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Popularized recently by the movie The Bucket List, keeping a personal list of things you want to do before you die has become a common practice. One item that continuously comes up on many people's lists is learning to scuba dive. If you're thinking you have to wait until your next tropical vacation to do this, think again. Northwest Arkansas is a haven for scuba divers and anyone can learn how to do it.



Scuba Diving at Beaver Lake

by Amy Field


No need to travel to a tropical location. Northwest Arkansas' Beaver Lake offers deep water and clear visibility for beginner and experienced divers.


Popularized recently by the movie The Bucket List, keeping a personal list of things you want to do before you die has become a common practice. One item that continuously comes up on many people's lists is learning to scuba dive. If you're thinking you have to wait until your next tropical vacation to do this, think again. Northwest Arkansas is a haven for scuba divers and anyone can learn how to do it. Surprisingly, the parks around the dam of beautiful Beaver Lake are great places to dive and attract scuba divers from everywhere. On any given weekend, license plates from as far away as Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas can be seen at Dam Site Lake North Park, with visitors taking advantage of the surprising visibility at the northern end of the lake. You might be wondering what on earth there is to see under the lake. Without giving away all the secrets, you can expect: a submerged forest, breathtaking underwater bluffs and even a sunken houseboat, to name a few. But, you will have to join the "Dive Tribe" by obtaining an Open Water certification and check it out yourself to discover the rest of Beaver Lake's secrets.


Fascinating to some, and daunting to others, scuba diving can be learned fairly quickly and simply. Safety is always the first concern but none of the information is particularly hard to learn. After certification, you can spend your weekends diving at the lake or get a head start on your vacation and be ready to dive the deep blue as soon as you get there. There is nothing like the feeling of neutral buoyancy under the surface and communing with sea life.


Want to learn how now? There are three shops in Northwest Arkansas that specialize in teaching everyone from beginner to advanced and can have you ready to swim alongside fish, sea turtles and thousands of other beautiful creatures that are only seen by a few.


Note from the editor: One common question many parents ask is at what age is a child ready to take scuba lessons? 12 years old is a common answer, however classes have been offered to children much younger based on maturity, physical ability, and desire. Likewise, some children older than 12 may not be ready. For example, one of the premier scuba certification and education organizations in the world offers Junior Open Water certification at 10 years old. At 15 years old, that certification can be upgraded to a full PADI Open Water Diver certification.


Underwater forest in Beaver Lake

NWA scuba shops in alphabetical order:

  • C&J Sports

    Located on County Road 187 just past the dam, Jim and Rachel Butler's shop offers a full range of dive courses from open water to the instructor development course. They also have overnight lodging, an RV park and a small grocery store. As a full service dive shop, it allows you to choose from a large selection of gear to buy or rent. Additionally, since it's only a little more than a mile or two from the most popular dive site on the lake, this is the closest place for divers to get tanks filled. C&J's has everything you need for a great weekend on Beaver Lake, as well as a chance to pick up anything you forgot to pack.


    C&J Sports
    11792 County Road 187, Eureka Springs, AR 72631 (MAP IT)
    (479) 253-9799
    CandJSports Website

  • Frogdogz Scuba

    Located on Highway 102 in Rogers, Frogdogz is a full service dive shop that offers everything from instruction and dive travel to gear sales and service. Divers coming from the Fayetteville/Springdale/Rogers/Bentonville area will find this shop to be a convenient stop on the way to the lake for filling scuba tanks or purchasing gear from their large selection. Owners Rick Downum and Chris Perry and the Frogdogz crew are also volunteers on the Benton County Dive Rescue team, and are passionate about creating a safe diving experience while at the same time making it extremely fun.


    Frogdogz Scuba
    2800 W. Hudson Road, Rogers, AR 72756 (MAP IT)
    (479) 877-6800
    Frogdogz Scuba Website

  • SportsCo

    Located in Springdale on West Sunset, SportsCo has many offerings including instruction, gear sales, gear rentals and dive trips. With a heated pool onsite, their classes are done right there in the shop followed by certification in the lake. Here, you'll find everything you need from a top-level instructional program to complete equipment sales, service, and rental facility. Owners Jack and Karen Dick have 45 years of experience diving, with a specialization in dive trips to tropical locations. After you've gotten certified with one of these shops, you will be ready to spend the summer in the lake "under the sun pennies" or diving the deep blue and discovering the hidden treasures beneath the sea.


    SportsCo
    2079 West Sunset, Springdale, AR 72762 (MAP IT)
    (479) 751-0636 or (479) 751-7330
    SportsCo Website


Amy Littleton Field is a writer and artist living in Fayetteville, AR. You can follow her blog and see her artwork at alfield.faso.com, on Facebook at Amy Littleton Field Artwork and on Instagram at amylfieldart.

Amy Littleton Field is a writer and artist living in Fayetteville, AR. You can follow her blog and see her artwork at alfield.faso.com, on Facebook at Amy Littleton Field Artwork and on Instagram at amylfieldart.