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Best Places To Get Scuba Diving Lessons In Chicago

Although far from the coral reefs of the Caribbean Seas, Chicago still offers its inhabitants ample opportunities to prepare for those far-flung aqua vacations to come. With some of the best scuba schools in the region, tried and true instructors and surprisingly fun dive locales, this city's got a little bit of something for every diver.

Most dive schools around Chicago do their tests at Haigh Quarry. There is generally an option to take the bulk of the coursework in Chicago and then complete certification at a vacation destination. Although diving in the quarry is low visibility and generally a bit chilly, if you do complete certification at home, not only do you know in advance how much you will be paying, but once you get on vacation, you may dive without having to worry about spending vacation time getting certified. Take a test dive in Lake Michigan before heading out.

Scuba Diver Training in Pool
Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Learn Scuba Chicago
3105 N. Ashland Ave., Ste. 320
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 599-3483

Click here for courses and prices

Learn Scuba Chicago is right in the city, easily accessible via public transportation, offering a variety of courses from a basic refresher course to more advanced divemaster certification and advanced open water courses. Learn Scuba Chicago boasts its own boat, which takes students out to Lake Michigan for dives though some courses start in the safety of the school's pools in small groups with an instructor. Depending on the time of year, some open water courses also offer dives at Haigh Quarry Divecenter in Kankakee. Learn Scuba Chicago also prides itself being completely up front about course and equipment pricing so divers know the full extent of their investment without surprises.

Related: Diving on CBS Local

Scuba Diver with Fish
Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Underwater Safaris
2950 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 348-3999

Click here for courses and prices

Underwater Safaris is also easily accessible via public transportation and boasts a large 3,000-square-foot facility. From a large retail shop to myriad basic and advance dive courses, this full-scale facility fits any diver. If you're not sure you want to commit to becoming fully PADI certified, take Underwater Safaris' Discover Scuba course to test those fins. Underwater Safaris also offers diving trips, including dives at the shipwrecks of Lake Michigan.

Scuba Divers on Reef
Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Chicago Scuba School & Dive Shop
6201 W. Touhy Ave., Ste. 203
Chicago, IL 60646
(312) 771-8647

Prices: $450 PADI open water certification/$260 PADI referral course

The Chicago Scuba School is competitively priced for divers looking for a budget-friendly dive certification. The school boasts a large competition-sized pool to help students get accustomed to moving around underwater before venturing out into open water. The Chicago Scuba School also keeps class sizes down to six people to facilitate personal attention for each student. Complete PADI certification first with take-home materials, which are reviewed in the classroom, then with two- or three-day training courses in the school's pool before the final dive test at Haigh Quarry.

Scuba Diving Group Lessons
Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Elmers Water Sports
1310 Oakton St.
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 475-7946

Click here for courses and prices

Elmers Water Sports has been around for more than 30 years and offers online gear ordering, delivered by a class instructor, for divers who don't want to haul gear across Evanston on the El. Expect PADI certification classes as well as exploration classes, refresher courses and group dive trips around the world, as well as charter trips in Lake Michigan. Specialty dive classes abound here, with ice, dry suit, boat, photography and conservation options perfect for any diver.

Scuba Diving Pool Couple
Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Scuba Systems
3919 Oakton St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 674-0222

Click individual classes in the classes sidebar for pricing.

Scuba Systems was one of the first dive schools in the area to get an indoor pool, and it's custom built for diving instruction. It's also a PADI 5-star and National Geographic Dive Center, putting it just a step above the rest for serious divers. Its myriad classes include options for kids, and its PADI open water diver certification may be completed over a weekend, five evenings or in private classes on a personalized schedule. Scuba Systems also offers instruction in shooting underwater video and photography.

Related: Lake Michigan on CBS Local

Meredith Lyons is an actor, competitive fighter and fitness instructor in Chicago who also owns an amazing cat named Jake. Meredith has been writing on Examiner as the Chicago Martial Arts Examiner since 2008. Her work can be found at


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