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Things to consider in a Dive Shop for scuba and snorkel diving or training.

Select a facility and staff or instructor on experience, quality and professionalism, not on $Price.

Can you breathe underwater without equipment? Do you have gills?

You are learning or using skills and concepts that will teach you to breathe using very specialized, sophisticated equipment in a hostile environment where mistakes can cause serious injury or even death.

Would you bungee jump from a rusted tower with a frayed looking cord because it was the cheapest? Of course not! That is visible and easy to spot. You might not select this experience based purely on price. The problem with a new sport is that you aren't sure how to judge "quality". New learners and divers often don't realize that the training or dive experience they had wasn't very good. They have nothing to compare it too.

For either diving or training make sure the facility and/or staff are pumping you good air! Do they display a certificate showing their air was recently recently tested?

For Snorkel or Dive Tours:

Are they providing or able to deliver:

  • CPR & First Aid
  • Emergency oxygen
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency communications (VHF and/or a cell phone)
  • Throw rings or throw bags on the boat where applicable
  • A dive flag where applicable
  • A "Divemaster" should carry the appropriate certifications to that level, not just have a "title" because they lead dives. It's not wrong to ask to see a certification card! A "Divemaster" should be a:
    • Certified Instructor or Divemaster
    • Certified CPR/First Aid Provider
    • Certified Rescue Diver

What is their refund policy? A good facility will refund your deposit if you provide ADVANCE notice at least 3 days in advance of a dive event. Most places will require a 30-50% deposit to hold a spot for you. If you pay in full make sure you understand their refund policy!

How long has the Divemaster been diving? The Divemaster, usually an instructor, should have diving experience in the area you are diving. The more experience and broader their knowledge base the better the Divemaster. If they have a broad background, diving in many environments, they gain important knowledge in dealing with new and experienced divers. The Divemaster should be patient and have a personality you like!

Where will you take me? The response should be based on YOUR experience and your desires. Some facilities run trips to specific locations on specific days. A good facility should quiz you on your experience and your desires to match your wants to a good location so you pick the right day(s) to dive! A high service level shop is often willing to work with your schedule, describe the dives in the area and match sites to your skill level. Often times many facilities simply run "tours" where they advertise they will visit certain sites and that is where you will end up even if the visibility or currents are poor at that location. Professional shops will work to determine the BEST SITES for THAT DAY and will take you there!

How will you structure the dive? Remember that the role of a Divemaster is NOT to plan your dive, plan your dive profile and do the work you should be doing for yourself. Divemasters should offer to allow you to accompany them on a dive and encourage you to join them if you are a new diver. They should provide an adequate briefing to the area and how you might structure your dive profile. If you do follow them on a dive you should remain "above" the Divemaster's depth at all times and follow their directions. The Divemaster will want to know when you are at a pre-set limit of air in your tank, often 1500psi or 100 bar, to gauge remaining time and help return you to your exit point safely with adequate air in your tank.

Do you dive with us? Professional facilities will put someone in the water with both SCUBA divers and with snorkelers. They are there to help and answer questions. They should be dive professionals there to help you have a better time.

Dive Training and Certification:

You get what you pay for. As a new diver you are not in a good position to select the best facility or trainer because you don't know enough about the sport. So here are some tips to help you make a decision, these are the things you should be asking FIRST, before the price:

Do I get to KEEP my training materials? If your PADI trainer or facility is NOT providing manuals for you to use and keep they are in direct violation of PADI training standards and agreements they made in becoming a PADI dive facility or a PADI dive instructor. If they are willing to violate training standards on manuals where else are they violating safety and training standards? You are not in a position to know as a new diver.

Is the Instructor a Fully Certified Instructor? Make sure your instructor is a fully certified instructor by an internationally recognized agency. A current, certified instructor will be able to show you his certification card and that they are current.

What about the classroom and training materials? Are they using the most current and up-to-date training materials (DVD’s) and does it look like a classroom? Is it safe, clean and will it make a good learning environment?

Where and how will your open water training will take place? Will it be a shore dive, a boat dive or some combination? Locations vary widely but understand how this will work. In some situations you may take your classroom and pool in one place and complete your open water training in another. Your referring dive shop will provide you with the materials you need to complete your open water training elsewhere. Understand this process and ask questions

How long has the instructor been teaching? Is the instructor a certified instructor or are they learning to be an instructor? Everyone has to learn so if they are learning to be a dive instructor how are they observed? Will you be the focus or will the dive instructor candidate? A current instructor will be able to show you their certification card and an insurance card that indicates they are current and can teach/certify.

Does the instructor certify all of his/her students? A good instructor will work with students to help them but a good instructor will only certify students that can pass all areas (knowledge, pool, open water) and demonstrate comfort in the water. Most everyone passes but some do not. Most drop out if they are not comfortable in the water.

What diving skills will I learn? You will learn all of the foundational principles required for you to be safe and create a solid base you can build on. That's why initial training is so important. You will learn the skills that will allow you to do underwater photography, wreck diving, deep diving etc.

Will I learn confidence-building skills? Good instructors reinforce skills and knowledge with various exercises to help make you confident.

Do students ever panic and can you prevent this? A competent, experienced instructor can greatly minimize this risk. They understand SCUBA training and know how to observe students and watch for signs of anxiety. A good instructor will introduce techniques slowly, safely and couple that with confidence building exercises.

How many people will be in my class? Small classes are best as you get more attention. An ideal number is 4-6.

Is There an Attendance Policy? Make sure you understand how the classes work and run. Things must be done in sequence and if you miss a segment it will prevent you from going to the next segment. This may require you to attend a different class to complete the training

Ask yourself if the instructor is patient? Patience is an important quality for an instructor. You want to avoid instructors with a drill sergeant demeanor. Meet the instructor that will be teaching you.

Is training gear current and serviced? Make sure that the facility has current equipment that is well maintained. If things appear to be old, fading, taped together you might reconsider. Remember that the equipment is equipment you must depend on. Do they service what they sell? Can you purchase gear at the facility?

Is it safe to dive? Yes, if done correctly. Your certification class teaches all of the required concepts to be safe. Diving is very safe if a few simple rules and some key concepts are understood. If there is an accident your trainers should be able to provide:

  • CPR & First Aid
  • Emergency oxygen
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency communications (VHF on a boat plus a cell phone)
  • Fire extinguishers aboard their boat
  • Emergency flare equipment aboard their boat
  • Throw rings or throw bags on their boat
  • A dive flag
  • Surface support flotation where practical

PRICE: Many people never ask any questions beyond price. As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

  • Excellent instructors will usually have a higher priced class because of their teaching experience and ability to train good divers quickly and effectively.
  • A good instructor will have the safety gear mentioned above and that costs money.
  • A good instructor will provide you with quality equipment that is well maintained. This makes learning easier and it costs money.
  • A good dive instructor has spent a lot of money and time to earn their certifications and gain their experience. They are professionals.
  • The instructor should be dedicated toward providing you all the time you need to master necessary knowledge and skills.
  • The instructor needs to earn a living just as you do.
  • An instructor provides you with training materials you can keep because it's the right thing to do AND it's a PADI requirement. Those cost money.

If your only concern is $PRICE and not your own safety or the quality of your training, then you should consider what $PRICE you put on your personal safety. Dive with a professional facility and instructor based on what they offer, not purely on $PRICE.

Aquatic Sports and Adventures
Address: Privada Los Naranjos #30, Santiago, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico  28860
Phone in the USA direct to the shop in MX: 909-266-0271
Phone Internationally to MX: 011-52-314-334-6394
Phone from MX: 314-334-6394
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