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#368487 - 02/23/10 11:34 AM Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ???  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 33
Jeraldo Offline
Jeraldo  Offline
Hey gang~
We're traveling this March to CC to explore, snorkel, and get our "open water dive cert.". I've been researching the dive shop sites of CC and have read several reviews. I'm not asking for specific dive shop recommendations as many people have bias's born of their own personal perceptions (ie; good or bad manners,old equip.,hidden charges,lack of professionalism or skills,personal conflicts,etc...). I'm not deterred by old equip. as long as its safely functional, old and tattered wetsuits are simply cosmetic and of little consequence as well. We're not wealthy so are interested in an inexpensive package (we understand "you get what you pay for" regarding quality of instruction and equipment). We're studying the PADI open water cert. manual and learning about dive table calculations (PADI & NAUI), and are practicing calculation scenario's with a software tutor program so when we do arrive, and locate a cert. provider we'll be better prepared to comprehend the academic element of the program. Also, we'll be bringing our own mask, snorkel,and fins. We would appreciate any advice this forum might dispense concerning most essential questions to ask each company regarding their program. We know Frenchie's offers a package for 325./person and that's within our budget target. Can open water cert. be had for less than $225./person? Does anyone know of hidden charges we should anticipate (from any of the company's) we should address when we interview them? any company's lack specific pieces of equipment essential for a rounded educational experience (ie;dive computers), I suspect one could get the cert. in absence of learning to use a dive computer (pre-calculating dive sequence on deck with dive tables) but we'll accept a lack of a piece of equipment if it's not absolutely essential in the learning process. We understand there are only 4 dive cert. company's on CC, is this correct?. I can't think of anything else to ask and welcome any input anyone here might offer.
Thanx again,
Jerry and Connie~

#368495 - 02/23/10 12:23 PM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: Jeraldo]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 12,136
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
Hummmmm. Hol Chan Park Fee of 10.usd is usually not mentioned.
that's a minor as you probably will only go to Hol Chan marine reserve once during your certification.
The four dives are also supposed to include a snorkel, thats something you will probably get at Shark Ray Alley on your Hol Chan trip.
The book is supposed to be included and you'll find a lot of shops trying to 'Librarying' the book and want it back not standard but lots of shops don't include the manual.
I'm always recommend the PADI E-Learning it saves a lot of time and money to get all the academic out of the way before hand and in most shops knock a couple of hundred us off the price.
One practice of the shops that you might watch for is the location of your four training dives . Some shops take you to the best dive spots for the training dives and others just use any old place the water is deep enough.
ask me anything.
I'm not a contender here, I'm on the other island to far away.

The Dive Shops Daily Blog
#368498 - 02/23/10 12:33 PM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: elbert]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 12,136
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
PS 325. is a good price most are 350. to 475.usd

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#368499 - 02/23/10 12:37 PM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: Jeraldo]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 4
murdad Offline
murdad  Offline
My wife and I spent 3 weeks on CC last winter and did 8 dives with Frenchies.The staff,equipment,and boats were all in good shape.You should look into doing the classroom part online so you don't waste any time geting under the water. If you are still looking for a cheap place to stay try the Ocean Pearl Royale Hotel.It is about a minute away from Frenchies and has rooms with ac or just fans.We stayed in a litle cabin with a kitchen and loved it.It is also right down the road from Chocolate's place.He had the best kayak rentals we could find.If he is stll doing his Manetee tours it's a great time even if it's just to meet Chocolate.He is quite a character.The owners of the Ocean Pearl,Frenchie and Gertrude,started Frenchie's which is now owned by his brother Abel.You can reach the hotel at far as what to expect, the various dive shop websites will detail what they offer.I think they are all reputable shops,I chose Frenchies because of the location.As far as hidden costs go don't forget yo tip your crew if you were happy with their service.This is a big part of what they live on.If you have any other questions I would be happy to try and help you.I loved CC and I hope you guys do too.

#368502 - 02/23/10 01:11 PM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: murdad]  
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 3,046
Peter Jones Offline
Peter Jones  Offline
The manual is not usually included in the cost of PADI certification, as many people get them beforehand. It is however required by PADI that each family group should have a manual between them (no need for one each). At present in Belize you may find no manual is available to purchase anyway, as there is a severe shortage.

Other costs are usually all included, including PADI's registration charge of US$30. Not always though - ask. Similarly GST of 10% should be included, but you may find some operators adding that as well. The other improper charge that is quite often added is a %age for using a credit card.

I agree with Elbert about the great desirability for students to do as much book work as possible before they come to Belize. But PADI's eLearning is only one way to do this, and in my opinion not the best way. I prefer people to buy a PADI manual & their videos locally and study them to a programme I give them. It's cheaper overall than eLearning and they get their own paper manual to keep/write in as they will. With eLearning you don't get a manual.

You say you don't want advice on choice of dive center. For what it's worth, I know three operators on CC (I don't know a fourth...?) and I would have no hesitation in recommending Belize Diving Services over the others. A highly professional outfit.

