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An honest review about my PADI Divemaster Training.

I have loved diving ever since I took my first breath of compressed air underwater. Call it love on first breath and I knew it was a love that would only grow. I knew that I wanted to continue learning and practicing and just become the best diver I could possibly be.
I also liked the idea of one day passing on my love for diving and maybe teaching others. While I have a job that I absolutely love, I like the idea of having options.
With that said, I had been eying with becoming a divemaster for a while. A divemaster is basically the first step on the professional dive ladder and a prerequisite if you want to become an instructor. The divemaster training (DMT) includes practical assignments, theory and assisting on different courses with different exams throughout.
It usually is handled just like any other course you would pay for but takes a few weeks up to months to complete, depending on the dive center you chose. In May my book came out and with that an advance in my account – I knew the time was now or never.

Now, a few months later, I am looking back. I am a PADI divemaster but to be honest, my experience wasn’t the greatest and the certification is nothing I feel particularly proud of. I feel a bit silly whenever I am asked about my certification on dives now, I feel like I cannot live up to the term of divemaster.
I am not writing this post to rant but more to figure out if there is something I could have done differently before and during my training. I also want to give some very honest advice for anybody who is interested in doing the divemaster training and how to get the best possible experience from it.

Ever thought of doing a PADI divemaster in Koh Tao, Thailand? Some honest thoughts and advice about my experience with it.

PADI or SSI?

Planning my DMT started with the question if I would stick with SSI or cross over to PADI. After speaking to a few professionals and posting the question to my scuba group, I somewhat unenthusiastically decided for PADI. It seemed the better option if I ever wanted to make an international career out of it. I was also told that SSI makes a crossover a lot easier than PADI so I decided to go with them first.
However, I say unenthusiastically as PADI is more expensive (PADI is jokingly called ‘Put Another Dollar In’) and very much focussed on their image (you even have your appearance evaluated on your score sheet!!). I had to learn a whole lot about their standards and regulations, something that I didn’t find conducive to diving itself or my training overall.
With a lot of money spent on study materials, I was really dismayed to find that my divemaster manual was full of grammatical and factual errors (same in my Nitrox book I got later so it wasn’t an exception it seems).
Later I found out that you do a so called Dive Guide with SSI and only have to pay fees if you decide to upgrade this with a theory part to actually work as a divemaster. Maybe the better option for those who are only in it for the experience. I don’t have any way to compare the two options now but I wasn’t impressed with PADI.

Where to go?

Next, I had to decide where I wanted to go for my divemaster training. I had set aside two months and a bit to get my rescue diver (a requirement to start the DMT) and to do my training. I made the decision pretty quickly (maybe too quickly) – I was keen to return to the island where I first fell in love with diving, Koh Tao, and the dive center I started with.
I knew that this was a place I could be comfortably live for two months. I also knew that diving conditions were easy something I thought to be a good thing (it isn’t but more on that later) so I knew I would be able to focus on my skills and training rather than be distracted by hammerheads and pygmy seahorses.
But Koh Tao is often seen as a scuba factory and has a bit of a bad reputation in the dive community. I didn’t really care too much before as my first motivation was to become a better diver and not to work as a divemaster. However, it very quickly became clear that training here isn’t about the individual but to make the most amount of money in the shortest time possible. Not the greatest feeling if you actually want to learn something.

Teachers vs. Mentors

It says in the PADI manual that you will get a mentor with your course and unfortunately, I took their word for it. Yeah, yeah, I know that was naive… And since that was important to me from the get go I probably should have rather looked for an instructor I connected with and gone where he/she teaches instead of picking my location and just dealing with whoever was teaching there.

Don’t get me wrong, I met some incredible divers and some incredible instructors. However, I learned that just because you are an amazing diver doesn’t mean you will make a good instructor.

