We are going to be at CSS next month. After much deliberation I decided that I would like to try SCUBA and see if that's for me. I read that there are intro classes in the main pool and one complimentary dive per visit. Has anyone done the pool class? How long is it and how informative? What about the intro dive? I was talking to a PADI certified diver friend who told me that it is never more than 30 feet. Has anyone done it? What was it like?
My husband and I just returned from a trip to CSS and I finished my PADI cert while there. The intro pool class takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours. The dive actually probably won't be deeper than 20 feet. They will make you so comfortable with what you are doing, you might end up taking the full cert classes while you are there! Everyone should try scuba once to see if it's something they would enjoy. It really is a fantastic experience. Michael, Patrick, Leon and the rest of the CSS dive team will take excellent care of you.
The intro class covers basics such as establishing and maintaining neutral bouyancy, recovering your regulator, breathing with a regulator, etc.
The dive staff at CSS are AMAZING!! The PADI " resort course" is a quick introduction to SCUBA and you go on a dive with an instructor. The intro dive isn't very deep, so probably 30-35 feet, I forgot to check, but an enjoyable dive experience.
You need to sign up at least the day before and you shouldn't fly within 24-48 hours of diving, so check your return status with your dive schedule. The intro course starts early, I think at 8 or 8:30am. First you do paperwork about medical issues/questions, then watch the DVD safety portion, take the quiz, takes about an hour. It hits all the necessary safety and instruction issues you need. The dive staff will take care of all your equipment, so you don't have to go through all the calculations like you would in a certification course. After that, you head into the pool for equipment overview and buoyancy basics. The hardest part for me is letting water into my mask and clearing it. It took me almost a half an hour, but my instructor was VERY patient and got me to relax and get through it. Then it was onto the boat and into the water. It is a great place to figure out if SCUBA is for you or not. The instruction is well-structured and given in a very easy-going atmosphere. The dives from CSS are not usually much deeper than 60 feet for even the certified divers. Keep in mind that Jamaica/Ocho Rios isn't exactly the dive capital of the world, but the view with a tank is certainly different (and I think Better) than the view from a snorkel trip.
I did the intro dive at CSS recently and it was my first dive ever. You sign up at least 1 day in advance. You meet at the dive shack at around 8 am and watch a video and take a written test which takes maybe a half hour total. Then you go to the pool and prove that you can swim by doing 2 full laps in the pool. After that you put on your equipment in the pool and the instructor teaches you the basics like taking your mouthpiece out underwater and clearing the water out so you can breathe again and some other safety items and hand signals.
You then get in the boat and go to a reef which is maybe 25 ft. deep. You descend down along the anchor line with the instructor. At this point, one person decided this was not for him and got back in the boat. The rest of us went to the bottom and followed the instructor along the reef edge. He unexpectedly pulled bread out of his pocket near the end of the dive and the swarm of colorful fish that came out to feed was incredible as you swim right in the feeding frenzy.
From start to finish I think it took 4 hours and you are back for lunch time. It was definately worth it for me even though I didn't continue with the pay dives. Most of the fish you will see are maybe 4-8 inches long but very colorful. For me there was a sense of accomplishment because this was something I always wanted to do, so I grabbed the opportunity and did it.
You will fill this questionaire out when signing up at the resort to dive. If you DO have any of the issues listed, you will have to have a doctors medical statement stating that you can dive with the condition. You would need to bring that with you to the resort for signing up to dive. Otherwise, you'd have to have a doctor in Jamaica see you and provide the medical statement, which would take time out of your vacation and, of course, cost you out of your pocket.
We did the intro dive with Mike at CSS in November 2009. We enjoyed it so much that we both came back home and immediately got our Open Water certification locally. We dove with the CSA team in November 2010 as OW divers. We went to CN in May 2011 and dove with the CN team and then just recently did our Advanced Open Water certification with the CN dive team in November 2011. The instructors and dive teams at all 3 Couples resorts that we have been to are fabulous. They are professional and very safety conscious, yet at the same time very fun! You are in great hands and will have a wonderful first dive with the guys at CSS!