OK, it’s not the Bahamas, but learning to dive right in Minnesota makes this exciting sport super accessible to just about any local with a love of the water. In the land of 10,000 lakes, freshwater diving options abound. Unlock the secrets of that local lake, or explore the famous shipwrecks of Lake Superior, but be sure to snag lessons from the state’s best scuba instructors first.
5015 Penn Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Price: $239 PADI open water diver
Describing themselves as both Minnesota’s first 5-star training facility, as designated by PADI — as well as the largest scuba school in the state, this is by far one of the top scuba choices in Minneapolis. Boasting a full range of classes, from beginner to PADI Rescue diver and even PADI divemaster, it truly offers something for every diver. It even offers eLearning classes for the dry land portion of the instruction, and small class sizes ensure divers receive the kind of quality instruction the Scuba Center has become known for.
Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center
10024 County Rd 81
Maple Grove, MN 55369
Price: $30 introductory classes/$239 PADI open water diver
Located in Maple Grove, Aquaventure offers everything from camera and equipment rentals to scuba and snorkeling training. Its highly experienced staff features divemasters from SeaLife at the Mall of America, as well as big names from the recreational and technical dive disciplines. Whether you are looking to get your feet wet in the wonderful world of scuba, or looking to try out new, high-end equipment, Aquaventure is the perfect place to seek out those scuba certifications.
FantaSea Scuba & Travel
3429 MN-13 & Co. Rd. 30 (Diffley Road)
Burnsville, Minnesota 55337
Price: Varies by course/location, call for details
Located just south of the twin cities in Burnsville, FantaSea Scuba & Travel offers scuba training courses, equipment rental and sales and dive vacation planning. Divers who take the training course receive free, year-round pool access perfect for winter months. It offers not only the full PADI compliment of courses, but specializes in helping youths achieve their Boy Scout diving badges. From those interested in learning more to the most experienced divers looking to refresh their skills, FantaSea truly has a little something for everyone.
7081 10th St. North
Oakdale, MN 55128
Price: $50 introductory classes/$438 PADI open water diver
Open six days a week, Northland Scuba offers scuba and snorkel equipment, open-water dive training both locally — and referrals to diving destinations — dive travel coordination services, and several specialty dive training courses under the SSI certification umbrella. Dive classes for children as young as 10, and open-water training both online and in the classroom make this one of the most accessible options around. The open water dive portion of the class is offered from late May through October.
The Dive Depot
1615 Fern St. Northwest
Bemidji, MN 56601
Price: $40 introductory classes/$350 PADI open water diver
Positioning itself as the premier dive business in northwestern Minnesota, The Dive Depot offers scuba and snorkeling equipment for sale, several levels of instruction and helps planning diving trips to both nearby freshwater and exotic saltwater destinations. Enjoy full online options to mak training super convenient for any diver. Discover diving allows a toes-in-the-water option for potential divers not ready to make the big investment. From search and recovery to underwater photography, The Dive Depot’s variety makes it an ideal option for any diver.
Rich Rein, previously featured in magazines like Midwest Outdoors and Outdoors Weekly as well as a contributor to MyBuckStory.com and covering the Minneapolis fishing scene for Examiner.com, is a Minnesota transplant doing his best to enjoy the state’s multitude of fishing opportunities while holding down a career as a software developer by day and a firefighter/EMT by night. His work can be found at Examiner.com.