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How to Choose a Diving Company

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When you’re trying to choose which company to go diving with, it can be all too tempting to book with the cheapest offer they give you. Diving is an incredible hobby to have. It is also an extremely expensive one too! However, this is not always the best thing to do because the most important thing is your safety. You may be asking yourself “which diving shop should I pick?” Sometimes companies will offer cheaper prices than others. That doesn’t mean that they are just as equally safe because they have a logo and a shopfront.

When choosing a dive shop you need to make sure that you are doing your own checks and research before agreeing to anything. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own safety. Diving doesn’t need to be a dangerous activity if you. The company you’re diving with are putting in the right precautions to ensure that there are not hazards when you’re diving. We’ve created this list of things that you should be checking and looking out for when you’re planning to dive with a company abroad.

Check That They Are PADI Certified

First of all, when picking a diving company abroad, do your research! Make sure that you check that the company you’re planning to go diving with is PADI certified. Just because a company has this written on their brochures or shop window doesn’t necessarily mean that they are officially certified. A quick search online and through PADI’s website will help you to determine if they are actually certified. Most reputable companies won’t be angry if you want to double check this for yourself. In fact, if a company does become a little bit pushy with you or is angry that you’re doing your own checks then this would be a little bit of a red flag for us!

Someone Speaks Your Language So You Can Understand

Of course, when you are under the water, divers all speak one language and understand the same signs. However, it is imperative that you understand instructions and any warnings before you go for your dives. This can include important information such as animals to watch out for, how long your dive is going to be, what kind of descent you will need to do etc. Especially if you’re more of a beginner diver then this is even more important. You don’t need someone to be fully fluent in your language but enough so that you can understand each other easily. Belize is one of the best spots for scuba diving as the most popular language is English and you will also get to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean sea too.

Ask Plenty of Questions Until You Feel Comfortable

As we’ve said already, your safety is the most important thing to consider when choosing a diving company. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions until you feel more comfortable. Any reputable dive shop will welcome questions that you have and answer them so that you feel reassured. This is also your opportunity to understand the dive that you will be going on too.

Choosing a good diving company is incredibly important so that you know what to expect on your dives. This image shows a Moray Eel from when Amy was diving and she was glad she was in safe hands.

Make sure that you’re asking them about how you will be descending, how many metres the dive is, how many people will be on the dive with you. Most importantly, write the questions down so that you don’t forget to ask certain things. Take your questions and a pen into the shop with you and write down the answers. This way you can go from the shop weigh up your options and make an informed decision. PADI has released a great blog on 10 questions you should ask dive shops. We’ve compiled some of our own below.

Questions To Ask :

  • How deep is the dive?
  • What type of descent are we going to be doing?
  • How many other people are on the dive trips usually?
  • Are there any animals that I need to look out for?
  • Do the dive masters speak English?
  • How regularly do you service your equipment?
  • What comes with the diving package?
  • How new is the rental gear?
  • What medical supplies is available on the boat?
  • What will we see on the dive?

This seems like a lot of questions but the most important thing is making sure that you feel comfortable to dive with this company. This is especially important if you’re looking to learn to dive abroad. If the company seems unenthusiastic about the dive or is reluctant to answer any questions then don’t be afraid to walk away.

Look At Reviews Online

Most of the time, you need to take reviews with a pinch of salt. Where diving is concerned, you definitely need to be checking the reviews of different dive companies before you commit. Sometimes there will be reviews with minor complaints such as ‘we were told we were going to see turtles and we didn’t’. Things like this is completely out of the dive shop’s control.

They’re wild animals and are not always going to be at certain spots all the time. Remember that when you’re planning your dive, you will be told of what things you can expect to see but please remember that this is not a guarantee. The reviews you really need to be looking out for are ones that suggest that equipment is not well maintained or where someone had an incident and the dive company wasn’t on hand to help. When you’re checking reviews, a lot of this is a judgement call. You need to trust your gut and if something doesn’t feel right then simply walk away and find another company to go diving with.

