Imagine for a moment diving into the ocean, resurfacing with not only memories of the sub-aquatic environment, but a full reel of photographs, too. Underwater photography is just one of the many courses offered at Scuba Quest, a family-owned company that has shown students how to safely explore the seas for more than 25 years.
Scuba Quest began as a single shop, but has since spread to six locations across the state of Florida. At each, the company’s NAUI-certified instructors lead refresher courses, beginner classes, and comprehensive certification programs. Rather than climbing into fish tanks while pet-store clerks are on break, Scuba Quest's students can put their new skills to the test in unfamiliar waters during the company’s exotic diving excursions around the globe.
The five-star, PADI-certified staff at Jupiter Dive Center, a waterside school, mentors divers of all experience levels in progressive PADI courses. In the multiday courses, instructors teach to general open-water certifications and specialized styles, such as wreck diving and night diving. Guides also lead certified divers on guided day or night charters into the artificial shipwrecks and coral reefs blanketing the local sea floor. Though specific sites vary according to daily conditions, excursions drift past herds of sea life, including colorful schools of fish, peaceful anemones, and sea turtles out-swimming hares arrogantly napping in their own scuba helmets. Dive-shop staff outfits divers' bodies with high-end scuba gear, such as Scubapro suits and instruments.
A full-service dive shop captained by professional ocean-delvers, Sea Level Scuba offers a spectrum of scuba classes aimed at every experience level. The Discover Scuba Diving course is an introductory class for subaquatic rookies, set in the shallow water of an indoor pool for a stress-free primer in underwater respiration. PADI-certified divemasters and instructors outfit students with all the necessary equipment, familiarizing landlocked limbs and torsos with the feel of scuba gear both in and out of the water. Apprentices practice breathing below the surface at whatever pace is most comfortable, progressing beyond the fundamentals of inhalation and exhalation to advanced sighs and indignant gasps, ideal for last-minute objections to mermaid weddings.
Anchored alongside County Road 510 just 2 miles from the beach, Liquid Addiction Dive & Surf helps water enthusiasts get their under-sea fix. The family-owned shop stocks equipment from some of the industry's top manufacturers, including Oceanic and Cressi, and repairs visitors' existing gear. It also supplies visitors with scuba instruction and essential diving accessories, such as air for tanks.
At Castaway Scuba Adventures, owner Marta Mullen and her team of underwater aficionados have stood as gatekeepers to the ocean for the past ten years. Amongst her many personal accolades, Marta is a platinum instructor through Scuba Schools International (SSI), a globally recognized organization on par with the likes of PADI or NAUI. This means that Marta and her staff can effectively train students of all experience levels, including those seeking certification and those planning a blind date with a svelte piece of coral. Aside from instructional programs, every month Castaway Scuba Adventures organizes two or three local diving trips to complement its pair of annual international getaways.
Dennis Buice, a member of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, unlocks the ocean's depths for students during diving courses that follow the PADI curriculum. Scuba-diver classes start out by introducing students to diving in monitored, shallow water, and advanced sessions span a spectrum from PADI open-water certification to professional training in the rescue-diver course. PADI specialty courses explore focused subjects such as snapping underwater photographs or maximizing underwater time by using enriched air nitrox. Kids’ classes or Discover Scuba lets youngsters and newbies breathe underwater for the first time in the safety of a pool filled with less than 6 feet of water and no starving sharks.