PADI in Poblado: The Diver’s Guide to Medellin

Need answers fast? The best dive center in Poblado is Aquarius Diving Club.

They say scuba diving is a poison – once you get started, you can’t stop. I’d definitely have to agree!

If you’re one of the many people who have become hooked on the thrill of life under the sea, I hear you. Luckily, there are a few places in Poblado where you can indulge in your addiction. 

So, are you ready to dive into the world of PADI here in the heart of Medellín? Here are the major dive centers in Poblado you can check out and what they offer!

Aquarius Diving Club

Aquarius Diving Club

Aquarius Diving Club has to be the most comprehensive dive center in Medellín, which is why it’s at the top of my list. The club has tons of different scuba services on offer, including: 

  • Dive gear
  • PADI certifications
  • Scuba trips

If you’re already a scuba diver and are wanting to take things further, you can take your diving to the next level with advanced certifications or instructor certification. Or, you can book a scuba trip to one of Colombia’s incredible scuba destinations. 

On the other hand, for those who are just getting into scuba, there’s the option to invest in your own gear or try a mini scuba course. This is a great way to get your toes wet without over-committing. 

Either way, here are the details for everything offered at Aquarius Diving Club. 

Dive Gear

In terms of dive gear, the question is what won’t you find at Aquarius Diving Club as opposed to what they have on offer. The club sells: 

  • Dive masks
  • Fins
  • Buoys and dive flags
  • BCDs
  • Dive computers
  • Scuba knives
  • Wetsuits and skinsuits
  • Regulators
  • Dry bags
  • Snorkel
  • Dive lines

My favorite part about the dive shop at Aquarius Diving Club is that the staff is super friendly. If you’re new to diving and aren’t sure where to start when it comes to buying your gear, the team will help you out. 

That’s especially important for anyone who’s planning to buy super finicky gear such as a dive mask. The crew at Aquarius Diving Club is more than happy to help get you the right fit.

PADI Certifications

Aquarius Diving Club offers tons of different certifications, depending on what level diver you are. Here’s what to know about each of their available certifications.

Scuba Experience

For those who are just getting started, it’s not a bad idea to try their Scuba Experience. This experience is conducted entirely in a swimming pool and is a great way to test the waters before you go the whole hog and get certified. The course includes all your scuba equipment and lasts about 4 hours. 

PADI Scuba Diver

If you’re ready to graduate from the Scuba Experience, the next step is to become a PADI Scuba Diver. As a PADI Scuba Diver, you’ll be certified to dive up to 12 meters, but will have to be accompanied by a PADI professional at all times. 

This is a good course for those who enjoyed scuba the first time around and are interested in trying it out outside of a swimming pool. Your course includes: 

  • PADI Scuba Diver certification card
  • Certified PADI instructor
  • Course manual
  • A 2-hour theory class
  • A 2-hour confined water class in a swimming pool
  • 2 immersions in Guatapé 
  • Snacks
  • Full Scuba equipment
  • Dive journal

The course currently costs $1.140.000 COP or about $305 USD.

Open Water

The PADI Open Water course is one of the most commonly taken PADI courses out there. With this course, you’ll be certified to dive to a depth of 18 meters with a certified dive buddy or professional (doesn’t have to be a PADI professional). 

With the Aquarius Diving Club, you can either take the theory portion only or complete the entire course. If you take the theory portion only you’ll need to complete the dives with another dive team. 

Your Open Water certification includes:

  • A PADI Open Water certification card
  • Certified PADI instructor
  • Course manual
  • Four 2-hour theory classes
  • 2 hours of confined water dives in a swimming pool 
  • 4 open water immersions (over the course of two days) in Guatapé
  • Refreshments
  • Full scuba equipment
  • Dive journal

The theory-only course costs $890.000 (about $240 USD)  while the full Open Water certification costs $1.390.000 COP (about $375 USD).

Advanced Open Water

After you become Open Water certified the next step is to get your Advanced Open Water certification. With this certification, you’ll be able to dive deeper, up to 30 meters. 

On top of that, as an Advanced Open Water diver, you’ll be certified for three specialty dives. You’ll get to choose your dives based on what your interests are!

