5 tips how to choose a dive shop. In this blogpost we look into how to choose a dive shop for your holiday.
For recreational diver, a dive holiday is the highlight of the year. It is nice to go to new places, to explore new dive sites. To select the holiday destination should be done with care. Once the destination is selected it’s time to start to think about how to select the dive shop in the location. Once in the location, the good old “walk-in and check the vibe” is still a very valid way of making the final decision. Here are five tips how to choose a dive shop and what to take under consideration when selecting the dive shop.
1. How to choose a dive shop? Use the Internet!
After you have chosen your destination, Google the local dive shops. Check out their web pages, a decent dive shop has also decent web pages. Look out for customer reviews from their own pages, from Tripadvisor and from diving related services, such as Diviac . Send the dive shop an email explaining your schedule and wishes, and have a dialogue with the store. How fast do they answer? Do you get satisfactory answers to your questions? Are they nice? This should help you a lot in your final decision.
2. Big or small?
Should you choose a big dive school or a small store? Both options have their advantages. Usually, bigger stores are more professionally operated, they have their own rental gear, boats, pool and fixed personnel. On the downside, they might be less flexible with schedules, dive sites, or other personal requests. Bigger schools usually belong to one or several of the global dive organisations. The biggest ones are PADI and SSI. Look for signs like “Five Star Dive Centre” or “Career Development Dive Centre” for highest quality. Small operators can be a good choice, if there is a good match of chemistry between you and the dive shop owner. Small companies are often also more flexible with special needs. The downside could be lack of resources and more hassle because smaller operators use shares boats, rent the equipment from other companies, do not have their own compressors to fill the tanks etc.
3. Check the equipment, boats and logistics
If you are looking forward to use rental equipment, ask to see the gear before making a decision. Diving is much safer and much more fun when the equipment is in good condition, well serviced and well maintained. Look especially at the BCD’s, wetsuits and regulators. BCD and wetsuit should fit you tightly. Be reasonable. There might be some wear and tear but they should not smell bad or be torn apart. Check the mouthpiece of the regulator. there should be no pieces bitten off. Ask about the boats and the overall logistics. How long does it take to get from the dive shop to the boat? Or is there a pickup from your hotel? How long is the boat ride to the dive site? How big is the boat? Is it a shared boat or is only for one dive shop to use? What do you need to bring with you? Is lunch, drinks etc included in the price?
4. Ask about the dives
What is the maximum dive time? some dive shops limit the dive time to 45 or 60 minutes, some let you dive your tank to 50 bar no matter how long it takes. How big are the groups? A nice group size is four divers per divemaster. In some shops, especially in the high season the group size can be much higher, up to 8 -10 people. How are the divers divided to groups? In bigger shops the custom is to have the divers in different groups, based on their certification level such as Open water, Advanced and professionals. This guarantees that everyone is diving with people who are on the same level. Ask about the dive sites. What’s there to see? Are there strong currents, how is the visibility and water temperature?
5 Talk with people
Talk with the people that you are going to dive with. If you get along with them on the dry, there is a good chance that diving will also be much fun! Language is a big issue. Do you share the same language on a level that you can communicate with? A lot of dive shops target certain language groups. English is the most common language in dive shops, but there are also dive shops who specialize in French, Italian, German, Russian, etc customers. If you want to dive with your own language, look around. Dive instructors come mostly from western countries and increasingly also from Asia. You should be able to find a dive school that has people who can teach in your own language.
This blogpost is about 5 tips how to choose a diveshop for your dive holiday. I hope you enjoyed this article. Please feel free to share it with your friends if you feel that this could be useful for them!
(c) Kimmo Pekari 2015