After working for a year on fishing vessels up in the Bering Sea buried beneath 10 layers of clothing and still being cold, I decided it was high time for a change. So I set out to exchange my survival suit for a swim suit. And what better way to accomplish this goal than to go ahead and Go Pro with my Scuba Certification.
I was originally planning on getting my Divemaster in Ecuador, however the company I was trying to go through was extremely slow with replying to emails and wanted all the money upfront without any guarantee’s. I have heard of a few dive shops scams and decided I would look around a little more first. I emailed Oceans Unlimited and was pleasantly surprised to hear back from them within hours. I spoke directly with the course director and was able to set up my divemaster course in record time. I had a week before I needed to be in Costa Rica!
I had been to Costa Rica before for a study abroad back in 2008 and had fallen in love with the country and the people and I was ecstatic to be back. However, this time along with getting my divemaster I was determined to improve my spanish. The shop helped place me in a home-stay when I first arrived. It was certainly an interesting but wonderful experience. I shared the house with three other amazing Australian guys that were working at the shop as well, then there were 2 more local Tico’s, the 4 host family members, 8 chihuahuas, a rabbit, and parakeets! The host mom Ana was great, she cleaned up after us and cooked us breakfast and dinner every day. I ended up staying there for awhile but have since moved to an apartment where things are a little more quiet and I can cook for myself.
The first day at the shop we jumped right into things and started with a fun dive. It was great to just be back in the water after about a years hiatus. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew it was not going to be like the Caribbean coral reefs I was used to diving and I was a little skeptical. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The waters visibility was only sub par but what the visibility lacked it was well made up for with the diverse marine life, there were huge schools of fish, and the fish all seemed so much larger than on the Caribbean side, I even saw a shark on my first dive.
From that very first day things just seemed to fall into place and I was able to cruise through my DM rather quickly. I spent my days mapping the reefs, participating in search and recovering dives, assisting rescue diver courses, playing a very dramatic victim for EFR courses, and helping with the guided tours. I was even able to help instruct CPR/First Aid course demos on the beach to the local surfers and lifeguards!
After completing my Divemaster I chose to stay with the shop and act as their Marine Conservation Officer while I completed my Dive Instructors course. I had fallen in love with the shop and all of the people that worked there. We have a sort of melting pot dive shop that consists of . . . our shop dog Damian who greets us every morning, our knowledgable owner and boat Captain Bob, who has a world of experience ranging from working on the Orange County Sherifs Dive Team to being an amazing go to handy man! To our crazy course director Georgia who’s english accent and sayings like ‘rock up’ always make me laugh but who really proves that women belong just as much in the diving world as men, she is a one woman show who can go from teaching an Instructors course one day to performing miracles repairing gear the next! Then we have our wonderful receptionist Paola, who brightens my day every morning with her big smile and cheerful greetings. Our comical dive master Jairo, who you just can’t help but love for his ridiculous comments and optimistic nature. To our Instructors Welden, who teaches me something new every time I dive with him, and JT who works relentlessly every day to the point where we have to force him to leave the shop. It’s truly a wonderful diverse group that makes everyday exciting and new.
To give you a little bit of a better idea of what all the Divemaster program entails here is what a typical day for me consisted of… A crash course surf lesson in the morning where I also got to practice my spanish with the locals, followed by a morning dive either working on my divemaster certifications or assisting the dive guide with the morning tour, then we would come back and clean gear and eat lunch together and then some afternoons there was another dive trip or perhaps a snorkel trip but more often than not we would get off around 3:30, 4:00 and then myself and some of the other shop crew would be able to make it back to the beach for the sunset or up to the volleyball court for some beach volleyball or sometimes we headed to these amazing waterfalls that you could jump off. This along with days thrown in where we painted the shop, made signs, and performed other dive shop related tasks, essentially sums up the basics of the Dive Master Internship program here at Oceans Unlimited, Costa Rica.
In conclusion, you can get as much or as little out of this internship program as you want. The opportunities here in Costa Rica for those who are motivated and really want to get a well rounded experience out of their Go Pro Course are endless. After an extended period of time here I even took on a part time job as a bartender in Manuel Antonio, it was an awesome experience and through it I was able to meet a lot of amazing people and practice my spanish a lot! This experience has taught me so much more than just Divemaster skills and for that I am very thankful! I therefore highly suggest any and all of you to come join us in all the fun here at Oceans Unlimited, you won’t be disappointed!