A PADI Five Star Instructor Development 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, students can set their sights on several paths to find things that interest them underwater, from open-water diving classes through dive instructor courses and beyond. Fins Up Scuba also plays host to frequent trips to exotic locales, choosing spots based on their colorful underwater reefs or rumored sunken treasures.
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.
The managers of Scuba Professionals of Arizona have logged 50 years of underwater experience between the two of them. In the center's brand new pool, they put their acquired training from Scuba Schools International and American Nitrox Divers International to good use, leading scuba lessons for beginning and advanced divers of all ages. Their onsite store vends and maintains equipment for snorkeling and scuba classes, as well as organizes diving trips to destinations as close as Lake Pleasant and as far as Fiji.
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Brands Used: Aeris, Aqua Lung, Hollis, Oceanic
Pro Tip: We are passionate about the sport of scuba diving
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Scuba classes
Recommended Age Group: 10 and up
A lot of people like to dive right in when it comes to learning a new skill, but the founder of Inland Water Divers prefers a slow and steady approach when it comes to certifying new scuba divers. "Your first step as a new student should be to stop into the shop and meet one of our instructors," he says. Ensuing conversations focus on a student's individual goals, and whether he or she would simply like a PADI or NAUI diving certification or something more advanced, such as rescue diving training or algae language lessons. After all, as the founder points out, "Matching you with the correct equipment and knowing your goals will help ensure that you are successful in your training."
The PADI-certified instructors at AZ Divers lead courses ranging from beginner and advanced open-water certification to more in-depth programs such as master diver, deep diver, underwater video and photography specialists, and professional shark imitator. Their philosophy is built around the notion that divers are always students, there is no benchmark for Scuba training, and students should endeavor to push their level of training higher and higher. Once certified, divers can stretch their new sea legs on diving excursions to exotic locales such as Catalina Island, Playa del Carmen, or San Carlos, Mexico through the academy’s partner and affiliate companies. Both of the Academy's locations rent, repair, and sell high-quality gear from reputable brands such as Sea Dive, Amphibious Outfitters, and H2Odyssey—all renewed every two years.
By their estimate, Kelly and Steve Fischer have taught thousands of people how to scuba-dive. As the course director and IDC staff instructor, respectively, at Phoenix Scuba, they draw from more than a decade of expertise to lead a team of master dive instructors, certified open-water instructors, and assistant scuba instructors. These coaches all follow the PADI curriculum to teach students basic through advanced diving skills, such as navigating underwater or bartering with dolphins. Open-water and advanced open-water certification courses lead the way with hands-on lake dives, and can open the door to specialized courses such as rescue diver or NITROX enriched air certifications.
Phoenix Scuba's instructors don't just limit their instruction to local waters: the school has also led extended trips to dive sites in the waters of Belize, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Fiji, among others.