Two Dives in the Life of a Divemaster intern

Imagine paradise as a divemaster candidate: crystal blue waters that lap the rugged shoreline; lush green canopy of palm and coconut trees; soft sand beaches to wiggle your toes in; and all the friends you can make to enjoy beers during an epic sunset. Meet Koh Tao and the life of a PADI Divemaster candidate. Over a glorious two months, divemaster candidates complete a PADI program structured to develop them as professional divers. Meanwhile, they soak in every minute of what will be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of their lives. 

As a PADI Staff Instructor, I’m working with divemaster candidates at Crystal Dive on Koh Tao with PADI Master Instructors Tina Major and Manu Valdez. Once more, I find myself enjoying tremendously the opportunity to help people reach their dreams of becoming dive professionals. And I only completed my own divemaster internship three short years ago. Let’s take a peek into the life of a PADI divemaster candidate on Koh Tao through two dives.

Search and Recovery

Divemaster Candidate bringing a lift bag to the surface under observation of PADI Master Instructor Manu Valdez.

This week, I’ve worked with divemaster candidates in the swimming pool and in open water to teach them skills they’ll need as PADI Divemasters. Search and recovery patterns, knots, and surfacing of objects are among the practical skills divemaster candidates must master. As part of this training, they learn to navigate search patterns for various search scenarios. They also master tying the bowline, slip knot, and half hitches under water. Finally, they rig and bring an object to the surface using a lift bag.

Each of these practical skills challenges the candidates to think and act under water. Candidates may have a little more than 40 dives logged when they start the program, so adding tasks to their dives one at a time helps them to develop themselves as confident, capable divers.

Search & Recovery Scenario

Yesterday, during their search and recovery dive, I worked with candidates who were very comfortable in the water and handled their tasks with competence. In buddy teams of two,  they knocked out the expanding square and U-shaped search patterns, demonstrated proficiency tying the bowline, slip knot, and half hitches, then took the lift bag with rigged weights to the surface without problem.

I enjoyed buddying up with two candidates to directly observe them complete their U-shaped and expanding square search patterns, allowing them to navigate and determine distance to complete the patterns. Both divemaster candidates returned our team right to the starting point using only the compass. No doubt, Master Instructor Manu set the divers up for success in the classroom session prior to the search and recovery dive. By reviewing the patterns and steps necessary to return to the starting point with the candidates, he equipped our students for success. That is what the divemaster internship is all about.

Divemaster candidates working together to complete a search and rescue pattern. One navigates while the buddy counts kick cycles and looks for a missing object.

Discover Local Diving Workshop

In addition to search and recovery skills, the Divemaster candidates knocked out their Discover Local Diving workshop and dive. PADI Divemasters guide certified divers on dive sites throughout the world, and guiding dives brings them a lot of pleasure as well as an income.

Developing the skills to brief and guide over the duration of the internship helps to prepare them for paid work around the world in the dive industry. The Discover Local Diving workshop gives them the opportunity to perfect their briefings, to prepare for and to guide a dive, and to respond to problems during a dive.

As part of this workshop, first, candidates briefed the dive to us, covering all points from dive site characteristics to separation procedures. Then,  they guided a mock dive by leading other divemaster candidates (and their instructors) on a dive around Mango Bay.

The individual briefings varied from polished and professional to needing more practice, but the divemaster candidates have plenty of time to fine-tune those briefings over the course of their internship. After their briefings, we moved on to guiding the dives, which they conducted without any 

Fun Diving & More Fun Diving!

Divemaster candidates work very hard to perfect their bubble rings. Practice makes perfect!

New Divemaster candidates without much prior dive experience must develop their skills and confidence in the water over a period of a couple of months, so the free fun dives that come with their internship go a long way. They take full advantage, as many newly certified Divemasters leave Koh Tao with over 100 logged dives. Only 60 dives are required to certify as a Divemaster with PADI.

During their internship, the fun dives they take with other divemaster candidates allow them to further explore the dive sites, play in the water and enjoy themselves, and learn about the marine life in the underwater world. They leave the program as confident ambassadors for SCUBA diving and marine conservation, which makes them critical to a world where we preserve and cherish our coral reefs and marine animals.

During my PADI Divemaster internship under PADI Master Instructor Andrea Warren, I enjoyed fun dives the most, sometimes diving as many as four and five dives a day (with a night dive) to gain the experience and skills I now use as a professional. Signing up for free fun dives was easy, and buddies were always available from the other divemaster candidates in the program. We enjoyed every moment available to dive and work on our buoyancy skills, relax on the dive boat, and soak in every blissful moment. I also left with an amazing mentor in Andrea, who continues to guide my career as a PADI Course Director at Crystal Dive.

Becoming a Divemaster Candidate

Today, I get to observe the personal growth and development of new divemaster candidate trainees, which is a pleasure. Candidates come from all walks of life. Candidate backgrounds vary from travelers who arrive from around the world to complete the Open Water course and get hooked on the beauty and energy of this magical place to local fisherman folk who trade in an old way of life for a new income based upon tourism and marine conservation. From British, Australian, German, Turkish, Spanish, Guatemalan, and Honduran to Thai, Sri Lankan, South Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, or Maldivian, we meet people from everywhere pursuing the PADI Divemaster certification. And yes, I’ve met and made friendships with dive professionals from all of these countries and many different backgrounds. Want to learn more about my professional life? Read about my work with instructor candidates.

If you can pass a dive medical and get here, you can literally go from zero to hero in two months. If you’re interested in becoming a dive professional, contact us using the form below. I can answer questions and help you decide which internship opportunity works best for you.

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