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“Bad Dive Shop”

Costa Rica Dive and Surf
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Diving and Surf School, Tours to Cano Island and Whales Tale Marine Reserve. Padi Diving Courses, Surf School and Surf Board Rentals. Waterfall Tours, Whitewater Rafting tours and Adventure Guide School for Diving, Surfing and Whitewater Rafting.
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Bad Dive Shop”
Reviewed October 27, 2012

Very unsafe and unprofessional conditions during our dive trip to Isla Cano. The shop itself was very disorganized. They had scheduled more divers for the trip than they had equipment. The equipment was dirty and worn and was not kept in any identifiable order in the racks and bins. They never checked our certification cards. My first BC I was given didn't have a hose connection that allowed me to attach my computer. They apparently didn't have the tools to change out that hose so as to accept my computer. They certainly didn't offer to do that and the console on my BC only had a pressure gauge, no depth gauge, clock or compass. The pressure gauge seemed to work but had a little loose screw rolling around on the face under the crystal. There was little to no formal briefing and no orientation to the dive sites, just a short review of basic hand signals before the first dive. Entry into the water for the first dive was conducted haphazardly by the non-English speaking boat pilot, not the dive masters. My partner hit his head on entry as a result, not seriously but it left him in some pain for several minutes. The anchor (which obviously hadn't been dropped yet) slid off the front of the boat and very nearly hit me. It dragged the box of spare regulators down with it. Our dive master had to collect the regulators from the bottom and carry them in his arms for the rest of the dive, which at least kept him from flailing his arms about as he swam, which he did when he wasn't holding anything. At the end of the trip I began to doubt that he is a certified diver, let alone a certified dive master. There were two teenaged girls on the trip who were not certified and were out for a Discovery School dive. The dive master assigned to them seemed more interested in taking pictures rather than watching the girls. There were no safety stops, although we estimated our own. It turned out that NO ONE had a working depth gauge on their rentals. I asked for one before the second dive and was given a BC with a console that had a depth gauge but it was obviously not calibrated and read 12 feet up on the boat. It was only between the two dives that the crew put together a list of divers. They apparently didn't know who was even in the water during the first dive, and there was no checking the list after the second dive either. On the second dive, the "dive master" was really flailing and then 20 minutes into the dive he just disappeared. The rest of us didn't know what to do and hung out for another 20 minutes, keeping close to each other and self-guiding our assent and safety stop. It turns out that he had run out of air and made an emergency assent! On the trip back, the boat steering mechanism broke and a fix had to be improvised with a 2 x 4 for the hour and a half trip back to the mainland. We've had some disappointing dive trips before but I have never withheld a tip from the dive masters. They certainly didn't get one from us after this scary misadventure. Fortunately, no one was hurt on that day but the whole experience leaves me fearful that an injury or fatality is inevitable if practices at this shop are not reformed quickly.

Visited August 2012
7 Thank Jeff L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Costaricadiveandsurf, Owner at Costa Rica Dive and Surf, responded to this review, January 19, 2013
First and foremost: Gear Issues. We have recently replaced every single malfunctioning depth gauge in our fleet of regulators as of nov 2012. We have also hired and trained a new fill time gear technician to help with our ever expanding business.
The instructor and divemaster in question are very competent PADI members, and until now had no issues that we were aware of, we have been working with PADI directly to decide what measure to take, but as of present this divemaster will no longer work for Costa Rica Dive and Surf. Our main staff Sebastian and Christian are once again in charge, as they were on vacation for this tour, please know that we have trusted them for 5 seasons now without any incidents and hundreds of successful and happy tours.
Our boat staff are hired independently, and if the boat had issues I apologize on behalf of the company in question, I am sure they did not intend on the boat breaking down with or without clients. We have many boats that we charter depending on the size of the tour, and strive to make sure each tour is as safe and comfortable as possible.
With regards to some of the other comments in this email, please email me personally any time there are issues with a tour as I would love to make this up to you with some form of tour to make you happy, or another Cano Island tour. It is extremely upsetting for me as a business owner to have a family leave unhappy with your day with us, and I will do whatever possible to make this up to you....
Thanks again for writing and pushing us to become a better business in every way!
Michael Shellard
Owner, PADI Staff Instructor
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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160 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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English first
Alpharetta, Georgia
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Great dive!”
Reviewed October 27, 2012 via mobile

Not sure why this isn't rated higher! My girlfriend had one of her best dives, seeing a shar, lobster, turtle, and stingray all in the first dive! I snorkled and it was nice, a bit cloudy due to the current kicking up sand. The boat ride was a bit rough also, but Sebastian and his guides were great! We ate lunch and really enjoyed the trip, maybe the highlight of our visit to Costa Rica!

