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Best places in Central America to become a professional

Discussion in 'Central America' started by onestep, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. onestep

    onestep Registered

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: California

    I expect to have several months of free time in the new year and would like to spend that time traveling and diving. I would like to find somewhere to do my rescue diver & divemaster certifications, plus gain some experience acting as a divemaster. Ideally, I would pay for this in part with money and in part with labor (I'm an enginer, generally have my act together and am reliable).

    I've spent time in Belize and loved it there, though I feel like there is too much emphasis on the blue hole. I've been to Honduras and been happy there as well, though my Spanish is quite rusty.

    I'm currently certified PADI AOW with 55 recorded dives.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations for locations and dive shops that might be appropriate? I'm in my mid-30s and don't necessarily fit with the 21 year old party crowd (though they're welcome to do their thing - I don't do a lot of complaining).
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
  2. diversteve

    diversteve always tired Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Some options I know of - there's certainly others.

    PADI Divemaster | Scuba Diving | Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras | PADI - I can vouch for the hands-on part. A different DM trainee seemed to lead every dive. Some 20's, 30's. One they called the "old man" was starting a 2nd career after the military. CTD has a DM house also - shared kitchen, a pool and a restaurant next door that they offer to students reasonably.
    Barefoot Cay also has a program but their DM house is in the West End so there's a shuttle to the resort. PADI Divemaster Internship - Roatán Islands Diving

    Nice thing about the West End is you pretty much walk everywhere. Except the large food stores which are mostly in French Harbor or Coxen Hole.

    And Dockside at Cocoview has a program as well. IDK any details. Roatan Divemaster Internship at Dockside Dive Center, Western Caribbean

    On Utila Bay Islands College of Diving or Utila Dive Centre seem popular choices. IDK anything about either except they're both in town.

    Bay Islands College of Diving - Dive Shop Utila
    PADI Divemaster & Scuba Instructor (IDC) Courses & Internships | GoPro Utila | Bay Islands Honduras | Caribbean and Central America
  3. Oldbear

    Oldbear Teaching Neutral Diving

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Marshall Islands and Westminster, Co
    lthomas132 likes this.
  4. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    West End Divers used to have a great program. I've no reason to believe that would have changed.
  5. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year
    I appreciate your subtle desire & emphasis on professionalism.

    Other than block copying internet searches and passing that off as valuable information, other than the valid acclamations of past (very narrow) personal experience, look at what is being offered (by comments on the internet as well as the IDC's website itself) and critically evaluate exactly what they are offering.

    When making these decisions, I have learned that sometimes the best choice for an IDC might be the very last place you would select to charter for a dive. You can learn a whole lot from a busy day-dive "toss-em-in" cruise ship dive center (also your reference to the Belize Blue Hole, a known concentration point of un-herded cats), but also understand that there is training value in a "stay-for-the-week" type dive-centric resort environment.

    Your last reference about "party crowd" is a very cogent point. Most IDCs have a large number of bleary eyed prospects who spend 8 months drinking their way through a 4 week process. This is a selling point, as can be discerned from subtle (or not) clues on the IDC website. There is a large percentage of "party scene" being used to create some perverted camaraderie and balance-off the carrying of tanks. (Hint: Find an IDC that doesn't require you to haul tanks, the extra $50 is worth it, also skip one that initiates DMs with the use of a snorkel beer bong, this is a great meter of fail.)

    I have an odd perspective, but I think one of some value. I had 4000+ dives at age 50 with my AOW in hand (since 1969). I went from there to OWSI in 4 weeks. A DM internship might teach you about diving, but it comes at a cost. A simple DM school (or an instructor IDC) will teach you nothing about diving, just about instructing. I had no illusions of a professional career in instruction, but week-long clients that I took diving on their private yachts liked the idea of "a credentialed professional". Truth is, DMs do better with the gals. Instructors? Not so much. :rofl3:

    I go into this because you mention Rescue and DM, the obvious next step is...
    (beach bum, divorce, could be any number of things. Who knows?)

    Unless you are a guy who is known to be able to fix compressors with a hammer and scrap materials, I can tell you categorically that you are, per-se, priced out of the local market. Honduras and most idyllic locations are drowning in cheap labor. (Which also causes my head to spin when considering the $2500 that little Sarah must raise for the local Ohio Church Mission so she can travel South and build a school, but I digress) They value cheap labor like warm beer.

    Pick your IDC with care, find one that will get you through the process expeditiously and will temper that with your own abilities and effort, have enough money in-hand to meet your committed time frame, have a defined goal in mind, go have some fun.
    scubaeric likes this.
  6. scubaeric

    scubaeric Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Desert!
    Yep. Skip the party scene and study, explore your surroundings, and enjoy every minute you're in the water.

  7. ScubabunnyCR

    ScubabunnyCR Course Director

    Just my thoughts, having spent time in the past on both roatan and Utila who both have quality programs, but the party scene. Focus in Costa Rica is more specifically training and real world dive experience. We have a great dive school with some great training. Mix of candidates as well. Central America has more than just the Bay islands and Belize. Just saying.
  8. DeputyDan

    DeputyDan Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: North Carolina
    I always thought those "working/feel good about yourself vacations (which are mostly religious based)" were the biggest scam going!
  9. GoProHonduras

    GoProHonduras Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Bay Islands, Honduras
    Both Roatan and Utila have dive centers with established Divemaster training programs, where you'll get to work with students and certified divers with usually an experienced mentor. Usually the course in itself won't get you to the level of a local working resort Divemaster only experience can do that, so if you have additional time to put in then most centers (we do) allow you to stay on and build your experience level either as a guide or assisting students. The idea that if you take your training on Roatan and Utila you'll be partying every night is simply not true. Sure there is always a bar special night or an event, you'll get that in any tourist destination and especially where there's younger travelers/backpackers. Many of our interns are in their 30's to 50's and put more time into their training and focus on that, there's a social scene so if you want a sunset apres-drink and to meet people you can, or if you prefer quiet evenings to yourself then you'll get that as well. Feel free to browse our site in the link below, we've a variety of specialized courses as well that can enhance your training and experience and if you have any questions feel free to PM me. As Doc accurately mentioned it is very rare you will be able to trade work for training due to local labour costs.
  10. Oldbear

    Oldbear Teaching Neutral Diving

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Marshall Islands and Westminster, Co
    I was 49 when I took a month off from work and did my Divemaster program with Utilia Dive Center. At no time did I feel my age was an obstacle, hindrance or limiting factor in either my training or how the UDC staff & other DM Candidates treated me. The experience still ranks as one of the many high points in my diving career.

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