An Advanced Open Water certification with Aquarius Diving Club includes: 

  • PADI Advanced Open Water certification
  • PADI-certified Instructor
  • Course manual 
  • Two 2-hour theoretical classes
  • 5 immersions in Guatapé over the course of two days
  • Complete scuba equipment
  • Dive journal

The course costs $1,490,000 or about $400 USD.

PADI Rescue Diver

Anyone who’s interested in trying out tougher dives, such as those at Isla de Malpelo, will need to get their Advanced Open Water certification and their PADI Rescue Diver certification. 

This certification covers everything you need to know about helping fellow divers out in emergency situations. 

Your course includes: 

  • PADI Rescue Diver certification card
  • PADI-certified instructor
  • Course manual
  • Two 2-hour theory classes
  • 2 immersions in Guatapé
  • Training on ten different emergency scuba diving scenarios
  • Scuba diving equipment
  • Dive journal

Your Rescue Diver certification course will set you back $1,490,000 COP or about $400 USD. 

Tec Diver Certifications

If you’re already a diver and are interested in learning how to do technical diving, there are a couple of different tech diver courses you can take:

  1. Tec Rec 40
  2. Tec Rec 45
  3. Tec Rec 50

The difference between each of these courses is how deep you can go. 

As you might imagine, Tec Rec 40 divers can dive to 40 meters. Those with a Tec Rec 45 certification can go down to 45 meters. Finally, Tec Rec 50 divers can dive as deep as 50 meters. 

Bear in mind that you’ll need to meet certain prerequisites to enroll in the course, such as having a specified number of dives under your belt in addition to specialty scuba certifications.

Specialty Scuba Courses

Remember how I said that scuba diving is like a drug? It’s true! There are so many ongoing courses you can take, and once you get started I’m confident you won’t want to stop. 

The courses offered at Aquarius Diving Center and their prices can be seen in the below table. 

Wreck Diver$900.000 COP2 days
Altitude Diver$800.000 COP1 day
Dry Suit Diver$1.500.000 COP 2 days
Equipment Specialist$800.000 COP1 day
Multi-level Diver$800.000 COP1 day
Deep Water Diver$1.000.000 COP2 days
Nitrox Enriched Air $1.100.000 COP1 day
Peak Performance Buoyancy$800.000 COP1 day
Sidemount Diver$1.200.000 COP2 days
Subaquatic Navigation$900.000 COP1 day
Drift Diver$800.000 COP1 day
Emergency Oxygen$800.000 COP1 day
Fish Identification$800.000 COP1 day
Search and Rescue Diver$900.000 COP2 days
Subaquatic Naturalist$800.000 COP1 day

PADI Instructor Certifications

You can either choose to become a basic PADI instructor or become a Divemaster. Divemaster courses cost $3,300,000 COP (about $880 USD). 

A basic scuba instructor course costs a total of $8,500,000 (about $2,275 USD) and includes both the scuba instructor certification and an EFR (emergency first response) certification.

There are also tons of specialty instructor certifications that you can take, too. By getting certified in these additional courses, you’ll be able to expand the types of classes you can offer students. 

This chart breaks down all the possible certifications you can get and their costs. 

Deep Water Diver + Instructor$1.800.000 COP
Wreck Diver + Instructor$1.800.000 COP
Search and Rescue Diver + Instructor$1.800.000 COP 
Sidemount Diver + Instructor$2.000.000 COP
Underwater Navigation Diver + Instructor$1.800.000 COP
Dry Suit Diver + Instructor$2.200.000 COP
Nitrox Diver + Instructor$1.800.000 COP
Altitude Diver + Instructor$1.600.000 COP
Drift Diver + Instructor$1.600.000 COP
Fish Identification + Instructor$1.600.000 COP
Multilevel Diver + Instructor$1.600.000 COP
Peak Performance Buoyancy Diver + Instructor$1.600.000 COP
Emergency Oxygen Diver + Instructor$1.600.000 COP
Equipment Specialist + Instructor$1.600.000 COP

Scuba Trips

Scuba Trips

If you’ve already got all the certifications you care for, you can go on one of the dive center’s scuba diving trips. There are trips as close to home as Guatapé with others in the farther reaches of Colombia, such as: 

  • Providencia
  • San Andrés
  • Cartagena
  • Snaguaré
  • Bahía Solano
  • Isla Gorgona

For those who are really wanting to get adventurous, the club also organizes regular trips out to Mexico, Bonaire, and Aruba.

