The next few years were spent consolidating these operations and their reputation for quality and customer service. In 2015 they opened Meradhoo at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Resort & Spa and, to celebrate their tenth anniversary and 10 years of luxury services in the Maldives they opened their 10th Operation, Vommuli Dive & WS Centre at the ST. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort in Dhaalu Atoll in September 2016!
But they’re still not stopping! In February 2017 they will open their 11th Operation in the Maldives at Kandima Maldives.
Recently, Aquafanatics was the first PADI Freedive Center registered in the Maldives followed in July 2016 by Elements also registering as a PADI Freedive Centre. Showing that Silver Sands are constantly moving forward and embracing everything that the aquatic environment has to offer.
Silver Sands Operations currently employs over 250 employees including 65 PADI Professionals from many different parts of the world and owns over 70 vessels including several Yachts. Their reputation is built upon the core principles the company espouses:
“To be renowned as the Maldivian water sports and dive adventure company of choice amongst both local and international clients”.
“To offer our clientele the best dive and water sports experience through activities designed uniquely for each client, delivered by a core of highly qualified staff using state of the art equipment”
What amazing goals to have and they highlight exactly the qualities that make PADI proud to have them as PADI Dive Centres!
Congratulations to Silver Sands and all their staff, we’re already looking forward to celebrating your twentieth anniversary!
Prodivers Maldives is Best PADI Overseas Dive Centre!
For the second consecutive year, Prodivers Maldives made a splash at the Sport Diver Awards – we’ve again been voted Best PADI Overseas Dive Centre!
With so many excellent diving operators around the world, competition was of course harsh, so allow us to thank you for showing your support for our teams at Kuredu, Komandoo, Lily Beach and Vakarufalhi. This is one of the most prestigious awards in the diving industry and it means a lot to us that not only do you seem to enjoy diving with us and give our instructors thumbs up after each dive, but that you also encourage us to keep up the good work by supporting us in competitions like this one.
Prodivers has been present in the Maldives since 1988 and day after day, the dive centre teams, the management, the resorts we are based at and our partner companies work hand in hand to constantly improve on your experience. Be it your first or 40th time at Prodivers Maldives, we want your to feel safe, well taken care of, entertained and excited during your time with us.
Thank you again for helping us receive the Best PADI Overseas Dive Centre Award 2016 and also for contributing your share to the Maldives becoming the Best Diving Destination. See you at Kuredu, Komandoo, Lily Beach, Vakarufalhi– and from 1st of December also at the fabulous Hurawalhi!
“Coffee,” croaks Matt as he finally joins me for breakfast at the sprawling beachside restaurant of Sun Island Resort & Spa, “I need coffee.”
Bleary eyed and less than his usual chipper self, Matt doesn’t look so good. I signal the waiter who hurries to pour him a cup. Having stayed up answering work emails until the small hours of the night, Matt explains, a zealous native bird calling in the dawn outside his window ensured that he was awake at four. It’s the first morning of the IE, and we both know it’s going to be a long day.
He takes a sip of his coffee, grimaces and pushes it away, “Ugh, I can’t drink that.”
It’s a bad start. And a grouchy examiner is not what the candidates need. Because while many Course Directors might joke that ‘IE’ really means ‘It’s Easy’, I was getting the feeling that this time (for Matt at least) it might just stand for ‘It’s Exhausting’
No Rest for the Wicked
Having flown in the night before from Male’, the country’s chaotic capital, Matt had wasted no time. After a quick sit down with the head of the Villa College Marine Faculty Dean Shamaa ‘Anna’ Hameed and the Maldives’ only PADI Course Director Hussein ‘Sendi’ Rasheed to clarify the two-day itinerary, he’d jumped straight into the orientation. The candidates, six Maldivian guys, were initially nervous. As I sat at the back of the classroom at the beachside campus, the atmosphere was strained, no one spoke much, and the apprehension was palpable.
Over the next 45 minutes however, Matt achieved something impressive. Not only does he manage to put people at ease, to get people talking and asking questions but at the same time he somehow manages to keep people on their toes. His natural warmth made the candidates feel relaxed, but there was an undeniable boundary. This is PADI, he seemed to imply, and we don’t mess around.
