Ocean Spirit Dive Centre in Pereybere has just been awarded PADI 5 star status after training more than 120 divers in the past five months. Jill Holloway reports on the dive training boom in Mauritius.
Mauritius, with its calm barrier reef, enclosed lagoons, turquoise blue seas, great visibility and exquisite corals, has become incredibly popular as a diver training centre. You can do a zero to hero PADI diving course with Barlen right here in Pereybere. Or bring your family – we have whole families coming here and learning to dive, checking into a self -catering apartment or villa, and enjoying a great holiday together.
Many families choose to spend their holiday money on diving rather than luxury accommodation, and they leave the richer for the experience. Most dive centres can assist you in finding accommodation options, from ultra- luxury resorts to studio apartments. All tourist accommodation in Mauritius is registered with, and inspected by, the Tourism Authority, so you are pretty well guaranteed wifi, air con and clean sheets.
A Discover Scuba course, followed up with an Open Water diving course, are a great way to spend a holiday with the family. Mauritius, always popular with honeymooners, hosts a new generation celebrating an engagement or marriage with a dive course together. One guy actually proposed in writing on a dive slate and he and his new fiancée came up to the surface wrapped in each other’s BCs and celebrated at the dive centre late into the evening.
I did my Advanced course in a disused quarry in Johannesburg. It was cold, dark and deep. The viz was less than a metre and it was no fun. We had to navigate using instruments alone, with no margin for error, because you could only see half a metre. I watched as my buddy failed his navigation, powering past the marker point 30cm below us on the mesh platform, in the shocking viz. Mauritius, undoubtedly, does it better.
Three months ago, I watched Janet Aurore do a PADI DSD course in the exquisite lagoon at Pereybere in the north of Mauritius. I dived with her last week after she also gained her Advanced Nitrox qualification. She soared and glided in the deep blue of the Silverstar wreck, blowing bubble kisses for her family back in China, and I realised that this is what Mauritius is really about. Confidence in the water, the soaring joy of diving, and the exquisite deep blue water and white sand. Mauritius is really a great place to learn to dive.
It’s also a great place for gap year students to spend time. Many dive centres offer a three month training internship, so it really is worth investigating. (“You’re spending your GAP YEAR IN MAURITIUS! Wow, dude, take me with you!” was the comment of the son of a friend).
Mauritius is a clean living Island. Drug import controls are so stringent that I have to get a doctor’s prescription for my vitamin supplements and the packages are opened by customs anyway. I have yet to see a prostitute but I suppose because Port Louis is a sea port there must be some. However, this is an island where family life is important, and where parents and kids spend a lot of time together.
The local Pereybere PADI Course Director, Barlen Veerasamy, runs regular Instructor training courses at incredibly competitive prices. He also arranges accommodation for his students in and around Pereybere. Barlen is a great, hands on teacher and has qualified many of the excellent Mauritius Instructors here. He qualified the hard way, at the age of 14. Barlen was cutting sugar cane in his school holidays to pay for his diving courses. He spent many years carrying tanks before he finally realised his dream of owning his own dive centre.
If you are an adrenalin junkie and want to go the deco diving route, Olivier Fayolle is a specialist SSI Course Director in TEC diving. He has 20 years of experience in training divers and recently sold his diving business to focus on multi-level diving, deep diving using decompression techniques, and mixed gas diving. With the water clarity, Mauritius is a fabulous place to take a deep diving deco course.
So, if you want to learn to dive, Mauritius is the place to do it.
Words and Pics: Jill Holloway; Coral Pics: Abdul Khathlan
Copyright: Ocean Spirit, Mauritius