Where to Find Them: Calle 18 Sur # 39 A – 143 Edif. Villa Paula, Interior 101, Medellín, Antioquia

IG: @aquariusdivingclub


AltaMar Escuela de Buceo

AltaMar Escuela de Buceo

AltaMar Escuela de Buceo is another great spot for anyone interested in getting started with scuba diving. Although this school is slightly smaller than Aquarius Diving Club, it’s still a great choice for anyone interested in joining (or who’s already a part of) the PADI family. 

At AltaMar, you’ll find a few scuba courses, dive gear, and the opportunity to participate in scuba trips. The options aren’t as rich as those over at Aquarius Diving Club, however.

Dive Gear

If all you need is a bit of dive gear, AltaMar won’t disappoint. They have a dive shop that’s stocked with masks, fins, and snorkels.

Now, while you won’t find all the gear you need, what they’ve got is high-quality. The store only stocks Cressi and Scubapro, which are two highly reputable scuba brands. 

Just bear in mind that if you need regulators, dive watches, and some of the more technical gear you’ll have to look elsewhere. AltaMar, while definitely a shop full of quality, doesn’t contain a large selection of gear. 

PADI Certifications

At AltaMar there are three PADI certifications you can participate in:

  1. Open Water
  2. Advanced Open Water
  3. Refresher

Once again, the dive shop doesn’t offer the same selection as Aquarius Diving Club, but it does have enough to get you started on the path to scuba diving. 

Open Water Diver

AltaMar offers a PADI Open Water course which is conducted through a combination of self-paced learning, swimming pool dives, and two theoretical sessions. 

In this course, you’ll start by getting access to your theoretical manual where you can start studying for your final exam. Then, you’ll take two classroom sessions at the school before engaging in four confined water dives in a swimming pool. 

The course includes:

  • all your scuba gear
  • Access to the Open Water videos
  • Access to a virtual manual

It doesn’t include your open water immersions, however, so you’ll need to schedule that separately. This course costs ​​$790,000 COP or about $215 USD.

Advanced Open Water

After you graduate from the Open Water course you can plan for your Advanced Open Water certification. Just like the Open Water course, this doesn’t include the open water immersions themselves. 

What it does include, however, is:

  • A PADI Advanced Open Water Manual
  • Two theoretical classroom sessions
  • Two practical dive sessions in a swimming pool 
  • Your complete scuba gear

This course will set you back just $590,000 COP or $160 USD. That’s super affordable in terms of Advanced Open Water courses, even if you do have to schedule your other immersions separately. 


The last course you can take is actually the main draw of AltaMar. This course is a refresher course that is designed for certified divers who haven’t completed any dives in six months or longer. 

In this course, you’ll go over all the basic scuba abilities that you learned in your Open Water course. The course includes: 

  • Confined water swimming pool dives to go over all previously learned Open Water skills
  • Virtual knowledge refresh of the scuba manual

Note that the refresher course does not include any open water dives. Prices for this course are subject to change, so it’s best to reach out to the center itself for details. 

Scuba Trips

Scuba Trips away from Medellin

AltaMar runs a couple of scuba trips, mostly out to nearby Nuqui. They also organize trips out to Gorgona and Providencia. 

The trips to Nuquí are run both during sardine season and whale season. Both times are an incredible way to experience aquatic life while diving. 

For individuals who want to go abroad, AltaMar runs a special trip out to Isla de Coiba in Panamá. 

Where to Find Them: Calle 18a Sur #22-133, Medellín, Antioquia

IG: @altamarbuceo


Travel and Diving

Scuba Training

Travel and Diving is another dive center located in Medellín’s El Poblado neighborhood that’s worth mentioning. Travel and Diving is a smaller dive center that offers gear, courses, and scuba trips. 

