By erik

10 Reasons Why You Should Become A Diver

We are often asked by our non-diving friends and relatives to explain to them why we scuba dive… what drives this passion that all divers have about the sport.

Well, instead of telling you the reasons why I dive, and why I have been diving for over 25 years, let me give you a list of reasons why YOU should learn to dive and become a certified scuba diver.

Why should I learn to dive?

  • The World is over 70% water. This means that there are more places in the world where diving is possible than those where it isn’t.  What does that mean to the average diver? Well, it means that no matter where you live, or where you travel for vacation, you will never be more than a few hours away from great diving – yes, even lakes and quarries offer fabulous diving… just make sure it is allowed.

earth is covered in water

  • You will make tons of diver friends.  Seriously! I would say that about 70% of my friends are divers.  Not just here in Playa del Carmen, but also in every other place where I have lived, diving has always helped me make some great friends.  Of course, not every diver you will meet will become an instant best friend, but ask any active and serious diver how many of his/her friends share their love for the sport, and you will be pleasantly surprised. This also means that you will always have someone you enjoy being with willing to go out for a dive over the weekend, or to take a diving vacation (don’t you just love the word “Vacation”?).


Scuba Diving friends


  • The whole family can take up diving together! Yes, that’s right! As long as everybody is over 10 years of age, in good health (Of course, as with any activity, your family doctor should be consulted first), everybody can swim (and you don’t have to be an Olympic level swimmer. Just be competent in the water and comfortable), you and every member of your family can take up the wonderful sport of scuba diving. Which will in turn make vacation planning so much easier!  Just go to a nice tropical destination and be sure you book your dives beforehand!Family Diving together


  • It is easier, cheaper and safer than what you may think.  The sport of scuba diving has evolved much over the past 30 years. While it used to be considered almost like an extreme sport, today, diving is one of the safest activities you can do as long as all the rules are followed and it is done properly.  Diving doesn’t care about age, gender or body shape. Underwater, we are all the same!  When you do a training course, you don’t have to buy every piece of equipment at once. Most dive centers will have rental equipment for you to use when you book dives with them, so don’t worry about having to spend thousands of dollars in gear just to get started.

Diving is Fun and Safe


  • When you are under water, you will see things that the majority of the people of the world never get to see in real life!  You will see the most beautiful colors you never thought existed, some of the most beautiful animals that you always dreamed about being face to face with, and you will see that sharks are not man-eaters. They are misrepresented, and they should be respected, admired and protected, not feared.  It doesn’t matter where you dive. Be it a tropical reef like those we have here in Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, a cold lake in the North or a cold water reef like in the Pacific North West (USA & Canada) or UK, you will find the most amazing things ever (not just fish and coral.. think historical wrecks as well).

Colorful tropical coral reef

  • Feel what astronauts feel when they are in outer space. When we dive, and we are properly weighed and neutrally buoyant, it is as if we are floating in space.  We feel as though we were in real zero gravity.  We can say that the weight of the world comes off of our shoulders!  Even better, when we do a drift dive, we feel like we are flying across a whole new planet filled with new and interesting creatures!

Learn to dive. Become an astronaut


  • You will become Aquaman! Well, not really, but you will get to breather under water! Even though we don’t get to talk to ocean creatures with telepathic superpowers, we get breathe underwater! Imagine! How cool is that?! So basically, if you become a scuba diver, you essentially become almost like a superhero!

Scuba Diving turns you into Aquaman

  • You will become an Ocean Ambassador.  What does this mean? Well, you will be a part of an elite group of people across the world who do everything in their power to make sure that all waterways – be it the ocean, lakes, rivers, swamps, etc. are protected and that the creatures that inhabit these areas are protected as well.  We need clean waterways, and we need healthy coral reefs if we want to protect our species as well! Not to mention we want to keep having beautiful places where we can dive.


  • You never stop learning.  Even after you become a certified diver, there are still dozens of courses which you can take that will keep expanding your knowledge and skills.  Courses like nitrox, advanced open water, rescue diver, deep diver, even – with sufficient experience- cave diving!

  • Once you become a diver, the world is really your playground!

There are some caveats. Don’t be fooled by the super cheap courses offered at many dive shops.  Get your training with a reputable instructor, at a reputable dive center, and don’t be afraid to ask your instructor about his/her experience as a diver and as an instructor.


