How Winning a PADI Divemaster Package Changed My Life

Written by Christina Albiger

To celebrate PADI 5 Star IDC Sairee Cottage Diving’s 10 year anniversary they put together the ‘Change a Life’ contest. One lucky winner would win an all-inclusive (zero to hero) PADI Divemaster package. Not only did this package include all PADI courses from Open Water Diver up to Divemaster, but it also included flights, accommodation, learning material, insurance, unlimited fun diving, gear rental and more.

I finally decided to enter the competition and began writing a blog post and filming a video to submit. A few weeks and one video interview later, Sairee Cottage Diving’s PADI Platinum Course Director, Marcel van den Berg, messaged me to let me know I had actually won the contest! After totally freaking out, I immediately started looking for flights. With my flights booked for the 22nd July, I couldn’t wait to go on my biggest adventure yet.

Living in Paradise 

Being the lucky winner of the Sairee Cottage Diving ‘Change a Life’ competition, I won an all-inclusive PADI Divemaster package. Although I originally never imagined myself as a PADI Divemaster, I was excited to get started. I travelled to the beautiful island of Koh Tao, where I visited Sairee Cottage Diving. It was here that I was lucky enough to start a new chapter of my life as a PADI Divemaster, while living in paradise. My life was quickly filled with beautiful beaches, warm weather, amazing people and a lot of unforgettable diving!

Starting My PADI Divemaster Journey

Since travelling to Koh Tao and meeting the team at Sairee Cottage Diving, a lot has happened. I completed my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, Emergency First Response and PADI Rescue Diver courses and I am currently on the journey to becoming a PADI Divemaster.

Most people I talk to ask me if I can teach students how to dive after completing the PADI Divemaster course, but the answer is simply no. To teach students how to dive you must first complete the PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor program. Instead, as a PADI Divemaster you can take already certified divers on guided tours (fun dives) despite their certification level (Open Water Diver and above). A Divemaster is simply an underwater tour guide that can show divers local dive sites, local marine life and basically anything interesting underwater.

Learning great buoyancy skills in my PADI Divemaster Course.

To become a PADI Divemaster you must first learn various demonstrating skills, theory about your equipment, human physiology, physics, and decompression and recreational diving. You must be able to prove your swimming, floating, snorkelling and towing abilities. To deepen your rescue, navigation, buoyancy and mapping skills, you must also attend workshops. Finally, you will also need to assist instructors on various courses. Besides all that, a huge part of the course is fun diving so you can perfect your confidence underwater and of course, your diving skills. Here at Sairee Cottage Diving, they emphasise that your Divemaster course is about having fun – and it absolutely is!

The PADI Scuba Diving Community

One thing that makes this humbling experience of discovering this whole new world, even more fun, is that I get to share it with so many other passionate divers. The PADI diving community is literally just as diverse as the Koh Tao marine life. You’ll meet people of all ages, from all over the world, with the most diverse backgrounds, yet they all have a shared love for diving. I have learnt so much from just talking to them about what we’ve seen underwater during previous diving experiences. Being surrounded by those inspiring people and hearing their experiences have helped (and still help) me a lot with progressing in my own diving career. For example, I have been able to overcome my small fear of night diving by realising that with the right training, a night dive can be a very special and meditative experience.

Recently a friend of mine asked me about my most memorable experience in diving and I thought back to my first week on Koh Tao. Together with some other divemaster candidates, I went on a fun dive at a dive site called South West Pinnacle. It was a nice, sunny day and the visibility underwater was great. We were just hovering around the pinnacle enjoying ourselves when a giant school of beautiful gold band fusiliers came in sight. Those small, agile fish were everywhere, surrounding us from every side, moving whenever we moved. Some of them even came very close which made the experience of being a part of this community and one with the environment, even more exciting. It absolutely made my day and it still puts a big smile on my face today. Another dive I will never forget was when we saw a whale shark. It was so unbelievably exciting to see the stunning whale shark swim gracefully in the distance.

