At Underwater Connection, southeast Wisconsin’s only PADI five-star instructor-training center, an award-winning course director and a team of skilled instructors educate both undersea novices and emergency-service professionals in the art of scuba diving. Following safe, low-stress basic diving courses in a pool, teachers and students move to the open water to cover techniques that include rebreathing, underwater videography, and recovering toy-boat wrecks from flooded bathtubs. Underwater Connection provides all equipment for classes, relying on its factory-trained equipment mechanics and Aqualung Master Technician, who refill tanks and do in-house repairs on gear from brands such as Dive Rite, Poseidon, Oceanic, Aqua Lung, and Scubapro.
Someone once said life is sweet under the sea, and Mountain Bay Scuba proves that true with scuba lessons for divers of all levels. Their certified instructors lead basic introductory classes in heated pools as well as open-water certification courses that let divers swim with the fishes. They even up the ante on adventure with ice dives and specialized classes such as underwater photography and wreck diving. Along with outfitting divers with essential skills, they provide all the snorkels, flippers, and wetsuits needed to explore the planet's myriad aquatic worlds.
There are treasures beyond belief under the waves. All across the Midwest, lakes large and small contain pieces of history, from a moss-coated dump truck at the bottom of Haigh Quarry to the schooner Thomas Hume, which has been a home to the fish of Lake Michigan since 1891. With favorite wet spots from Missouri to Minnesota, the teachers at Chicagoland Scuba are privy to it all. Whether offering first-time divers certification classes, leading diving trips, or learning how fish like to be hugged, exploring the underwater life is second nature to these pros—something they hope rubs off on their students, too.
Frogg Pond Dive is the home of Chicago Diving Schools, who introduce the gill-deprived to underwater exploration. Students new to sea can get flippered feet wet in the discover scuba class, wherein a PADI certified instructor teaches the basics of sea breathing from the safe, never-electric-eel-filled confines of a pool. For swimmers not ready to take the plunge to the bottom of the un-briny depths, there's the snorkeling class. And divers who have already completed a scuba certification program, but are out of practice or have recently had their memories erased by Secret Service agents, can regain their aquatic adeptness by enrolling in the dive refresher.
Inside one of Illinois’ oldest PADI–certified dive centers, Berry Dive Center’s eight instructors call upon a combined 100 years of experience to increase the underwater expertise of small student cohorts. Lessons unfold in both pool and classroom, with instructors sharing textbook techniques and safety tips before offering personalized critiques during supervised practice dives. The PADI five-star IDC facility—which was recently given a 35-year store award—keeps skills sharp with PADI certification courses and weekend excursions to Kankakee’s Haigh Quarry, with adventure-diving opportunities such as exploring wrecks, deep-water diving, and apprehending goldfish smugglers. The center’s dive shop also stocks a full line of diving equipment and manuals.