Selecting the right Scuba Shop
Thirst and curiosity for adventure are why many of us become scuba divers. But we're not about to go on a dive with just anyone (or any dive shop) without first doing a little homework. Whether you’re looking to avoid unprofessional dive shops, large crowded cattle boats, or bad air shops, here are some ways you can be sure you've found the right dive operator.
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First things first
Ask friends or a family member you trust. You can also ask your extended social network for recommendations. Online review sites such as TripAdvisor or Roatan.Online can also be excellent resources to inform your decision. Don’t make the mistake of ruling out a dive shop based on one or two negative reviews. This is especially true when you find that there are dozens of positive reviews for every one negative review. One other thing to check for is how the dive shop has responded to the negative remarks.
If you come across a few dive shops with nearly perfect reviews, then turn your attention to things that may matter most to you like location, size of their scuba boats, and excellent online communication.
What matters most to you?
Questions to Ask
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
It is essential to understand your priorities. In other words, know which amenities matter most important to you. Do you care more about the cost per dive? Group discounts? Commute to and from the dive shop? Night diving options? Show dives in Roatan? Do you prefer large groups or smaller groups? What part of the island does the dive shop frequent most often? Do you want to dive with a dive professional in Roatan or do you want your dive to be guided?
Nothing beats paying a visit to the dive shop just before making your final decision. Keep in mind that many of the dive shops are relatively close to one another, so it is often possible to peak in and speak to the person in charge before making a final decision. Most of the time, you'll be able to walk away with a good sense for how responsive the dive shop is. More importantly, you may come away with a better feeling for their customer service.
PRO TIP: If you are among those who get seasick more efficiently, you may consider diving with a resort that dives out of a larger dive boat.
Finding the right SCUBA Shop (when traveling)
Once you have a shortlist of potential dive shops in Roatan, you may expand your research on YouTube and or on social media sites like Facebook. Sometimes these sites can give you added insight into dive shop operations. Online videos and social media posts can provide insight into what dive shops may be on a day to day basis. Many dive shops will pin the most recent dive site they visited. Pay attention to this especially if you are interested in multiple dives, as you don't want to dive the same dive site more than once.
How new is their rental gear?
Is there a place to store personal valuables?
Can they handle equipment repair?
What is the experience level of the staff?
Will you be able to shower & clean up after a dive?
Are their bathrooms or dressing rooms clean?
How many divers do they take out at one time?
What is the dive shops cancellation and refund policy?
Does the dive shop offer any specialty courses?
Declare Special Needs
Families with divers under 15-years-old, technical divers, and divers with disabilities should let the dive know of any special accommodations you may have. Do this in advance whenever possible.
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When to Avoid a Dive Shop
There are cases in which it may be best to avoid a dive shop. For example, you may choose not to do business with a dive shop for serious reasons like having poorly maintained scuba equipment. You may also want not to engage a dive shop for less serious reasons like an unenthusiastic staff.
The official PADI website has a dive shop locator which may also help you identify a reputable dive shop. Look for dive shops with a five-star rating. Some dive shops go beyond their five-star rating and receive additional recognition for being Instructor Development Centers and or for having a Green Star and 100% AWARE business for being the protection of the environment.