I have always wanted to learn how to scuba dive but have put off taking classes over the years due to the cost and amount of time it takes. Well, I finally went ahead and signed up for the PADI Open Water Diver certification class through Florida Underwater Sports so that I could do some diving on a Western Caribbean cruise that I was taking this spring. The experience was a joy the whole way through.
I live in North Carolina and knew I had a limited amount of time in Sarasota so I utilized the PADI eLearning feature, where you can do all of your course work online! Although each module takes between 30-40 minutes, they are easy to follow and are packed with fun little videos. The eLearning course allows you to learn on your own time; I took about three weeks to slowly go through the videos and take the tests.
The day before my classes at Florida Underwater Sports I stopped into the dive shop to buy a mask (specially fitted for me), fins, a wetsuit, and a snorkel. Everyone at the shop was extremely helpful and I even managed to buy everything I wanted in pink! Classes begin bright in early but are still a joy in the warm Sarasota sun.
The first two days we headed down to the beautiful pool at Serendipity to learn the basics of scuba diving. My instructor was wonderful and did a great job making me feel calm while learning to breathe underwater. The third day of class we headed off to Turtle Beach for two shore dives. What an experience! Although the area off the beach is mostly just a sandy bottom, I was able to see lots of sea urchins, starfish, and pretty shells. It was a perfect environment for my first dives out in the open water. The fourth and final day of class was by far the most exciting! We boarded a boat and jetted off into the Gulf of Mexico to dive two different sites: Turtle Ledge and Silver Tooth (the latter of which is the old Ringling Bridge). Both dives were exhilarating. The instructors at Florida Underwater Sports had me hooked – and I was able to dive in Cozumel and Isla Roatan when I was on my Caribbean cruise.
Florida Underwater Sports is Sarasota’s only PADI 5 STAR Instructor Development Center (IDC) and SCUBAPRO Platinum Dealer and is located in Sarasota, Florida. You can reach them by calling 941.870.4461.