One of my instructors was both and I think if the circumstances were different he would have even made a brilliant mentor. As it was though he seemed overworked and tired, putting most of his efforts into his OW and AOW students.
I still don’t know if and how much an instructor gets from the fees you pay to a dive center for your training but I don’t think it is a lot. Mind you does that have to be my problem since I paid for my course?!
I just expected something more. And if not a mentor I was at least looking for some structure, guidance, an open ear when I had questions and concerns. I was not expecting to come in between a pissing contest of two alpha dogs and the dive center’s owner and his staff who didn’t seem to care all that much.

Will I need my own equipment?

Ever thought of doing a PADI divemaster in Koh Tao, Thailand? Some honest thoughts and advice about my experience with it.

This is the part where I just need to say thank you to my wonderful sponsors over at Scubapro! While you don’t need your own equipment to start your DMT I was so happy to have my own and packed my bag like an excited little kid going to school each morning.
If you can’t afford a whole kit yet, I highly recommend investing in a mask, fins, and your own dive computer as it will make your diving so much more enjoyable and according to PADI you will look more trustworthy and stuff.
No seriously, at some point, my mask cracked as it was getting quite old and I had to borrow one for the last week of my training. It was incredibly annoying because masks are so personal and when I finally found one I liked I had to give it up whenever a customer needed it. I was thrilled to be reunited with a brand new mask, waiting for me when I got back (only to have it stolen two weeks later but that’s a different story…).
If you have a bit more money to spend I’d definitely get a wetsuit and then a BCD. All dive centers seem to have the same awkwardly short wetsuits…honestly, nobody ever looked good in one of those (whereas I like to think I look like Catwoman in mine!) and I wonder – are just the cheapest ones?!

You get what you pay for

Ever thought of doing a PADI divemaster in Koh Tao, Thailand? Some honest thoughts and advice about my experience with it.

As it is the case with almost anything in life you get what you pay for. Same holds true here. For a PADI divemaster, some dive centers will offer internships to help with the fees. And even if you pay the course fees you will still be required to do some work. Checking customers in in the morning, getting their gear ready, helping out on the boat and doing it all again once the dives were done. But if you get your training for free, you will usually be required to do a lot more work.
I needed enough time for my job so I decided to just pay the fees and not worry about time. I also believe that you get what you pay for. I wanted to pay for the course to be actually get treated like a customer and receive the best training possible. While some say that fees in Koh Tao are notoriously low and so what the heck do you expect?, I didn’t get what I paid for.
There was little organization for us five DMTs and even the fact that there were five of us in low season with too few clients to work with spoke to this. There was no structure and little guidance and while I am a grown-up and can usually sort myself out, it was often tricky to do so because nobody seemed to feel responsible for us.

Practice makes perfect?

Ever thought of doing a PADI divemaster in Koh Tao, Thailand? Some honest thoughts and advice about my experience with it.

PADI requires a minimum of 40 dives to start with and 60 to complete the training but I thought I was being generous by taking two months to gain more experience. In hindsight, I don’t think someone with 60 dives will make a good divemaster nor will two months of shallow water dives in easy conditions.
Heck, I started with over 60 dives and finished with 110 and there are still many situations and conditions I don’t feel comfortable in.
I spoke to one of my instructors after my training was done and he told me flat out that for the best experience one should go to Europe or Australia. If you want to stick to South East Asia I think areas like Komodo will give you a proper challenge and ultimately turn you into a better diver.
The problem with diving and the skills you are required to get for the PADI divemaster is that you cannot really practice in your own time. Yes, you can and probably should put your ego aside and practice skills in front of the mirror because you are meant to showing students and thus need to be extra concise. But practicing things like the Buddha hover on your bed is extremely difficult unless you are Superman. And believe me, I tried.
Only quite late during the training was I told that I could practice skills alongside students and even then I was quite embarrassed at times – if you have students around you want to do well and not flop around like a newbie.
Since any sort of self-practice would require tanks and a buddy I am honestly not sure how other dive centers handle this issue. Or is it just me who would want/need some more time to master skills?? Do other people just get all their practice done beforehand and start as perfect, little divers? I honestly don’t know.