Good coffee + good weather = good start
So back to our search for coffee. We head to the resort’s in-house dive centre in search of a more palatable caffeine fix. The walk to the centre, located at the end of a long wooden jetty at the edge of the island’s house reef, goes some way to raise Matt’s spirits. We spot several juvenile black tip reef sharks glide under the walkway, and the weather, at least, is being good to us. After several stormy weeks, the skies have cleared. The island stretches far into the distance and heaves with palm trees, bobbing above the shore. The lagoon that encircles it is completely flat; conditions are perfect.
“It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?” Matt remarks, as he pauses for a moment to take in the view.
Luckily, the dive centre has an espresso machine. As he sips his liquid breakfast, candidates bustle around him readying their gear.
“Right,” Matt says clapping his hands together, “let’s do this!”
Sun, Sea and Slates
With gear assembled, Matt leads a short briefing to explain what’s going to happen over the course of the morning. The candidates would first perform the Confined Water skills in the lagoon. Then head to the drop off for Open Water Teaching presentations and the Rescue Demonstration. Energy levels seem high but there’s not much talking. It’s go time.
I snorkel a short distance from the candidates and marvel at their efficiency. It’s clear that these guys belong in the water. I creep up to peer over Matt’s shoulder at his slates, hoping to see their scores. But instead there’s a series of letters. It’s a code which he explains in whispers. I realise that a lot of the candidates are getting straight 5s.
Every now and then, Matt turns around, nods his head and purses his lips and if to say “These guys are good!”.
The candidates’ English is fluent and confident and their briefings are simple and clear. They complete their tasks in swift succession and I’m surprised when it’s already time for them to head to the drop off for part two.
As I’m not in dive gear, I hang back and enjoy the reef. Two adult black tip reef sharks swim by, then a hawksbill turtle and a sting ray. Shoals of filter-feeding mackerel swerve and lunge by.
I head back to the jetty and await the candidates return. After quite some time, I can see them performing the rescue scenarios but it’s obvious that the energy has changed. They’re visibly tired and their adrenaline is no longer seeing them through. Shoulders sag as they exit the water and I worry that someone might have stuffed up.
Another quick briefing. Matt gives short precise feedback to justify the lower scores, and there are a few, but overall everyone passes.
The Physics of Failing and Failing at Physics
It’s lunch and then the two theory exams. As the candidates sit in silence I take the opportunity to explore the campus surroundings. The building, which was purpose-built in 2006 to train local dive and water sports professionals, sits on the western shore of the island. As well as providing accommodation facilities for the students and teachers, it’s home to two classrooms and an office. The small beach outside is glorious and I snap a few pics of a heron in the shallows, wading amongst juvenile black tips and a cluster of sting rays.
The candidates exit the classroom. All have passed the Standard Exam but three have failed in physics in the Theory Exam. They’d have to resit in the morning.
This dampens the mood of the group who, I observe, function as fish out of the water as well as in it. They move as a shoal, with the whole group affected by the misfortune of an individual. And with that the first day draws to a close.
A Second Chance
It’s late by the time I wander down from my room the next day and join Anna and Sendi by the beach. Usually chatty, they’re sitting in silence. The guys were resitting their exams – another fail and they’d not pass the IE.
And then they appear, three silhouettes against the morning sun. Anna stands up, and the three young men all smile. They’d all passed this time and there is a collective sigh of relief. The Knowledge Development Teaching presentations go by without a glitch and as the candidates exit the classroom the campus rebounds with their whoops and hollers. It was over! As the candidates all dive into the sea it’s as though they are different people. Their reserve melts in the water and they are suddenly animated, laughing and jubilant. It’s only then that I realise just how focussed, just how tense they’d been over the last 24 hours.
Matt, I notice, stays on the beach, and watches from the distance. From what I can see, he is still in examiner mode, and feels his job isn’t over until he leaves the island. But he does not escape being raised on the candidates shoulders a little later after awarding them their completion certificates. The candidates’ joy is infectious, even emotional to see, especially as they call their parents to share the good news.
The main thing I learn from him is this:
The key to a good IE? Decent coffee.
About the author: Adele Verdier-Ali is a freelance travel writer and content marketer who has been living in the Maldives for over six years. She’s a certified PADI rescue diver and when she’s not underwater, she writes about Maldivian culture and tourism. You can read more of her thoughts over on www.littlebirdjournal.com
Cyprus is a special Island. Surrounded by the deep blue Mediterranean and washed by the gentle currents carrying marine life from the Red Sea, the Island and especially Northern Cyprus is a unique diving experience.