#368516 - 02/23/10 04:09 PM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: Peter Jones]  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 133
PSUhorty Offline
PSUhorty  Offline
My experience re: obtaining my OW certÖ and Iíd recommend it if possible:
I completed the knowledge portion of the course online via PADIís website. You could complete it in one day if you really stayed with it. I devoted about 2 hrs each of two or three days. This will allow you to enjoy Caulker more rather than having to do the knowledge portion of the certification while down in Belize. Do it now while in TN. Once completed, PADIís website allows you to print proof of certification.

One note though: Canít remember if you need to do this online through a local Dive Shop referral. In my case, I did. I went to my local dive shop and talked with them. Before beginning the on-line cert, I entered my local dive shopís license # and began the knowledge course. Check if you need to do this. I had to take the printed proof to them, they filled out some forms which I then took to Thailand where I completed my certification. So glad I did it this way.

Secondly, you will have to master the use of a dive computer. No way around this as far as I know. Part of the knowledge course.

Whatever you do, have tons of fun down there!

#368518 - 02/23/10 04:32 PM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: PSUhorty]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 12,136
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline

The Dive Shops Daily Blog
#368521 - 02/23/10 04:55 PM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: PSUhorty]  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 57
CCsoon Offline
CCsoon  Offline
I would agree that you need to try and complete the classroom portion of the cert prior to going to CC. I have talked to several students during my visits down there and they were all kicking themselves for having to spend precious days in a classroom. I suspect you will do the same. I have tried most of the shops and prefer Frenchies.

#368572 - 02/24/10 10:02 AM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: CCsoon]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 33
Jeraldo Offline
Jeraldo  Offline
Thanx to you all!!!
Super advice once again!.
I've been getting the best advice from members of this forum, and have it bookmarked (to check every day) on home and work computers. The advice many have given re: taking care of the knowledge portion prior to our trip is something we've agreed to do, and have been practicing our dive calculations to scenarios via "computerized table tutor" program of Regarding the advice to do the E-learning option in coordination with a dive shop here (in Denver, Co.), that's the option we've decided on. E-learning of PADI's site charges $120./person, then the dive shop fills out referral forms for the 2 of us. Question: Should we anticipate a charge for the referral service? and if so, what's acceptable?, also, will all 3 (or 4?) of the PADI dive shops on CC accept the referral option? and do they all (typically) reduce the full package price of their OW program when a customer submits the validation (referral) paperwork?. We're planning on completing the knowledge portion (E-learning) regardless, but it would be good to know if some shops don't recognize (or accept) the E-learning option or referral approach (?). With regard to learning how to operate a dive computer, is this covered thru E-learning? or will we need to learn that (somehow) via alternate method? Regarding the hidden fee's (I shouldn't say hidden) of park entrances, we have no issue regarding paying those fee's, we both feel those fee's are necessary and essential in maintaining and managing the health and wellbeing of our park systems, those fee's are worth every penny.
I'd like to pay a note of gratitude to members new to my posts ("murdad","PSUhorty", and "CCsoon")Thank you all for the super advice!, and those who've tolerated my ramblings upon earlier topics ~ and have consistently provided us with invaluable advice every time (Elbert & PJ.
Thank you all!!!
Jerry & Connie~

#368574 - 02/24/10 10:45 AM Re: Open Water Dive Cert. on CC ~ What to expect ??? [Re: Jeraldo]  
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 3,046
Peter Jones Offline
Peter Jones  Offline
You should find any PADI dive centre will accept your eLearning status, though you do need to sign up to a dive centre before you start. You'll find it more costly than doing it the method I suggested, and most dive centres don't knock off anything like the $120 you will have paid to PADI. Remember that you don't get a paper manual for what you pay PADI, so if you want that (many do, and I would) you'll have to buy one of those separately - around $40.

I'm not opposed to eLearning in principle, I just feel that it isn't needed, isn't as good as the best alternative (what I suggested above), and is undoubtedly a "nice little earner" for PADI. But then I'm not exactly a fan of PADI anyway - if a student has performed all the skills adequately then after four dives the instructor has to certify them, whereas IMO many divers aren't really safe to be let out on their own after such a rudimentary introduction to surviving in an alien environment. Other agencies I teach for have a different outlook, and it's common for students to be required to do more dives. But that costs more and takes longer, of course.

With a dive computer there are three aspects you need to understand. The first is what the computer is setting out to do and how in general terms it does it. Understanding PADI's dive tables (on the plastic slate) is invaluable here, as much the same logic carries through, albeit the slate tables are way out of date in the algorithm they use. Second is understanding the limitations of any dive computer, which includes realising that it is just a computer model that may not apply to you particularly precisely, and the constraints a dive computer places on you, such as not diving a yo-yo profile. Third, which is sadly all that is often taught, is how to press the buttons and get a superficially meaningful display that you can follow. The very expression "learning how to operate a dive computer" gives the lie to this.

But you're asking questions, which is a good start. So long as you remember that in your course you're barely scratching the surface of what there is to learn about diving, and treat your certification card with the caution it warrants, you'll do fine.

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