Underneath blue skies, students geared up in masks, fins, and snorkels dive into an outdoor, heated training pool to learn how to breathe underwater. As students acclimate to the water, certified instructors lead them through courses of varying levels, such as the introductory Discover Scuba course, that teach breathing basics and safety techniques. After mastering the fundamentals, Scuba Schools of America can take water enthusiasts to the beach or out into the Pacific for open-water dives where they'll implement full dive-planning methods and artistic poses atop opened clamshells. For those seeking certification, Scuba Schools of America teaches intensive classes and specialty programs such as underwater photography and rescue diving.
Coral reefs seem to sway across the ocean floor, where purple starfish rest and large manta rays soar gracefully through the water overhead. When founder of RC Scuba Center Jeanne Whelchel set out on her first dive in 1975, this is the sort of vista she wished to see for herself. Today, with more than 8,000 dives in both cold and tropical waters under her belt, she opens oceanic exploration up to the masses. Her PADI-certified courses have certified more than 2,000 studnets and let the curious take their first breath underwater, the experienced work their way to master scuba diver, and the fugitive live the rest of their lives as fish. Aside from instruction, she and her staff of licensed instructors also organize dive charters, giving adept divers the opportunity to plunge the depths at nearby sites such as San Diego?s Wreck Alley or far-off locales such as the Red Sea.
The crew at Brian Anderson Dive and Scuba School is all about extreme adventure, and the proof is in the company name—whose abbreviation spells out an extreme acronym. They lead a variety of certification programs for students who wish to stretch their sea legs, including regular and advanced open-water certification, rescue diving, emergency first responder, and Divemaster. They also organize diving trips to remote locales such as Cozumel, Thailand, Fiji, Australia, and the Bahamas. The team works with each student on an individual level, allowing them to complete courses at their own pace, on their own schedule, and at their own budget.
Jacques Cousteau had barely slipped the first scuba tank off his back when Pacific Wilderness opened its doors in 1953. Since then, the shop’s staffers have used their collective expertise to outfit divers with high-quality equipment from brands including Aqualung, Oceanic, Scubapro, Seaquest, and Zeagle.
They also teach PADI scuba-certification courses that range from basic open-water training to advanced rescue diving. Lessons start at the on-land facility's heated pool but progress to weekend-long dives in the waters of Redondo Beach. The shop's scuba-philes also arrange journeys to exotic locales such as the Sipadan Water Village Resort in Malaysia and the secret depths of Camp David's presidential bathtub.
Some of Sea Stallion Scuba Outfitters's certified dive instructors fell in love with the ocean after moving to the West Coast from landlocked states, and others caught the diving bug on Caribbean vacations. But no matter how they came to love the sport, all of the instructors translate their passion into superior tutelage to help students earn their underwater independence through SSI-open-water-dive courses from beginner to instructor levels. These same staffers exercise their expertise to sell diving, snorkeling, and underwater-photography equipment from top industry brands, in addition to tweaking existing gadgets to ensure safe below-surface adventures. Though based in the Pacific Ocean, Sea Stallion encourages sea-hopping with yearly excursions to exotic locales, such as the Bahamas, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the recently discovered Eighth Sea.
The Waterman's Depot is owned and operated by people who not only love the water, but have also spent plenty of time on and in it. Racks of recreational and fishing kayaks stand side-by-side with state-of-the-art stand-up paddleboards. When staff members aren't helping customers around the shop, they launch guided kayak trips and give product demonstrations. The expansive store contains aquatic sporting gear and apparel from more than 50 brands, including Oakley, Reef, and Sanuk. Available scuba gear ranges from basic fins and snorkels to more advanced gauges and computers that can tell you the number of old soggy boots buried in any fishing lake.