Granted, scuba diving isn’t the first sport on people’s minds when they think of Washington, DC. But in any major urban center, there are bound to be plenty of people who like to go underwater, and DC is no exception. Blue Planet Scuba is where those water lovers dive into when they need the newest gear. Aside from selling scuba stuff, Blue Planet also offers certification programs, runs classes and organizes group and custom dive trips. While the Dupont area store is small, anyone who enters will be surprised to discover the large diving community that Blue Planet Scuba has developed. In fact, regular guests will start feeling like they are going to a club headquarters rather than a store.
At Quantico Scuba, fledgling divers learn to view the water as a second home through comprehensive instruction and diving-themed social events. Quantico’s PADI-certified instructors teach new and experienced divers in a series of certification classes, ranging in level from basic open-water certification to master diver. Certified students can proceed to specialty courses such as Deep Diver, Wreck Diver, and Coral Reef Conservationist. Quantico Scuba also oversees a dive club, where divers can connect with other divers over weekend trips, overseas holidays, and summer internships in Atlantis. Divers make use of new and used equipment from Quantico’s onsite dive shop, featuring top brands such as Pinnacle, Underwater Kinetics, and OtterBox.
Bubbles rush from beneath the diving group’s masks—one of the only nearby signs of moving life—as they float beside the sunken submarine U-352. More than 70 years resting in 110 feet of North Carolinian coastal waters have transformed it into a reef of sorts—rife with small tropical marine life—but the unmistakable shapes of torpedo hatches, a conning tower, and the massive propeller give away its identity. Above and around the hollow hull float Blu Water Scuba’s instructors, guiding a detailed tour to the wreck, which is considered among the most unique wrecks to inhabit American waters.
The dive shop’s owners-cum-teachers regularly plan excursions from their base in D.C. to explore seldom-seen, deeply submerged portions of the Atlantic. To ensure that as many people as possible can share such amazing experiences, they offer basic certification courses in open-water diving as well as in a slew of advanced underwater skills, such as rescue diving. They start training sessions in enclosed spaces such as classrooms, local pools, and senators' private hot tubs, ultimately diving in outdoor locations such as the local Lake Millbrook flooded stone quarry, where they administer certification tests. Apart from full PADI certification, they also teach introductory diving skills in the safety of local pools.
The word that best describes Sterling Silver Scuba's instructors is passion. That’s because every one of them pursued it as a hobby before ever considering it professionally. Through countless hours of live dives and certification courses, they've become experts, and they share their knowledge during regular PADI classes. From specialized lessons on search and recovery or underwater naturalism to master diver or digital underwater photography, the classes prepare students for every aspect of open water exploration. Once students are certified, the school leads trips around the world to explore exotic locales such as the Bahamas, Mexico, or Donald Trump's 2,000,000 gallon bathtub for his dolphin wife.