Ron and the team at Eco Dive Center are the best. I was Open Water certified through their Life Guard course and the experience couldn't have been better. My classmates and I, being life guards, are all familiar with the water, something that we take for granted, as a lot of the non-lifeguard course deals with remaining calm under water and having the endurance to actually swim.
Instead of a course spread over two weekends, we did everything in one weekend. We studied the book at home and on Friday night had a three hour class where we reviewed each chapter and took tests to apply the knowledge we'd learned. Out instructor Jessica explained the SCUBA math very easily ensuring everyone could figure out de-co times. We all passed easily.
Saturday AM found us in the Culver City pool from 7:30-10:30am, learning the basic skills that we would apply to our two shore dives later that day. Jessica was fantastic and very thorough, though admittedly, we were a great class and flew through each underwater test.
LThe two shore dives were in Redondo Beach at Vets Park. The first time you walk in the ocean with what feels like 50 extra pounds of gear is a little daunting but Jessica and our other instructor Dan gave us the confidence to power through the waves and prepare to descend. That first dive, the vis was incredible (our instructors' words). We all had no problem descending and completing the various tests needed. Everyone was very excited after that first dive and Jessica and Dan were happy that we were doing so well.
The vis on the second dive wasn't as great, and Jessica warned us to stay close to our buddy as it would be the first time we were under water without great visibility. Despite the different conditions, we finished that dive's tests with ease and made the long trek back to our cars for a wrap-up discussion. Jessica and Dan were pleased that we were all doing so well. She told us how to best recover from all the work we'd done today and how rest and hydration was especially important so we didn't feel like rubbish for our three Sunday dives off Catalina.
Sunday morning, we left out of Long Beach for the three Catalina dives. The dives were incredible! I'd never seen kelp forests and man, it was a trip. So much life down there! The boat Eco chartered was great. The people not taking classes were friendly and eager to share dive stories. The food served between each dive was delicious; I still have dreams about the french toast our chef made! After we completed our fourth dive, we were officially certified Open Water divers! For our fifth dive, we were able to go with just a buddy. It's pretty amazing to think that Friday night I'm walking in a door with just book knowledge and by Sunday afternoon, I've learned the basic skill sets and my buddy and I now have the confidence to dive at 65ft without an instructor present. It's a testament to Eco's thorough instruction. And throughout the whole weekend, Jessica's enthusiasm for diving really infected the whole class. She was such a positive influence and as a result, we all had such a good time learning SCUBA and hanging out with each other.
After the weekend, Ron told us that he would give us a deal; if we wanted to purchase the rental gear we had used all weekend, tank included, we could do so at an AMAZING price. Three people in the class (myself included) took advantage and I couldn't be happier about it.
I would recommend Eco Dive Center to anyone interested in learning how to SCUBA from a friendly, energetic and knowledgeable staff. They really are the best!
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