There is no better weekend getaway than a guys’ dive weekend! For many years my friend Tim and I used to go to the Florida Keys every May for a guys’ dive weekend. Those weekends were always a complete blast, and memories for a lifetime. We used to dive Key West both morning and afternoon dives, and by the end of a four day weekend we were all exhausted.
This past summer we had all of the old gang fly into Tampa for a guys’ dive weekend in the Gulf of Mexico. I had three good buddies from college fly into Tampa International Airport, and I surprised them with a limo pick-up. It was awesome! My friend Randy knows the owner of a limousine company in Lakeland, and he comped the entire trip. See him here if you want a truly amazing limousine experience! So it was so much fun to ride in the limo from the Airport to our hotel in Tampa Bay. It was the perfect start to an awesome weekend.
Over the years I’ve had so many people ask me where is the best place to get scuba certified, and what kind of course should I take. Dive shops offer nearly every different possibility for becoming certified in scuba diving. The course you choose is really a personal preference, and depends on your schedule and your other priorities in life.
Some of the options are as follows:
Saturday and Sunday for two weekends (crash course)
One night a week for 12 weeks
Two nights a week for six weeks
Resort crash course
It really depends on how busy your schedule is during the week, and on weekends. When I got certified 15 years ago I took the two weekend crash course. It was very intense and a huge time commitment, but I was done in two weekends. The schedule for this setup is a Friday afternoon class, all day Saturday, and then all day Sunday. You do this for two weekends in a row and then you’re certified.
Well, we have some big news! My brother and I opened a dive shop in Ormond Beach, which is just north of Daytona. It has always been a dream of ours to have our own dive shop, and now it is a reality. We know it’s going to be a lot of work and it has been already, but we both know there’s nothing like owning your own business, and we will do whatever it takes to make this successful.
The building is not much to look at, but at least it is operating. We are renting a piece of land off of Nova Road, and it is highly wooded with a lot of overgrowth of vegetation. We spent the first two weeks trying to clear it ourselves, but finally had to just give up. We don’t have the equipment necessary to take care of the larger trees and overgrowth.
So a friend of mine recommended Volusia Tree Service out of Port Orange, and they have done a tremendous job. I never realized how much is involved in taking care of trees, and land clearing itself. Not only did we have to have a lot of trees removed, but we also had to have a lot of tree trimming as well as tree pruning. I never knew that tree pruning was so technical and involved!
I generally try to keep my dive trips very positive, because they are usually some great and uplifting experiences. But truth be told, I have to tell you about my experience diving in the southwest part of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
I was down there in the early 2000’s, and had never been diving in the Gulf of Mexico so thought I would give it a try. I had heard mixed reviews so I was not sure what to expect. I looked online for the best dive shop, and they all looked pretty similar so I just picked one randomly. I called and asked what the visibility had been the past few weeks? Always the sign of an experienced diver, wanting to know what the visibility was recently. Well, I clearly remember that I was told that it had been hovering around 40 feet. Not great, but good enough.
If you have been diving long enough, you have probably heard stories for near misses and dangerous events at sea. As we all know, diving has become very safe over the past 30 years. Most dive operators would tell you that diving is nearly 100% safe with all of today’s technologies, and it nearly is. There is only one component missing from this calculation.
That calculation, however, is the most important of them all. That one component is the trump card on any dive trip, and that is the diver’s good judgement. There is nothing more important than that. This one ingredient can be the difference between a very comfortable day on the water, and a dangerous afternoon at sea. This article from scubadiving.com outlines the main reasons that divers have serious risk at sea. And the reality is that often times the more experienced the diver, the more risk of becoming overly confident and putting yourself at risk.
St. Maarten is a great vacation destination, and also has some terrific diving. I ventured to St. Maarten about seven years ago for a wonderful 10 day vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side, and the weather was absolutely beautiful.
We went diving on three different days, and the local boat captain and dive master were a lot of fun. On the afternoon of my first dive, we dove a reef about 60 feet deep. I remember how gorgeous it was, because the sun was shining so bright and making the reef really glow. It was one of those dives that was so intense that I lost track of time in nearly ran out of air! That has not happened to me very often. Only a few times, but it is always been one I got lost in the diving world. This looks like the same reef:
Welcome to NickDive.com! We will explore diving explorations from around the world! Diving is the most magical, peaceful activity that you can give yourself. It is full of amazing moments and lifetime memories.
I have had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people from around the world on my dive excursions. I have met young teenagers who just completed their certification dives, all the way up to grandparents who still had as much love as their first dive. Well, kinda! I remember diving in Aruba years ago, and this elderly man asked me how many dives I had. When I responded with my number (it was low, around 10), he smiled and said “So this is still fun to you, and not work?” A great line, and a lifetime memory.