Why do your Instructor Development Course (IDC) in the Bay Islands?

Literally hundreds of people choose to become a PADI open water scuba instructors in the Bay Islands every year. There are many reasons why.

The Dive Conditions

The Bay Islands have exceptional dive condition all year round. The winter months are November, December and January it can get rainy, but the ocean stays warm and clear and calm water for diving can always be found on one side of the islands or another.

The visibility usually been 50 and 100 foot (15-30m). There is little wave action on the North shore the majority of the year since the trade winds are south westerly. The south shore can be a little bumpy for the majority of the year.

This means that during the instructor development course, which has some long confined and open water sessions, you won't be getting cold, you won't be getting tired fighting currents and waves and you will be able to easily see everything that is going on. This allows you to focus on the training you are receiving without distractions.

Cost of Living

The Bay Islands are cheap place to stay for an extended time. You can rent a room or apartment for as little as $300/month, sometimes less. You can live off a daily budget of $15-$20usd (if you are careful).

Quality of Training

The variety and quality of training you will receive is exceptional. Mainly because many (not all) of the instructor trainers have been Course Directors for years, teaching an IDC every month.  This degree of experience means that they are well practised at providing quality training. When it comes to choosing a course director their experience is the most important thing to prioritise. The most experienced Course Directors are awarded the Platinum Frequent Trainer Award.

Choosing the right IDC center

What Island?

There are a few IDC centers in the Bay Islands, the first choice is which Island: 

 

Utila has positioned itself as party central, aiming for the backpacker business. If a vibrant nightlife with bars open till dawn is important to you, then Utila it has to be. The size of the IDC classes on Utila tends to be much larger than on Roatan. The cost of living on Utila is probably marginally lower than Roatan. It is harder to find work on Utila after you are certified as there are many more instructors trained on the island fighting for the jobs available than there are on Roatan.

Roatan has positioned itself to attract cruise ships and vacationers coming for one or two weeks.  The IDC class sizes tend be small, averaging just 4 per class. Job opportunities on Roatan, post certification, are excellent. Especially between December and end of July. There are many more beaches on Roatan and it has a slighlty more tranquil Caribbean vibe.

What to look for in the IDC center

Choosing the IDC center should then be based on:

  1. The Course Director

  2. Class size

  3. The IDC schedule

  4. Accommodation

  5. MSDT and Specialties

Here is a list of questions you want to ask:

Course Director / IDC Staff

  1. Who will be the course director teaching my class?

  2. Will they teach the entire course or do you also use staff instructors and or other course directors?

    • This is an important question since you are choosing the IDC center based on the experience of the course director, you want to make sure that it is them teaching the entire course!

  3. How long have they been a course director?

  4. How many IDCs have they taught approximately?

    • It isn't just about years of service, its the number of IDCs they have taught that is the real mark of experience.

  5. How many Open Water Scuba Instructors have they certified approximately?

    • This is an important question to ask in this specific way. You want to know the number of OWSI certs they have, not the total number of Instructor certs they have which would include all the specialty instructor certs they have issued.  Specialty instructor training experience is important, but not nearly as important as their experience teaching OWSIs.

Class size and schedule
  1. Is there a GUARANTEED maximum class size for the IDC?

    • Personally i think being a class size of 3-4 is the ideal, six is the absolute maximum i would want to be in. More than that and you are not getting the personal attention you could be.

  2. How many days is your IDC course?

    • The minimum number of days by PADI standards for a complete IDC is 7. If the class is taught in 7 days it is going to be 7 LONG STRESSFUL days. 10 to 12 days, depending on class size, is about the right amount of time. This will allow you to learn what you need, at a comfortable pace, and arrive at the PADI Instructor Exam confident you will pass. As opposed to arriving physically and mentally exhausted. A day off half way through is also nice to have giving you time to independently study those areas you are unsure on, or just have a much needed rest.

  3. What is the daily schedule?

    • Long days should be avoided 9am to 5pm, or 8am to 4pm is about the maximum amount of time most people can concentrate. Longer days than that decrease learning efficiency and increase fatigue and stress. It also gives you time to prepare your homework AND have a good evening meal.

Accommodation and Location
  1. Do you provide accommodation?

    • Having to to find your own accommodation when booking an IDC just adds hassle. Don't be sucked in by 'we will help you find accommodation when you get here' if its that easy why not just find it now before i book!)

  2. How close to the dive center is the accommodation?

    • You want to know for sure that when you arrive there will be accommodation conveniently located within walking distance of the dive center. YOU DO NOT WANT to have to get Taxis or ride a shuttle bus every morning and evening, adding an hour or more of commuting to your day cuts into your study/relaxation time.

  3. Does the accommodation have AC?

    • It can get pretty hot in the Bay Islands! If you are not used to it you will have sleepless nights without AC. You need to get a good nights sleep EVERY night during the IDC and IE.

  4. Is there a good selection of Bars and Restaurants near the accommodation?

    • Going out for a nice reasonably priced meal or even a beer in the evening is great to help you relax after a day of learning. You don't want your accommodation to be in the middle of nowhere. In Roatan you want to stay in the West End, FOR SURE. Utila is small enough that everywhere is close to bars and restaurants.

  5. Is there Wifi?

    • Its nice to be able to stay in touch with friends and family, you may also need internet access to help you study.

  6. What security is there?

    • The Bay Islands do not suffer from the crime problems that ha made the mainland of Honduras infamous. However there can still be petty crime and robberies. As long as there is a night watchman and the property is fenced with locked access, and maybe a dog or two! You won't be a victim.

MSDT and Specialties

This is an interesting one. Many people looking to do their PADI Instructor training put way to much importance on post IDC specialty training. My advice is to wait a while before you do specialty training. Get some experience teaching the core courses, Open water and Advanced, in that time get in idea for what specialties are popular with students in the area you have got a job and take the training to do those specialities. 

There are areas of the world that you need to be an MSDT in order to get a job, but there are many (such as Roatan) where being an MSDT will make very little difference to your chance of finding employment.

So make this decision wisely, it is expensive to do 5 specialty instructor courses with a course director and pay the PADI application fee for each one. You need to be sure that it actually will help you get a job in the area you want to teach. Also make sure you are doing the right specialties, the ones that are in demand where you will be working.

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