We traveled to Costa Rica from the USA with 5 couples. My wife and I completed our diver certification (open water portion) in Costa Rica with another company (Oceans Unlimited). We booked a Cano Island dive with Oceans Unlimited thinking they would be providing the Dive Master, etc. Instead we we pawned off on Costa Rica Dive & Surf, without our knowledge.
When we realized this we thought, "oh well, no biggie." Unfortunately, CRD&S did not have the same level of equipment or safety standards.
Only one in our party was provided with a working depth gauge - my wife and I were not. This meant we could not accurately do a pause at 15' as taught in our certification. The Dive Master, Sebastain (sp), explained that much of their equipment does not work and that he can't get the owner to fix it. He also said stopping at 15' was optimal but not mandatory (not according to what we were taught).
More disturbing was when my wife could not gain depth (due to lack of provided weight) she signaled she needed to surface. I got the Dive Master's attention and signaled I was surfacing with her as she was my dive buddy and we were taught NEVER to leave our dive buddy. The Dive Master, Sebastain, signaled for me not to go with her and to instead buddy with him - leaving my wife (newly certified and scared) to surface alone.
This caused several minutes of near panic for both of us.
In the end she surfaced and was spotted by the dive boat, given more weights and taken to where we were and then joined us.
In my opinion this was not the safest way to handle the situation and put our safety at risk.
Additionally, only the dive master appeared to speak fluent English or be fully knowledgeable about diving and equipment.
While this shop has many favorable reviews, I feel it needs to address equipment concerns and review safety protocols.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
February 4, 2012
We are so sorry to read that you did not feel you had a good experience, and especially that you felt that safety protocols were not followed. Actually, we have an excellent safety record, and always make individual safety our top priority. We are dealing with issues with our depth gauges at the moment, and are replacing them as fast as we can! It is unusual and surprising that so many in your group had issues with them, and we do apologize for any inconvenience.However, as the main Cano Island dives sites have excellent visibility, no extreme depths and you are diving with PADI Instructor, who is monitoring you and the dive with his dive computer, we feel that you are well within safety protocols. We would never send anyone on a dive with gear that was unsafe or risky. Also, while in general, it is a rule not to leave your dive buddy. If someone has an issue at the very beginning of a dive, and is “unable to gain depth” it is fairly common to have them surface while their buddy joins another buddy group. If you really didn’t want to leave your dive buddy, you could have surfaced if you preferred; that was your choice. If either of you were actually scared, it is clear that you should have gone up together regardless of what the Instructor or divemaster suggested. I would also like to just add regarding safety stops, and this is for all divers. They are a very good habit to conduct in all dives, but PADI law states: A safety stop is required to all dives over 100ft/30metres and dives that come within 3 pressure groups of the no decompression limits. Cano Islands main dives have a maximum depth of 60-70ft, and the majority of the dives are spent much shallower, which is why they are so fun and safe!
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We have been in business now for 5 years in Dominical and have 20 years combined experience as instructors and divemasters. We strive to make everyone’s dive safe, fun and special. We are sorry you did not feel like you got that experience. We do thank you for your comments, and appreciate your input.
Owner Costa Rica Dive and Surf
PADI Staff Instructor 473803
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.