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I was in Norway for two weeks, my first trip there. Seven of those days were for diving, and the rest either traveling or sightseeing. Most Norwegians know some English, and even reading the signs in Norwegian starts to click if you give it a try. Getting around was never a problem, and I never felt unsafe.
Even with good diving, there’s only a handful of dive operations offering guided recreational trips in all of Norway. Oddly, the lack of recreational diving operations might be because of the generosity of the government. Local dive clubs apparently receive support to purchase a compressor or other gear, whereas businesses are on their own. That’s why you’ll find lots of local diving clubs, but few shops; why pay someone when you can dive for free? I met divers from every country in Europe, but no Norwegian guests. Perhaps someone more familiar with the situation can explain this in more depth or correct me if I’m misunderstanding the situation.
Diving in Norway is organised under NDF and NIF (Norges Idrettsforbund and Norgesdykkeforbund) and are sport organisations. In these organisations, diving is under the umbrella of CMAS (much like BSAC). The Norwegian government have arrangements for ALL sports members of Norges Idrettsforbund and the money for club equipment like compressors, safety gear, boats and such come from income generated by Norsk Tipping. Norway has a gambling monopoly where surplus revenue is plowed back into sports, childrens activities, volunteerwork and rescuework. In fact, most of the norwegian rescue services is based on volounteer organisations like Alpine rescue grups, Norwegian red cross and so on.
In addition, when you are taught diving in Norway, a special law mandates that at a minimum an open water class is 6 dives, where two dives are independent of the instructor. Norwegian divers are used to dive without a guide. Put this in connection with extremely strong right to roam laws, especially in the 100m belt close to water, Norwegians are usually free to hop in their boat, take their car and dive where they want to.
However, most of the money in the clubs do still not come from the government, but from volunteerwork and beach/sea-cleanup initiatives. There is basically no difference between a dive club, a kayak club and so on and a divecenter and a kayak senter. Oddly enough, only the dive center complains about Norwegians not wanting to come. The kayak centers don't have this issue.
Personally, I get difficult when a divecenter complain about norwegians not visiting, when their webpages are only found in english with prices set in Euros and taking 30$ for a shore dive with no other service than a dude on the dock.
So... long story, but mostly, norwegians are independent divers, and avid naturelovers with strong laws protecting our right to roam.
Definitely the most distinctive trip report I've read in a very long time. Few Americans visit Norway to scuba dive, let alone post a trip report. A great read, even if I have little desire to dive in chilly waters.
When I pick up my Nobel Prize, I am going to make sure to go diving in Norway.
Geez, that water looked --->cold! Liked the trip report and photos. Thanks.
I had two drysuits for diving in south Florida...can't say that I was ever cold but I never got too warm either. Lofoten always looks gorgeous though.