PADI ReActivate: How to refresh your diving skills

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I’m usually the weakest diver in the group. After nearly backing out of my first dive in Vanuatu and quitting the PADI Open Water Diver course altogether, I eventually certified in Colombia five months after my first attempt – and that wasn’t easy. I threw up into my regulator five metres down and then again back on the boat. By the time I got back to our room, I was so tired I fell asleep in my wet bikini and woke up two hours later in a daze.

Imagine my surprise then when faced with a weaker diver on Atlas & Boots’ first outing in the Galápagos. The diver, a gentleman in his late 40s, hadn’t dived in 10 years and struggled deeply with his buoyancy control and breathing. It was clear he would have benefited from a PADI ReActivate course.

If your skills are getting rusty, consider taking this refresher course yourself.

What is PADI ReActivate?

PADI ReActivate is the new, more streamlined version of the SCUBA Review program. It is more tailored in that it targets skills and areas that you are struggling with specifically.

The course comprises an interactive quiz and an in-water refresher session with a PADI professional. Once the course is complete, you will receive a new certification card with your ‘ReActivation date’ on the back.

Who is PADI ReActivate aimed at?

PADI ReActivate is for certified divers who need a refresher. This may be because you’re planning to dive on your next holiday, because you need an assessment prior to an advanced open water diver course, or just because you want to keep your skills tuned.

PADI recommend the course for those who haven’t dived in six months. Confident divers may be able to extend this but shouldn’t leave it longer than a year.

To enroll on PADI ReActivate, divers will need to show proof of certification and fill in a PADI medical questionnaire.

Why complete PADI ReActivate?


Can you recall the maximum safe ascent rate? Do you remember how to plan a dive using tables, calculate residual nitrogen times and test for proper weighting? Can you perform a controlled emergency swimming ascent or recall emergency decompression procedures?

If not, PADI ReActivate will help you brush up your safety skills and ensure you’re fit for diving again.


It’s natural to feel some anxiety when returning to the water after a long diving break. PADI ReActivate will help you review your skills and knowledge so you can dive with confidence.

Refreshing your skills will help you dive with confidence
Atlas & Boots Refreshing your skills will help you dive with confidence

What to expect from PADI ReActivate

PADI ReActivate comprises two parts:


First, you must complete a knowledge review session to refresh your dive theory. You can do this via your local dive centre who will give you access to ReActivate Online (browser-based learning) or ReActivate Touch (an interactive app for mobile and tablet).

The review – which can be done at your own pace – will present you with a range of realistic diving scenarios (text or video) and ask you to answer multiple choice questions on each one. If you answer correctly, you will progress to the next scenario; if you answer incorrectly, you will be given the right answer and then tested on similar scenarios to make sure you have understood.

Once all scenarios are complete, you must take the ReActivate Quick Review, after which you will be presented with a certificate confirming completion.


Once you have completed the theory, you can book a practical session at your local dive centre. During this session, you will assemble your dive gear and review the five mandatory skills with your instructor.

  • Remove, replace and clear the mask
  • Become neutrally buoyant and hover
  • Use the weight system’s quick release to become positively buoyant in water too deep to stand in
  • Ascend using an alternate air source and establish positive buoyancy on the surface
  • Perform a controlled emergency swimming ascent (CESA)

After this, you will focus on any other skills that you or your instructor think need attention.

ReActivate sessions can take place in confined or open water (depending on the dive centre) and vary in length. One-hour sessions are common but your instructor will make sure you have enough time to practise until you’re confident once more.


Once you have finished, your instructor will process your PADI ReActivation. You will receive a new certification card in the post with your ReActivation date on the back.

Next steps

PADI ReActivate Cost: Approximately £40 GBP / $60 USD

Lead image: Dreamstime

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