from 3 reviews
PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Dive Resort
Oceans Unlimited Costa Rica
Frente Al Ebais De Quepos
Po Box 452-6350
24th August 2010 by plotty
The best scuba training in costa rica.. possibly the world!
Visit Date: May 2010
I recently took a dive course at Oceans Unlimited and I want to praise and recommend the staff and the shop to the scuba community.
I trained with Course Director, Georgia King, and received top class scuba training. She was patient, professional, and a really great teacher. The rest of the staff at the shop are friendly and helpful and I especially liked the resident dog, Damien.
The attention to detail was fantastic - they are really safety conscious (which is always reassuring), the dive briefings were thorough and humorous, they have a brand new high speed dive boat (great for those of us that get a little seasick), well maintained scuba equipment, the tastiest pineapple ever for the surface interval... and they even had 2 Marine Biologists ready to answer any questions I had about what I saw under the surface!
I spent a while in Costa Rica this summer, and despite the rainy season reducing the viz I still managed some great dives with Oceans Unlimited while I was in Quepos / Manuel Antonio. The divemasters found us sharks, turtles and eels and tonnes of fish. A great experience was when we saw a pod of dolphins on the surface interval. The captain took us a little closer to see a baby dolphin trying to make leaps out the water!!
I would recommend diving with oceans unlimited to anybody passing through the area, you will experience a friendly and professional dive trip!
I only rated them down on "My personal gear was washed and stored away" because I am particular about washing my own gear. But they let me get involved with the divemasters washing gear around the back of the shop.
12th January 2010 by DavidDixon
Respectable centre but leaves a lot to be desired. Overall Poor
Visit Date: December 2009
Although this is a perfectly respectable dive centre, Oceans Unlimited cannot accurately be assessed as 5-star, except perhaps by someone inexperienced in these things. So please do not be misled. My perspective is that of a senior diver and instructor, having dived in over 20 countries and visited dozens of centres.
I visited Oceans Unlimited in mid December 2009, having booked a two-tank dive with them by phone the previous afternoon. I was collected promptly from my hotel at about 7:30 a.m. and taken to the centre along with 8 other divers and one “bubble watcher”, the boyfriend of one of the diving group, who was charged US$25 for the privilege.
My original preference had been to dive Cano Island in Drake Bay, a good two-hour high speed boat ride to the south, since this is considered possibly the best close-to-shore diving in Costa Rica. However, as became increasingly apparent, although Oceans Unlimited do actually run this day trip, it is not operated as frequently as you might imagine and I had believed from their website. Indeed, I was latterly informed that the trip was running only on 19 and 27 December. Why then had they several times suggested that I paid a 50% deposit to reserve a place should the trip run at a time more suitable to me? I had tried several times by email to elicit some clear idea of how often the Cano trips ran and, whilst this cannot be a precise thing, it was rather left up to me to suggest to the centre that this excursion wasn’t often arranged. They could have been much more open and frank with me about this.
Replies to my emails were always sent promptly and dealt with courteously, although often direct questions would not be answered or I had information found on their website fed back to me. When I sought clarification though, I received it. However, this included being told that there would be no rental allowance if I preferred to use my own kit rather than theirs and twice they did not deny that the only refunds they gave were when they cancel “due to weather or unsafe conditions” or if cancelation is at least a fortnight before any activity. Cancellation terms are well hidden on their website with a small print link at the bottom of the reservations page. You have been warned.
Another thing I tried to find out in advance was, in general, what diving is available locally for more experienced divers and how mixed groups are adequately catered for if they are on the same boat. Oceans Unlimited were very non-committal about this and just urged me to come along. There is little doubt in my mind therefore that they were primarily after my money, business can’t be easy right now, but their approach will not exactly generate diver consumer confidence. I also note that in the few weeks since my initial enquiry the price of the Cano trip rose from US$195 to US$220. It was not clear from their website whether this is an adjustment for high season or a general substantial uplift.
So I took the two-tank dive at US$95, including the cost of (in my case unnecessary) full kit. On arrival at the centre we were quickly looked after with kit being distributed to all those who needed it and help being given to those uncertain of sizes, weights etc. All certification was individually inspected and disclaimers signed. The pick-up truck was loaded and we re-boarded the minibus and were taken the five minutes or so’s drive down to the jetty in the small harbour. After a short wait, the kit and team of dive guides arrived and we all boarded the dive boat. This was adequate size for the morning dive for paying divers and a generous number of crew/guides. Looking at the boat I was at first concerned that the canopy would be sufficient to give adequate protection, but the sun appeared to have a high enough elevation not to bother us. However, the divers had shared sun cream on the jetty before we departed.
