At The Scuba Shack, the staff’s family-oriented lessons encourage divers to take social rather than solo ventures into the blue beyond. Each instructor carries an impressive résumé of underwater travels—the head trainer has been diving for more than 20 years and others have logged more than 1,000 dives. Captaining PADI-certification courses and specialty seminars—which cover topics such as night diving, photography, and fish identification—they take groups on open-water excursions to area lakes and Clear Spring Scuba Park. They prioritize educating their charges with safe and enjoyable teachings, rather than monotonous quizzes on whether the bends is a serious health issue or a 1980s punk band. With trips to dive sites in Fiji and Mexico, they introduce divers to the visual wonder of reefs and aquatic wildlife throughout the world.
Tommy Evans, who has been diving since 1983, shares the beauty of the underwater world through his hobby—aquatic photography—and his business: Central Coast Dive Center. At the PADI-award-winning center, dive instructors can introduce students to diving basics, such as operating the air tank and making sure its full of laughing gas. They also can prepare them for PADI-open-water certification and other more advanced certificates.
Students can practice in the onsite heated pool, or in natural waters on the center’s trips to Little Cayman, Cabo San Lucas, and other tropical locales. To complement its classes and trips, the center stocks gear from high-end brands, such as Atomic Aquatics, Zeagle, and Henderson. Central Coast Dive Center is also a training center for "The Original Zombie Apocalypse Diver Specialty."
At Cincinnati Diving Center, the certified instructors take the art of diving seriously—from beginner’s sessions to rescue-diver courses, all training programs incorporate both classroom and in-water sessions to ensure complete preparation for frolics in the sea or the neighbor’s aquarium. The center also sells scuba and snorkeling gear for successful swims and coordinates group trips to the ocean to free divers from the stresses of vacation planning.
While most people know how to breathe, very few can do so underwater without the proper equipment and training. In Too Deep Scuba’s open-water PADI certification courses provide just that, pairing classroom instruction with confined-water practice dives in which participants don full scuba gear. Students can plunge deeper into the world of aquatic exploration by pursuing other certifications, earning a new status as a rescue diver, master scuba diver, or ship’s mermaid figurehead. In Too Deep Scuba’s team also schedules trips where divers can hone their skills in exotic waters, such as Florida’s Crystal River and Bonne Terre Mine. Before excursions, divers can stock up on an array of gear from Pinnacle Aquatics, Cressi-sub, Ocean Reef, and other outfitters.
Back in 1974, the first student of Scuba Unlimited splashed into the water decked out in scuba gear. Since then, the instructors have educated countless pupils and fueled a desire to explore the unknown with the help of goggles, fins, and air tanks, which are available for lessons and rentals. More than 30 teachers and divemasters lead courses for a range of experience levels, from beginners to advanced open-water divers who inconveniently fell in love with mermaids.