Cave 1

The UTD Cave 1 course is the first step in the process of teaching cave diver skills.

Course duration: 5 days


The UTD Cave 1 course is the first step in the process of teaching cave diver skills. The training program will familiarize you with cave conservation procedures and the hidden dangers that are often associated with obstructed diving. This course covers the basic principles of cave diving and introduces the skills and knowledge required to conduct penetrations and navigations following the main guideline of an underwater cave. The training emphasizes awareness, dive planning, cave environmental peculiarities, stress management, environmental stewardship, standard and emergency procedures, dive techniques, troubleshooting, and about the risks of cave diving.

Once the Cave 1 course has been completed, divers can dive and practice cave penetration for a maximum of 24 months following the main guideline and using the “1/3” rule or at most “gas usable” (the “usable gas” is made up of the total available gas decreased by the rock bottom value).

Unlike other UTD certifications, the Cave Diver 1 certification expires 24 months after completion of the course if you do not continue your training by completing the second part, Cave 2, of the Cave Diver program, thereby earning the full Cave Diver certification, which it is not subject to expiration. To undertake this type of training, students must be experienced divers with strong buoyancy control skills and must know the fundamental protocols. UTD doesn’t think that diving in obstructed environments is right for everyone. In fact, this type of diving should only be considered by experienced divers who have considerable confidence in the underwater environment.

Note: Cave 1 and Cave 2 courses can be combined into one 5-day program.


  • Minimum age 21 years
  • Minimum 75 logged dives after open water certification
  • Hold the UTD Essentials of Overhead patent or Technical Extension or equivalent
  • Completed the UTD Overhead Protocols course within the last 12 months (1 year)
  • Knowing how to swim at least 275 meters in less than 12 minutes without stopping.
  • Know how to swim for at least 18 meters in apnea.

Course Limitations

  • Gas management: for penetration, maximum of 1/3 of the usable gas (the “usable gas” is the total available gas decreased by the rock bottom value)
  • Maximum depth 30 meters
  • Minimum visibility: 3 meters at the cave entrance
  • At least 2300 liters of gas available at the entrance to the cave
  • No restrictions (passages where divers are forced to proceed in single file)
  • No complex navigation like jumps, gaps, tees, loops or traverses
  • No unzipped obligation
  • The use of scooters or rebreathers is excluded
  • New explorations or the modification of guide lines or markers already placed are excluded
  • Navigation decisions on a free basis are only allowed in open cave zones (Cavern zone)
  • The use of stage cylinders is not permitted

Course content

The UTD Cave 1 course is normally held three or four days after the UTD Overhead Protocols course, and includes, between theory and immersions, a minimum of 24 hours of lessons aimed at showing and making students understand the dangers and challenges posed by cave diving, but also their beauty. The fourth day of the course is usually dedicated to experience diving. Particular attention is also paid to the implications produced by penetration into obstructed environments and to the identification, management and resolution of problems that can endanger the survival of the diver.

The course includes nine (9) hours of theory lessons and eight (8) dives to be performed in at least two different environments. At least four (4) of these dives must be conducted in environments where external light does not penetrate. If environmental conditions permit, one of the experience dives must be performed in a different environment.

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