I have decided not to share the names of the dive center where I was doing my internship nor to mention the instructors I had by name. This is not a post to name and shame but rather one that allows me to reflect on my experience and to help others to ask the right questions if they want to become a divemaster too. However, if you want more details than I am sharing here, please feel free to send me an email.
I also realize that I will probably never make it as a PADI ambassador after this post but that is alright. I am still feeling a little underwhelmed and grumpy about their service, their prices and their grammar, so I will do without.

Are you a divemaster? I’d be curious to hear about your training and if you have any additional advice on how to get the best experience possible.

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23 comments

  1. Hi Annika,

    let me first say that I admire your courage to state your experiences and also voice your doubts about PADI. If you don´t make it as a PADI ambassador, at least we won´t make it together! 🙂

    I did my Divemaster course in the Philippines and had quite similar experiences. I had to ask to receive my personal training sessions with exercises as it was pretty busy. I was working my a** off every day, conducting dive trips, teaching DSD courses and helping some dive guests make it back to the surface alive (no kidding!!) That´s when I realized that PADI standards are more focused on quantity than quality. I met a bunch of OW divers who had no idea about fundamentals of diving, such as buoyancy or descending slowly if you have a hard time equalizing. I even met Advanced Divers who had 10 dives (and sometimes that is all it takes to get both the OWD and AOW certifications) and who come into the dive shop asking for a deep dive and then in the water have no clue what to do when they suddenly can´t stop descending until one of us reaches them and slightly inflates their BCDs. I came to learn that most of the time it´s not their fault, but that they had received bad training. Diving is something that you can only learn with experience. While companies like CMAS put a lot of focus on dive experience before people get their first certification, PADI is the opposite and thereby risks to give people a dive certification who cannot dive.

    The dive center I was working with was one of the most renowned on the island. And still there had been no structure at the beginning, neither had the DM roles been clearly stated. At some point I just put the cards on the table and told them that I was unhappy about not having any idea on how my training was gonna work out. That´s when one of the instructors came up with a schedule for my own exercises and I was given a day off to immerse myself in studying. If I hadn´t initiated that conversation, I probably would still be working there for free as a DM trainee…

  2. I was just told by the dive shop I’m a member of, they said book a trip to Cozumel Mexico next February and go with them. A bunch of my group I dive with want you to come dive with us. We’d get your spirits back!

    1. Sounds great, I don’t plan that far in advance but Mexico is on my list – I may as well join you 🙂

  3. I write a SCUBA blog for a local dive shop in my area. I was certified in 2013 through SDI. They all started out with SSI before changing to SDI and said to steer clear of PADI. Also through SDI anyway, you have to be associated with a dive shop to get your dive master certification because the dive shop you work with carries insurance on you. When I stumbled across your blog a couple months ago, I saw you were working on your dive master certification. I mentioned it to our owner and she immediately said a) what shop is she going through or b) she must be getting it through PADI.

    I am as high as I can go without going through dive master. I’m Master diver. Through SDI you have to have your solo certification to be able to go through dive master and to get solo you have to have over 100 dives. I hit 100 dives this year (I took a year off because I had a baby). I’m over that 100 dives now but I finally got solo which put me into Master Diver through SDI.

    Deb told me that PADI and a lot of the PADI groups are more about the numbers than the quality of certified divers. I’m sorry you had such a rough experience. Hopefully it all gets better moving forward.

    1. Thanks so much, Nicole! Yes, I must admit in hindsight I should have stuck to my guts and stayed with SSI if only to save some money as I don’t plan on working as a DM anytime soon. As it is I will just dive and get my love for the underwater world back 🙂

  4. Hi Annika,

    I understand your article as I have also witnessed some negativity in the Dive Industry. I just wanted to point out that there are good and bad sides in any industry.

    I am sad to see where in this article you focus on Koh Tao and if I read it, it makes me feel that Koh Tao is a factory focussed only on money, this is in my opinion not true and only explains half of the story.

