How to choose a dive centre
How to choose a dive centre So, you’ve just arrived in paradise or maybe you’re about to jet off to a new destination. You can’t wait to get underwater, but you don’t want to make the dive with just anyone.
In most scuba diving destinations, the streets and beach fronts are littered with an overwhelming number of dive centres offering day trips and courses, but how do you choose? Although it is tempting to just pick the first one you stumble across, there are a few important things that you might want to consider.
Below are some useful hints and tips on what to look for when choosing a dive centre in a foreign country.
You get what you pay for.
Price should never be a deciding factor when choosing a scuba diving centre. You wouldn’t skydive with the cheapest operator just because they were the cheapest, would you? Never put your desire to save money above your personal safety.
If the price appears low it’s often because you will have to pay extra to cover; training books, rental gear, fuel for the boat or the certification fee. It is always worth checking that the price includes everything for your day’s diving or diving course.
A dive shop with an outstanding reputation and supplies like the best scuba masks, including highly experienced staff, who will prioritise your comfort and safety, is what you will be focused on. Make sure to check for dive agency standards, for example, PADI accredited.
Ask around for recommendations.
It is always great to hear other people’s first-hand experience of a dive centre. Ask friends, family or even other travellers if they have any recommendations of who to dive into the area.
Even if you don’t know anyone that has dived into the area, there are some fantastic
online communities that you can tap into for suggestions. TripAdvisor is the world’s largest community with helpful and real reviews. Alternatively, there are insightful groups on Facebook that you can join and ask for advice, such as ‘Girls That Scuba’, and ‘And divers Around the World’. These online networks of divers and travellers can provide invaluable insight into what it is like to dive with a given shop.
But don’t automatically reject a centre if there are a few negative reviews. Have a look at whether the management has responded and how they’ve approached the negative feedback. Is there a fair explanation or apology? This can give you an indication of the dive centre’s professionalism and how they handle problems or challenging situations.
Everyone has a bad day occasionally, often due to factors out of their control. If most of the reviews are overwhelmingly positive and they’ve responded to complaints professionally, then they’re probably a good choice.
Check out their social media. How to choose a dive centre
Word of mouth is a powerful tool. If they’re treating their customers right, you’ll hear about it across all platforms. Social media is an excellent window into a dive centre’s day-to-day activities and its unique personality.
Does it look like they are having fun?
What sort of marine life are they seeing?
Are customers positively engaging?
If, on social media, the dive shop looks like they engage with their customers; is somewhere you could see yourself, and gets you excited about diving with them, that’s a pretty good sign!
If you are in the area, go and visit a few dive centres.
It’s good to be able to get a feel for how they operate, but try not to get too distracted by the tanned instructor with the cute smile behind the desk!
This may give you an idea of their equipment and boats. Pay attention to the details. Check out the reception area; if they can’t keep that clean, then what else aren’t they looking after?
It is always important to check the equipment. Ask to have a look and see if it is well maintained. Do they regularly service their equipment? Are the certificates on the wall up to date? Make sure that the centre adheres to the PADI standards. You wouldn’t step on a boat or plane that you deemed unsafe, so use your common sense. ever use unsafe equipment.
Make sure you ask questions, that’s what the staff are there for.
How many divers do they take per guide? A maximum should be 4 divers per guide.
What is their cancellation or refund policy? This can vary from shop to shop so always worth checking you are happy with their policy.
Is there somewhere you can shower and change after the diving?
Is there a safe place to store your valuables?
Are the staff enthusiastic about their dive sites?
How much experience do they have?
Were they helpful and engaged in the conversation?
If they won’t answer your questions, then move on to the next shop. They should be convincing you as to why they are the best fit for your diving needs.
Whilst at the shop you could also get the opportunity to speak to their current customers about their experiences.
If you want to double-check that you are in safe hands, you can also use PADI’s Dive Shop Locator to check a shop’s credentials. All dive shops that are featured must fully adhere to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors standards. You can also see those operators who go above and beyond and have been awarded Five Star status and additional recognitions.
Listen to your gut.
You don’t need to have much, or even any experience when choosing a dive centre. Listen to your intuition, don’t choose anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable. The most important thing is that you feel safe and confident. Pick somewhere that you trust, with staff that you are excited to spend time with and you can’t go wrong!
Here at Coral Garden Diving Center, we are committed to providing professional and enjoyable diving for everyone, regardless of age, ability or experience. As a PADI 5* Dive Center and we prioritise safety and high standards. We are all about making our customers happy.
Our highly experienced instructors will work with you to make sure that you are comfortable, happy and confident in the water. With no more than 4 divers per instructor, we guarantee that you are well looked after. Our 4 onsite Master Scuba Diver Trainers and Open Water Scuba Instructors are always sharing their wisdom with our divers, helping to teach all PADI courses from Discover Scuba up to Assistant Instructor.
As well as top-notch staff, equipment and standards, Coral Garden Diving Center provides a laid-back and comfortable environment to spend time in. The dive shop takes care of your valuables, fresh water showers and a place to change. Out front, there is a spacious area where you can relax, and enjoy a coffee pre-dive, whilst chatting with your new dive buddies about the best underwater finds of the day!
We hope these tips have given you a bit more confidence in making an informed decision when choosing the best dive shop.
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