A couple of friends and I recently did our PADI Open Water Diver certifications at Alpha Dive Centre in Strand.
We had a great experience with excellent service - the staff really came through for us, fitting us into a tight timeline in order to get the qualifications before we leave on vacation. Giving clear and valuable instruction they made you feel safe and comfortable in what was sometimes less than ideal conditions for diving.
During our qualifying dives we dived at different wrecks in Simonstown - nothing as impressive as the SS Thislegrom, but still very exciting for a first and second dive! The water is bit cold, making it a good idea to have fresh water or coffee and a snack handy when you return to shore. Also be warned that it can take a bit longer than you expect (kit out, get to the dive site, do the briefing, dive, post-dive logging, returning from the dive site, returning the equipment and rinsing it). Diving can be a whole day activity, even if you're only in the water for an hour.
The gear used for the qualifying dives is training equipment and has been used a lot, but is still in fairly good condition and definitely safe for diving. I never felt uncomfortable using it, and if you do they'd replace it.
Alpha Dive Centre is also a shop specializing in diving equipment, which means that they sell high quality products. For recreational purposes you'll probably get away cheaper if you purchase a common snorkel, mask and booties from a general store. But if you are serious about the sport they have good gear on offer.
Thanks to what I experienced with them I am now more excited than ever about SCUBA diving, and really looking forward to doing it again!
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