“Scuba,” like “sonar” and “happy,” started out as an acronym in a third grader's acrostic poem but turned into a standalone word after his dog literally ate part of his homework. Give scuba its individual recognition with today's Groupon: for $189, you get admission to a scuba certification course and two outdoor dives at Mac's Sports (a $379.90 value), with three area locations in Clearwater, in Dunedin, and on North Dale Mabry Highway.
Mac's Sports’ knowledgeable staff of diving enthusiasts plunges diving novices into the deep end with a certification course that teaches basic scuba skills and safety tips. Classes are two nights per week and introduce basic techniques via academic materials, an included DVD, and dips in a heated indoor pool. After mastering fin-shimmying, suited-up swimmers can show off their new skills on two outdoor dives in scenic Weeki Wachee Springs, competing against award-winning racing seahorses and recording their accomplishments in new dive logbooks. Mac's provides buoyancy compensators, regulators, tanks, and wetsuits during classes, but divers will need to provide their own mask, fins, snorkel, boots, weights, and weight belt, or rent them from Mac's at a cost of $20 per session.
Mac’s Sports was born as the Beach Store in 1938, a general shop that supplied visitors of the neighboring beach with groceries, newspapers, fishing gear, and snack food. After the owners and their kids moved to New Mexico during World War II, the shop was renamed Mac’s and became a hit with youngsters due to its sought-after candy bars and heroic staff of swamp things. Though the original owners would soon repurchase their former business, its new name stuck, and the store would eventually evolve into Mac’s Dive Shop with a renewed emphasis on watersports and outdoor recreations. Mac’s has since opened two more in locations in Tampa and Clearwater, and its team boasts well over a century of cumulative scuba-diving experience.
Underwater jaunts remain the central focus of the shop, where instructors help students earn their gills with conveniently scheduled scuba-diving courses. After graduating from the open-water certification program, beginners can finally pull back the kelp curtains of their suspiciously private aquatic neighbors, and experienced divers can seek advanced education in higher-lever diving techniques and digital underwater photography. Group classes and guided dives take place nearly every day.