Overall I can say I would recommend Thresher Shark Divers to either very experienced divers or new divers. If you're an intermediate diver, their approach may or may not be for you. I was initially put off by a few things that I wish had been more clear to me at booking, but our experience overall was very good, and I would recommend the place to friends or family.
I am new diver with a PADI Open Water Certification. Prior to arriving at TSD I had logged about 26 dives in Mexico, Belize and another part of the Philippines.
More than 1/3 of those dives had been around 85 feet at their deepest point. I also dived the Blue Hole, going down to 130 feet. I did all these dives with no advanced or adventure diving training. PADI Open Water divers are really only supposed to go to about 18 meters or 60 feet, but in all my prior experience no one really enforced that depth of even asked about my comfort level with going deeper. Even the Blue Hole Trip was fairly relaxed in that way. I'm still alive, and never had any problems on any of these dive trips, so i figure I am capable of a 100-foot dive to see some sharks even though the TSD website indicated the dive is an advanced dive.
So we get to Malapascua Island, and walk into TSD, where we are told we can't do the Shark Dive without having an Advanced Certification or something proving we can do a dive deeper than 18 meters (such as a piece of paper indicating we'd done a Padi-sanctioned "Deep Adventure Dive"). Turns out TSD offers a "Deep Adventure" check out dive that comes complete with a piece of paper indicating you're OK to do such a dive for another $100 per person. So, confronted with this, I'm kind of pissed actually. I'm thinking now I know why people say PADI is a acronym for "Put Another Dollar In". And I'm thinking TSD is just trying to wrong more money out of me. Marianne, the employee explaining all this to me, actually seemed pretty used to the reaction from me. She said TSD is a five-diamond dive resort, and that to keep that designation, they have to do everything strictly by the book and that safety is their No. 1 priority. I'm there. I've just paid A LOT OF MONEY for my 2-person dive and accommodation package. I want to do the shark dive, so I just agree to do it.
Marianne gives us some paperwork to fill out, and loans us two PADI Adventures in Diving Books and bookmarks the 20-odd pages we need to read with a sheet of paper that has the knowledge review questions on one side. We're to read the material, fill out the sheet, and return the next day to review the information with her before the shark dive two days later.
Honestly, within reading about 10 pages, I realized it was WELL worth the money. I got a badly needed review of information that has gotten a little foggy since my Open Water studying days, and I learned a lot more that wasn't covered in much detail during the open water course. I actually couldn't believe that the dive shops in Belize take people to the Blue Hole without going over some of the information in more detail. No wonder there are stories about people still on the bottom of the Blue Hole.
Anyway, from that point on, everything went really great. I relaxed about the extra one hundred dollar outlay, and even opted to spend much more to earn my Enriched Air certification with TSD, which was some additional studying but they combined my Deep Adventure Dive with my first Nitrox check out dive, so I saved a bit of money. Now I feel safe diving deep, and maximize my bottom time thanks to my ability to dive Nitrox.
We really enjoyed all our dives with TSD. I did six dives in just a couple days, including two shark dives, and was able to see Threshers on both dives (three on the first dive, and nine on the second). Both were amazing experiences. We also did some shallow dives around the island with a local Dive Master named Beds. He was great, and really looked after my girlfriend in particular, who gets a bit nervous. I ultimately did my Nitrox dives with a guy named Steve from Canada who was at TSD to do some advanced instructor studies. I had a great time learning from him and I hope to have the chance to dive with him again. In addition to Monad Shoal, we did dives at Lapus Lapus (two Frogfish!!!), Deep Rock [my first cuttlefish (2) and my first two Pygmy Seahorses (yellow)], and we did the trip to Calanggaman Island, which was awesome (the unique spot for me was a Boxer Shrimp, but we saw a lot of other things, including a resting turtle getting cleaned in a shallow area under the boat). The beach BBQ was really good, so I'm not sure what's up with the negative reviews on that.
The food at Oscar's restaurant was great and the staff was really nice as well.
TSD's rental gear was in really good shape compared to other places I've been. Only White Sands Dive Shop in Belize was better for me so far.
We stayed at Tepanee resort which is a brisk 5-minute walk from TSD. The cottages there are awesome, but that's another review.
The only thing I regret is not getting to dive more, particularly around Gato, which we didn't get to see. The worst thing about the trip to Malapascua was the blister I got from my flip flop.
I hope to go back one day and would definitely dive with TSD again.
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