However, Cuba is not the best place for unqualified divers. PADI is a US qualification, and as such, is not taught in Cuba. Some dive centres, including the one at María la Gorda, offer the CMAS qualification – the French equivalent – which takes around four days, while some resorts offer ACUC (American Canadian Underwater Certification) courses, which are good introductions to diving. If you are looking for something more informal, some instructors will be happy to take out newbies for a try dive, but this will be done at their discretion and you are unlikely to be able to book this in advance.
There are also occasionally issues with diving equipment not meeting international safety standards. While more experienced divers will be able to perform basic checks on their regulators, BCDs and so on (or may have their own gear), new divers are far more at risk as they won’t recognise faults.