Whale shark encounter during my PADI Divemaster Course on Koh Tao.

Sharing the Passion for Scuba

Putting a big smile on someone’s face and experiencing these amazing memories with them is why becoming a PADI Divemaster is so special. You are able to show them the marine life that they see on television, in front of their own eyes. Sometimes I catch myself taking all this for granted, as it has become a part of my everyday life. However, I keep reminding myself that the opportunity I was given comes as a once in a lifetime experience and I am incredibly thankful for that!

It’s hard to put my thoughts and feelings into the right words, as there is so much more to tell. However, that’s why I am sharing my experience of my PADI Divemaster journey and the amazing lifestyle that comes with it.

Are you interested in becoming a PADI Divemaster like Christina? Learn more about the PADI Divemaster course, PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor course and locate your local PADI Dive Store in Koh Tao today!

Divemaster Application Tips

Divemaster Applications and CPR – First Aid Training

Many Divemaster candidates have been working hard all year and the applications have been streaming in. We strive to process all applications promptly, however they are occasionally delayed due to missing documentation.

The most common issue is missing documentation when the applicant has completed a non-EFR first aid and CPR course. Non-EFR first aid/ CPR courses can meet the requirement for Divemaster; however, documentation of course completion must be included with the application.

The PADI Instructor Manual lists the qualifying certification description for EFR Primary Care as proof of current CPR training, and for EFR Secondary Care as proof of current first aid training. Most CPR/first aid courses are accepted provided they meet current emergency care guidelines. If you’re uncertain about whether your candidate’s CPR/first aid course meets the necessary requirements, please contact the Training Department via email traindep@padi.com.au to verify.

Please note: first aid and CPR courses taught entirely online do not meet Divemaster requirements (nor do they meet other first aid/CPR requirements for other PADI courses).

Here’s how to ensure your Divemaster candidate’s application is processed as quickly as possible:

  1. Verify that all certification information is complete
  2. Verify that all required signatures are there
  3. Make sure that the application is completed in its entirety – including the hologram sticker
  4. When submitting prerequisite certifications from other organizations, including CPR/first aid course completions, make sure that copies of these are attached to the application.
  5. Provide payment details is required.

Acceptable documentation includes:

  • A copy of both sides of the certifying organization’s certification card.
  • A copy of the certifying organization’s wall certificate.
  • A letter on the certifying organization’s letterhead verifying the certification

For current DM fees, please contact the PADI Asia Pacific Membership Department via email at memdep@padi.com.au.

Clarification on Dive Medicals

PADI Divemaster, (Assistant) Instructor and other PADI Pro level training clearly list the important course prerequisite that the candidate must be medically evaluated and cleared for diving by a physician within 12 months.

As this is a course prerequisite, both the PADI Instructor conducting the course and the PADI dive shop where the training is conducted are responsible to ensure that this dive medical is in place prior to starting the course – or at the very latest before conducting any in-water sessions (also if these take place in swimming pool or confined water). It is a violation of PADI Training Standards to take candidates into the water for training activities while not yet having a fit to dive medical on file.

The above also applies for any students on other PADI courses that involve dives and where they indicated “Yes” to any question(s) on the Medical Statement / Questionnaire. If their medical condition changes during the course, they must be re-evaluated and again cleared for diving by a physician prior to continuing the training. A fit to dive medical must also still be valid (less than one year old) at time of course completion.

TIPS to ensure / verify appropriate dive medical documentation is in place at the start and end of every course:

  1. The dive medical must clearly state at least the following specific information:
    • Full name and details (e.g. date of birth) to identify the diver
    • Clearance for diving (e.g. “fit to dive”)
    • Full name and contact details of the physician
    • Physician’s signature and date
  2. Keep a clear copy on file (the diver keeps the original of their own medical)

divemaster application tips

AquaMarine Diving – Bali Continue to Support the Local Dive Community   

With scuba diving holidays in Bali on the rise, AquaMarine Diving – Bali believe that the need for more professional and well-trained dive staff is more crucial than ever. That is why they created their annual 11 Month PADI Divemaster Internship Programme for Indonesian citizens who are interested in starting a career within Indonesia’s fast-growing dive industry.