Enjoy diving, and see you under the water!

playa del carmen dive center
By erik

How to Choose the Right Dive Center in Playa del Carmen

When you do a google search for “scuba diving in Playa del Carmen”, dive centers in Playa del Carmen” or “dive shops” or any other scuba diving related querie, you get hundreds, if not thousands of hits.  Obviously, you are not going to contact every single website that you come across, because, well, you have better things to do!  However, it is very important that when you are planning your vacation to Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya as well as any other destination where you plan on doing some (or a lot) of diving, you do some research.

What do I mean by research? Very simple.  There are some questions you should always ask any potential dive operator.

  • Do you have a physical dive shop?
  • Are you/your guide/instructor a Mexican citizen, and if not, are you legally allowed to work in Mexico?
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • What are your group sizes, diver:instructor ratio?
  • What is the experience of the instructors/divemasters that work for you?

You are probably scratching your head at some of these questions.  There are good reasons why you should know the answer to these questions.

  • If the operator does not have an actual shop, and is just some person selling trips/courses from his/her computer, then what guarantees do you have that your reservation will be honored, deposits will be safe, and that you will have a safe place where your equipment can be stored if you will be diving for several days? An established dive center will give you all those and more.


  • If the operator is not a Mexican citizen and is not allowed to work legally in Mexico opens you up to all kinds of trouble.  Imagine you are heading off to the Cenotes with this great person who has a beautiful website, talks a big game about his/her thousands of dives, charges very little in comparison to others,  and then you get pulled over.  Well, it turns out your guide has no permits to be transporting you, has no permits to be working in Mexico, and now, the vehicle you’re in as well as everything in it (including your personal equipment) will be subject to seizure by the authorities.  Also, there is the issue with liability and insurance.


  • We all started our business at one point.  So a new shop does not necessarily mean that the shop will not be just as good, or even better than one that has been around for decades.  However, a shop that has been around for a few years probably has a better track record than a new shop.


  • Some dive shops are all about maximizing profits and minimizing expenses, and this is not always better for you, the customer. This holds true both in Playa del Carmen as well as the rest of the world. It is not uncommon to see an Open Water Diver class with 8 or more students and just one instructor.   Or a combined group with several open water diver students, a couple of advanced open water diver and perhaps a rescue student and one instructor (and maybe a dive master assisting).   This is unacceptable even in the best of conditions.  An instructor should never have more than 4 students at once, and they should all be doing the same level of training.  The same goes for leading dives.  Groups should not be larger than 4 divers per instructor or dive master, and they should all be of similar experience and training levels.  Mixing groups is just not acceptable.


  • Again, we all started as instructors or dive masters at one point. With little experience, and fortunately, someone cut us a break.  Some of us were certified divers for a long time, and even worked as dive masters for many years before we decided to become instructors, however, the world has changed a lot in the past 10-15 years. We live in a world of “instant gratification”, and unfortunately this has also transferred onto the diving industry.  One of the bigger agencies allows many of their larger affiliated centers to conduct what have been commonly become known as “zero-to-hero” programs.  In these programs, they basically take you from being a non-diver (or one with little experience) all the way to open water scuba instructor level in a year or less.  You probably ask yourselves what the problem is with this… well, the main problem is the lack of experience.  You see, most recreational scuba diving training agencies require that to become an instructor, one has to have a minimum of 100 logged dives.  100 logged dives may seem like a lot, but in reality, it isn’t. Especially for someone who is an instructor.  When you choose an instructor, you want to make sure that your instructor has lots of experience in as many different environments as possible (be it tropical reefs, cold lakes and quarries, caves, wrecks, cold water reefs, etc).

These are just some of the things you should be asking before booking dives or scuba diving courses not just in Playa del Carmen, but all over the world.   This information will not guarantee that your vacation will be flawless, but I can promise you that if you know all of this beforehand, you will save yourself a whole lot of headaches and heartache.


By erik

A Warning Regarding Wanderable

Greetings fellow divers and lovers of the underwater world!  Today we task ourselves with bringing you news of a potential serious red flag. This one goes out to all of our potential guests who are planning their weddings and honeymoon in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.

A couple of years ago, we signed up with an online company that goes by the name of Wanderable (not going to give them the benefit of a link).  This company is an online wedding registry where couples choose activities the want to do during their honeymoon and their friends and family can purchase said activities for them.

Seems like a pretty cool thing, right?  Well, there are many other sites like that one (honeyfund, honeymoonwishes, travelersjoy, among others).  We were invited to be a part of this wonderable site when it first launched about 3 years or so ago.

