Learning To Dive? – Tips to help you choose the right dive shop!
Learning to Dive in Andaman is a luxury. And those who opt for it – want to make sure they are doing it right! While the Internet is much resourceful in shortlisting dive shops in Andamans, visiting/calling them prior to the diving experience would ensure a pleasant memory. While interacting with dive shops, noting the following tips will help you decide:
In Andaman Genuine dive centers/shops are ALWAYS affiliated with at least one of the diving associations in the world. A dive association sets standards, creates courses and certifies students allowing them to dive anywhere possible within permissible depths. Individual diving ranks determine the depth limit.
2. The aura
A dive shop or center should ideally exude passion for diving and its culture. The vibes of a healthy dive operation is much about its people as it is about its’ facilities. If they make you feel like a part of their fraternity and want you to have a good time, you got your dive operator!
- Start by asking around in the market place or fellow travellers about your shortlisted dive shops.
- Are they welcoming in their approach? Do you feel comfortable conversing with their staff? Some dive shops have multi-linguist staffs that make interactions welcoming.
- Are your quirks and queries being attended to with interest?
- Enquiring about the dive sites and sightings will bring out their knowledge of diving in the area
3. Equipment and Facilities
Equipment and facilities are part and parcel of the diving experience. Checking the standards of their infrastructure, one can gauge the quality of service extended. Ratings by the dive associations help in understanding these technical aspects. The following must be taken into consideration –
- Quality of equipment that is being rented (if it is well serviced and in good condition)
- Sizes and numbers of gear (fins, masks, tempered masks for those with eyesight issues)
- Quality of air (It is crucial that the tank is filled with good air. Breathing contaminated air on a dive could lead to several complexities)
- Quality of professional service offered by the staff
Having a set of well-maintained and fitting gear makes all the difference while diving.
- Basic facilities that must be offered by a dive operator are – Change/ shower rooms
- Equipment rinsing area
- Drying and storing space
- Lockers to keep valuables while diving
- A store with basic dive amenities for fun divers/ frequent divers.
4. Structure and dive locations
Assess the working structure of the operation. Are they?
- Inspiring and motivating to that might need it
- How many boats do they have?
- What kind of a boat would you be travelling? (Access to different dive sites is dependent on the quality of boats used and its’ maintenance)
- How many more divers would be diving with you? (Having this information will then allow you to decide for yourself the attention guaranteed)
5. Star ratings of dive affiliations
These are useful in understanding a dive shop holistically.Some dive operators’ compromise on the rates of services provided by wavering safe diving standards (laid out by dive associations), and cutting out on dive time. They often rate their services lower than a well-rated dive center on the Islands.Parts of the Andaman archipelago that are open to diving are around Port Blair, Havelock, Neil, Long Island, and some restricted areas. While discounts are extended to larger groups and frequent divers, any further negotiations might lead to compromised service.