Since 1961, Bamboo Reef has been unlocking the depths of the ocean by training scuba adventurers, outfitting them with gear and repairing equipment on the fritz. Skilled instructors guide swimmers during diving classes that range from paddling in an 82-degree pool to advanced night navigation in the Pacific's dunk tank. Refresher and specialty courses continue students’ aquatic education after they’ve mastered the basics of gliding through the deep blue. Bamboo Reef also coordinates dives off the shores of Monterey, Carmel, and international coasts that count toward specialty, advanced, and master diver ratings as well as black belts in underwater kickboxing.
The water wizards also rent and sell gear from brands such as Aqua Lung and Mares. Professional technicians—who maintain more than $10,000 in parts inventory—stand at the ready to repair all major brands of scuba equipment.
Captain Aqua's enthusiastic instructors plunge developing divers and nascent Neptunians into the exhilarating realm of scuba in the introductory Try Scuba course. In the pool?s safe confines, the resident pros?with more than 50 years of combined diving experience?guide amateur aqualetes through the basics of breathing underwater, an experience as eye-opening and electrifying as Flipper's shrill rap battles with Shamu. Though prospective fin jockeys must provide their own towel and swimsuit, Captain Aqua's furnishes other necessary aquatic accouterments. Students should bring a mask, snorkel, and fins if already owned; otherwise, they are available to borrow, free of charge. Call Captain Aqua's to schedule a class, for updated info on class times and dates, or to show off a recently learned whale mating call.
Mike Johnson started at Dolphin Scuba Center & Swim School as an entry-level staffer but soon turned his lifelong passion for water into a promising career. Quickly, he became the manager and, at the tender age of 21, the owner of the store?a water-exploration supplier originally founded as a swim school almost 40 years ago.
Today, the PADI five-star facility boasts one of the largest selections of underwater gear in North America, including top brands of scuba, swimming, and snorkeling equipment. Johnson and his team still offer private, one-on-one swimming lessons with certified lifeguard instructors but have branched out into scuba classes. Introductory courses work their way up to professional-level training, all within a pool heated to 92 degrees?the exact temperature of the president?s nightly bath. Students can even test out their newfound skills during scuba-diving trips to the likes of Mexico, the Philippines, and Fiji.
With more than a dozen adrenaline-pumping activities available at discounts of at least 50 percent, the Adventures Pass gives its holders the opportunity to eschew the couch and experience the adventures their local merchants have to offer. With a single pass, customers can get deals on everything from horseback riding and indoor rock climbing to wakeboarding and paragliding, all at companies located within driving or skydiving distance.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 1?2 hours
Brands Used: PADI, Aqua Lung, Oceanic, Mares, Atomic, Posiden, Body Glove
Pro Tip: Make an appointment. We would like to give you our full attention as we are a busy shop.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Lots of parking, fish restaurant.
Recommended Age Group: All ages
Q&A with Michael, Manager
As the old adage says, "Stuff happens." What training do you and your staff have to stay ahead of the unexpected?
The staff is dedicated to continuing education and the highest regard for safety.
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
Dedication to further divers' knowledge and safety while making it the best experience in San Francisco Bay.
What?s your favorite part of your job?
Being able to share my passion with others and watching the smiles that they have after being underwater.
After leading expeditions in search of underwater treasure, the instructors of Sonoma Coast Divers show their students how to cook and eat the spoils—abalone. They try to conclude each of their abalone diving classes with a group picnic, where everyone can compare their catch in hopes of snagging a record-size shell. Persistent hunters can even compete in the autumn's abalone cook-off, part of a Halloween celebration that includes subaquatic pumpkin carving.
These special events highlight the dive venue's dual emphasis on community and adventure. Whether they are hosting a scuba-certification class, a Stress & Rescue course, or a simple air-fill service, the staff freely shares their passion for oceanic exploration. Their training pathways safely transform patrons from first-time pool divers into instructor-level dive masters. By filling their curriculum with specialty courses—such as night diving, wreck diving, and bubble collecting—they inspire guests to pursue different disciplines. They also plan several trips for all skill levels, guiding tours through local kelp forests and planning weeklong retreats to Caribbean islands.