    On Koh Tao you find some of the best Diving Instructors and Dive Centres worldwide, but also some really bad ones. Even sometimes within a Dive Centre we have good and bad instructors. It’s just who you get that makes all the difference.

    Your experience in 1 or 2 Dive Centres cannot speak for the whole of Koh Tao.

    Some of us spend a ton of time and money in trying to create one of the best Divemaster programs with fantastic Instructors teaching you with the best attitude. I’m sorry to hear that you could not have experienced a better place to do your Divemaster course and have not met some of us dedicated instructors.

    Sadly enough there is a lot of jealousy and ego in this industry, but that does not count for everyone.

    I have been around the world and have met fantastic and super bad Dive Centres and Instructors anywhere. Not fair to just say Koh Tao 🙂

    For example at Sairee Cottage Diving on Koh Tao the Divemaster course takes at least 6 weeks where they focus on: Extra Lectures, real-Life Teaching, Advanced Risk Management training, PADI Standards (Instructors have to follow them or get fired), Marine Conservation, Good Attitude behaviour for DMT’s and Instructors, Extra Lessons if needed, dedicated dmt’s briefings and debriefs (at least 2 times a day) and so, so much more. And they help with finding work after completion.

    Again there are good and bad places and people everywhere, you just have to find the right ones 🙂

    Not you, but I also have seen a lot of anti Koh Tao posts on social networks from other companies as they are jealous and talking bad about others is their main chance of getting customers themselves.

    1. Hi Marcel, thanks so much for taking this time for this comment. No you are absolutely right – not all dive centres in Koh Tao are bad and I am sorry if it came across that I was bashing the island and its industry. As I said to someone else who raised this point I do like Koh Tao a lot otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen it as my destination for my DMT. To be honest I thought I chose well with my dive center as I previously did my OW and AOW with them but in hindsight, I should have probably gone to a few centres in person and check out the vibe and talk to instructors instead of going on something from 2 years ago.
      With that said, I do think people who want to work in the industry need to be aware that Koh Tao doesn’t have the best rep in the industry (even if that is at times highly unfair) – that is not coming from me but from quite a few people who run dive centres or teach in other places. For me it didn’t matter as I wanted to do my DMT just for me and not to necessarily work as a DM. But I think if you are aspiring a career in diving it is a piece of a puzzle to consider as you may have to prove yourself even more so if you get your qualifications in Koh Tao. Nothing wrong with working hard but something to consider when you make your choice I think.
      With all that said – your centre sounds awesome and I will definitely pop in next time I am on the island! 🙂

  5. I’m not Dive Master certified, but as I read this piece, it really touches my soul. I’m so disappointed with our “certification society.” We’re let to believe that if someone is certified, that guarantees quality and that is simply not the case. Just because one has been exposed to some information, it does not mean… A.) that they fully comprehended and are masters of the info B.) that they are a skilled teacher to impart the information C.) that they are a great fit to teach the information to you. I work in the fitness industry and have learned that certification means almost nothing, but a great teacher is truly priceless. May we all find great teachers and remember to always be students of diving and life.

    Also, typos in a text book is just unprofessional. I hope you continue to dive and learn as it calls to you.

    1. Thanks, Libby! That is a really interesting point and one I very much agree with. A few people have pointed out that getting the certification is just the beginning of a life long learning experience. If that is the case I am fine with that. However, I always felt a lot of pressure to just be ready to guide people and thus be responsible for them and that scared me quite a bit. As it is, I just have my certification and dive and learn while I do it.

