If you have decided that your gonna have a crack at doing your divemaster, that is awesome. I’m gonna do my best to give you a few things to think about before you settle on a location and dive company. If you haven’t decided if it’s for you or not, check out our article and questionnaire about if the program is for you or not.
This article is only about traveling to do your Divemaster course. If you want to do it in a local Dive center, keep reading it might change your mind!
The Divemaster course is gonna be one of the most fun, social and memorable courses you will ever take. Covid BS aside, this is a course that simply can’t be done exclusively online. The Divemaster course will go down as one of your most cherished diving and possibly traveling memories of your life, that is, if you choose the correct dive center or resort.
There is no beating around the bush here, so, sorry in advance to the dive centers that have lesser attributes in terms of being able to provide a solid experience for the individuals doing the course. Just because a dive operator provides epic fun diving, that does not always mean they can provide an equally epic course.
The PADI divemaster course is an Entry Level Professional course that teaches you the basics of how to work as a dive professional, both in and out of the water. You will also be prepped learning skills and knowledge necessary for continuing on and doing your Instructor Development Program I.D.C. if you choose to do so.
* You must be at least 18 years of age
* You must have CPR and First Aid certificate within 24 months (completed the course less than 24 months before your divemaster)
* Medical Clearance to dive
* You must have at least 40 dives to begin the course and 60 dives by the end of it.
This is what you need have before any dive center can start the course with you. No worries if you don’t have the CPR training, any training facility that teaches divemaster should be able to teach you this before the course…..if they can’t…...that’s a huge red flag!
I am not gonna go into great detail into what actually goes on during the Padi Divemaster, because if you choose the correct location and/or dive center/resort, it's really of no consequence right now.
What do you want?
There are several ways of going about doing your Divemaster, but in order to decide your gonna need a rough idea of what you want. Understanding some of the realities that can be tied to your course may help you make the best decision.
Where and When?
By far one of the most popular ways to do a Divemaster course is in a foreign country, that likely has warm waters and tropical coral reefs near by. A smashing choice that require a bit of careful self question asking and preplanning in order to get this right.... Too many people over look certain details that can make or break your experience.
A few considerations
Depending on the time of the year, certain areas are gonna be more appealing than others. For example, hurricane season might not be the best time to go to the Caribbean.
Consequently, high season or low season can be very different in different parts of the world.
Some countries have diving year round and some have seasons where the entire industry shuts down for a few months.
Sometimes low season and high season can be deceiving terms. High Season and Low Season can be caused by a range of factors. Believe it or not, there are quite a few places where low season has the best weather for diving and vice versa for high season.
I’ve worked in Borneo where high season also coincided with the waviest and most unpleasant time of the year to be on a boat and I worked in another where low season had the most Mantas. ( Even though Mantas aren't the point of the course....we are still scuba divers at the end of the day!)
So do your homework on climate of all locations that interest you. Ask around about it on forms, FB groups or in emails to companies you are considering.
There are many countries to choose from that have fantastic diving and provide ample opportunities to take part in a Divemaster Course or Divemaster Program
WTF.......Course.......Program.....Whats the difference between Divemaster Course and Divemaster Program?
Pay attention because this can be a deal breaker !!!
PROGRAM or NON-PROGRAM COURSE
There are typically two ways a dive master course can be offered …. As as part of a program or not. So what's the difference between the two choices?
A dive master program is a program offered to teach the course to many divemaster students simultaneously. Dive centers or resorts that offer such programs usually have dedicated capacities to teach the program. Some programs even have dedicated monthly schedules, others with fully flexible schedules. It all depends on the company.
A non program divemaster course is taught by dive centers without either the capacities or enough participants to teach a full program. Your course is usually fitted in to the tapestry of daily operations.
I still don’t get it.
They are both the exact same course just how they are taught, your environment and experience are going to be completely different.
Let me break it down.
Divemaster programs usually but not always have a dedicated instructor(s). There are enough students that financially the company can afford to have dedicated staff for teaching the course. In some cases there can be dedicated class rooms, pools, boats equipment rooms and even sometimes houses, dorms or villas….. all for the students doing the divemaster program.
Many companies that have the dedicated capacities for the divemaster course incidentally have the same capacities for the Instructor Development Program. Sometimes employing a PADI course director, this person is at the height of the pyramid when it comes to teaching and working as a PADI pro in the field.
Since the program is usually taught to multiple students, it provides phenomenal camaraderie and ample opportunity to make friends. It can often have a better structure and have different time tables for completion. There are some programs that will let the students take up to 3 months to complete the course.
Me and crazy Tim during my DM course in Mabul.
They are created by the dive centers and resorts that provide them and all have their own way of going about it. Your likely not gonna be the first student they train nor be the last. The same PADI requirement are found throughout them all but amenities, capacity and atmosphere will vary depending on company and location.
NON PROGRAM COURSE
A non program divemaster course usually means that some, if not most of the things mentioned above are not offered. Any PADI instructor in teaching status can teach the divemaster course, so every dive center that employs one can teach the course.
