There has been some very good advise here. I too would urge you to find a local dive shop RIGHT NOW! Take all the class room and pool stuff RIGHT NOW! You will not want to spend anytime in paradise studying. Lot's of places have two for the price of one deals. Especially this time of year. Most agencies have 6 class room sessions, so you need to get right to it.
This will give you the confidence you will need. Billy Leslie is the most calm and patient instructor you will ever find. Bring your referral with you and as has been said by others, you can get your full certification in nice warm water.
What do you have to loose? It took me a lot of work to get certified, I had lots of fears -- but I was determined! It will open up a world you never imagined existed.
Please keep us posted.
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