours alone. No one you don’t know will be participating.
  • Standard Gear: We provide everything you need for your day of diving from quality high-end gear, to shade, mats and chairs – even locked storage for your valuables and fresh water to rinse off after your dive. All included for no extra charge. Learn more

Gear Package includes:

  • 7mm wetsuit, hood, boots and gloves, as needed
  • Computer, if needed (Note: If earning a separate Nitrox certification, you must have your own computer.)
  • Mask, fins and snorkel
  • BCD, regulator, tanks and weights
  • Sizing: Please indicate the correct body weight, height and shoe size for each diver. Because we bring your gear to you, we would need to leave Casino Point to exchange sizes or retrieve necessary items. This may not leave enough time for all dives planned per day, incurring additional fees for the time needed to complete the class.
  • If you already have your own gear, we’ll fit you and help you learn to use it properly if needed.
  • If you have your own computer, please download and carefully read the user manual before you arrive.
  • Underwater Naturalist Specialty Gear: We will provide marine life identification cards and slates for use during your class.
  • Proof of Certification: We will process your certification and PADI will issue a certification e-Card upon completion of your class. Physical cards may be purchased from PADI at an additional charge.
  • Drinks and Snacks: We provide water (and hot beverages if it’s chilly), but please feel free to bring your own light snacks and we’ll keep them in a cooler if needed.
  • Catering: Healthy catered lunches including options for protein shakes are available at an additional fee.
Pricing Options

Underwater Naturalist Diver Certification Class – 1 day, including 1 Checkout Dive and 2 Open Water Dives

  • $495 per person
  • Because we’re a 100% AWARE partner, you will receive a special PADI AWARE version of your PADI certification card so that you can proudly display your support of ocean conservation!

Additional Training Days

Purchase of a class does not guarantee certification. Additional days may be required to complete training dives (at the discretion of your PADI instructor) in order to meet PADI standards for certification.

  • Additional training day: $350 per person
  • Additional half training day (less than 4 hours): $250 per person
  • NOTE: For Adaptive Divers, different rates may apply. Please call us to discuss your unique situation.


  • Add PADI AWARE Specialist certification: $55 per person Learn more
  • Add Enriched Air/ Nitrox certification: $195 per person (includes eLearning) Learn more 
    • A second certification may be earned during your Underwater Naturalist class at a reduced rate from purchase of a stand-alone class. There is no separate in-water dive, but Nitrox may be used during a training dive.
    • eLearning must be complete before arrival.
    • You must have your own computer so that you can change your gas mixture settings independently.
    • Nitrox tank rental may be done on-site through a local vendor at an additional fee.
  • Bundling Classes: If you are interested in bundling other certifications, please call us to discuss your options.
  • Add catered food or beverages for your surface interval. See Menus

All prices are in US dollars.

Please carefully review our full Terms, Conditions and Cancellation Policy before purchase.

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