PADI or NAUI certification the differences

Many ask which dive certification is the best, is it PADI that’s better or is it NAUI and ‘what is the difference between PADI and NAUI?’ In this article I compare PADI vs NAUI and compare the differences vs the similarities of both these scuba diving certifications.

PADI vs NAUI - Which diving organisation is better PADI or NAUI

The beginner scuba diving certification that PADI teaches is known as "Open Water Diver", whereas the starter certification that NAUI train is known as "Scuba Diver". Both are recognised and accepted internationally. The main difference between these two beginner certifications is that NAUI trains its divers some basic skills of saving an unconscious diver, whereas PADI doesn't. Other than that, both these beginner certifications allow you to dive to 18 metres (60 feet).


What does PADI stand for?

PADI stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, where their motto is "Under every rock, around every reef, a new discovery awaits".

PADI's claim is there are 27 million divers that started with them. The PADI diving agency has been around since 1966.

The organisation is a recreational diving membership and diver training organisation. It was founded by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson.

The two founders were both scuba instructors and divers who were friends in the state of Illinois, U.S.A. Their goal was to give more people a chance to enjoy the underwater world. They wanted to offer relevant, instructionally valid scuba diving training to create confident scuba divers who dive regularly.

PADI is a business for profit organisation and their corporate headquarters located in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, USA.

More Reading: How deep can you dive with an Open Water Certification?

What does NAUI stand for?

NAUI stands for the National Association of Underwater Instructors. NAUI has been around for longer than PADI. It was set up by Albert Tillman and Neal Hess in 1959. Their headquarters are in Florida in the US.

NAUI's motto is "The Definition of Diving", but also they promote “Dive Safety Through Education".

Unlike PADI, NAUI is a non-profit 501 association of scuba instructors.

More Reading: PADI vs SSI

What is the difference between PADI and NAUI?

PADI vs NAUI table of differences and similarities

Now that I've explained what each organisation stands for. Plus where they are based, lets take a look at PADI vs NAUI compared.

In this comparison table below, I'm only going to look at the positives in both organisations. I don't see how it benefits anyone by slating any diving agency over the other.

More Reading: Scuba diver questions and answers

PADI vs NAUI - Compared

A table of differences and similarities between PADI vs NAUI
ComparePADINAUI
First scuba certification level & maximum depthOpen Water Diver - 18 metres (60 feet)Scuba Diver - 18 metres (60 feet)
Second scuba certification level & max depthAdvanced Open Water Diver - 30 metres (100 feet)Advanced Scuba Diver - 40 metres (130 feet)
Minimum Aged10+ (max depth until age 15 12 metres (40 feet) - the Junior Open Water Diver certification10+ (max depth until age 15 12 metres (40 feet) - the Junior Scuba Diver
Maximum recreational dive depth40 metres (130 feet) with Deep Diver specialty course40 metres (130 feet)
Other diver qualificationsRescue Diver; Master Diver; DivemasterScuba Rescue Diver; Master Scuba Diver; Divemaster
Dive centres and resorts6,500 world-wideWorld-wide
How long is a the certification good for?Lifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a whileLifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a while
Famous diversSandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, James Cameron, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson are all famous PADI diversKevin Costner, Lou Gossett Jr., Cameron Diaz; & Tiger Woods are all famous NAUI divers + Jacques Cousteau was on the Board of Advisers
Max age limitNo - but is down to individual healthNo - but is down to individual health
Size and nature of diving organisationLargest in the world and is a 'For Profit' organisationSecond largest in the world and is a 'Not for Profit' organisation
MOTTO"Under every rock, around every reef, a new discovery awaits""Dive safety through education"

If you have any other questions about either of these diving organisations, please post a comment below.

The best advice I can give you is to choose the trainer first over the diving organisation. Which ever scuba diver training you take, you'll enjoy it and will be safe.

So whether you choose PADI vs NAUI really doesn't matter. It really only boils down to whether there’s a PADI centre or a NAUI centre near you. Or which diving agency training centre is where you happen to be on holiday at the time you're looking to get certified as a scuba diver.

More Reading: How to scuba dive without certification

Is NAUI recognised by PADI and is PADI recognised by NAUI?

The question about whether NAUI is recognised by PADI or visa versa and PADI is recognised by NAUI is yes, both these diving agencies recognise each other.

However, whilst they recognise each other's certifications, they are different. This means you can't switch agency whilst you're in the middle of your training or initial certification.

The important thing to understand is that when you're ready to move to the next certification level, both PADI and NAUI will recognise each other's certifications as "equivalent" training.

More Reading: What are the different types of scuba diving?

I hope you enjoyed this article about PADI vs NAUI

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about PADI vs NAUI), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

More Reading: What is it like scuba diving for the first time?

What are common depths for beginner scuba divers?


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