PADI IDC Review at Buddy Dive Academy in Bonaire

After about 10 years of being a certified diver I decided .... Its time to become an Open Water Scuba Diver Instructor!
I'd been a dive master and assistant instructor for about 8 years and had well over 800 dives.

This page documents that process all the way thru from  that decision to graduation, I am sure it will be a fun and interesting process.

I was never sure if I would become a scuba instructor or not. While I really enjoyed being a dive master and an assistant instructor there just wasn't the pull to have me finish off my training to be an instructor. 

Recently I began working with an awesome instructor and assisting with a college level scuba class. I really liked how he conducted his classes and felt the students where getting some very solid training. While many of the instructors I have worked with over the years did very good classes I also saw a few that did terrible classes. I felt with bad instructors students didn't get the foundation of skills they needed to become active and safe divers, I never want to be one of the bad ones!

So in October 2017 I decided ... Its time. 

Shots of me doing dive master work

I decided on going someplace tropical to do my IDC (instructor development class). Honestly while I love diving here in the cold green water I needed an adventure to really make my IDC experience be something extra special.

After looking around a bit I settled on doing my IDC at Buddy Dive in Bonaire.

They have an all-inclusive IDC program for (as of now 1/2018) $2900.
It includes:
Shared Accommodations 
Daily Breakfast and lunch
2 Day Prep Course
IDC course
Emergency First Responder
All the PADI fees and applications costs! 
(Regular price on all of this is about $1000 alone!)
Enriched Air Instructor specialty class
Rental gear, air/nitrox and ..... A buddy dive shirt!
Plus more check it out here.

The first class I could arrange my schedule around started Feb 5th and went thru to Feb 16th
I sent an email into the course director -- put down the money and started to relearn all the dive theory material.

Using my airline miles I got a flight for Feb 2nd - Landing in Bonaire Feb 3rd then heading back home Feb 18th.
This used up all my miles but did cut my costs by $1000 on the costs.

So I am all ready to go -- All by myself and ready to meet some new friends at the IDC. I do wonder how old my fellow students will be in the IDC. Not that this really matters but at almost 50 will I be an old guy? 🙂

Well it doesn't matter because I do know I can out dive most other people I know young or old. Diving in the cold water with heavy gear and lots of weight makes tropical diving like doing nothing. 

The course director at Buddy Dive sent out some sample exams and I did well on them 80% - 85% - 95% - 100% - 100%

I also used the online practice exams at -- ScubaExams The exams are suppose to be very similar to exams in the instructor class so its good practice and learning exercise. I think it was well worth the very small fee to access them. I am one of those people who over worry about taking exams so this was awesome practice for me.

So now its time to pack up and hit the road! 

Developing and using the packing list.

A few weeks before I leave on a tropical trip I start making a packing list. As I remember things I would like to bring I add them to the list. There are always little things like a washcloth or ibuprofen which is nice to have that are always forgotten.

Then when I do the actually packing I mark off each item and note what bag I packed it in.
Then when you get to the night or day of travel when you suddenly think ... Did I pack "XXX" you can refer to the list to calm your mind. 

As long as you got all your mission critical dive gear - Don't really sweat missing an optional item of 2, it seems to happen, Just enjoy your trips and work around it or buy it there. Spending money helps the economy.

Off we go!
The travel worked out fine Portland - New Jersey - Bonaire.
Walked out of the airport and there was a guy with a Buddy Dive sign and he gave me a ride directly to my room.
I was very surprised to find out our room was a regular room at the resort -- I expected something much less nice since the price for the package was inexpensive.

It was a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 beds in each room. I was first to arrive so I claimed a bedroom but fully expected to have a roommate claim the other bed. It turned out only 4 of us where staying at the resort and one of the people had a friend on the island so she stayed there most nights. So each person got a private room ... Sweet!

We had a total of 10 students in our IDC class an 11th person did join us for the instructor exam. She was training at another location.  It was awesome to meet and train with people from diverse backgrounds. It made the class pretty interesting and you can learn a lot from other people in the class in addition to the training staff. 

Our class

Food at Buddy Dive
The package included breakfast and "staff lunch".

The first few days the restaurant let us order anything we wanted for lunch as the "staff lunch". Later it was discovered we needed to have the official "staff lunch". The "staff lunch" would change all the time depending on what the restaurant wanted to get rid of. Overall I had no problems with the "staff lunch", heck it was free.

The best item on the menu had to be the Chicken Satay. I purchased that for dinner many of the evenings.

Breakfast was nice with breads, fruit, meat, eggs, coffee, juice in a buffet style so you could eat all you wanted.
We also found good pizza and local restaurants close by if we wanted to go "off resort".

Training and the PADI Instructor Exam

We where given a schedule of the presentations, lectures and training sessions for the entire IDC.
Some of the days where about 50% lecture and 50% pool or ocean training. A few of the days where solely lectures and class room presentations. Usually the days ran from 9AM to 5PM but a few nights went later. We also got a nice lunch break and plenty of restroom breaks and snacks.

I got the CESA in both the pool and in the ocean, but I had seen so many as an assistant instructor it was a snap.

The rest of the time was spent in the class room learning the PADI teaching system, developing  and presenting knowledge remediation, studying the PADI standards and doing practice exams. We also spent a day getting our Emergency First Response Instructor certification. 

Then day one of the PADI Instructor Exam arrived.

You will receive your  assignments:
1 knowledge development - 1 confined water presentation - 2 open water presentations
The whole class selects A thru D and then everyone gets 5 skills to demo in the pool.

Our skill circuit had:
Reg recovery and clear - Neutral Buoyancy - Alt Air use Stationary - Mask Removal & Replace - CESA 

Day 1
Standards and Dive Theory Exams
One knowledge development item to present
One Confined Water Presentation
5 Skills to demo in confined water

Day 2
Two Open Water Presentations
Rescue Evaluation

Other candidates will be assigned as students and they WILL have problems you need to correct. Hopefully your group doesn't screw each other and makes it slow and obvious what their problem is. We had been doing this in the pool and open water the past 2 weeks so nothing surprising here.

So after you pass all this -- You are a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor!

Then its time to party! The beer is on Buddy Dive!

Final Thoughts

Overall this deal is a GREAT value! I would certainly do it again.

It does include free rental gear so think about using their BCDs then the rescue exercise is easier.
This also can cut your packing and baggage fees. Remember the Buddy Dive all-inclusive includes ALL PADI fees and required materials. I am not sure how they can do it for this price so get in while you can.

The instructors and staff will get you thru the program and have a 100% rate on passing thus far.

The course director Pepe is awesome -- I look forward to visiting Bonaire again and meeting up with my new friends.
I will have some good friends for life with my fellow classmates from around the world.

Dive Right In Scuba