The amphibious pros at Splash Dive Center guide merpeople of all skill levels into the water with a roster of beginner- and certification-level courses. In the Discover Scuba class, beginning divers and recently evolved dolphins strap on specially fitted equipment provided by the facility before plunging into the pool and soaking up two hours of scuba fundamentals. The PADI Open Water Diver Basic Scuba Diving course entails three days of diving toward the goal of certification as a scuba diver. The tri-tiered program kicks off with classroom or internet lessons and concludes with checkout dives, during which instructors evaluate form and sea-lamprey mating calls. Successful candidates receive certification from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). All subaquatic students receive discounts on gear purchases, as well as free tank rentals and free air fills.
Atlantic Edge Dive Center's dive-masters might technically be classified as land mammals, but they spend enough time under water to earn the honorary title of amphibian. They spend days and nights teaching and leading dives, whether they're arming curious beginners with basic skills in one of their on-site swimming pools, or conducting open water certification tests off the coast. They go beyond simply certifying students for adventure: they provide rescue diving, dive master, and instructor training as well.
Their passion for the aquatic pastime draws them to all kinds of watery outposts. They lead excursions to the Florida keys to help rehabilitate the coral reefs surrounding the islands, and dive into the relatively calm waters of the tanks in the Baltimore National Aquarium, where they have a chance to see 53 species of fish feed in the secret underwater cafeteria.
Chesapeake Underwater Sports founder Mike Nieman has spent the majority of his life in or around water. As a child, many of his relatives worked Chesapeake Bay as watermen. In 1972, Mike began diving for the U.S. Air Force, and after his service, became a merchant seaman. During those years, and through all those experiences, Mike kept his eye on one dream: opening a dive shop of his own.
Mike did just that in 1987. Today, having been involved in the training of more than 2,000 divers, he continues to promote the sport–or, in his case, lifestyle–of diving through instruction. At his shop, Mike and his team of NAUI instructors provide education ranging from basic courses all the way up to instructor qualification programs. They also assist clients in planning exotic diving trips, and maintain an expansive stock of equipment and accessories.
The SSI-certified dive-masters at Scuba Hut of Maryland drill amateur amphibians in proper subaquatic conduct with introductory and open-water scuba classes. Solo swimmers and pairs can report to the Try Scuba class for a run-down on flipper fundamentals, in which teachers outfit figures with diving equipment and all other necessary materials. Pupils then spread their maritime wings inside a pool, acclimating to their scuba gear as they navigate both the shallow and deep ends, making sure to avoid crashing into chlorine-water manatees.
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.
With today’s Groupon, $25 gets you a private Discover Scuba Diving lesson at SPE Dive School (a $50 value), located outside of DC at 4600 N. Park Ave. in Chevy Chase, MD. If you’ve ever considered scuba diving, an SPE class is a great way to prepare yourself for discovering the mind-blowing sites seen only by scuba divers (and by the kind of coral that has eyeballs). It’s worth taking this class, if only to force yourself to plan a scuba-diving vacation so you can see the ocean floor before you die. You should know that if you die before you scuba dive, heaven is filled with an eternity of regret and an absence of oceans. Bring some friends because it's 50% lonelier under the sea than on land (hence the fish’s frowny face).