When browsing for a good dive centre, certain words and phrases tend to stand out in reviews online. Who wouldn’t want to dive with ‘the safest’, ‘most professional’, and ‘best’ dive centre with the most ‘experienced instructors’? But what do these descriptions really mean? And how do you differentiate between a bunch of dive centres who all promise you safe, fun and professional experiences? Here at Master Divers we pride ourselves on our high standards, and also on the safety and the enjoyment of our customers, so we thought we’d fill you in with some more details on how we achieve that…..
Our staff at Master Divers come from various nationalities and backgrounds, however one of the things they all have in common is their commitment to safety and the upkeep of industry standards. Every one of our team members has been specifically selected on the strength of their extensive experience, knowledge, skills, and qualifications in their field. We run regular staff training and development sessions, and encourage all employees to take part in further professional development programmes whenever possible, ensuring high quality experiences for our customers and also continued employment suitability and job satisfaction for our crew. Because of this, our staff turnover is low compared to many other dive centres here on Koh Tao, and our staff generally comprises of more experienced PADI Instructors and Divemasters than at most other centres too. This has been recognised in an official professionalism review conducted by PADI, where our staff (as well as our equipment, facilities etc) were rated excellent across the board.
We do employ from within when possible to give new Instructors and Divemasters a chance – as well as the support and mentorship they need – to start their careers. But we’re not the kind of centre where every instructor you’ll meet is a brand new recruit with no additional training (“all the gear, but no idea” as they are often referred to in the industry!). In fact, quite the opposite, and we’re well known for having a solid team of experienced and knowledgeable dive pro’s. Even our newer staff members have additional specialties and qualifications to add to their knowledge and skills set – most are Master Scuba Diver Trainers, and some are also Tec Divers, Gas Blenders, Equipment Specialists, Freedivers etc too. All staff members are knowledgeable about dive equipment across the full range of brands, and if you are interested in investing in your own gear they will happily spend some time advising you on the best choices for you. They will even visit the dive retail stores with you to assist you with trying on/equipment fitting if you wish.
All of our dive instructors are also instructors in Emergency First Response (First Aid and CPR), and are trained in the provision of Oxygen. In addition to this, specific staff members are also trained in advanced medical response and survival. Our emergency procedures are designed to precision. Each boat has a full Emergency Assistance Plan on board, as well as first aid kits, oxygen and spare equipment. We do not allow unsupervised passengers on our boats, and we make sure that every customer has adequate insurance to cover their needs. Many of the better holiday insurance policies do cover SCUBA activities, but if yours does not cover you we offer dive insurance coverage though us on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis as required. We are also proud to be a dive centre who support Divers Alert Network (DAN) and also the SSS (Scuba Safety Services) network in our region.
We are well known as a dive centre that does everything by standards, so you will not find us cutting corners, rushing courses, or providing you with misinformation to make a quick buck. Quite the opposite in fact – we will teach you how to be a competent and confident diver and if we have to spend extra time doing this, then we will do that…at no additional cost. As such, we have built a reputation for not just meeting, but exceeding PADI standards, and are well known in the industry as the dive centre to come to if you want to have things done properly. This includes the provision of all relevant course paperwork and medical forms. The dive industry is rife with horror stories of students having ‘YES’ answers on medical forms, but being advised that it is OK just to go ahead if they wrote ‘NO’ on the form, or if they get signed off by a physician who is not a specialist in the area required. Here at Master Divers we absolutely refuse to do this, although we are happy to help prior to arrival by recommending test centres and helping you research for a specialist if required for sign off. Sometimes this practice loses us customers, but we would rather not have the business than put your safety – and the safety of other students and staff – at risk. We are proud to be a centre that takes pride in the quality of our work, and make every effort to provide all of the correct and relevant information prior to arrival. This includes not just medical and insurance info etc, but also ensuring you have all the help you need with none dive related information such as where to stay , things to do, and where the best beaches are etc. We also help with information on visas and transport options for getting to/from Koh Tao.
Our equipment is checked on a regular basis and we are constantly cycling all of our gear through our tried and tested equipment maintenance regime. All BCDs and regulators are taken apart and cleaned inside and out at least once per month, and our tanks are visually inspected at least once per year and hydrostatically tested at least once every 5 years (as per industry standards). We have a tech room on site where our equipment technicians perform day to day repairs and replacements for any wear and tear pieces such as o-ring/mouthpiece/mask strap replacements, new hoses, depth guages etc. Any faulty or damaged equipment is immediately serviced or replaced to ensure maximum safety. Our compressors have their filters and oil changed frequently, and our 2 dive boats and our longtail boat are each sent to dry dock on the mainland for a month every year for servicing, maintenance, repainting and upgrades.
We invest in the best facilities so that your time with us is as comfortable as possible. The dive shop itself is large and airy, with many tables and chairs where you can chat to staff, fellow students, and log your dives after a day out at seas. We have a well stocked retail area and can provide equipment counselling of anything any everything scuba related.
Upstairs you will find our custom designed classrooms. Each has the teaching essentials – a mini retail area, whiteboards and markers, comfortable tables and chairs and full set of gear for practice set ups. Each classroom also has a full digital library of PADI videos for each and every course that we teach, so there’ll be no getting stuck with scratched and outdated DVD’s when you learn with us. We also have a set of tablets pre-loaded with digital materials, so if your ferry is late on arrival or you are running a little behind schedule, you can watch the course videos at your resort in the evenings so as not to lose time and delay your course.
Our equipment room is also large, and is well organised, well vented and well looked after. Everything is clearly labelled and has its place, and our efficient daily sign out procedure helps us keep track of any gear that is not in its place, or out of circulation for servicing/maintenance. The kit room is cleaned daily, and there is plenty space for customers with their own gear to store their belongings whilst diving with us.
We have a full stock of additional equipment for rent and also a range of dive specific gear for use on everything from entry level to pro level courses. We use Suunto Zoop dive computers which are given to all students free of charge for use on course dives from open water upwards. We also have SK7 compasses and dive knives for the PADI Advanced Open Water Course. Plus lift bags and reels so we can run Search and Recovery adventure dives and specialty courses. We also have Olympus Tough underwater cameras and housings available for rent for use on Digital Underwater Photography adventure dives and specialty courses.
All in all we invest a lot in making sure our equipment, facilities and staff are up to the highest possible standards, and that we have the equipment and skills to be able to teach you any PADI course you may be interested in (within reason of course – if you are interested in Dry Suit Diving or Ice Diving for example, then Koh Tao is not the place for you!).
Your safety and enjoyment are our top priorities, so we hope you enjoy your time with us, and feel comfortable in our care!