When I was picking where to do my training I had the following criteria:
- Amazing diving - I wanted to experience a famous dive destination with amazing marine life.
- Live in a real place - I didn’t want to be stuck in a resort place, but somewhere that felt like real a community. I wanted to use it as an authentic travel experience.
- Work experience - the ability to gain experience with real clients is very important if you want to work in this industry
- A reputable operation - obviously I wanted to read reviews and communicate with the dive centre before committing large amounts of money!
All these things, and a desire to visit Mexico as a backpacker, led me to XTC dive center which is located in the village of Xcalak on the Yucatan Peninsular. Their website had lots of helpful information. The diving in that part of Mexico is world famous and they are based in a little village with no other dive centres. Their programme allowed me to pick how long to do the course (1, 2, or 3 months) for the same cost meaning, I’d get plenty of diving and plenty of experience for my money. The location in a remote village wouldn’t have suited everyone - a few tiny stores and a visiting veggie truck were the only shopping opportunities, but I was too busy diving, running through the mangrove forests and sleeping to do much else.
The remote location of Xcalak, amidst the mangroves of the Mexico-Belize border, isn’t the only thing that makes XTC so special. An added bonus for me was the number of divemaster trainees. I wasn’t aware there would be others training at the same time (I didn’t think to ask!), but it was great to share experiences with my fellow students. It meant we could help each other, pair-up for skills practice and pretend to be unresponsive divers for each other. Not to mention the social aspect of hanging out together when the work was done. I’ve made forever friends in Xcalak.
If you’re thinking about becoming a divemaster then I would suggest researching all the different options. Do you have 6 months to spare? Then you can find full internships where you work until you've paid off your training. If you are doing it alongside your regular work, then your local dive shop will be able to organise online theory sessions with open water training sessions as and when they can happen. For me, I wouldn't have picked anywhere else. XTC has great facilities, fantastic diving and excellent instructors and course director. I loved living in a remote village and immersing myself in the world of being a dive professional. Now, when can I go diving next....
Have you decided to take on divemaster training? Did you complete your training somewhere special? Do you want advice on how to pick somewhere? Comment below.