Isolated by politics, the northern Cyprus environment has avoided the rampant commercialism that has spoiled much of the for diving. The underwater environment reminds one of the Red Sea with remarkable visibility, vivid colour and an abundance of fish life. This is complemented by an underwater topography that challenges the diver with a spectacular coastline of gently sloping beaches, steep, vertical walls, arches, tunnels, caves, canyons and pyramid rock formations. All of this is melded with a history over 9000 years. The result-unidentified aircrafts wrecks and mysterious shipwrecks to be explored; the seas floor littered with old amphora vessels and thousands year old stone anchors from the ancient days of commercial shipping in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Add to this the warm climate, brilliant sunshine reflecting off the bottom even at 4o meters, no tides, gentle currents, prolific marine life and you have the ingredients for a remarkable diving experience.
Northern Cyprus is also home to the magnificent green and loggerhead sea turtles. There are few diving experiences more compelling the opportunity to observe and swim with these marvellous creatures.
Although the commercial diving community is small in Northern Cyprus, it is very professional. At the present time there are nine PADI Dive Centres located in the North – with more opening every year. They all are offering a full range of instruction and guide services for beginner and advanced Divers.
Diving is possible throughout the year although the months April through December are optimal. The environment is spectacular and the sunsets are stunning.
Geography and Weather
Sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of the Mediterranean” the island of Cyprus is located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. After Sicily and Sardinia, it is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
The total population on the island is around 900´000 people of which about 200´000 live in northern Cyprus.
It is a beautiful island – scented with wonderful aroma of wild jasmine, with mountain peaks stretching to over 6000 feet, long stretches of sand beaches and turquoise coloured sea.
Northern Cyprus has a coastline of approximately 500miles ranging from gently sloping beaches to sheer rock walls plunging into the sea. The season is long with over 300 days of sunshine and water temperature ranging from 19° C – 27° C from May through December.
The British artist Jason deCaires Taylor has created a sculpture museum at the bottom of the Atlantic off the coast of Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. Museo Atlántico is in 15 metres depths, so is accessible only to Divers, Freedivers and Snorkelers.
They Sculptures are waiting in the depths of the Atlantic and are going to be a fantastic attraction for Lanzarote and the Canary Islands in General.
The Museo Atlántico is the first underwater museum in Europe and should be at the end the new home for 300 sculptures on 200m². For now 35 sculptures were placed in 15 meters of depths in the ocean in front of Playa Blanca in Lanzarote.
Jason Taylor created around 300 life-sized sculptures, cast from real people and grouped in several installations that draw attention to issues such as climate change, conservation and migration. The largest installation is entitled The Rubicon and it comprises a group of 40 people walking towards a gateway. The figures aren’t paying attention to where they are going − some have their eyes closed, some are taking selfies, others are engrossed in their phones. Taylors work is about climate change and how mankind seems to be heading blindly towards a point of no return.
The complete project should be finished in the beginning of 2017 – but all the Dive Centres in the area are receiving enquiries every day from Divers all over the world who are interested to dive the Museo Atlántico.
The Museum opened its doors to the public on the 25th of February 2016.
This new attraction will bring the Canary Islands on top of the European Dive Destinations. Especially because the Canary Islands are an all year around diving destination and a very safe place in our crazy world!
Minimum certification requirement: OPEN WATER DIVER with experience
The artificial reefs facilitate the creation of new plants and animal species in the ocean. The Museo Atlántico should therefore not only be a sculpture park, but also serve to protect the sea. The sculptures are likely to lure dive tourists from areas where coral reefs are already highly vulnerable due to water sports activities. The underwater museum can therefore help to consolidate the very sensitive marine ecosystem.
We are very proud to announce that 12Dive, the PADI 5 Star IDC Centre and 100% Project AWARE Partner in Tenerife, organized the second Project AWARE Dive against Debris in Tenerife.
After a very successful first Dive against Debris in Tenerife on the 12th of September 2015, the two owners of 12Dive in Tenerife, Mark Vanderhaegen & Alejandro Huitron de Velasco decided to organize, exactly three months later, another successful Beach Clean-up and Project AWARE Dive against Debris.
The event happened on the 12th of December 2015 on the Playa La Caleta in Adeje – Tenerife and was again a very successful happening.
Why Beach Clean-up and Dive against Debris?
