Get your Padi Open Water in San Andres
If you're thinking of getting your Padi Open Water and you happen to be anywhere in Colombia, make sure to go to San Andres.
Most people who travel around in Colombia and are thinking of getting their Padi Open water, end up in Taganga. And yes, I’m not going to contest that it is the cheapest place in Colombia to get your Padi Open Water license, but that's where it ends for Taganga. For starters, the town itself doesn't have much to offer and the waters around Taganga are not the clearest.
If you are keen to spend a few extra bucks, you could get yourself a cheap flight to San Andres and get that Padi Open Water while exploring some of the clearest waters in the world. Besides, you'll be on a white sand beach island in the middle of the Caribbean. If you ask me, that’s a double win ! Check Viva Colombia for cheap flights from major cities such as Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena.
Is San Andres expensive ?
People have asked me whether it is not super expensive to travel on the island. Cause after all, you're on a budget right ? Well, i would be lying if i said it was as cheap as the Colombian mainland, but that doesn't mean it was expensive. San Andres is not the Galapagos ! Trust me, i have been there. The Galapagos will make your wallet bleed! San Andres on the other hand is still very budget friendly. I had almuerzos (lunch) for 9.000 COP (that's about 3$) and a moto taxi to nearly anywhere on the island will cost you 2.000 COP (that’s not even a dollar). And a hostel can be booked for around 12 dollar per night. So basically.. not that much of a difference to the mainland. So there is another excuse you just got rid of.
the Padi Open Water Course
So, what about the Padi Open Water course ? Well, as it is a Padi course, it is an internationally regulated course, meaning that you'll basically do the same thing wherever you do the course. The biggest difference is the location where you will get your 4 open water dives! And believe me, not many locations in the world will top San Andres.
I have heard from a few fellow travelers that there are quite a few cowboy companies going around in Taganga. All on the look out to make a quick buck off a backpacker joining in for a cheap Padi course. Well, consider the fact that this will be your basic learnings for diving. You might want to prefer to dive with someone who actually cares about you and will provide you with some proper equipment. After all, diving is still a dangerous sport if you don't take care of the safety rules. Oh, and last but not least, you're in Colombia my friend, big chance your instructor might not even speak English...
I conducted my Padi Open water course with Blue Life Diving Center, a family owned company located in front of the Sunrise Hotel. And i can only speak good of them. First of all, they speak impeccable English, their equipment is good and their staff are always enthusiastic and in for a laugh! Here it is all about diving, and making sure as many other people get the vibe of scuba diving. Everything with respect for the student, the island and the marine life! Contact them with any question, and they'll be happy to help you out! All details can be found on their website: http://www.bluelifedive.com
The only reason not to go to San Andres to get your Padi Open Water is because you are afraid of islands. And let’s be honest... you're not !
Here are some tips for those who are planning their Padi Open Water in San Andres
5 Tips for your Padi Open Water in San Andres
- book at least 5 days on the island.
You will be flying there, and you are not allowed to fly 24h before and after a dive. Just safety !
- Book a hostel well in advance
The island is always full. And there are not that many cheap places to stay. So book well in advance.
- Book at a respected diving school
There will always be cowboys in the field. Diving is not without danger, make sure to get a good diving school with quality equipment and educated instructors.
I would strongly recommend the Blue Life dive shop. Check their website and contact them freely with any questions. They're very nice people and speak fluent English!
- rent a motorbike or golf buggy for at least a day and drive around the island. It's pure magic.
- Don't bring sunscreen! Buy it there. The island has tons of duty free shopping making it a perfect spot to get some new boardshorts, shoes or some extra GoPro gear! All way cheaper then the mainland. Even the sunscreen! But make sure to buy that one immediately on arrival... you'll need it !