Most Lake Erie divers don’t start with the frigid, murky waters of a Great Lake.

They take scuba lessons specifically to go on vacation somewhere tropical — with warm, clear water. They fall in love with the sport and can’t wait to get back underwater, even in Cleveland.

“The ones who dive the lake, they’re exclusive. They’re all about Lake Erie,” said Chris Lucas, of Just Add Water scuba store. “We’ve got a lot of guys who really love the lake.”

They check out the water intake cribs, dozens of shipwrecks, artificial reefs.

Just Add Water — with locations in Fairview Park and Willoughby — caters to all divers, from wannabe to experienced. The store teaches scuba classes at local pools, leads scuba trips to exotic destinations year-round, does certifications and sells, rents and services all the gear you need.

The store even hosts a Scuba with Santa event Dec. 9!

The open water certification course teaches the basics of scuba in the pool and classroom before completing four open-water dives, at a cost of $385, which includes renting equipment. (You must buy a mask, fins and snorkel to make sure they fit you correctly.) You can learn on the following weekends:

  • Dec. 1-3 (East)
  • Dec. 8-10 (West)
  • Dec. 15-17 (East)

To earn the lifelong certification, divers must complete four open-water dives. You can join Just Add Water on a trip, dive in a dry suit at White Star Quarry in Gibsonburg, Ohio, with Just Add Water or get a referral to dive with another instructor around the world.

Regardless, you’re probably going to need a wet suit. Wet suits are made of neoprene and work by keeping water warmed by your body close to you. Lucas recommends trying suits on first, since if a wet suit doesn’t fit right, it lets cold water flow in and out, and you’ll be cold.

In Lake Erie, deep water is often less than 70 degrees, so Lucas recommends a thick 7-mm suit, or a dry suit, which keeps you warm with tight rubber seals at your neck and wrists.

There are also wet suit booties, gloves and hoods to keep you warm.

To learn the difference between a wet suit and a dry suit, watch the video above.