NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors)


The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) is a non-profit organization and one of the oldest scuba diving training and certification agencies in the world. Established in 1960, NAUI has been at the forefront of promoting safe and responsible diving practices, providing comprehensive training programs, and fostering a global community of diving enthusiasts. With its emphasis on diving education, NAUI has played a pivotal role in shaping the modern scuba diving industry, setting standards for dive training, and promoting underwater exploration and conservation.

Historical Background

NAUI was founded on August 22, 1960, by a group of diving pioneers, including Albert Tillman and Neal Hess, who sought to develop a standardized system for scuba diving education and certification. The organization was created in response to the growing popularity of recreational diving in the late 1950s, which highlighted the need for a structured and universally recognized training program. The founders of NAUI were committed to promoting dive safety, education, and skill development, and their vision laid the groundwork for the establishment of the world’s first civilian diver training organization.

Training and Certification

NAUI offers a wide range of training programs and certifications for divers of all experience levels, from beginners to professional instructors. The organization’s training curriculum focuses on developing competent and responsible divers, emphasizing the importance of in-depth knowledge, technical proficiency, and environmental stewardship.

Some of the key courses and certifications offered by NAUI include:

  1. Open Water Diver: This entry-level course teaches the fundamental skills and knowledge required for safe and enjoyable scuba diving. Students learn essential dive theory, equipment usage, and underwater navigation, culminating in a series of open water dives to demonstrate their proficiency.
  2. Advanced Open Water Diver: Building on the foundation of the Open Water Diver course, this program expands a diver’s skills and knowledge in specialized areas such as deep diving, night diving, and underwater photography.
  3. Rescue Diver: This course equips divers with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage diving emergencies and perform underwater rescues. Participants learn to identify and prevent potential hazards, administer first aid, and execute search and recovery operations.
  4. Divemaster: This professional-level certification prepares divers to supervise and assist in the training of other divers. Divemasters are responsible for planning and leading dives, conducting dive briefings, and ensuring the safety and well-being of their group.
  5. Instructor: NAUI Instructor certification allows experienced divers to share their passion and knowledge by teaching NAUI courses. Instructor candidates undergo rigorous training in dive theory, teaching methodologies, and leadership skills.

Environmental Stewardship

NAUI is deeply committed to environmental conservation and actively promotes sustainable diving practices. The organization’s environmental initiatives include:

  1. Green Diver Initiative: A community-driven program that encourages divers to adopt eco-friendly diving practices and participate in conservation projects such as coral reef restoration, marine debris removal, and aquatic species monitoring.
  2. Dive Against Debris: In partnership with Project AWARE, NAUI supports underwater clean-up efforts to remove debris and collect data on the impacts of marine pollution.
  3. Coral Restoration: NAUI has collaborated with various organizations to support coral restoration projects, including the Coral Restoration Foundation and Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, providing training and resources to help restore damaged coral reefs.

Global Community

With its extensive network of affiliated dive centers, instructors, and members, NAUI fosters a vibrant global community of diving enthusiasts. Through its regional offices, NAUI maintains a presence in over 100 countries, offering training, certification, and support to thousands of divers worldwide. This international community is united by a shared passion for underwater exploration and a commitment to dive safety, education, and environmental conservation.

Leadership and Innovation

NAUI has been a leader in scuba diving education and innovation throughout its history, setting the industry standard for training and safety. The organization has consistently introduced new techniques, equipment, and educational materials to advance the sport of scuba diving. Some of NAUI’s notable contributions include:

  1. Nitrox Certification: In the early 1990s, NAUI was the first major scuba training organization to embrace and promote the use of enriched air nitrox (EAN) as an alternative breathing gas. Nitrox offers several benefits over traditional air, including extended bottom times and reduced risk of decompression sickness. NAUI’s adoption of nitrox set a precedent for other agencies and helped popularize its use in recreational diving.
  2. Technical Diving: NAUI has been a pioneer in the field of technical diving, which involves the use of advanced techniques and equipment to explore deeper and more challenging underwater environments. The organization offers a comprehensive range of technical diving courses, including decompression diving, trimix diving, and rebreather training, ensuring divers have the necessary skills and knowledge to safely push the boundaries of underwater exploration.
  3. Adaptive Diving: Recognizing the importance of making scuba diving accessible to everyone, NAUI has developed specialized training programs for individuals with physical disabilities. These adaptive diving courses provide tailored instruction, equipment modifications, and support to enable divers with disabilities to experience the underwater world safely and confidently.
  4. Youth Programs: NAUI offers a variety of programs designed to engage and educate young people about the wonders of the underwater world. These youth-oriented courses, such as the NAUI Scuba Ranger program, introduce children as young as eight years old to the basics of scuba diving in a safe and supportive environment.


The National Association of Underwater Instructors has played a vital role in shaping the scuba diving industry over the past six decades. As one of the oldest and most respected certifying agencies, NAUI has set the standard for dive training, safety, and environmental stewardship, fostering a global community of responsible and skilled divers. Through its commitment to innovation, education, and conservation, NAUI continues to inspire and empower divers to explore and protect the underwater world.