How to Pick a Diving Center

By Laura Coppa ( courtesy of )

To get the most from your diving holiday, whether you are an expert diver or just a beginner, you should pick a safe and well-equipped diving center suitable for your needs. Picking a diving center in an unfamiliar destination can be tricky.We advise you to contact the center via fax or e-mail with any or all of the questions provided below. Bookings can usually be made via Internet, fax or through your tour operator.

General Questions for Your Prospective Diving Center:

What languages do the Dive Masters speak?
Communication is important for safety and enjoyment. Most dive centers have multi-lingual instructors and guides to suit your needs. Make sure your prospective diving center can provide you with a Dive Master that you can understand.

Is the Dive Master present in the water on all dives?
The answer should be "yes". The Dive Master should be in the water for at least the first portion of the dive. Some guides will surface with the less experienced divers. This should not be a problem if the divers left in the water are experienced, although that is ultimately at the discretion of the guide.

Are oxygen, life jackets and first aid available on the boats?
Oxygen, life jackets and a first aid kit must be on board all diving boats. Ask your guide to show you their location and use.

How far away is the recompression chamber?
Your prospective diving center should know the location of the recompression chambers and be familiar with their services.

Do I need to fill out a Medical Form?
When you inquire about a course always request a medical form. If you answer  yes to any of the questions on the medical form, you will need to consult a doctor, prior to booking. Be aware that any physician clearing you for diving must be familar with the RTSC (Recreational Scuba Training Council) guidelines for diving.

Do I need a transfer from my hotel to the diving center? If so, is it included in the price?
If the diving center is not in the same location as your hotel, transfers are usually provided free of charge. Check with the diving center.

Beginners Course:

How many days do I need to complete a beginning dive course?
An Open Water Course typically takes four to five days, depending on the number of students. Some centers offer a fast track course, but keep in mind that PADI recommends a minimum of 73 hours.

How many students to one instructor?
Each training agency has different standards, which are subject to change. As well, diving centers may have their own policies that may be stricter than the training agency standards.

For the PADI Open Water Course the student instructor ratio is 8:1
For the BSAC Ocean Diver Course the student instructor ratio is 4:1
For the SSI Open Water course the student instructor ratio is 8:1

What languages are courses available in?
The majority of diving centers have multi-lingual instructors. It is strongly recommended that courses be taken in your mother tongue because of the theoretical content.

Can I dive locations like Ras Mohammed, Thistlegorm, Abu Nuhas, Strait of Tiran or Giftun Island the day after I complete my course?
The answer should be "no", unless you are following an advanced course or you pay for a private guide. It is advisable to discuss these options with your instructor.

Certified Divers:
I have an advanced diving license; can I go to the more adventurous dive sites immediately?
The answer should be no, especially if you have never been to the Red Sea. The first day of diving should be conducted in an area sheltered from strong winds and currents, where the boat can be moored. A local diving excursion will allow you time to acclimate yourself to the Red Sea and adjust your weights for better buoyancy control. A check dive will also ensure a more enjoyable future diving experience.

Can I dive alone?
Absolutely not! You will be expected to always dive with a buddy and always surface with a buddy. If you don't have a buddy, the guide will appoint one for you. If a spare buddy is unavailable, the guide will usually buddy with you.

Can I store my diving equipment at the diving center?
Most diving centers should provide you with a storage space for your gear.

What is included in a diving package?  
Most diving packages include two dives a day, tanks and weights. A supplement may be required for equipment, extra dives, wreck dives or specialty dives. Make sure to read the price list in order to avoid any surprises when you pay.

Can I choose where I dive?

Some centers will not be able to take you where you want every day. Other centers will have enough boats and divers to be able to make a group to almost any destination.

How many people will I be diving with?

Some centers restrict the numbers of divers per guide; others do not have a concrete policy.

Walk-in Bookings:  

Is the equipment tidy and well maintained?
When you arrive at your prospective diving center, spend time looking at the rental equipment - even if you do not require any.  All equipment should be in good condition and clean.

Can I bargain with a dive center as a walk-in client?
Sometimes! It will depend on how busy the center is, and whether you are visiting in a high or low season. Generally pre-booked packages are cheaper. Dont be afraid to shop around.

Your experience with your diving center should be positive and fun. Dive center staff should be able to answer any of your questions in a friendly manner. If they dont know about something, they should be focused on finding the answer to guarantee you are comfortable. And...have a nice dive!

Latest News

CDWS salutes annulment of decree that allowed fishing in national park

CDWS salutes annulment of decree that allowed fishing in national park
Sun, 22 May 2011
Following the annulment of the decree that allowed fishing boats to fish in Ras Mohammed National Park, CDWS can confirm that at 8am this morning, all fishing boats had left the area.

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