During the 11 month internship, each intern is assigned a mentor to guide them through the steps from PADI Open Water Diver, right through to PADI Divemaster level. AquaMarine’s current Dive Team – who are all Indonesian – are keen to ‘give back’, offering the same opportunities they’ve had at AquaMarine Diving – Bali.

After 6 months of training and having passed the PADI Divemaster course, the interns then work for a further six months with AMD-B, under the direct supervision of AMD-B’s senior dive staff. This gives them a solid grounding to become dive guides with a professional, positive, and safety-oriented approach to scuba diving, ready to be employed in Bali or at other world-class dive resorts around the country.

AMD-B began this programme in 2012, making this the third successful year of supporting the local dive community.

In order to be eligible for the internship in 2015, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be an Indonesian citizen
  • Be available for an interview at AquaMarine Diving in Bali
  • Minimum 20 years of age
  • Must be a strong swimmer
  • Must speak English
  • Able to socialise with tourists
  • Pass a medical examination

If you know anyone who might be interested to join AquaMarine’s award-winning dive team and be part of the ‘11 Month PADI DM Internship for Indonesian Citizens Programme’ starting in January 2015, please advise them to e-mail Dive@AquaMarineDiving.com for more information.

Applications are open now until 3rd November 2014.AMD Bali 2014  3 Interns small

AquaMarine Diving- Bali’s current 2014 Interns – (L-R) Jaka, Farhan and Liza are now PADI Rescue Divers,  pictured on Pbai Beach, Bali.

AquaMarine Diving, Bali – 2014 PADI Divemaster Internship for Indonesians

In early January 2014, PADI 5 Star Dive Resort – AquaMarine Diving – Bali (AMD-B) welcomed 4 young interns onto their “11 Month PADI Divemaster Internship for Indonesian Citizens: 2014” program.

AMD-B started this programme in 2012, making this the third year – previous graduates have gone on to work in other parts of Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia, including the world-famous Wakatobi Dive Resort in south east Sulawesi.

Liza (south Sumatra), Farhan (Jakarta), Alif (central Java) and Jaka (north Bali) are all Muslim, and each brings new skills, life experiences and high levels of energy to the programme. They are clearly all very excited at the prospect of becoming PADI Professionals and members of the worldwide dive community.

AMD-B Interns

During the Internship, each candidate is assigned a PADI Instructor to act as mentor during their training.

All four interns were certified as PADI Open Water Divers at the end of January. The month of February is taken up by the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, which requires them to undertake all available electives; it takes a while to cover the theory (and learn the English vocabulary) and to achieve competency.

In March they will take the Emergency First Response and PADI Rescue Diver courses, before commencing the PADI Divemaster program which is scheduled to take three months.

Annabel Thomas, owner and Director of AquaMarine Diving – Bali commented “We are very pleased and excited that this year we have four interns – including a woman, Liza. Around the world, scuba diving tends to be a male-dominated industry. I hope more young women will see what Liza is doing and follow in her footsteps”.

Alif, 22 years, the youngest of AMD-B’s interns, said “I had experience of diving at my university before and I want to continue my skills to be a professional diver. The program is free for Indonesian Citizens and it is an interesting challenge to increase my knowledge and skill. I wish by joining this program to be a PADI Divemaster and work around Indonesia”.

Khotaman, who completed the Internship in 2013, is a friend of Liza and encouraged her to apply for a place on the program. Khotaman has recently finished backpacking in Vietnam/southern China and is currently considering offers of employment from Pulau Weh, Lembeh Strait and Komodo.

More news to follow