This dive center is on the smaller side and doesn’t have nearly the gear selection that some of the other shops do. However, if you’re looking for a wide range of courses you’ll love what’s on offer here. 

Dive Gear

In terms of the gear, what they have in stock changes pretty frequently. In general, you’ll find: 

  • BCDs
  • Snorkels
  • Fins
  • Basic dive suits

If you have a specific brand or item in mind, you can always order the gear via Whatsapp. Or, stop in and get a better idea of what’s currently in stock and what the company is planning to order in the future. 

PADI Certifications

Travel and Diving offers multiple different certifications for you to take advantage of. Regardless of whether you’re starting your initial Open Water certification or are looking for specialty certifications, there’s something for everyone. 

PADI Bubblemaker

PADI Bubblemaker is a program designed for kids eight years and under. The program allows children to take their first breaths underwater while under the direct supervision of a PADI professional. 

This course takes place entirely in a swimming pool and includes all the gear your child needs to dive. It’s a one-day program.

Open Water Certification

The Open Water Certification offered by Travel and Diving includes two confined water dives as well as two open water dives. You’ll also get all your theoretical training and access to an online learning platform complete with quizzes and videos. 

Advanced Open Water Certification

Just like the Open Water Certification, Travel and Diving’s Advanced Open Water course includes your confined water immersions, open water immersions, and theoretical training. 

You’ll complete underwater navigation and deep diving training as part of this course before moving on to three specialty dives. You can choose from any of the other specialty dives offered by the center (more on that later).

Rescue Diver

Becoming a rescue diver is an important step for completing more advanced dives (Malpelo, anyone?) and progressing past the Advanced Open Water certification. Travel and Diving offers a Rescue Diver qualification that includes all your course materials as well as going over more than five different rescue abilities. 


Becoming a Divemaster is a key step if your end goal with scuba is to teach courses. You won’t be able to start this course until you’ve already got 40 dives under your belt. 

Aside from those dives, you’ll also need: 

  • PADI Advanced Open Water
  • PADI Rescue Diver
  • EFR Primary and Secondary Care
  • A medical clearance by a qualified dive doctor
  • 60 logged dives at the completion of your course

Travel and Diving helps you get your necessary dives as well as complete Divemaster skills. They’ll also provide you with access to the knowledge exam and virtual course materials you need in order to pass the test. 

Master Scuba Diver

Master Scuba Divers make up less than 2% of scuba divers. To become a Master Scuba Diver, you’ll need to: 

  • Complete five specialty diver certifications
  • Log a minimum of 50 dives
  • Complete an application
  • Become a Rescue Diver
  • Complete your Advanced Open Water certification

Travel and Diving helps you meet these requisites and get your final Master Scuba Diver certification.

Specialty Certifications

If you’re looking to complete specialty diver certifications, there are quite a few options available through Travel and Diving. The options available at this dive center are: 

  • Coral Reef Conservation
  • Emergency and First Response Certification
  • Deep Diver 
  • Night Diver
  • Multilevel Diver
  • Underwater Photography
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy
  • Drift Diver
  • Underwater Navigation
  • Enriched Air Diver

You can also complete some of these dives as part of your Advanced Open Water certification. I call that a double-whammy!

Scuba Trips

Scuba Diving a getaway from Medellin

In terms of scuba trips, Travel and Diving has some of the widest arrays of trips out there. That’s actually why it’s made my list as one of the top dive centers in El Poblado. 

For one thing, there are numerous trips out to Colombian dive destinations such as: 

  • Malpelo
  • Gorgona
  • San Andres
  • Providencia
  • Tintipan
  • Tayrona

If you’re not interested in diving in Chocó or Guatapé, which are the usual dive trips offered from Medellín, you can invest in some more exotic locations around the country. 

Just bear in mind that some dives, such as at Malpelo or Gorgona, require you to have more advanced certifications. You’ll need to check with the dive center before signing up for one of these trips to make sure you have the right qualifications. 