Usually this means the company providing the course needs to juggle the requirements for you completion with daily operations. Some dive centers offering the program are quite good at this and some haven’t the slightest clue. *If you are considering this option, make sure to ask lots of questions about anything not outlined by the company via an exchange of emails before signing up!
Since you don't have a dedicated instructor, its not always possible that your instructor will be able to give you the time of day that you need. In some cases it will be a team of instructors that teach you the course.
Sometimes when learning via a Non- Program course it can feel less like a course and more like you are already part of the dive staff. Some people like that, some don't . When I taught the course in Komodo, my divemaster trainees came with me on the day for most of their course. Getting more hands on in helping guests, setting up equipment, changing tanks etc... Advantage is they get more hands on and more comfortable quicker, disadvantage is I don't have time to sit down with them for very long when I am also teaching an Open water course with 4 students.
At the end of the day, it’s not always easy to say what is best. I have taught the course both ways and I would always push people towards choosing a divemaster program. The reason being, it’s a dedicated course, to learn diving. Isn’t that the point in the first place, to learn diving? The dedicated amenities and camaraderie within the students of the course “can” be fantastic. (If you get a good class)
Dive centers without the program, can rarely offer a paralleled experience. It doesn’t mean however you will miss out on key experiences. Nevertheless, if all you want to do is complete the course while doing some awesome diving…..this might be the best way to do it. If your learning at a dive center that has no amenities and does almost solely fun diving…. Guess where you will be learning the bulk of your course! From the fun diving boat!
I’ll never forget doing rescue exercises in the Komodo National Park and couldn’t get my students to concentrate …...why?…... because there were countless mantas swimming below them. Unresponsive diver refusing to flip over because he wanted to keep watching the mantas….. Hahaha...Can’t really blame them!
At the end of the day the requirements to pass the course are EXACTLY the same regardless if its through a divemaster program or not. Nevertheless your experience in fulfilling them will be very different.
If you still have questions shoot us an E-mail and we'd be glad to answer to the best of our abilities.
should you choose a resort or a dive center?
The second biggest question!
It truly depends on the location…. If for example you are in the Maldives, you are locked into the resort for the duration of your course. Most remote island resorts are gonna work that way.
Some resorts aren’t far from town so they allow you sometimes the opportunity to live at the resort or live in town.
Often, divemaster programs have some type of system set up for accommodation. Another perk in choosing a program. Like I said earlier, a house, villa or dorm for the students to share.
A dive center that finds itself within town can sometimes help you with accommodation and sometimes leave it completely up to you to make arrangements. Another perk to choosing a program is 9/10 they have an option to provide accomodation to students.
Is town important to you?
Do you want to be close to bars, restaurants and all the other things that come with town life or do you want to get away from all that?
When looking for a place to do my IDC I watched a video about "Tequila Tuesday" or whatever they call it on Utila Island, Honduras. After seeing that video I decided to go to Roatan and just visit Utila later.
It's nice and all to go out and get fucked up….. and unless it's for religious reasons, any one who says they didn’t do it as a divemaster is a liar…...For fuck sakes, drinking liquor through a snorkel is a right of passage for a divemaster….Yet, be careful how far you take the partying. Hangovers don’t mix well with diving and learning!!
The above photos are from the unwritten chapter not found in the Divemaster manual!
An Instructor can make all the Difference
There are great resorts and dive centers with terrible staff and there are terrible ones with great staff. At the end of the day, the person or team teaching you your course will be a large contributing factor.
Officially, any Padi OWSI can teach the divemaster course…. Even a complete dip shit that no one can seem to quite figure out how they ever passed their IDC is certified to teach the course…..while having only 100 dives experience. A very rare occurrence, yet still a possibility within the rules and regulations.
ASK questions, the person teaching your course is a pretty important factor.
Wherever you choose to do you course…..make dam sure you understand the rules and regulations regarding you visa.
I know some seasoned dive pros will laugh at this, because can you every really understand a countries VISA regulations….hahaha
However this is no joke…. I’ve seen people hop on planes last minute for a pretty penny because they neglected this…. Do your best to understand the system and email the company providing the course for suggestions dealing with your VISA….. If they don’t want to help you….There’s another Red Flag!
So What should you do?
This might all seem like a bit much to consider on top of the countless locations world wide. So just try to be mindful of these few things to improve the odds of making the right choice.
Course or Program
High season – Low season
Resort or Dive center
Accommodation – Shared or Solo…... Provided or Not
Town, a bit of Town, or no Town
At the end of the day you can plan all you want, but like always it’s when the unplanned things happen that life can become exciting and memorable. My biggest souvenir from the course is sitting on the other side of the table as I write this. We’ve been married now for 7 years. I can guarantee you, it was not mentioned in the brochure when I signed up for the course!
Remember, like anything in life, in order for it to go smooth, your gonna have to look sharp. Check out our Planetlenz line of Men's & Women's Rash Guards and other beach wear full of aquatic inspired swag.......You don't make no friends showing up to your DM course in a pee stained wife beater!