The 120-minute session introduces students to submerging skills from the safety of a heated salt-water pool. A member of the experienced, passport-stamp-heavy staff coaches the class through the first steps toward certification, and the last steps toward living life as a shamelessly labeled landlubber. The program includes everything (equipment, mask, fins, snorkel), and they'll even throw in the water for good measure. Students are required to bring their own suit and towel and to be prepared for an underwater-centric splash course in submariner society.
The pool at Ocean First Divers is warmed to 88 degrees to wrap students in a watery safety blanket as they venture out of their element. As a classroom for swimming and scuba-diving lessons, the pool boasts a gradient bottom that deepens in slow increments from 4 to 12 feet. Though Ocean First Divers now trains scores of students in swimming and scuba each year, the dive center was originally founded to advocate for the ocean’s unique ecosystems. The organization was so successful in its mission that it has claimed PADI’s Environmental Achievement Award every year since the prize’s inception. Now, the dive center's creative conservation efforts include group trips to Key Largo, Fiji, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Galápagos Islands, where students get a firsthand look at why these one-of-a-kind ecosystems are worth protecting, and, alternatively, the detrimental environmental effects of litter left by Charles Darwin.
Diving for more than 30 years, Ron Busch?PADI master instructor and owner of Coral Key Scuba and Travel Center?first decided to share his passion for underwater exploration in 1995 by building a facility that catered to all facets of scuba and snorkeling. Since its construction, the center has been recognized as a PADI five-star training center that offers scuba and snorkeling classes, professional gear, and diving trips to far-off locales such as Indonesia.
An avid traveler, Busch entrusts day-to-day duties to the center's manager, Randy Partch, a PADI master scuba diver and trainer who teaches 16 different diving specialties and boasts certification to repair and service many different brands of scuba equipment and one kind of Xerox machine.
Colorado Scuba Diving Academy practically turns people into fish in its scuba-certification courses. Founded by PADI-certified diving instructors, the schools train students in a variety of diving disciplines including open water, rescue, and wreck diving. For those who just want to get their feet wet, Discover Scuba teaches the basic of using the equipment and breathing below the surface, while more advanced nitrox, altitude, and drysuit certifications prepare divers for any situation they might encounter while swimming in the deep.
With experienced instructors and its five-star PADI status, Underwater Phantaseas can turn nearly any student into a certified scuba diver. Whether swimmers are dipping a toe into their very first lesson or sharpening their skills in specialty classes, they learn under the seasoned tutelage of instructors who have explored waters throughout the world. An onsite pool filled with warm saltwater re-creates the feel of the ocean without its chilly temperatures or roving schools of Disney illustrators, and trips to area waterways, neighboring states, and tropic destinations such as Fiji and the Cayman Islands acquaint patrons with the challenges of real-world scuba diving. The fully stocked gear shop lavishes visitors with the equipment they need for dives to the bottom of local pools and faraway seas alike.
The visibility beneath the waters of Aurora Reservoir is between 5 and 12 feet in front of your face. The murkiness is less frustrating than it is suspenseful—you don't know exactly when the twin engines of an airplane will appear, allowing you to trace the rest of the sunken craft and greet its finned inhabitants. The remote, shadowy world of the downed plane is just one of many rendered accessible to students of Rocky Mountain Diving Center, where instructors can train their protégés up from first-time divers to certified teachers through a combination of classroom, pool, and outdoor sessions.
The center's educational programs include swimming and snorkeling classes in addition to open-water-diving-certification courses. These lessons enable graduated pupils to delve into several local lakes. The curriculum also covers specialty training on topics such as deep diving, night diving, and underwater photography—a career passion of the school's owner, Mark. With equipment for sale and rental as well as a dedicated service team, the center prepares its students for safe and comfortable excursions. Its tropical retreats afford rare opportunities to explore the reefs off of Fiji or swim alongside whale sharks or shark whales—extremely intimidating belugas.