The biggest risk you run from going pro at Oceans is being disappointed with other dive shops in the future. Really, Oceans walks the fine line between a shack on the beach and a corporate machine with both personality and professionalism. The staff members here are great people. During my time as a dive guide, IDC candidate, and Open Water Instructor, I’ve never been prejudged, used as a doormat, or any other of the things that work-study interns worry about. As long as you work hard and care, Bob, Georgia, Ileana, and JT are open-handed with respect and appreciation. No one looks over your shoulder assuming you’ll do something wrong, and no one is insincere or manipulative.
- Safety: You’ll learn to give in-depth briefings and minimize discomfort and hazards for dive clients… and their relief and enjoyment makes the job so much nicer! If anyone else is as OCD as me about controlling the risks and stresses of diving (especially for the many, many very inexperienced people we get coming through the shop), you won’t be disappointed here 😉
- Comfort and convenience: The boat is a boat, not a raft. We get to eat Costa Rican pineapple (if you’ve never had it, you can’t imagine the greatness) on each trip. We lug the tanks around in carts, not on our shoulders. Little things add up.
- Special perks: Bob’s repair room. So many tools, and willing teachers. Ask if you can pull apart some old regs and reconstruct them! Very fun.
- And especially, as an IDC candidate… Georgia’s teaching. She has the best demos of anyone I’ve seen so far. Since I started working as an instructor, I’ve gotten multiple comments from my new students on the clarity and helpfulness of the skill demonstrations and explanations, which I took straight from Ms. Geo, Oceans’ own course director. Georgia is a PADI standards expert, and she will make sure you know them, but she is also a very straight-talking, down-to-earth lady who can offer first-hand experience with mining the system for the best it can offer, and applying it to real-life situations.
- Work hard. No one likes a slacker.
- Don’t be like a little puppy, slobbering for other people’s approval. That’s a personality flaw, in my opinion, and shows that you need some self-assuredness (but not cockiness) more than you need a professional diver rating. (We already have a slobbery puppy here, Pandora, and you definitely won’t be cuter than her.) Work hard because you want to do the best job possible, not so you get a reward. And have conversations with people because you’re interested in them, not to show off about some great dive you did, or some impressive skill you have. The people here are intelligent human beings, and they can see through that stuff.
- Be a learner and a listener. Chances are, these guys know more than you do about diving. And lots of other stuff too!!—seeing as Bob was in the US police force, and JT in the military, and they both have some crazy stories… just be prepared to sit down and listen for a while 😉 And if you’re a New Yorker like me, don’t get JT started on politics… 😉
- Fish and inverts: the herbivorous fish are big and plentiful, the lobsters too, puffers/porcupine/boxfish everywhere, huge triggers, large schools of small jacks. Second most sighted- morays, snake eels, larger jacks. After that- octopus, turtles, rays (eagle, round, southern), big tuna-like pelagics. Rare- seahorse, shark, manta…
- Benthic: Very nice topography here, I have to say. Lots of dramatic ridges, walls, and canyons. Zoanthids and fleshy algae everywhere, but patches of hard coral also remain.
- Visibility: Dry season- I hear it’s up to 60 feet. Wet season (when I’ve been here), it can be a lot lower. But as you see if you’ve read this far, not so low that I haven’t enjoyed myself a ton. I also find it’s been quite variable this wet season- it depends a lot on the swells, and we’ve had 60 feet unseasonably as well.
- Enjoy your time here. It’s a very good place to train and gain experience. One of those independent diving institutions that has made a name for itself over the years because the people who run it care, and have a vision for diving education, environmentalism, and fun 🙂 I recommend Go Pro Costa Rica and Oceans Unlimited to pro students, all other students, and certified divers alike!