The Dive Sites Match Your Level

When you’re training to be a PADI Open-Water Diver, you will learn all about how deep you can dive, what descents you can do etc. When you’re going at it alone and choosing a dive shop abroad to go diving with, you need to make sure that the sites being recommended to you match your diving qualification. What you don’t want to do is go with a company that is trying to sell you a dive that you are not qualified to do. This is something that is very common and Amy has even experienced first-hand.

Even though you can dive to 10 metres, some dive shops will try to push you that you will be fine to go on a deeper dive. Often they will say it’s only a couple of metres more and in honesty it’s hard not to be convinced. Any diving company that is trying to persuade you to go on a dive deeper than what you’re qualified for is a major red flag for us. Do not do anything that puts you out of your comfort zone or you have not been shown to do. PADI created different levels of diving for a reason and you will just be putting yourself at risk to go against that. Any company that tries to upsell a dive that you’re not qualified for is not to be trusted.

Staying On The Same Page

Once you’ve gone away with answers to all your questions and feel happy that you’re choosing the right diving company, come back and start looking at getting it booked. Diving is one of the most exhilarating and exciting hobbies that you could possibly have. If you’re coming back to the dive shop and speaking to a different employee, reconfirm the details. You should have already covered the safety aspects and feel satisfied that you will be safe diving with this company. Now you want to make sure that you’re getting good value for your money before paying. Spend this time to re-confirm details and ask any other questions that you’ve thought of since you last spoke to them. Don’t rush to make a decision.

  • What is the price of the dives?
  • What equipment comes with the price?
  • Is there anything extra you need to pay for?
  • If you’re doing more than one dive, what is the time in between the dives?

Anything else that pops to mind make sure to ask the dive centre. Make sure that you’ve got all the information you need and then make a decision as to whether this is the company for you. Another thing that we personally like to know is how eco-friendly the company is as well. We will not dive with any companies that allows and encourages divers to touch the marine life. To us, this is another red flag! We feel that it shows that they don’t have as much understanding of the underwater world as we would like. Animals should be taking care of and we only want to dive with companies that is keen to look after their environment.

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Trust Your Gut

When choosing the dive shop that you want to go with, make sure that you trust your gut. You will find that the more you dive as well, the more things you know to look out for. However, when you’re just starting to dive it can be difficult because you don’t tend to trust your gut as much. This is where you need to trust yourself and the knowledge that you’ve built when learning to dive. If your gut is telling you that there is something off with the dive company or there is something wrong then trust it. Gut instincts should always be trusted and if its screaming at you to walk away then do so. The worst that can happen is that you will have to go back to the drawing board. You will eventually find another diving company that you feel more comfortable with.

Do You Feel Comfortable?

One of the most important things when you’re diving is to make sure that you feel comfortable. Find a company where you’ve done your research and that you trust. Make sure that you are feeling as comfortable and as confident in your choice as you can be. That way when you do go out on your diving trip, the only thing that you need to worry about is yourself and diving. Focus on keeping yourself safe and trust the diving company that you’re with to worry about the rest.

Have Fun!

With all this in mind, it can be easy to get caught up in the worries and anxieties of diving. Remember that this is an incredible thing that you’re doing and you’ve joined an awesome community of divers. You will be entering underwater, seeing some amazing marine life and learning along the way. Once you’ve chosen the diving company that you’re going with, trust in your decision and let your worries slip away. Have fun on your diving trip and enjoy the experience. The more you go diving, the more confident you will feel when choosing diving companies no matter where you are in the world.

We hope that this guide has helped you to learn how to choose a diving company when you’re abroad. There are a lot of different things to consider when you’re choosing a company. Take your time and do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. At the end of the day it is your safety that comes first here. Ensure that you always check online for reviews of the diving company and that PADI recommends them too. You will have an amazing time diving! Do everything you can to prepare yourself so that on the day you will be able to relax and just enjoy yourself.

If this is your first-time diving outside your PADI course then don’t be put off. There will be people there to help you and guide you. If, like Amy, you’ve had some trouble equalising and finding what works for you then don’t forget to check out our guide for diving with sensitive ears.

Have fun and keep safe!

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