Thank Chad H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Wonderful birthday dive for my daughter!”
Reviewed August 20, 2012

I took my newly certified daughter scuba diving for her 20th birthday. The Cano Island trip was perfect! We saw dolphins and whales from the boat, and sharks, turtles, and innumerable fish on the dives. The staff was light-hearted, but professional; the snacks were tasty. The beach break between dives was very relaxing. Highly recommended!

Visited August 2012
1 Thank SamAustin_Texas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Excellent diving ....”
Reviewed February 29, 2012

Myself and 2 teenage kids are new to diving - only a handful of dives each - and did the Cano Island trip in Feb 2012. This trip is an early start, especially if you are based in MA as we were - on the road at 5:30 am! Found the shop pretty easily - it's a bit of a shack and the equipment isn't the newest, but it all worked fine. Sebastian and staff got us quickly kitted out and we grabbed some breakfast at the shack next door before driving down to Uvita for the boat - all good so far. We met the boat on the beach and the staff quickly loaded up the gear - Sebastian seemed to appreciate our offers of help. The boat was stable and fast - 1 hr 25 mins to the first dive, including a short Dolphin stop (saw turtles also). Sebastian had a helper who stayed on the boat, plus the boat captain and helper, and between them they assembled our gear (tank, regs, BC) and brought it to us so all we had to do was strap in on, check it and then fall back into the water! Before each dive Sebastian explained the dive plan and went through the signals he would use - all was good. The first dive took about 45 mins and was down to about 50 feet - saw a bunch a white-tipped sharks close-up and many other fish - very cool. Visibility was great and it was a terrific dive. The group stayed together (there was 3 of us plus 2 others, all buddied up) and communication was clear. We did the safety stop and surfaced. After about an hour on the boat (fruit, drinks) we did the second dive - Bajo del Diablo - a very interesting seascape with an abundance of life. The current pushed us around a little but wasn't too bad. Again, visibility was probably 50'+. We didn't see as much sea-life as I thought we might on this dive - maybe got a little unlucky - though did see some huge eels and Porcupine fish. After about 30 mins my daughter started to feel sick and asked to go up. Sebastian asked me to go up with her (using the pre-arranged signals) while he finished the dive with the others. We had no trouble getting back to the boat on our own and the others appeared a few minutes later. Before long we were speeding back to shore while food (veggie burritos) was served, and we were back on the beach by 2pm for the ride back to the shop.

This is not the cheapest ($160pp!) or most convenient (lots of travel time) dive you will ever do, but the dives are easily good enough to justify it - there's stuff here that you just don't see at Key Largo! If you are a diver and in the area, then do it. I thought the staff and equipment were fine.

Visited February 2012
1 Thank ben_gale1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Shop was great, Cano Island trip could have been better”
Reviewed February 26, 2012

We took a scuba dive and snorkel trip through CRDS as well as rented surf boards for a few days. Michael, the owner, was awesome and very helpful. He was very engaging and gave us some great tips on things to see and do. He gave us the local and secluded spots to check out that you wouldn't find online. The staff he had working the surf shop was great too. Very helpful and accommodating. The selection of surf boards were pretty good with a few of just about every size. I would go back to rent boards from them anytime. The shop customer service from Michael and his staff will keep me coming back next time I am in town.

The dive and snorkel trip was a bit disappointing to say the least. I went scuba diving and my four friends went snorkeling. The dive-master on the trip Sebastian and his crew were very disengaging and you can tell they wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. On the ride out to the island, Sebastian started dozing off and his crew kept to themselves. When we got to the island, the views were amazing and the spots to snorkel and dive were great choices. My friends who went snorkeling said their guide wasn't pointing out too much and just swam them in a few areas. When I went diving, we had a predefined course in which Sebastian went through as quick as possible. He would sort of swim off by himself and his buddy (who was new to diving) and didn't pay much attention to the 3 remaining divers. Because the clarity wasn't great that day (about 30 ft), we actually lost Sebastian a few times as we stopped as a group to look at the marine life around us. We had to find our way back based on the description of the course we were going to take. On the way out to the island we passed a few dolphins and a sea turtle which we stopped for a minute to look at but on the way back, we didn't slow down once as we passed even more exciting marine life. I'm sure if Michael and the surf shop crew were on the trip, we would have had a much better experience! The engagement of the staff contributes greatly to our overall experience as we want to get immersed as much as possible.

Overall, I would recommend CRDS for rentals but just be cautious of your expectations of the trip. Michael seems to really enjoy what he does and I would recommend anything he is involved in. I just think he needs to hire better staff for the trips.

Visited February 2012
1 Thank kerwintm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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