1. What makes Jacksonville a premier diving spot?
Offshore diving in Jacksonville is one of the best-kept secrets in the diving industry. As few as six miles off the coast you can find numerous sights with excellent visibility. Additionally, there are entire ecosystems of life found in more than 200 shipwrecks and man-made reefs off our coast that you just can’t find in south Florida or the Caribbean.
2. How does Jacksonville diving compare to other destinations?
The marine life and vitality of Jacksonville locations outshines that of south Florida because the influx of human activity and overharvesting that has occurred in South Florida hasn’t happened here, and here’s hoping that it never will.
3. What advice would you give someone who is looking to start diving?
Do your research, read reviews, learn about the product and the store selling you the product. Every dive shop is going to say they carry the best equipment on the market, they’ll give you the gimmick of “I can give you so much off of this item” or even mark prices below MSRP to get you to buy buy buy. Always consider who are they, what are they really trying to sell you. Is it a piece of merchandise or an open door to a world full of new experiences?
Also know yourself. Do you get claustrophobic? Then you may need a specific type of mask. If you get cramps, the type of fins you buy will mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and one you’d like to avoid. And why are you diving? Is it to gain some insight into a foreign world? To escape from the everyday world for a bit? Maybe you’re looking to go on a study abroad trip for a degree. Just know yourself, and that will tell you what you hope to gain out of diving.
4. If you’re visiting from out of town and wanting to take a diving course, what can a visitor expect?
In order to book a basic Open Water class, which is the starting point to become a certified diver, you should call or come into the shop to purchase the course AT LEAST a couple weeks before you wish to participate in the weekend-long in-person course.
Especially in the summer months, classes can book fast. Every diver is required to complete an eight to 12 hour online course. This online portion can be completed in most common languages, however the in-person course is in English, or if you happen to get David as your instructor he does speak fluent Spanish as well. I’d say as a general rule to start planning your trip with the shop about a month ahead of when you wish to complete the weekend portion, which is a Friday-Sunday commitment.
5. ]<="">If you are already an experienced diver, what is offered in your dive trips?
We get divers from all around the country at Atlantic Pro Divers. Oftentimes, people will come in saying “I mentioned to my buddy who dives and they recommended you so here I am,” and we become their shop of choice. A visitor, like any customer, would want to schedule their course a few weeks in advance so accommodations can be made on both our end and theirs. All three days of training will be in different locations, Friday being here at the shop and a pool here in Jacksonville, Saturday and Sunday will be off-site. Hotel accommodations will have to be made in advance, as it can get pretty booked up especially on holidays and weekends.
6. What the age requirement for your courses? Is the gear provided?
The age requirement to become a certified diver is 10 years old, and there is no maximum age. Divers who get certified between the ages of 10-14 will be classified as “Junior Open Water” divers until they reach the age of 15, which lets any dive professional know to keep a closer eye on them because of their age.
For gear, the initial price of the course includes the rental of everything except mask, fins, snorkel and booties. All active Atlantic Pro Diver students receive 10% off gear in the shop, excluding tanks, and military and first responders receive 15% off no matter their student status.
7. How do you book a diving class? How far in advance is booking required?
For the basic open water diver, they can tag along in one of our open water courses, which entails going with the group to Devil’s Den and KP Hole. This is great for the inexperienced diver who may want to explore the water while still under the care of a dive professional. This is no to say a seasoned diver can’t gain anything out of it, as many of our seasoned tag-alongs enjoy themselves as well. Fairly regularly, a certified diver goes with a friend or family member to videotape or experience it with them. A second option is a trip aboard the RV Explorer, which is the dive charter boat run by Nautical Divers Trips aboard the Explorer require divers to already have or be a part of a class for Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certifications, which we process here through the shop. Included in the price of the trip is three dives, tanks, weights, and they also provide beverages, snacks and a pizza lunch as the Explorer has a built-in pizza oven.