How to choose an instructor or dive operator?
In a sense, this is a bit of a trick question! The truth is that most students don’t choose their instructor. As I remember it, the only time I picked my instructor was for my divemaster and instructor level courses. But knowing that doesn’t help you much!
To choose an instructor can be difficult, but to choose a dive shop, or diving facility is a much more straight forward task. As with many purchases, word of mouth recommendation from friends or family is often the best way to go. At least that way you get the benefit of someone else’s experience, and you are able to evaluate the source of the recommendation.
Price is always a factor. I would recommend that rather than just looking for the cheapest price, you look for the best value – the two are not always the same! Always bear in mind that you only do these courses once in your life, and usually only go to a holiday destination one time also. So you need to make the best of these opportunities that you are giving yourself, and sometimes to choose the cheapest is not the best option.
Location is also a big part of the decision making process. When I did my Open Water Diver course I was living in England. Although I could have found a local instructor, I did not want to learn in cold water, so I booked my course in Egypt.
These days most people research this sort of question on the internet, via web sites, social media and chat rooms. You can make a judgment based on the text and photos, and using the contact page will give you a chance to interact and evaluate the service. However, the guy you email will probably not be your instructor, and may not even be in the same location. The down side to chat rooms and sites like Trip Adviser is that you don’t know the person making the comment. On the other hand, if you email me, you will get a reply, and it will be from me. I check both my Hotmail and Scuba Guru in boxes at least twice and day. I am qualified to teach all the PADI mainstream courses up to Assistant Instructor and a good selection of Specialty courses – you can check them out by following this link.
One of the things to bear in mind is that dive shops can have relatively high turnover of staff – it is just that kind of industry! Teaching diving is a person to person skill, and although most of the courses are only a few days, you will develop a relationship with your instructor. This is particularly important for the Open Water Course, because the student needs to trust the instructor and have confidence in his or her abilities.
However, none of this guarantees who will be your instructor. Most dive shops decide who gets to teach the student on a roster basis, or who is available or in the case of specialty courses who is qualified to teach it.
That is where I, as an independent instructor, can offer a level of service that dive shops find almost impossible to match.
If I am unable to teach a course, I will only accept a booking after I have made this clear to my customer and will only ask an instructor that I know and approve of to teach it for me.
In the case of fun or leisure divers, I can’t guarantee that we will have the boat to ourselves, although this can be arranged with prior notice, but I can almost guarantee that we will dive as a separate group. I say almost, because sometimes the dive shop may only have one or two other divers and they might ask me to guide them as well if they are short of divemasters that day. On the other hand, if we arrange it beforehand I can guide exclusively if you choose this possibility. This service is of particular value to photographers who clearly benefit from not being part of a general group of fun divers and who sometimes end up rushing the shot to keep up with the guide and avoid getting lost. If you want a particular service then let me know in good time and I will do my level best to accommodate you.
Brand new for 2017 I am launching a Premium Service version of Scuba Guru’s dive offerings! The central idea is that those who select to use the Premium Service will have me exclusively during the course of their stay here in Salang. Whether for fun dives or diving courses I will take on no other customers than the Premium booking. Now that is truly unique to Scuba Guru! To find out more click the button below:
So to summarise this article, to choose an instructor is for most people impossible! Unless you know an instructor personally, or you choose to go with an instructor like me, the best you can do is to pick the dive shop. But don’t be overly concerned about it. Most dive instructor do the job because of a love of diving. The PADI instructor course is universal and very thorough. So the chances are that you will have a great time! Good luck!Book My Next Course!