Scuba Certification - How to choose a Dive Shop

Choosing a dive shop and / or dive instructor can have a significant impact on how motivated your are to scuba dive once your are certified. That being said, I hope that what follows will help you choose your dive shop / instructor when the time is right for you.

The first thing you need to understand is the primary goal for the dive shop and some instructors is that they are in it to make money. Without money a scuba shop cannot pay it's bills and thus cannot keep its doors open. So expect at some point the dive shop to ask you to purchase training, equipment, and other services as needed. That being said, you should not walk it the door and be asked, "What are you buying today?."

So, what should you look for in a dive shop.
1. Atmosphere and Attitude
I put these together because they are both important to me. Every dive shop, regardless of what brands they stock, carry a certain atmosphere and attitude to them. Find one that meets your expectations or lifestyle. Things I look for when I walk in the door:
How do they greet me?
Do they even pay attention to me?
Do they try and help me?
If I ask a question, do they seem knowledgeable?
Do I feel comfortable?

2. Dive Opportunities
Scuba Diving is about getting out and going diving. Not only do go to one to buy gear, I also go to meet people and go diving. A good dive shop should have a variety of events including local dive trips (location dependant), weekend dive trips, and exotic dive trips. If a shop doesn't do any of these, then do they even scuba dive and how are you going to get certified?

3. Education
Open Water Certification is only the first step of education, there is much more to learn about scuba diving in just the basics. Any of the classes can help enhance your enjoyment of scuba diving if you take one. But the scuba shop you choose must offer classes in order for you to take them.

After all of that is being said, the real thing is that you go into a shop that you are happy with. If you only have one or two shops around you, then you need to find the best of whats available. And a shop should not be chose based on what brand of gear they carry. Just because you enjoy someone's company doesn't mean you can buy something from someone else.

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