We travelled a few miles or so across the bay, perhaps a 10 minute journey, but not long to the first dive site. The group was then split into two – a five made up of less experienced divers including those who had only recently achieve their basic qualification and a three who were relatively more advanced divers. Dive briefings were given by the group leader/marshal and also by the guide for each group. In fact there were at least five dive guides who accompanied the group. My group of three had two guides, which was somewhat overkill, but I suspect the guy trailing at the back of my group was a rookie, judging by his body language. During the briefing I found it necessary to ask a few questions in order to be clear about signals particularly in respect of pressure readings since Oceans Unlimited operate using north American psi, rather than the more widely used bar. They needed prompting to remember that not everyone is familiar with this and non US/Canadian divers might think about this briefly before they dive. Likewise, if you are familiar in using weights measured in kilos, remember these guys mean pounds when they talk about what weights you require, so be careful that you are not underweighted.
We did two shallow 40 minute dives (maximum depths 9.7 and 14.9 metres in that order, average depths 7.6 and 10.0 metres). Visibility was generally poor at about 5 to 10 metres. Water temperature was 29OC. There was a reasonable amount of marine life with a fair rather than prolific diversity of fish and other aquatic species. There were a few I had not seen before, but nothing especially interesting, rare or large. Although I had been told things would be pointed out to me and species identified after, I was mainly left to my own devices; not that that was an issue. There was some coral here, but in general it was small and far from spectacular. Sadly, I would unhesitatingly put these two in my bottom 20% of dives, perhaps the bottom 10%, but then I have been spoiled elsewhere. Whilst depth isn’t everything (I have had some really great shallow dives), I saw no evidence of Ocean Unlimited having made any effort to run a dive that would match the interests of anyone other than the less experienced diver.
Body adornment and mutilation apart (!), the dive guides were charming, friendly and helpful. Safety procedures were closely followed with minor exceptions – ascents after the safety stop were too fast and the other guest divers in my group lifted their masks up to their tops of their heads in the swell at the surface risking them being knocked off – a bad habit . We were offered water or juice when on the boat and fresh fruit after each dive, which was refreshing, if sticky.
At 48 minutes, the surface interval between dives was rushed and barely adequate, although to be honest at these depths there was minimal risk. It however sets a bad example of corner cutting.
My loan kit, mainly Sherwood equipment, was satisfactorily and functioned properly, although I had to knot the waist strap on the BCD, as the adjusters had broken. One diver was on nitrox and she was happy with this. Nevertheless, the advantages of doing this for the kind of diving we did are minimal and probably do not justify the extra cost. The console I was provided with was dual with only depth and pressure gauges, but no compass which I am used to using. Dive guides excepted, I was the only diver using a computer.
On return to the little port, a “magic fin” was placed upright on top of the kit for gratuities, but I didn’t see anyone use it. Back from the harbour there was no query whether we had enjoyed the experience, no debrief, no offer to stamp up log books and no offer or enquiry about having further dives. Perhaps they had already anticipated the answer.
The Oceans Unlimited centre is in the town rather than adjacent to the port of Quepos. It is based on a secure plot surrounded with razor wire. There is space for several vehicles at the side and back and there is a good cage outside where cylinders are stored. There are several smallish rooms inside the centre, a general reception area with a small display of diving goods for sale, kit stores, a room where a few divers can study and toilets. However, I had the impression that it was rather untidy and a bit dingy, which did not give an image of an efficiently run operation.
Incidentally, I was told that Manual Antonio Divers (MAD) had packed up and Oceans Unlimited has taken over their web link and some of their staff too.
So, would I dive with Oceans Unlimited again? In short, no; they have little to offer me unless they would take me to Cano. Would I dive with them knowing what I now do if I had not been before? – Again no, unless I particularly wanted to tick the box for diving on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Perhaps though you are a novice or tourist diver who is just keen to get in the water, in which case Oceans Unlimited will happily look after your basic needs.
1) Oceans Unlimited should not be taking any deposits unless there is a strong likelihood of a service being provided
2) Their terms and conditions should be reviewed and a fair and equitable refund system adopted and conspicuously disclosed on their website. Divers should be fully reimbursed if they have to withdraw from a booking for no fault of their own
3) Dive briefings should take better account of those trained using international standards (bar, kilos etc) especially when it is known there are divers present from outside north/central America
4) The Centre should be rather more open and fair with those making enquires and tell them honestly what to expect. I am not saying they are dishonest, but they are unduly vague
5) A price (discount) allowance should be given to those supplying their own kit; after all there is reduced risk and wear and tear
6) The place could do with a jolly good tidy up and a lick of bright paint.
2nd March 2009 by Talita
“Doesn't get better than this!”
Visit Date: April 2007
Well, what can I say.
After not setting foot on a boat for over 10yrs I finally decided to go ahead, overcome my fear and get my Open Water Diver Certificate.
And let me say - I am glad I did the course with these guys!!
Excellent equipment, truly nice and caring people (when Bob starts telling you stories about his experience as a Police-Diver trainer in the US you can't do anything else but listen with your mouth open) who are at the same time absolutely professional and flexible (AND they whip up some delicious burgers if you are lucky enough to be at one of their semi-regular BBQs).
These guys can do anything from Introduction to Advanced or Specialty Courses, Children's training, local dives or trips to farther away Drake Bay or Caño Island.
If you want professional services mixed with a friendly attitude and great people - there's no other choice than Ocean's!!