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 friendly sub-surface staff and committed conservationists at Scuba Extreme spread their waterlogged gospel of underwater maneuvering through safe and fun diving instruction. In the "Skin Diver" course, budding sea-people will learn the basics of snorkeling and free-diving techniques. Instructors will equip students with a mask, snorkel, and fins, and then lead participants through the basics of submerged breathing and safety. The class lasts between two and three hours, or approximately one year in the life of a fantail guppy.
Under the tutelage of certified scuba instructors, pupils at the family-owned Scuba Monkey Dive Center explore underwater worlds during PADI, open-water, nitrox, and advanced courses. The center's regular dive trips gather together trained divers on jaunts to Venice Beach and Troy Springs, where they get up close with aquatic inhabitants and discarded pet rocks. At the shop, divers can stock up on brand-name equipment for sale and rent, refill tanks with nitrox and air, or hand over broken equipment to ace technicians, who swiftly identify and correct any problems.
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.
The seasoned aqua men who own St. Mary's haven for Scuba aficionados also own the 6,000-square-foot building that houses the business. The diving specialists oversaw the construction of what would become their own self-contained underwater-experience facility. Adding to varied careers that encompassed naval service and cave diving, Bruce MacDougall and Chris Whitlock opened Diver’s Den in 2000, scheduling charters for open-water dives or practice dives in the company's heated, indoor pool. Over the last decade, Diver's Den has become a well-regarded source for both recreational diving instruction and professional training of rescue personnel.
The team of PADI-certified diving teachers at Diver’s Den regularly explores the region's offshore diving sites aboard its 36-foot Gulfstream boat, the Georgia Wreckreation. The team members once memorably aided the underwater investigations of famed wreck historian Richie Kohler (whose conquests have included the Titanic) as he dove off the Georgia coast to visit mysterious sunken wrecks and his snooty in-laws who live in Atlantis' biggest mermansion.