  6. Ps. The island in Malaysia is supposed to be Mabul Island, not Manuel ? iPhone auto spelling!

  7. Hi, I am a PADI dive instructor and I did my PADI DMT in Malaysia, on an oil rig converted into a dive resort opposite Manuel Island and just 20 minutes boat ride from the amazing diving of Sipadan. Co dictionary were quite challenging and currents very strong at times (not as strong as Komodo where I later worked as a Dive Instructor). My Dmt was great, I did so many dives while I was there but the downside was there was not many courses so I was only able to assist a very few and I was the only dmt so I had no chance to practice skills with other fellow trainees. I picked the place. Excuse I had been previously diving there as a customer and really enjoyed the place. I did a 4 weeks training which I paid in full and it also included food and accommodation on the rig. I was treated as a customer but at the same time I was training to become a dive professional so it is normal that I had to take care of customers and their gear, fill tank, learn how to service regulators and also wake up at 5am to get the boats ready for the trips. It is part of the training. It is all fun but of course it is also supposed to be hard. I agree with the other two comments, PADI is not to blame but the instructor and dive shops are if they did not deliver a good service. PADI writes the manuals and set the standards, but then the shops and instructors should deliver a good service and if they don’t you are allowed to report them.
    Also when you finish the DMT, you will still need lots of practice before really becoming confident and competent. Experience is what makes you better. I didn’t expect tonne super awesome after completing the DMT nor after completing my instructor training. Every time I taught a course afterwards I kept learning something. If I wasn’t happy about how I taught I would think how to make it better or different next time. Experience and practise make you good at what you do. Years later I became a TDI full cave diver and I can tell you that was the hardest dive training I did. It did not matter I was an instructor, I felt like I knew nothing about diving. My advice would be to keep diving and keep training if you want to be better at it ? Thank you for Sharon your thoughts.

  8. Like the others have said, I think the biggest mistake was in not choosing the dive center more carefully. The instructor makes a great deal of difference. Secondly, as a DM candidate, you should have your own gear. Even if that means that you buy it one piece at a time or have to put off taking the class until you have a full set. To be a truly comfortable diver you need to be comfortable in your gear and that can be really hard to do always using different rental gear. Thirdly, you should also go dive without students and just practice. You said that there were 5 candidates, so maybe you would both have had a better experience if you would have gone out and practiced together. My dive center would have let you use tanks, but if that wasn’t available, you could have rented the tanks. Just as you would study for any other class, some of your homework/ study time in DM class has to occur underwater. I think you were expecting the dive center to take all the responsibility for making you a great DM and unfortunately not event the best instructor can do it all for you. You have to take some of the responsibility for your learning. The best Dive Masters go and dive. They get experience where ever they can. You need a wide range of diving experiences to be able to see problems before they occur. PADI does only require 40 dives to start and 60 to finish, but honestly that number should be much higher.
    I wish you the best of luck with all your future diving.

    1. Thanks, Shelly! Yes, you are absolutely right – I thought I chose well and I didn’t and yes, I should have taken more initiative to get practice in but at some point I was just quite discouraged by the lack of offering. I do agree on the numbers (though some others seem to think that is enough) and that’s what I am doing right now – just dive and get more experience.
      I do have my own equipment but some other DMTs don’t – since I had mine I never actually checked – are you required to have your own equipment by PADI?

  9. Having read your story I can only say what a disappointment! But please note it is definitely the dive centre’ s fault and not the course….

    I am a PADI instructor and did my DMT in the U.K. Over 7 months – it was hard work, long hours and definitely unglamorous but it was also rewarding and definitely made me a better diver…

    I have also taught many DM courses and your experience sounds nothing like how I teach it….

    Do not be discouraged- just go and get more experience and if you are not wanting to work with it do not tell anyone you are a DM until you feel you are one on the inside.

    Finally, yes your appearance is evaluated as you are supposed to show role model like behavior and look the part, it’s not about if you are fat or thin but that you look smart and professional so helping your students feel reassured that you know what you are doing!

    Happy bubbles!

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Yes, I am coming to that realization that it was mainly about the dive center and also about me not being more forth coming. Someone explained the experience part to me but to be honest I still find it a bit odd – I have had some of the best guides and teachers that are full of tattoos (also a no no as someone told me) and with old equipment so looking smart just doesn’t impress me 😉

  10. I’m really sorry you had a bad experience. But that being said, I really don’t like the way this article was written.

