If you’ve decided to start diving – well done! – here are Top 10 tips on what to ask and what to look for in a diving center to make sure your experience is a positive one.
- Identify what type of experience you want: small & family-like? Bigger, to socialise more? Specific language? Read reviews (TripAdvisor and/or diving forums) and shortlist 2 or 3.
- Make sure you check they’re listed on the PADI Store locator and that ideally they’re a 5* or 5* GoPro resort. This usually ensures they’re reliable but if you have a doubt, you can check that their instructors are registered.
- If you have the time onsite, go see them in person and chat to them. Ask to see the instructor(s) and talk to them too. Have a look at the center itself: does it feel right? Is it what you’re looking for in terms of atmosphere? If you think you won’t have time, contact them all (the ones on your shortlist) and see how responsive they are, how they make you feel and trust your guts.
- Ask what’s the maximum number of student per instructors, obviously the lower the better.
- Ask what happens if there isn’t anyone else wanting the course, do they have fixed start dates?
- You also want to ask of course about the costs – for the certification you’re after, do they offer a discount if you do more than one? Do they offer accommodation, or discount on accommodation? However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better, especially when you have to rely on equipment and technical expertise. Some other centres might be cheaper but maybe their equipment is not in good shape.
- Ask about their tanks (also called diving cylinders) – how often do they do the visual inspections? That should be at least once a year (check local laws & regulations). When was the last hydrostatic inspection? This should be at least every 5 years. Do they get their ‘air’ checked regularly and are they transparent about the results? It’s a little bit like a blood test: there are norms and averages and you should be under/above/within certain numbers… I didn’t know this before starting and I was lucky to get the club I did because they were very clear and upfront about it all, but it’s not always the case.
- Don’t hesitate to change and/or cancel a course or a dive if you don’t feel confortable with your instructor. They should make you feel at easy and provide the right environment for you to learn.
- They should be serious about your understanding of the theory and the demonstration of the skills in exercices. Although you might feel relieved that you “passed”, it’s important that it’s done properly, for your own safety.
- Diving should be fun!!!