Then we booked a standard week-long trip to Roatan, Honduras. And I realized that the time has come.
The planning freak that I am, I did a ton of research online and contacted several places by email before settling on West Bay Divers. From what I learned, signing up in advance is definitely not a requirement but rather a perk: the shop will keep you in mind when creating the dive schedule for the week and make sure an instructor is available.
1. Most of the time you will have a personal instructor, especially if you are going with a relatively small shop.
2. The actual dives are super enjoyable: warm water, plenty to see! You would be combining learning with sightseeing.
3. It doesn't take a lot of time. I ended up getting my Open Water certification in only two and a half days! To speed up the process, the best thing to do is to study and pass the theory online before your trip. So that once you arrive, you would only have to do the practical part of it: five confined water dives (in a pool or at the beach) and four open water dives.
4. On top of all other benefits, island prices are at least $200 lower than North American!
Most of the time the dive shops are owned by western expats, so the instructors are native English speakers who adhere to the high standards of PADI certification - if this is something you're worried about.
Other great places to learn scuba diving while on vacation:
Belize known better than any other country in Central America for great diving. It boasts the largest exposure to the Mesoamerican reef and is especially famous for its Great Blue Hole.
The place looks a bit spooky but surely deserves to be seen!