El Mar Diving Center, an SSI and TDI dive center that started in 1963, serves as a divers' oasis amid the dry Mesa terrain. The center's seasoned staff lead an array of courses, teaching beginners the ropes in the Junior Open Water Diver class and helping more experienced divers hone their skills in Solo Diver sessions. They also lead speciality classes such as Night and Limited Visibility Diver and Wreck Diver, in which adventurers learn which treasure is safe and which is lorded over by pirate ghosts. In addition to heated pools, high-tech equipment, and other essential learning tools, the center's affiliate school in San Carlos, Mexico boasts a 36-foot boat that hosts exploration dives in the Sea of Cortez.
A PADI-certified dive center, Fins Up Scuba is the place to go if you're interested in the art of breathing underwater. Led by expert divers Chris and Nichole Sweeney, most of the center's scuba courses begin in the classroom, where students learn the safety protocols and basic techniques of diving. From there, students can set their sights on open-water certification, which spans several days of in-water training. Fins Up Scuba also hosts frequent trips to exotic locales, choosing spots based on their colorful underwater reefs or rumored sunken treasures.
The Gulf of California. The Sea of Cortez. The Vermilion Sea. The 900-mile stretch of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from Mexico's mainland goes by many names. But whatever the moniker, its vastness plays home to a rich variety of marine life. Reef fish, sea turtles, manta rays, and even whales swim through its depths, and thanks to San Carlos Dive Boats, people have the opportunity to see some of these creatures up close.
The company's captains and crew members welcome up to 20 SCUBA divers aboard their 36-foot Newton Dive Special, which travels out to various dive sites. Aside from SCUBA diving, the team also captains fishing charters, happy to ice, fillet, and juggle anything caught. They also hand out complimentary snacks, water, and soda during each voyage.
Manned by a diverse and experienced dive staff, The Scuba Shop hosts scuba classes for all skill levels in a 10,000-square-foot facility that boasts an indoor training pool kept heated to a cozy 90 degrees year-round. There, unseasoned and uncertified divers practice essential skills in a controlled environment before moving into the unpredictable motions of open water or an aboveground pool being carried away by giant ants. In addition to its vast array of training opportunities, The Scuba Shop sells high-quality equipment that divers can use on personal expeditions or on trips the shop organizes to exotic diving destinations.
The PADI-certified instructors at All Wet Scuba—a PADI five-star dive center—prepare patrons for underwater adventures with the proper gear and diving-certification courses. Boasting more than 40 years of total diving experience, the staff leads students through a range of scuba courses for all abilities, from Discover Scuba to PADI Rescue Diver to PADI Advanced Open Water. The knowledgeable instructors don the same gear as their students, including the required clown nose, to better elucidate the finer points of operation. Further assisting divers, the staff can direct them to the necessary diving wares from Body Glove, OMS, and Cressi for rent or purchase in the full-service shop and offer gear-maintenance services to prevent tank leaks that might propel their operator into the den of a hungry giant squid. In addition to diving classes, All Wet Scuba also trains students in CPR and public safety.
Rather than tying themselves to a single certification agency, Scuba Magic’s instructors guide students down a variety of training avenues. This flexibility is embodied in the school’s owner, Gary Moyer, who is certified by PADI, SDI, DSAT, EFR, and HSA. The shop’s coursework ranges from programs for first-time divers seeking their open-water certificate, to those preparing to handle underwater emergency situations and baby submarines convinced a diver is its mom. The school provides a stock of high-quality gear to students taking their classes, and technicians trained by the manufacturers themselves maintain the equipment. Occasional national and international diving trips bring aquanauts to such wonderlands of crystalline, warm water as Fiji.