Choose the right one!
Whether you’re a certified diver or a lover of the sea who wishes to become one, the time will come when you’ll be booking holidays solely to pursue this passion.
You’ll do online research, ask friends, read reviews to try to narrow down your choice of diving destination. But, regardless of the location, and especially if it is famous for its diving, you’ll probably be bewildered by the presence of so many vendors. Kiosks, diving centres, information boards at your hotel and tour guides all promising you spectacular underwater encounters.
So how do you choose where to go and who to dive with? Here’s our advice on things to consider and questions to ask that will help you make the right choice without relying on the first centre that comes to hand.
There are hundreds of free online tools that can help you choose both your destination and dive centre: use them. TripAdvisor, dive centre Facebook pages, blogs, forums, tour operator’s advice. A simple internet search will throw up masses of information and enable you to see what others are saying about places and vendors.
Our advice? Dedicate a quiet day to plan, read as much as possible and to identify the consistency of the information found on the various channels.
Before your arrival, or even if you are already on site, ask for information about the equipment available at the Centre, even if you have, or are planning to bring your own. Are the sets a known brand? Are the wetsuits in good condition? Does the storage of the masks and equipment appear high quality? The answer to these questions will give you an important indication of the organisation’s ethics. Choose a centre that at first glance gives you confidence.
A well maintained diving center reflects the general approach to work. It is also true that not everything that glitters is gold, but having this information definitely helps.
Whether you want to book diving activities before you arrive in resort or wait until you get there, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you send an email for more information, send a private message to the diving centre’s Facebook page, or if you ask directly once on the page and your query is ignored or glossed over, forget it and look elsewhere. Think of what you need to feel safe and ask questions about. Some examples of important issues you might want to know include, how regularly is the equipment inspected? Does the centre hold globally recognised quality certifications? Is the center affiliated with a specific agency? Does the center own independent compressors and/or theirown boats? Don’t be afraid to ask to view the site and equipment.
Are the certificates on the wall well-presented or recent? Are instructors able to show their certifications? You don’t need to be in the trade to get a feeling of whether a centre is reliable or not. Trust your eyes, your ears and your sixth sense. If your questions are met with reticence, it is not a good sign.
Follow your instincts
It’s your first day on the boat and you have a bad feeling with respect to security. There’s no oxygen for emergencies in sight, or fire extinguishers. In the initial briefing the guide makes no mention of the emergency procedures. Our advice? Walk away and find someone better. Talk to other divers who are already in your resort, share your views, ask where they dive and if they are happy. You may find that they too, have had bad experiences before finding the right dive centre to suit their needs. There is nothing better than getting information from others who share the same interests.
Make an informed choice
After eliminating all the options that do not inspire you, you should end up with the best solutions. Make sure the centre you choose is an informed choice and not just the one closest to your hotel, or with the best looking instructors. Gathering your facts and following your instincts should help you to plan and enjoy a safe and fun diving holiday.
As always, good bubbles!