There are opportunities to combine work (yes, paid work) and travel outside of the typical travel agent/rep/guide roles. I know it can be hard to realise what those sorts of jobs might be. Even more so, I know that it can be tricky to imagine what one of those jobs might be like once the novelty wears off…if it ever does.
I thought you lovely lot might like to hear what it is like working in the Canary Islands as a Divemaster (an assistant to a Diving Instructor). I caught up with Dave from Abyss Divers to get all the juicy info.
Q. What is the best part of your job?
Doing something that I love and have a huge passion for. Nearly every day I get to see some amazing creatures that most people will never get a chance to see in their life, like a three metre eagle ray! It is rewarding to see someone try diving for the first time and fall in love with the ocean.
Q. What is a typical day as a Divemaster like?
It can often be a long one, but when you love your job it never feels like work, and that’s what I wanted from life. A normal day looks like this:
- 6am – Get up and walk the 40 minutes to work. Watching the sun come up over the ocean is fantastic. Wearing just shorts and a t-shirt makes the commute a nice way to start the day.
- 7am – Organise and pack the diving gear for the day. Guests are usually sized up a few days before, so it’s a case of checking everything is in and ready (wetsuits, mask, fins, buoyancy compensator device, regulator and cylinders). Plus, obviously my own equipment as well. Oh, and collecting cakes and buns from the local bakery for snacks throughout the day.
- 8.30am – Load the van, collect the guests from their hotels and head on down to main dive site. As a Dive Master, I set the dive site up and unpack the van ready for everyone to assemble their gear.
- 9.30am – Dive! The Instructor leads the way, followed by our guest divers, then the Dive Master (me) at the back. I help our guests to enjoy the dive, pointing out all the cool marine life.
- 10.10am – We surface from the water and have a break to warm up, eat cakes, drink coffee and more importantly chat about how amazing the dive was! We break for 90 minutes for health and safety reasons. Being in the sun is pretty nice.
- 11.40am – We dive again following a different route.
- 1pm – We pack up and drop guests back off at their respective hotels.
- 2pm – I wash all the gear with freshwater and hang it all to dry. The cylinders go back on the compressor to re-fill ready for the next dives.
- 4pm – Time for paperwork and editing the photographs from the dives. We only edit the pictures to add colour back into them, as the deeper you go the more colour is washed out of the picture.
- 6pm – Finish! It’s always great to head to the bar for a quick beer on the seafront and reflect just how lucky I am.
Q. Do ever have to work overtime?
If I’m lucky, the day might also include a night dive. On those days, I have a quick nap as I’m then out at 8:30pm to dive again. We return to the shop by about 11:30pm to wash gear and then I head off to bed.
Q. Do you like the night dives?
Night dives are less common and many people are scared, but these are often the most fun and fascinating ones. A whole new group of marine life emerges, including incredible phosphorescence that glow in the dark.
Q. What is the pay like?
As a Divemaster you expect to get little (or even no set wage). However you do get to dive for free, earn commission and many centres around the world offer board and or lodging as payment. If you progress from Divemaster to Diving Instructor you can definitely use it to extend or heavily subsidise your holiday. The job enables you to travel around the world – as long as there is a coast line you can find somewhere to offer your services for food/money/accommodation.
Q. Do you dive every day?
On the few days we are not diving, someone always mans the shop while the rest of us hit the beach for a bit of marketing and chatting to strangers about how awesome diving is.
Q. How did you get into diving?
Initially in the UK as a hobby and through BSAC. BSAC stands for British Sub Aqua Club. They are a not for profit diving agency. It was a great way to get into it, just using a few hours a week.
Once I realised I wanted to go pro, I knew I had to change agencies and move to PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). It is one of the largest diving agencies and most well known to non-divers.
Q. What’s your best piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a Divemaster or Instructor?
Stop thinking about it and go for it. Experience is key, so if you have never dived before, find your local diving centre and get started. To become pro you have to log a minimum number of dives anyway and the more you dive the better your experience is under the water. I have just surpassed my 100th dive and every day I still learn something new or improve on something.
Q. Why did you choose the Canary Islands?
First of all I wanted somewhere nice and warm. After all isn’t that one of the huge perks of becoming a diving professional?! Living life in the sun and diving with exotic creatures is amazing. I wanted to be able to go somewhere which wasn’t too far from home (the UK), whilst I was testing the water so to speak on whether I wanted to make my hobby my job. YES is definitely the answer to that!
So, what do you think guys? Are you ready to have some lessons in the hope of becoming a sun-seeking diving extraordinaire? Have you ever tried diving on holiday or at a local club? Is it something you could get into?
P.S. Big, big thanks to Dave for taking the time out to fill me in. Abyss Divers offer loads of advice and information. If you’re heading out to the Canary Islands look them up.
There are plenty of other options to make your travel job dream a reality. Every month I’ll share suggestions and insights through interviews with real people – people who are actually travelling the world, or part of it, through their job. Visit the ‘Travel Jobs‘ section of Taylor Hearts Travel to discover more.