My name is Julia, I am from Germany, where I actually studied Marine Biology. However, after I realized job hunting is quite a hard job itself, I decided to improve my CV a little bit by finally getting my Divemaster certification. But where?
Nine years ago I made my first trip to Costa Rica and, of course, I fell in love immediately with this beautiful country. After my online research for dive shops, the DM course package from Oceans Unlimited sounded great to me and without really hesitating I decided to travel to Quepos.
I have to say, I was quite impressed how professional this dive shop was. Owned by captain Bob, who is one of the greatest captains I worked with in terms of finding the perfect dive spot for the day, and always right in time being there with his boat in the moment you surface; with his hilarious wife Ileana, who was always there to chase away my boredom in times I had to wait while the tanks were filling – even though she gave me a hard time, because she refused constantly to talk in English to me, so I had to struggle with my Spanish. Luckily, she speaks to you (well, at least to me) in Spanish like she would talk to a little child – a great opportunity to practice your Spanish, so take advantage of it!
Georgia is the main instructor and supervisor for DM and instructor candidates. So all my (perfect) DM skills I learned during my stay, are the result of Georgia’s teaching ; and even though it may not look like it from the very first moment, but she can be quite patient with you, if you are a little bit too stupid to perform a simple buoyancy check at the surface or need to hover in the pool….
I chose to do my Equipment Specialty Course – a great choice! Bob has a nice little equipment “repair shop” – but keep in mind, always return the tool you took to exactly the same place – Bob notices everything! Even though it took me almost a whole day to dissemble and repair my first 1st stage, finally I made it and was quite proud of myself! Georgia and Bob can teach you every little thing you want to know about equipment, and even though you might look for Bob to ask him your hundredth question and beg for help, he never loses his patience, at least he doesn´t look like it.
A normal work day in the dive shop looks like that:
- Being in the shop around 7:15
- Preparing the tanks and the equipment
- Waiting for the customers to arrive, welcome them and setting them up with their gear
- A 5 minute ride to the marina and then loading up the boat
- Arriving at the first dive site about 10 minutes later
- After two dives heading back to the dive shop
- Cleaning the gear and filling tanks
- Usually, if the compressor doesn’t let you down, you will be done at around 3 – 4 pm
And now after work, you will have a couple of options. Either you are not a coward like me and take the offer from Oceans to take a free surf lesson, which means basically after work you grab your board and head towards the beach. If you are a coward like me, you might either just go to the beach to hang out or you are still quite motivated to find your way through the forest to go the secret waterfall. If it is a Friday, you might wanna go to the great local market in Quepos to get your veggies and fruits for the week.
Diving in Manuel Antonio. Well, I have to admit, before I came to Costa Rica, I was working for 3 months in the Caribbean. However, my friend, who arrived in Quepos about 2 weeks earlier, warned and prepared me already: Julia, it is not the Caribbean. The waters at the Pacific Coast in this region are dynamic and sometimes quite turbulent, which means that guiding in such waters can be quite challenging sometimes – on the other side, if you manage these conditions you are quite prepared and perfectly skilled for a DM 😉 The other advantage is, the waters are quite nutrient rich, and most of the dive sites are located in the Manuel Antonio National Park, which means that (generally) fishing is prohibited there, resulting in sometimes huge fish schools and quite big fish sizes! To dive around these rock formations, canyons, ridges and walls is quite an experience.
If you are planning to start a professional dive career, and you would like to do this in the tropics, with a professional team – I would totally recommend Oceans Unlimited!