By Laura Coppa
To get the most from your diving holiday, whether you are an expert diver or just
a beginner, you should pick a safe and well-equipped diving center suitable for
your needs. Picking a diving center in an unfamiliar destination can be tricky.We
advise you to contact the center via fax or e-mail with any or all of the questions
provided below. Bookings can usually be made via Internet, fax or through your tour
General Questions for Your Prospective Diving Center:
What languages do the Dive Masters speak?
Communication is important for safety and enjoyment. Most dive centers have
multi-lingual instructors and guides to suit your needs. Make sure your prospective
diving center can provide you with a Dive Master that you can understand.
Is the Dive Master present in the water on all dives?
The answer should be "yes". The Dive Master should be in the water for at least
the first portion of the dive. Some guides will surface with the less experienced
divers. This should not be a problem if the divers left in the water are experienced,
although that is ultimately at the discretion of the guide.
Are oxygen, life jackets and first aid available on the boats?
Oxygen, life jackets and a first aid kit must be on board all diving boats.
Ask your guide to show you their location and use.
How far away is the recompression chamber?
Your prospective diving center should know the location of the recompression
chambers and be familiar with their services.
Do I need to fill out a Medical Form?
When you inquire about a course always request a medical form. If you answer
yes to any of the questions on the medical form, you will need to consult a doctor,
prior to booking. Be aware that any physician clearing you for diving must be familar
with the RTSC (Recreational Scuba Training Council) guidelines for diving.
Do I need a transfer from my hotel to the diving center? If so, is it included in
If the diving center is not in the same location as your hotel, transfers are
usually provided free of charge. Check with the diving center.
How many days do I need to complete a beginning dive course?
An Open Water Course typically takes four to five days, depending on the number
of students. Some centers offer a fast track course, but keep in mind that PADI
recommends a minimum of 73 hours.
How many students to one instructor?
Each training agency has different standards, which are subject to change. As
well, diving centers may have their own policies that may be stricter than the training
For the PADI Open Water Course the student instructor ratio is 8:1
For the BSAC Ocean Diver Course the student instructor ratio is 4:1
For the SSI Open Water course the student instructor ratio is 8:1
What languages are courses available in?
The majority of diving centers have multi-lingual instructors. It is strongly
recommended that courses be taken in your mother tongue because of the theoretical
Can I dive locations like Ras Mohammed, Thistlegorm, Abu Nuhas, Strait of Tiran or
Giftun Island the day after I complete my course?
The answer should be "no", unless you are following an advanced course or you
pay for a private guide. It is advisable to discuss these options with your instructor.
I have an advanced diving license; can I go to the more adventurous dive sites
The answer should be no, especially if you have never been to the Red Sea. The
first day of diving should be conducted in an area sheltered from strong winds and
currents, where the boat can be moored. A local diving excursion will allow you
time to acclimate yourself to the Red Sea and adjust your weights for better buoyancy
control. A check dive will also ensure a more enjoyable future diving experience.
Can I dive alone?
Absolutely not! You will be expected to always dive with a buddy and always
surface with a buddy. If you don't have a buddy, the guide will appoint one for
you. If a spare buddy is unavailable, the guide will usually buddy with you.
Can I store my diving equipment at the diving center?
Most diving centers should provide you with a storage space for your gear.
What is included in a diving package?
Most diving packages include two dives a day, tanks and weights. A supplement may
be required for equipment, extra dives, wreck dives or specialty dives. Make sure
to read the price list in order to avoid any surprises when you pay.
Can I choose where I dive?
Some centers will not be able to take you where you want every day. Other centers
will have enough boats and divers to be able to make a group to almost any destination.
How many people will I be diving with?
Some centers restrict the numbers of divers per guide; others do not have a concrete
Is the equipment tidy and well maintained?
When you arrive at your prospective diving center, spend time looking at the
rental equipment - even if you do not require any. All equipment should be
in good condition and clean.
Can I bargain with a dive center as a walk-in client?
Sometimes! It will depend on how busy the center is, and whether you are visiting
in a high or low season. Generally pre-booked packages are cheaper. Dont be afraid
to shop around.
Your experience with your diving center should be positive and fun. Dive center
staff should be able to answer any of your questions in a friendly manner. If they
dont know about something, they should be focused on finding the answer to guarantee
you are comfortable. And...have a nice dive!