Choosing the right diving centre on your diving holiday is extremely important to ensure that you get the most out of your diving experience. Whether you want to learn to scuba dive, hire diving equipment or dive with a knowledgeable dive expert, the dive centre you select will have a big impact on the quality and safety of your dive. With so many diving shops operating around the world, there will inevitably be some that are superior to others. In this article, we provide our top ten tips to consider to ensure you choose the best diving centre, wherever you are in the world.
Check the dive centre’s safety record
Safety when scuba diving is one of the most important things for divers to consider. Does the dive centre have adequate first aid equipment? Is there oxygen onboard the dive boat or at least close to the dive site? Particularly in less developed countries, safety standards may not be as good as back home, so if you are on a diving holiday it is imperative to do a full check of how the dive centre operates with regard to safety of its divers.
What is the rating of the dive centre?
The dive centre rating will give you a good idea of the quality of the operation, their adherence to safety standards and the calibre of the dive instructors.
The location of the dive centre
Where the dive centre is situated can make a big difference to the enjoyment of your dive. You do not want to have to walk far while carrying dive equipment, so unless the dive school has a vehicle that they use to transport divers, it is best to choose a diving centre that is as near as possible to the water and to the dive boat.
The facilities available at the diving centre
Does the diving centre have showers, loos and locker storage for your belongings? Does the dive school have a classroom for doing your dive courses?
The diving centre’s staff
Finding the right dive staff can make all the difference to your diving holiday. Particularly if you are taking a diving course, you may be spending a lot of time with the dive instructors, so you need to get on with them. You should also check the rating of the dive masters, and their knowledge and experience of the local dive sites that you will be likely to dive.
The dive boats at the centre
Unless you are diving in an area popular for shore diving, it is likely that you will need to get on a boat to reach your chosen dive site. You should check that the dive centre’s boats are fast and stable enough to be able to get you to the dive site. Will there be enough space on the dive boat for all of the divers and their equipment? Is there any protection from the sun? Does the boat carry oxygen, first aid kits and spare diving equipment?
It goes without saying that you should only dive with a dive centre where the diving equipment is well maintained. Poor equipment can lead to diving accidents. Before renting dive equipment you should check it thoroughly to ensure that there are no leaks in the BCD equipment, and that tanks have been properly serviced and checked. If you are using your own dive equipment, the dive centre should have adequate storage facilities for you to safely keep it.
It pays to shop around to see what different diving centres will offer you in terms of dive packages. Perhaps you can negotiate an all-inclusive diving deal, that encompasses diving and accommodation, or a free dive after a certain amount of dives bought.
Size of group or class you will be diving with
It is always better to dive in smaller groups as you have a better chance of seeing exciting marine life, and you are more likely to learn more from your diving instructor. Check the dive group sizes before committing to a dive school.
What does the dive centre to do to minimise its impact on the environment? Dive centres that allow divers to touch the reefs, or do not address issue with buoyancy control should be avoided.
If you consider these points when choosing a dive centre, you will be sure to have a very enjoyable diving holiday.