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What is the difference between SSI’s Advanced Adventurer and Advanced Open Water?

By Mark Wong, SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor, July 2nd, 2020

We get this question a lot. SSI offers these two courses, which are very similar. Are they the same?

Well, no they are not.

The SSI Advanced Adventurer (AA) course is like a mini buffet of dives. You get to try different types of dives during the course. Your instructor will let you experience five dives from five different SSI Specialties, without requiring you to complete the entire specialty.

The AA course lets a certified Open Water Diver (OWD) try out dives like a drift dive – where you let yourself glide along the currents; a deep dive – where you descend below 18m; or a night dive – diving in the dark with a torch is a very unique experience!

Each dive can be clocked towards a full specialty certification from SSI.

Therefore, after getting your OWD certification, if you are unsure of the next step, the AA course is a great way to experience new dive scenarios without needing to meet the full requirements of the specialty. This helps you to identify which Specialties interest you, and you will receive the SSI AA certification after you have completed the programme.

If you find that you like one or more of the dives, you can advance your dive skills by completing the full SSI specialty course!

An important note is that the AA certification does not count towards an Advanced Open Water (AOWD) certification.

The SSI AOWD certifies a diver to dive at more challenging dive sites around the world. For example, certain dive sites in Nusa Penida, Bali, require a diver to have at least 50 dives and an AOWD certification.

Experience Counts

This is where AA differs from AOWD. AA lets you try different types of dives, but as a diver, you have yet to gain sufficient experience to adequately face the challenges of dive sites requiring an AOWD certification.

A simple solution? Dive more!

To achieve one or more specialty certification(s) for the AOWD, you may decide to complete any four specialties of your choice. Your dives from the AA course will be counted towards the requirement.

For example, to achieve the SSI Night Diving and Limited Visibility certification, you will need to attend an online class and complete two dives at night. If you did one night dive during your AA course, you need to dive only once more to meet the course requirements. It is that easy!

SSI AOWD is the next proficiency recognition rating and requires the completion of four SSI Specialty programmes. After completing four SSI Specialty programmes that interest you, as well as 24 logged dives, you will automatically receive the SSI AOWD certification, along with your SSI Specialty programme certifications.

In a nutshell, the AA is a course you can complete over a weekend, with an itinerary similar to Padi’s AOWD course. You can do a night dive, a deep dive, and other dive conditions normally considered challenging to a novice diver.

Here is a helpful chart and an example:

You have successfully completed your OWD certification with 5 dives. You think diving is awesome and are keen to advance your skills.

· You can opt for the AA course to try different types of dives or;

· You can immediately sign up for different specialty courses, such as SSI Perfect Buoyancy or SSI Navigation or SSI Deep Diving.

· The dives you have clocked during the AA can count towards a specialty certification.

Furthermore, you can bundle several types of specialties into one trip, one weekend of dives is sufficient to achieve a deep and wreck diving specialty. Ask your dive shop if they offer such bundles.

After you have completed 4 specialties and 24 verified dives, you will automatically receive the SSI AOWD certification.

This educational and learning approach is something we firmly believe in - and in the end, there is only one thing that lets you progress into a great diver, and that is diving more!


1. Is the SSI AA course a specialty?

A. No. It is a bundle programme designed to let you experience different types of dives. Each dive can count towards the dive requirement in other SSI specialties.

2. Is the SSI AOWD card a certification?

A. Yes, but there is no course content. The AOWD from SSI is a recognized certification that is automatically awarded when you have completed four specialties and clocked 24 verified scuba dives.

3. What is the difference between PADI’s AOWD and SSI’s AOWD?

A. The certifications are both recognized by dive operators around the world as a similar dive proficiency. The main difference is that PADI awards the AOWD certification immediately after the diver has completed the course requirements, while SSI requires the diver to achieve a minimum of 24 verified dives and complete 4 specialties. More dives, more experience, better safety. We could not agree more!

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