I did the Open Water certification course with Nautilus through the E-learning option (where you complete the theory through the PADI website beforehand). This shortened the course at Nautilus to 1.5 days which makes it easy to fit into a short vacation. The instructor was Alfredo (assisted by Fernando) and the course consisted of a review session and pool practice followed by 2 ocean dives on the first day, and 2 more ocean dives on the 2nd.
- Alfredo is an excellent instructor. He is very thorough with the review of the concepts and explanations on how to use the equipment. He also has a very calm manner of instructing students in the water which is critical since being underwater for the first time can be disorientating, so having someone easy to trust and follow really takes the fear out of it.
- All the dive sites were excellent reefs full of aquatic life. We saw huge schools of multicolored fish, a moral eel, stingray, eagle ray and a large turtle. Alfredo was very familiar with the dive sites and pointed out various interesting creatures along the way.
- During my 2nd day of diving, it turned out that I was the only student, so I pretty much had a private lesson for my last 2 ocean dives, so that was an unexpected bonus.
- The boat used for for taking us to the dives was fairly large and fit everyone comfortably. The boat crew is very helpful with equipment setup and helping the divers in and out of the water.
- The ocean was quite choppy both days, but Alfredo provides sea-sickness medication (make sure you always accept this!), so that helps.
Now for the not-so-good points:
- The pool session felt a bit rushed - a little more time might have helped get more comfortable with being underwater. To be clear, all the different exercises were taught/completed, so nothing was left out, but maybe some extra swim-around time might have helped. Its possible the full 3-4 day course gets more time, so maybe its only because of the compressed schedule of the e-learning course.
- Also the pool itself only 4-5 feet deep. Due to this, the transition to the 1st open water dive can be a tad challenging, since the 1st dive is at a depth of 30 feet. I really didn't have much of an issue, but if someone was less comfortable with deep water, they might find it tough in the ocean the first time.
Overall I had a great experience and would recommend learning with Nautilus. The minus points I mentioned above didn't really detract that much from the experience and were masked by the fact that the instructors were so good. The owners Sherri & Octavio were also very prompt in replying to my emails before I booked the course, so its a very efficiently run operation. I will definitely dive with Nautilus again the next time I am in Cancun.
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