Diving has been on our bucket list for a long time, we actually had a lot of opportunities to this before in places like Malta and Thailand, but we never found the time for it. Being in Playa del Carmen however, a place well known for its excellent diving opportunities, we decided that we would finally go for it. We did our research and asked around for the best diving shops and instructors and were lucky to find a very helpful instructor who actually took the time to meet us beforehand and explain all the important things about diving. After this meeting we felt confident about diving and scheduled a discovery dive.
I have to say that although I am quite a good swimmer and love snorkeling, I was always a bit scared of diving. As soon as we started out discovery dive, “a bit” grew to “a lot”. My head was full of fears which were very difficult to deal with, I couldn’t enjoy myself and do all the things properly.
And that’s where having a great instructor is of paramount importance. We were so lucky to get to know Paulo Macarico, a super professional diving instructor. He hails from Portugal and has one of the highest diving qualifications, plus more than 20 years of experience. He is just a-m-a-z-i-n-g! I am so grateful to him for what he has done! He helped me to get rid of all my fears, he never pushed me into anything, he just explained things and kept on encouraging and letting me know that I can do it and that nothing is impossible. Apart from being a great diving instructor, Paulo is a fantastic person. His company was so pleasurable. He is very interesting, it was always fun to be with him and he speaks 5 languages (his English is perfect as he lived in London for a number of years), which is a big plus when you teach diving in such a multinational touristic place as Playa del Carmen. Paulo works with different dive shops, but mostly with Pluto Dive. It’s a shop run by an italian couple, Barbara and Alberto. These guys are also great instructors and they are very serious and safe when it comes to equipment, all arrangements, diving itself etc.
Our first dive consisted of making a few exercises in shallow waters and an actual 10 meter straight after. My husband turned out to be a natural and took to it very easily. As for me, I managed to do the exercises in shallow water but then I got very cold and couldn’t make my first dive. We rescheduled it for another day. I dived…and it was a total disaster. 🙂 My mask got fogged, I couldn’t see anything and was too nervous to clear it, even though I had done it before during the exercises. I had trouble with equalizing my ears and I was doing it too often because I was excited and they started hurting me. At the end of my “blind” diving I just got tired of everything and felt really stupid because Paulo was literally carrying me around like a babysitter. I couldn’t control anything and all these new weird sensations under water didn’t allow me to enjoy myself. The only thing i was thinking about was to finish the dive quickly and come back to the surface.
However after the second dive I felt more confident all in all and we decided to go for the full PADI Open Water Diver course. I had a few difficulties during the pool exercises but Paulo was very patient and in the end I managed to perform all the required exercises. By the time we had our open water dive in the sea I was confident enough and although I felt a bit apprehensive during the descent once I got my bearings and got accustomed to the feeling of being several meters below the surface I actually enjoyed the rest of the dive. Apart from the pool exercises and open water dives we had to do a number of tests based on the contents of the books we were given as part of the PADI course.
The full PADI Open Water Course cost us $350 each (including the required books) and the discovery dives cost $90 each per dive. We highly recommend Paulo as a reliable and fun instructor to learn diving with, but he also does advanced courses if you’re in Playa and want to continue building on your existing knowledge and experience.