    SSI or PADI, is a constant debate a lot of people have. And I will not put down either cause I believe it’s the instructor that matters most and not the organisation. The divemaster mentor at the shop I work at now, is both a SSI and PADI Instructor. My mentors where I trained, in Koh Tao, are both. I, am now both as well.

    True, SSI is cheaper. Yes, you get trained as a Dive Guide, then Science of Diving before you can become a Divemaster. But there are flaws in both of them. And I’m going to leave that there.

    What I REALLY don’t like, is the bashing of Koh Tao. Yes, it is overcrowded with divers. Anyone who tells you different, is lying. Are there dive centres with bad training? Yes. But not all of them are. If you weren’t going to mention dive centre names then why not leave out the island as well? Why bring down the WHOLE island?

    You talk about a well rounded training. Yes, some locations in the world, have tougher conditions. Stronger currents, poorer visibility (Let’s be fair though Koh Tao sometimes has terrible viz). Koh Tao is an exceptionally easy place to teach. But regardless of where you go, 8 weeks is not enough to get all the experience you need.

    I’ll use myself as an example. I trained in Koh Tao and then left to work elsewhere. In the Maldives, The Philippines, Indonesia, Similan Islands and volunteered for conservation work in Cambodia and Indonesia.

    I loved my training in Koh Tao, and when people ask me where to go, they’re always one of my recommendations. But I also tell them to be warned of the reputation that Koh Tao has, and then like me, they’d probably have to spend their career defending Koh Tao. Cause people like you, take an experience from 1 dive centre, and generalise the whole island.

    Diving wise, I learned to navigate and handle not just myself but a variety of different situations underwater. (Eg. Panicked diver, mildly autistic diver). During my months there, I got comfortable with knowing how to handle these situations. I also had a chance to focus on what it’s like to teach without other concerns. Get comfortable with my style of teaching in easy conditions. All these, made things easier for me when I started teaching in Maldives. Where we don’t teach confined in pools. Where my house reef is a channel and constantly greeted with currents. Where we do negative entries to get to small, deep dive sites with strong currents.

    Because I was comfortable with teaching and handling my divers at that point, the only thing I needed to focus was to get used to these currents. I cannot imagine having to learn how to handle my divers and the conditions are the same time.

    In away, it’s a good step by step training ground.

    And the mentors I had in Koh Tao, are instructors I still look up to. At work, they were like parents. They had a really good program going. Where they have 2 mentors. And they alternate between a week dedicated to the DMTs and a week dedicated to teaching OWs and AOWs. You need more skill sessions, they’ll let you have more. You need more navigation practice, they’ll let you practice more.

    Our theory sessions, not only covered the divemaster theory sessions but also the IDC. So yes, I sat through the lectures TWICE in total.

    The point I want to make. Is don’t bash Koh Tao. It’s not all bad. I’ve not worked there in 2 years and I still love it with all my heart.

    There’s going to be pros and cons wherever you go. No place is perfect cause diving everywhere is different. It’s about being adaptable. The grass is always greener on the other side. At the end of the day, your experience is what you make of it.

    1. Hey Denise, thanks for taking the time to comment here as well! As I already said, I am really sorry this post came off as Koh Tao bashing. If you look around here you will find quite a few posts about Koh Tao and what a special place the island holds in my heart. I was actually shocked to read a lot of vile comments when it came under recent media scrutiny again as I have never had anything but great experiences there. In fact that was the reason why I chose it to be my home for my DMT. I had done my OW and AOW with two years ago with the same dive center and had a great time and kept on recommending them and the island.
      I really like your thought of first being able to handle students and then getting into more challenging conditions. I guess that was my thought process too though I guess one can argue if that is the right process for everyone. I also ignored a lot of comments beforehand that the island isn’t so well respected in the dive community as I wasn’t going to work as a DM afterwards, so that didn’t matter to me.
      And yes, to be honest my experience now with the dive center has probably effected my overall view of Koh Tao and the diving there – just my personal opinion. But no, you are absolutely right – Koh Tao is not all bad at all and as I said I loved your approach of learning in easy conditions first before moving on to dive the world!

