I just got back from a great dive trip and thought I should put down a few of the learnings I had from when I did my research. Finding a good shop or instructors to go diving, especially for the first time, can be a daunting experience. I've found that the following tips work remarkably well in ensuring that you have a safe, fun and memorable dive trip!
Dive trip tip #1: Research!
When you're looking for something as popular as scuba diving shops or instructors, the way you do your research has a large impact on the search results you unearth. I've found that the best way is to first use general search engines to locate shops in and around the region you intend to go diving. Then, use a social reviews engine (like Bookyourdive, Scubadviser, Divereport.com, etc) to narrow down to the individual level.
Make sure you read all the reviews, not just the polarizing ones. In my case, I found that while the region I was visiting was saturated with dive shops, very few of them were highly rated by their customers - the ones that were, seemed no-brainers for me to approach!
Dive trip tip #2: First Contact
A lot of scuba instructors and dive shop reps will let you know what your experience will be like when you contact them. A good tactic for an initial email or phone call with them is to ask about their diving experiences in the region, and any highlights that you might expect if you were to go with them. Read more about how to find a dive center in a foreign country.
Make it clear you're shopping around and you'll have their attention. You should look for positive indicators like a willingness to be flexible for your needs, confidence and a lack of showmanship or salesman-like behaviour.
Again, in my case, I made contact via Email - my instructor wrote back. This is a good sign - it shows that from day one, you're communicating with the person you'll be going diving with and it lets you build a rapport with them immediately. It helped that Will, my instructor, was a funny, helpful and above all knowledgable person who was able to guide me through the first few dives!
Planning a scuba trip? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.
Dive trip tip #3: Freebies
In my case, I was able to get an option for free accommodation - although I didn't end up making use of it, it was a nice offer! Similarly, other diving outfits will have something or the other to offer you, as an edge against competition.
The Actual SCUBA Experience
On the day I was to actually go for my dive, my nerves were a bit on edge as it had been a while since I'd done something more exciting than commute to work. This is where a good instructor stands out. The ability to calm your student and get the best performance out of them is something that takes real talent, and it will be apparent.
Small group sizes are also very helpful, as it ensures more one-on-one time between the instructor and each student. From the time I entered the water, though, I knew I had made all the right choices.
As I approached the coral reefs and saw the fish schooling around me, I could tell that this was a good decision, and I was in for a great time. I hope you have the same!
How do you remember you first dive trip? If you have any scuba stories or tips on choosing the best places to dive, please do let me know via the comments! If you would like us to keep you updated with fresh scuba blogs just sign up for our free newsletter today!