Updated: Nov 3
There are many dive shops around Thailand, and all of them offering similar products, but Which school should you take your diving course with? Who
the best diving course? How do you decide which school is good for you?
Any instructor can teach you to be able to dive, but will they make you love diving activity is another story. Many people dived only during the course and never dive again. It could be because of the lack of time and opportunity, or the experience during your course. I have listed the things to consider below.
Different school offering different inclusions during their courses.
Common inclusions - What usually included in the courses are learning materials, equipment, transfer from your hotel on boat days(depending on your hotel location).
Uncommon inclusions - Other offer extra inclusions such as accommodation with breakfast with their course which are usually in Koh Tao, this is due to the cost of boat operation. Some may also included diving photos, discount on diving equipment.
Ease of Transportation
Dive destination isn't always easily accessible. Ease of transportation and time to get to your dive shop is another thing to consider. The course might seems cheap, but when you account for the time and money to get there, the price might be similar or cheaper to get to the dive shop.
You might have heard of the name like "PADI" or "SSI" or "AIDA", there are a some
differences in their teaching but they all have similar standards.
Recognition - you want to make sure that the agency you are taking the course with is recognized world wide so you don't have a problem when you go diving in next trip to other countries.
Convenience - learning materials such as application and e-learning materials makes it easier for you to learn from multiple devices with online quizzes and exams.
Approaches towards diving activities - such as SSI approach towards Freediving is more of recreational oriented while molchanovs and AIDA may be more sport oriented so their manual will be more detailed and with training plans included
Some school may require certain
number of students booking into a course for them to start the course, while some may start the course with just one student. If you prefer more time and attention, booking a private course is ideal, but you can try your luck with smaller school which usually have less customer meaning smaller group or if you are lucky you may be the only one in the course which is basically a private course at regular course price.
School with boat
Some bigger dive school may have their own boat. There are both pros and cons to this. Some schools do not go on other boats which means your options to the dive sites are limited to the boat schedule. If the route and date you want to go doesn't match with the boat schedule then too bad you might not have that option. Some school do go on other boats but would prefer their own. Some school without boat gives you a bit more freedom of selecting the dive sites and the dates you are looking for.
This is different if you are looking forward to becoming professionals. You will also learn boat works and get better picture of how it operates. This is not always the case, how much you will learn depends on how much are you grasping. There are people who doesn't learn much. This might depend on the teaching style as well.
Chemistry(most important in my opinion)
Your instructor is the person who introduce you to the underwater world and making you fall in love with diving activities, so he/she plays a very important role in your diving journey. The chemistry between you and your instructor is one of the most important thing to consider. I cannot say that there are no bad instructors, the only bad instructors are the one who doesn't care about your safety and violating the safety standards, but also please keep in mind that what you perceived as unsafe may actually be quite safe, an experienced instructor will know and be able to explain to you what and why they do things.
Some people like their instructor to push them because it gives them pressure to be better. They'll feel like the instructor put a lot of effort into teaching and they are progressing. If they learn with an instructor who is very chill and relax, they might feel like they gained nothing. On the other hand, if some people like to be chill and have fun rather than being focusing to have perfect technique, if they learn with an instructor who constantly pushes and pressure them to be better, diving for them wouldn't be fun anymore.
Something so simple such as talking style is very important when you are communicating with your instructor, so if you can may be have a word with your instructor and see how you feel before deciding which school you are going to take your course with.
These are my recommendation to your consideration for those who are deciding where should you take your course. The value for your money doesn't depend on only one thing such as how cheap they are, what's included, or how big their brands are, but the quality of the service provided.