  11. Well … I just finished my DM internship and it cured me from becoming an instructor ever ! I realised that I love diving and like you wanted to do the DM to become better diver but I realised that I did not do diving anymore. It was all about teaching and leading groups and while I did over 100 dives I enjoyed 2 ! I am glad I did it as I learned a lot about myself but I think it just isn’t for me. I spent loads of nights crying my eyes out and felt I was working like a dog while trying to study with no day off for two months. I was expected to teach open water courses with no training and it has been a long time since I did them myself. Like I said I am glad I did it but I will never ever work in a dive centre again ! And the one I was in was a very good one.

    1. Wow, that sounds horrid. Why did they let you teach open water courses? Where is that allowed??
      Also interesting notion – I always find it quite fascinating how a beloved hobby can turn sour if it becomes a profession (almost happened with me and yoga). But as you said, good experience in hindsight and now you can just go and dive the world a better diver.

  12. I have a question:
    In the last chapter you write you did an internship this is usually a code for you paid less – so did you pay the full course fees (even those will be lower on koh Tao than in other places.)

    I would say you did not choose well….
    Being comfortable with the people – your instructor and he dive shop is very important. I think.

    If that’s not your highest priority it might be the diving. – because the dmt is the course where you get the most diving in. So it be wise to choose a destination where the diving is great. 🙂

    You did 60 dives in two months… I’d say that’s not a lot.

    My advice:
    Its not the programs fault – but the Dive shop! You could report to padi in case you did not full fill all criteria and they still certify you…

    Also – I think you meant to write “my” book – not “by” book? Just as you complaining about typos.

    My DM was a blast – working as a DM and instructor (padi) also a good experience. Manager of ADA Dive on Gili Air – at that time at Gili Meno.

    My advice is choosing the Dive shop is the most important…
    Good diving!

    1. Lol, thanks Astrid – typo corrected. PADI and I both don’t have an editor it seems 😉
      I did pay in full and you are right, I didn’t chose well also because I came at low season so not too many customers at least at the beginning of my training.
      I am checking now with PADI requirements and what I received to see if there is something I need to report or it if is just a case of – I wanted more but they still concurred to all the standards.

      Loved diving at Gili Air – must definitely head back there some time!

  13. When I completed my DMT 13 years ago it was with PADI. I was trained in Sydney Australia and to be honest the diving in South East Asia is a walk in the park compaired to diving here. I went on to get more experience working as a DM in Vanuatu where I completed 160 dives in 79 days, a diver I was leading there almost died (well he would have if i didnt stop him ascending from 32m with no reg in his mouth)that certainly gave me a whole new experience. I then went on to complete my OWSI with PADI. I also moved up to Airlie Beach to work as an Instructor. In Airlie anyone who completed their pro diver training in Thailand was overlooked at our dive shop due to the saying “everyone passes in Thailand”. They weren’t even looked at. 11 years later I crossed over to SDI since going onto complete Inst courses in TDI and progressing through others. I don’t think PADI is to blame as much as the specific dive shops that teach this way, as the shops who teach others e.g. SSI in Thailand are the same. I can understand your frustration and dismay at your level of experience. I honestly believe this can and will make you a better diver if you allow it. What you need to do I get more experience. Learning in calm clear waters in never going to give you a wide range of experience. Get in touch with a dive shop in your area and talk to them, ask if you can do some volunteer DM work for them to get more experience. Don’t give up on being a Pro use this to your advantage. Dive more places and learn more. After all these years I still believe that courses and other types of diving are key to getting more experience.

    1. Wow that sounds like a great experience (albeit with the guy almost dying a bit scary) and yes, I was told that you learn so much in Australia. As I said, my initial reason to do it wasn’t to become a professional but first and foremost to become a better diver and maybe have the option to progress to instructor. However, for the time being I just spend as much time as I can diving in different locations, just did my Nitrox and will hopefully do the self-reliant diver course soon!