Learning to scuba dive is serious.
You are trusting someone to teach you how to breathe underwater... this is literally a superpower. Choosing the right dive shop and dive instructor is important. Scuba diving is inherently a dangerous sport. People are unable to spend hours underwater without cumbersome and expensive equipment. It also can be awe inspiring, amazing experiences that changes lives. Diving can make people walk away from steady jobs and move to the islands. Diving inspires people to become environmental advocates. Scuba can be a lifelong hobby that entertains and gives amazing stories of creatures seen and dives done that inspire future generations.
Your experience learning to dive sets the tone for the rest of your diving career.
Choosing the right operation for you could make all the difference. You could have a great time and pick up a hobby for life, or walk away discouraged, never to set foot on another sandy beach!
Answering the phones at the shop, the most common question I hear is "how much do you charge?" Being frugal myself, get it, but looking a bit deeper, a dive shop can offer a lot of added value to their classes.
Some questions I would add to my list:
- Do you teach using elearning or the book and video?
- If you teach using elearning, do I get to spends any time going over the material with my instructor?
- How much time do we spend learning to dive before we actually go diving?
- If I am not comfortable at the same pace as the others in my class, what are my options?
- What if I want private instruction? (*note: this is rarely offered for free, but is often worth the investment if you are uncomfortable with the idea of scuba diving)
- Are there any additional fees?
- What all is included in my class?
- If I learn to dive at your dive shop, are there opportunities to keep diving so that my skills stay fresh and what do those cost?
Depending on the answers that you get to these questions, dive shops can create a lot of added value for your experience.
How RAD responds...
At Red Alert Diving, we train using PADI elearning. This saves us time in the classroom allowing us to focus on your dive training. However, we will spend additional time going over any material that you feel wasn't covered well enough. We make it a point to spend as much time in the pool as you need. By the end of the pool sessions, you will be proficient at the skills before we go to open water. If for some reason, the pace of the class is too fast, we will reschedule at no additional charge. Our goal is for you to be comfortable. You must own your personal equipment (Mask, Snorkel, Fins and Boots). You don't have to buy these from us, but must be of a quality that can support scuba diving. There are no hidden fees on top of our class prices. Finally, after certification, we have a free dive club that has several activities monthly that divers can join in on. Most of these have an environmental aspect to them, and the dive shop even provides air at no charge. We also invite our students along on additional training dive days for fun and experience.
Training philosophy is not all that is important...
You should visit the dive shops you are thinking about using, or at least look closely at their websites and see how they make you feel. Does the business philosophy speak to your goals in diving. Maybe you want to spearfish, and their website has a lot of articles about how spearfishing is bad... or you are interested in conservation and their website talks about shelling... or you have a family that you want to get into diving with you, but every time you go to the dive shop, the staff is a little rough around the edges, these may not be your best options.
At Red Alert Diving, we have set things up to be the best for us, this may not be ideal for you, and that's okay.