You can also book trips with this dive center that take you out to the Red Sea in Egypt and the cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Where to Find Them: Calle 24 #42a-15, Medellín, Antioquia

IG: @travelandiving


Alejo Moreno Buceo

Alejo Moreno Buceo

Alejo Moreno Buceo is a smaller dive school but gets an honorable mention in my book. The company offers a good array of gear as well as your basic certifications. 

The main advantage of Alejo Moreno Buceo, however, has to be its scuba trips. If you’re wanting to get involved in a community that runs regular multi-day and day trips out of Medellín, this is a great dive club to join. 

Dive Gear

In terms of dive gear, there’s a pretty good selection available. You’ll find: 

  • Snorkels
  • Fins
  • Dive masks
  • Snorkel and mask combos
  • Dive accessories

The dive accessories in this shop are particularly useful, as they offer towels and tools for keeping your dive gear clean.

PADI Certifications

Alejo Moreno offers just three PADI certifications: 

  1. Open Water Certification
  2. Advanced Open Water Certification
  3. Open Water Intensive

Keep in mind that if you want to dive on some more advanced trips with the academy, you’ll have to get additional certifications elsewhere. 

For instance, if you’re planning to join the team in their Malpelo whale-sighting trip, you’ll want to check out one of the other dive schools on this list to get your Rescue Diver qualification first. 

Open Water Certification

Your Open Water Certification with Alejo Moreno includes: 

  • Four theoretical classes, each lasting three hours
  • A PADI dive manual
  • Your complete dive equipment
  • Access to the PADI Online Open Water Course

After completing your course with Alejo Moreno, you’ll need to schedule your open water immersions. The dive center offers these immersions at Tintipán, San Andres, Providencia, and at my favorite: La Represa del Peñol in Guatapé. 

Keep in mind that regardless of which you pick, you’ll be responsible for paying for your transportation and accommodation.

Advanced Open Water Certification

Your Advanced Open Water certification with Alejo Moreno works much the same as the Open water certification. With this program, you’ll get: 

  • Three swimming pool dives
  • Six theoretical modules
    • Deep dive
    • Night dive
    • Navigation dive
    • Multilevel dive
    • Peak performance buoyancy dive
    • Altitude dive
  • Complete scuba equipment
  • Access to the online PADI Advanced Open Water course

Once you complete your theory and swimming pool dives, you’ll need to schedule your specialty dives. You can do these in Gorgona, San Bernardo, or any other location that you choose as long as there is a PADI dive center there. 

Open Water Intensive

The Open Water Intensive is great for anyone who just wants to knock their course out in just a couple of days. 

Unlike the Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses which have flexible scheduling and can be completed over a few weeks, this takes place over the course of four days. 

This course includes: 

  • Boat transportation from Tolú to Tintipán and back to Tolú
  • Accommodation in a cabin for 3 nights/4 days
  • All meals
  • PADI course materials
  • Two confined water dives in a swimming pool
  • Four open water immersions
  • Your PADI Open Water certification
  • Rental of all scuba equipment
  • Additional activities at no additional cost
    • Snorkeling in the mangroves
    • Visiting Santa Cruz island
    • An afternoon on the beach
  • Trip insurance

Just be aware that these courses are only available on specific dates. You’ll need to make sure you’ve got a week free on the specified dates before signing up for one of these courses.

Scuba Trips

Nacional Natural Park Gorgona

Alejo Moreno’s trips are a bit sporadic, but when they take place, they’re worth participating in. The group offers trips in Colombia to destinations such as:

  • San Andres 
  • Gorgona
  • Tintipan
  • Malpelo
  • Providencia

Most trips take place from June to September, which are great times for spotting wildlife such as hammerhead sharks and whales depending on where you’re diving. 

Where to Find Them: Cra. 48 #17bsur- 62, Medellín, Antioquia

IG: @alejo_moreno_buceo


Get Started With Scuba Diving in El Poblado

Although most people don’t think of Medellín as being a scuba diving hub, there are tons of dive centers for you to check out in the area. 

And, when we narrow down the list to El Poblado’s best dive centers, you’ve got some great choices on your hands. 

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