QUESTION: It will be our first trip down, and we are going on a dive trip in Islamorada. How safe is it? What should we be aware of? ANSWER: Sure, any physically demanding outdoor activity has some risks, and the ocean waters add a bit to that. Good healthy swimmers rarely have an issue. However, the captains have seen it all and are trained to help keep you safe. When things go wrong out on the water, it is often some one not following the safety procedures.
If you are new, pick a very nice day with low winds to make it easy for you. Tell the captain your new, as they will ask and keep a good eye on you! Communication is the key and the buddy system for both scuba and snorkels.
Go with the noon trips out to snorkel, as the sun being high is good for giving you amazing visibility. The sunset snorkels are not as good for fish spotting, but if it is a booze cruise then ok! Most of the sunset cruises have free beer, wine, and cocktail provided alcohol drinks.
I was surprised how easy was enrolling online for the PADI's eLearning program. It works nice with lot of videos, graphics and reading assignments. Learn on your own, fast or slow, then do the water based scuba dives.