From the shop to the dives, the staff, and the other divers, Blue Marlin was an awesome experience to get my Advanced Open Water Cert.
tl;dr: Great place to hang, to party (on Mondays), and to dive. Instructors are fun and staff are helpful.
Everyone at Blue Marlin was cheerful and friendly, even the locals and staff after long days. On several occasions I had to make changes to my gear (or find my own among the other gear), and every time they were accommodating and went out of their way to help me.
My dives were fun, but I've read here about others having lame experiences. We can't particularly blame the staff for that though, because they are accountable for other divers safety and progression. At times it could seem slow in the water, but they care about safety a lot here and that's better than the contrast! (Heard other shops don't do group equipment checks, expect everyone to know how to handle themselves, etc.)
My dives were also quite small, having two or three buddy groups. In fact, my brother got to do PEAK with the instructor alone, which I heard was an awesome and rare experience. I have doubts the classes are often that small anywhere else. Blue Marlin also has several boats ready to go, along with the gear you need and soap (to use as a defogger for your mask). If you have any of your own gear though, they welcome you to use it!
My brother and I had an Daniel, a dive instructor, and he was a incredibly fun to dive with and would make sure we went through every hoop we needed to in order to get our Advanced. We both wanted to go on a night dive, but the water was too rough for the next several nights. On the night before we left and on a day when Blue Marlin doesn't even do night dives, Daniel arranged for us to use the boat so we could complete our certification doing the dives we wanted!
I was lucky – The other divers I had were fun and really cool. It was a pleasure diving with them, and it made the experience even more fun, even if some of them didn't pick up on the skills as quickly or kept bumping me in the water.
I did not try their dinner or lunch food, but I had a salad and coffee there and both were pretty good.
I can't account for their Open Water program, or the rest of their food, but I think this is an awesome place to hang at and be apart of. Good luck and have fun in your time in Gili!
1) All the staff are extremely cool, and will even get drinks (sometimes) after a long day of diving.
2) I've heard that most of the dive shops talk about prices, so nearly all of them are around the same price. Might as well go to a place with awesome staff and great equipment.
3) Monday's are BIG party nights here! One of the divers who is photographer and videographer in the day, DJs at night and is pretty good! Head over ~11pm or later and the party should be getting going!
4) Really family-friendly, but if you're going with a group of fun people there's a lot of fun back-and-forth between the dive instructors and the other staff.
5) If you have a specific dive you want to do, or plan to do, ask the staff! They are understanding and helpful.
6) Everyone is incredibly trustworthy there. They have places to store a small bag and towels, but you share them with other divers. I never felt unsure about leaving my stuff unattended there, though. No sketchy people here!
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