I’ve always loved the water and had always dreamed of being able to hook a tank on my back, jump in the water and explore the oceans depths.
This idea always seemed just too far away with so many questions and unknowns.
- How would I learn?
- Where would I go to learn?
- Where would I get the equipment?
- How dangerous is it? How much would it cost?
Well, at age 41 while staying at Sandals Negril in Jamaica, my questions were answered, and a lifelong dream came true.
PADI Scuba Program at Sandals
Before departing, my wife informed me of a PADI scuba program that Sandals provided and that you could dive while on site. I was a little skeptical at first on the safety and actual experience that would be provided on an excursion included with our stay.
I showed up on our first morning at the Sandals Water Sports office to inquire about the program. I was met with great hospitality and patience as the young lady at the counter answered all of my questions,” yes, it was offered”, “yes I could go out daily, with limited availability unless I got certified”, “yes I could get certified on site for $300 for 40ft certification for life or $500 for 60ft for life”. I decided to try the 40ft certification and signed up for training later that evening.
Training Day in the Pool
My first part of the course was a three-chapter PADI-certified course with a quiz at the end I had to take online and pass before the end of my trip. Secondly, I had to do training in the on-site pool at the water sports office with a PADI-certified instructor. My instructor took whatever time was needed to walk me through practical skills in the pool until I mastered them.
Skills included taking your mask off underwater, putting it back on, then clearing, getting naturally buoyant in the pool with all my gear on, and practicing hand signals underwater, among several others. We also went over all the gear, how to assemble and what to do if at any time it malfunctions.
Training in the Ocean
The process took around two hours to go over and practice skills in the pool, and then it was time to hop on the boat with my instructor and head out to sea for my first instructional dive! I was concerned upon getting in the boat due to there being several other divers and whether I was going to have to go down with all of them at once.
My instructor informed me that during my certification, I got one-on-one instruction, and it was just him and me until I got my two qualifying dives in. We first dove at a site around 30ft deep, and after sinking to the bottom, I had to perform a few skills that I had practiced in the pool, such as taking off my mask and putting it back on and what to do if I needed to give air from a spare regulator or get air from partners spare regulator. This took only around five minutes for each dive, and then we were able to explore freely!
I felt very safe during the whole dive and during the next dive, where we finished with a few demonstrations of skills. Both dives were around 30 ft and lasted approximately 30 minutes.
The rest of the week I was able to dive with the group led by Sandals PADI certified instructors and it was one of the best weeks of my life. I cannot stress enough the ease, comfort level and the sheer excitement and beauty I experienced during this stay.
I liked it enough that while visiting Sandals in St Lucia, I upgraded my certification to an Open Water Diver to 60 ft. This had the same level of safety, comfort, and one-on-one training until I was ready to go and join the group!
All equipment was provided, the staff and instructors were outstanding, and the boat was top-notch! I can’t wait until my next dive and hope to see you there!
Are you like me and have always wanted to experience Scuba diving? Reach out to my wife and her team at Embrace the Journey Travel. The team would love to help you plan a trip to Sandals and Beaches resorts so you can experience the same amazing experience I did.
A big thank you to Charlie Peek for sharing his experience and writing this blog!