In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…
What is your name?
What is the name of your business?
What is your role within the business?
Owner/Operator & PADI Course Director, Trimix IT
How long has the business operated for?
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
Diving since 1993, Professional Diver since 1996, Instructor Trainer since 2001.
PADI Course Director
PADI Tec Trimix Instructor Trainer
Divers Alert Network (DAN) IT
TDI · IANTD · RAID Technical Instructor
HSE Commercial Diver Part III
What is your favorite type of diving?
All Diving! Love teaching Open Water all the way through to Divemaster and Instructor course, but my absolute favourite is diving with Sea Lions in La Paz. Like jumping into a bath tub with Labrador puppies.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
We have an exclusive adventure boutique, we offer Scuba training from basic open water through to technical diving. We are the only 5 Star PADI IDC Dive Center in La Paz and teach PADI courses to instructor level.
We offer DAN & TDI courses, support for film crews, scientists and CCR divers.
We are renowned for our expeditions, photo & video workshops. We keep our boat to a maximum of 4 or 6 divers ensuring your experience and interactions are intimate and breath taking.
We have Fourth Element & Apeks equipment in our rental fleet and we include computers.
We pride ourselves is being a sustainability leader. Ensuring no single use plastic is used on our boat and our dive practices have no negative effect on the environment. Read about us on Trip Advisor. Cortez Expeditions are the experts on The Sea of Cortez. With over 20 years of experience living and working in La Paz, Cortez Expeditions are not just the exclusive boutique dive centre, they are the chosen expedition leaders and logistic experts for institutions like The BBC Natural History Unit, Netflix, Disney, National Geographic Society & Television.
In 2018 we provided production support for Netflix “Our Planet”. In 2019 and 2020 Cortez Expeditions completed the safety and logistics for The BBC’s upcoming Planet Earth 3 Series and National Geographic America Series.
What is your favorite dive in your location and why?
Los Islotes the sea lion colony. This is the main reason many scuba divers visit La Paz. We are proud at Cortez Expeditions to be able to say we “wrote the book on Los Islotes”. Our owner and course director Luke Inman published the award winning book “Los Islotes – The Jewel of Espritu Santo”.
Los Islotes is the jewel of the protected area and marine reserve. There are very few locations in the world so close to a big city that allow for wild animal interactions like Los Islotes.
What types of diving are available in your location?
We teach everything from open water to instructor and tec diving with hypoxic trimix. There is something for everyone, but we are most famous for the big stuff…large pelagics that hang out at sea mounts and in open ocean like the mobulas.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
Being a mentor and teacher, I enjoy training all people, giving back to the ocean and to the community. My goal as a teacher is to have students eclipse my achievements. I want students to be better than me.
What is your favorite underwater creature?
Can I give you a top five? Sea Lion, Orca, Octopus, Giant Manta, Sea Otter.
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
We are in the process of becoming a Career Development Center for PADI and will be offering nitrox in all our dives and courses.
As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
Like any tourism business the effect of COVID has reduced us down to 10-20% capacity.
Is your center involved in any environmental work?
We don’t like the expression “Eco-Tourism”, too many business use the term and in reality they are simply not eco orientated. We strive to be constantly sustainable in our practices. It is always evolving.
Since our inception 8 years ago, donating our time and resources has become an important part of our strategy to be active in our community. We constantly endeavour to ensure we are improving and ensuring our practices are sustainable.
We decided the best way to enrich our community was to give back doing what we do best. We do diver training very well. We are currently the number one listed PADI dive centre on Trip Advisor, we complete more recreational, technical and professional certification than any other dive centre in La Paz.
Every October we open our Scholarship Program. The program is open to local undergraduate and post graduates in La Paz that need scuba training to complete their Tourism or Scientific Studies.
The application process will be from 1st October to 31 January 2021. With awards being given in First Quarter of 2021.
There are Six Scholarships available for 2021.
The scholarships are as follows:
- PADI Open Water through to PADI Rescue
- Technical Diver Training
- Divemaster Training
We will choose two candidates for each Scholarship (Male and Female)
Applicants must meet the prerequisites to enrol on the respective courses. The other prerequisites are:
- Be a legal resident of Mexico (Mexican or with legal immigration status)
- Be 18 years old
- Currently studying at UABCS, CICIMAR, CIBNOR
- Prove Scuba Diving is essential to their studies – Tourism, Marine Research
- Be in the final part of studies.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?
Where do I start….? LOL that is a big question!
I see the industry is making some good choices in becoming more sustainable, but it is slow.
The industry needs to start being more business-like and pay its staff a living wage.
We strive and ensure all our staff are paid a good wage to make diving a sensible and good option to other careers.
We need to see more women in diving. Women make better divers than men for a number of reasons.
I would like to see every dive agency ensure every student receives a course quality questionnaire. Once the student has completed the quality questionnaire the certification is issued, not before.
Diving is not a volume business, it is service and training based. For some reason many business owners price structure is based on volume. We need to base pricing on our time and effort.
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
We have small groups and Sea lions…….
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap
The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.
Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.
That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.
Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”
Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.
“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.
The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.
Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”
“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi. The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”
“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”
Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!
For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.
Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)
It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker
This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!
The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!
But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress!
Thanks for watching, Team!
Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady
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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.
Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.
Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!
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