More than six million tons of marine litter is estimated to enter the ocean each year. Once there, our trash accumulates and includes everything from plastic bags, food wrappers and drink bottles to car batteries, fishing nets and industrial waste. Pervasive debris kills wildlife, destroys habitats and threatens our health and economy. Found in even the most remote ocean places, once underwater, debris can remain for generations. Together, we can stop marine debris by taking local action and supporting policy change. Together we can make a difference – together we can save our oceans, the environment and at the end our beautiful blue planet!
12Dive is a great example how it can be done and how to involve a lot of people in this movement. Thanks to 12Dive and their commitment to take care of our oceans and of our world – we can make a difference and a better world.
This story is so amazing that I had to write about it. On the 5th of August 2015 something really special happened in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Harry Thornton became a PADI Scuba Diver. Well – this event is nothing out of the ordinary, what is in fact extraordinary, he is born in 1931 and received his Scuba Diver Certification with the age of 83!
Marco Cucini, the PADI Instructor from Viking Divers in Larnaca, Cyprus, had the honour to teach Harry and to show him the beauty of diving.
How often do you hear, when you try to sell Scuba Diving around a pool area “Ooh – Scuba Diving? No thank you, I´m too old for this”. Harry Thornton is proofing the opposite. You are never too old to discover the beauty of the underwater world.
Harry truly enjoyed himself and wished he started diving 40 years earlier.
Now, Harry Thornton is able to dive together with his son Steve and Grandson Joe who are diving with Viking Divers in Cyprus for many years. On the 19th of October 2015 – Harry will turn 84 years old!
I´m truly inspired by Harry and I wish him all the best, good health and many years of diving!
This special wreck event, the Zenobia week, is fast becoming a tradition in Cyprus and this year was no exception. Dive centers from all over the island have been bringing their guests to Larnaca to dive the Top 3rd wreck in the world and to compete in the PADI Selfie competition.
PADI loves special events, nothing excites them more. This year PADI sponsored the Zenobia week by offering a free pair of sunglasses to every diver who signed up for either the deep diver or wreck diver speciality course. If that wasn’t enough, participants were asked to get creative above the water by taking a cool selfie and entering PADI’s selfie competition. The coolest selfie was carefully selected and the winner won an amazingly beautiful Aqualung CORE regulator…thankyou Mercury Divers!
Larnaca was full of the hustle and bustle of busy divers over the weekend, all running around in “cool” yellow PADI shades snapping shots in the bazarest of angles. Dive equipment was lugged, tanks were filled and suncream was applied as truck after truck arrived at Larnaca Marina. Happy smiles and damp hugs were everywhere as dive buddies reunited on one of the best dives of their lives. Instructors and divemasters were practically dancing at the PADI Pavilion,and their divers were all eager to meet Sascha Engeler, the PADI Regional Manager, to hopefully make their selfie the winning one. Nice try guys,.. The positive energy was everywhere and it was such a joy to be part of it.
Thanks to everyone who took part of this epic Event. Jurg Dahler from Coral Bay Divers took the winning scuba selfie, so the Aqualung CORE Regulator has gone to a good home. It definitely will get to dive regularly and will be allowed to play with all of its underwater friends!
Deep Blue Dive Centre has been established since 1982 and has been under the Management from Roland Martensson (Sweden) and Volker Berbig (Germany) since August 1999. Now, Deep Blue moved in the new Location.
Deep Blue joined the PADI Retail & Resort Association in December 1999 and since August 2009 they are a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Dive Resort. Because of their engagement and professionalism, Deep Blue became very shortly the biggest PADI certifier in the Canary Islands.
The Base of Deep Blue is situated in the middle of the east coast of Fuerteventura, in the harbour of Caleta de Fuste, which is about 12Km south of the capital Puerto del Rosario.
In the beginning of 2015 – Deep Blue in Fuerteventura moved in the new location
Now – Deep Blue is situated at the end of the pier from Caleta de Fuste yacht harbour. The New location has everything what beginners and certified divers are looking for:
On more than 600m2 the customers from Deep Blue in Fuerteventura will find a pool for confined water training, a nice theory classroom, direct access to the four big diving boats, toilets, showers and of course access to the Bar.
The Base is service orientated and family friendly. Due to the ideal new location, no excursion takes more than 1.5 hours, allowing plenty of time for the family and other holiday activities.
Deep Blue brings the standard for Diving Centres in the Canary Islands to a complete new level!