At first, things were very smooth with them.  People would list a gift certificate for whichever activity (we had Discover Scuba Diving, Cozumel Direct Trip and Cenote trip), their loved ones would buy it for them, and we would get an email to tell us “John Doe and Jane Smith were gifted X, Y or Z activity – gift certificate code blah blah bah), then the couple would get in touch with us, we would confirm dates with the couple, and we would get paid by wonderable.

Suddenly this all changed. Folks would get girft certificates, and we would not be informed by the company, nor would their certificates sometimes appear on our “sales orders”.  Then the payments stopped coming.  A couple of times we honored the reservations, and had to wait weeks to get paid, they wouldn’t reply to emails or answer phone calls,  so eventually, we stopped honoring the gift certificates bought through this company, and we asked them to take Beyond Diving – Riviera Maya off their website and off their vendor list.

Fast forward several months….  We receive an email from a nice gentleman who has unfortunately fallen prey to these unscrupulous people. Him and his future wife were gifted  a local Playa del Carmen 2 tank dive trip, which we told them that we could not honor, but would still love to have them as our guests.  Fortunately, they decided they still wish to dive with us, and all is good.

However, they will have to fight it out with wanderable to try to get their money back.

I was just checking out wanderable’s facebook page, and it hasn’t even been updated since July 2015, so that alone should raise all sorts of red flags.  Not to mention the comments left by couples who cannot get in touch with them.

Wanderable Facebook Wanderable

I have emailed wanderable yet again demanding that our company be taken off their site, so we will see how that plays out.  Since Beyond Diving – Riviera Maya is a registered trademark, any unauthorized use of our name constitutes a violation of international trademark laws.

So our suggestion to anybody thinking of using wanderable, is to not use it.  I am sure that our company is not the only one that has stopped honoring their gift certificates, so  I would recommend that you contact the companies directly from which you want to purchase an activity and do so directly.  That way you can be assured that your reservations will be honored and you will save yourselves the hassle of a potentially cancelled reservation due to non-payment.



Scuba Diving lessons
By erik

Should I do a refresher course?

When should I do a scuba refresher course?


This is a question we are often asked.  We recommend that people who have not been diving in more than one year do a refresher course. Of course, this all depends on the experience of the diver. Someone who has been diving for several years, and has hundreds or thousands of dives, but has a lapse of a year in diving wouldn’t necessarily need to do a refresher (unless they wanted to). However, someone with just a few dives, and more than a year of not diving, might benefit from it.

padi open waterdiver

In fact, we recently had a gentleman who came to the shop and wanted to go to the cenotes for some cavern diving.  He said he was certified open water diver since the mid 1980’s, when we asked him when his last set of dives had been, he dropped a bomb on us…   For someone who has not been diving in over 20 years, a simple refresher course would not do the trick.   Unfortunately, certification cards do not require you to do a certain number of dives per year.  Once you are certified, it is good for life. However, we said to this gentleman that we could not take him out to the cenotes without doing a thorough refresher course and evaluation (and a couple of shallow open water dives in our local Playa del Carmen reefs),  and that in fact, after a 22 year absence from scuba diving, we would recommend redoing the entire open water diver course.

He was quite offended, said that XYZ shop had told him they would take him, and that in fact their price was WAY cheaper than ours,  and stormed out of the shop.  The following day, we were leading a group in one of the cenotes and we came across this gentleman with a group from XYZ shop. After seeing him in the water, we were all quite relieved that he was not diving with us (especially after witnessing his panic attack within the first 3 minutes of the dive because of his absolute lack of understanding of buoyancy control or equipment function). After speaking with the guide for XYZ shop, he said that he was aware that this person had not been diving in several years, but did not know how many as the owner of the shop had not given him any more information other than “he hasn’t been diving in a few years, so watch him”.

On the other hand, we have had people who insist in doing a refresher course even though they may not necessarily need to do it, but they just want to get comfortable in the controlled conditions of the pool prior to going to the open water.  We always welcome that, and we are grateful for people who are proactive and take a hands on approach to their safety when scuba diving.

PAdi Courses PLaya del Carmen


So this wasn’t meant to sound like we were preaching or like we were trying to put ourselves above everybody else.  It is just a reminder that just like everything else in life, skills are forgotten when we don’t use them in a while.  Scuba diving is not like riding a bicycle.  The consequences of a poorly executed dive can be disastrous.  So much has changed over the last 20 years in terms of equipment and knowledge of decompression theory…

Even if a refresher “course” is not needed for you, we always recommend starting out shallow and easy on your first couple of dives after an extended dry period.   There is always time to do something a little more challenging.


For more information on our courses or dive trips click the links below:


Scuba Diving Courses in Playa del Carmen


Scuba Diving in Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya