Before we even booked our flights to Mexico for the start of our RTW adventure, I knew I wanted to get scuba certified. Nenad was already, he got his certification in college. I had previously been on a few “uncertified dives” with a friend who owns a dive shop and enjoyed each one, but I wanted to be officially certified and able to dive anywhere safely.
Over the past year, I called around a few different dive shops in Florida but never pulled the trigger. There was always something wrong – not enough time, the water was too cold, the classroom sessions wouldn’t fit into my schedule etc…
Needless to say between choosing to start our trip in the Mexican Riviera Maya and our shared love of Caribbean cruises, it was time to stop procrastinating and start the class already! Snorkeling was great and all, but I wanted to be able to stay down and get a closer look. (and since I’ve never been much of a free diver, scuba was the only option!) I didn’t want to miss out anymore!
After some quick research, I decided to sign up for the PADI Referral E-Learning Program. This way, I could get all of the classroom lessons done in my own time at home on the computer (before we even started our trip), then complete the confined and open water dives afterwards at a PADI certified dive shop of my choice, anywhere in the world. Perfect! I got started right away…
I have to say the online portion took longer than I expected it to, I had no idea how much information there was to learn! It was mostly a safety course but trust me, you really want to know it all. Overall, PADI did a great job and by the time I had finished, I was eager to get in the water!
As soon as we arrived in Playa del Carmen, we set off to find the perfect dive shop to get me certified – we had so many dives already planned! After visiting 6 or 7 different places we decided to go with Dive Life. All of the staff were amazing and made me feel very comfortable and safe. We couldn’t have made a better choice! I highly recommend stopping by the shop if you are in the area… We will definitely be diving with them again.
I completed my confined water dives in a pool that a few of the local dive shops use for training. It was fun learning the skills but challenging because the water was very cold, even through my wetsuit. My Dive Master was amazing though and very patient with me when I needed to hop out and warm up for a little while. She made sure I really learned everything and we had a blast.
When it came time to go out in the sea for my Open Water Dives the weather wasn’t cooperating, (in the winter, sometimes the currents get very strong so they have to close the harbor making it impossible to get a dive boat out) but I managed to complete my certification in 2 different cenotes instead!
Diving in the cenotes wasn’t anything like I expected (not the warm, tropical fish-filled Caribbean Sea) but it was still very beautiful in its own way. We swam beneath snorkelers and mangrove plants, saw & swam through plenty of underground caves, swam with fish and diving ducks, dealt with different currents and practiced buoyancy skills until I felt like a pro. Taking off the mask was the hardest part of the checkout dives! (see above facial expression lol!) Dealing with the cold water was also hard for me (even with two wetsuits on…) but I still highly recommend checking out the cenote dives if you visit the Riviera Maya, they are quite amazing. By the end of my 4th open water dive I felt confident in my abilities and very proud of myself.
Getting my PADI Open Water Certification was definitely one of the most rewarding things I’ve done so far for my travel life. I highly recommend their e-Learning program, it was the perfect option for me. Now that I’m a certified diver too, Nenad and I can’t wait to go on plenty of dives all around the World together.
Any other SCUBA divers out there? Where are your favorite dive spots?