How I became a dive guide

Every time I went on a diving holiday and I preferred to do that on a liveaboard, I thought when I saw the dive guides; ‘I like that too! Who knows.’ And when I finally lost my real job about nine years ago, that thought became an inspiration. I had a conflict with my employer and in the process of contesting it, government statistics showed that it would probably take me 3.5 to 4.5 years to land a comparable job. When my lawyer told me that I was surprised and in the same sentence he asked me; “And what are you going to do in the meantime?” Well… I didn’t have to think long about that. I already dived a lot, had a diving school for fun and was active as an instructor for years. And so I spontaneously shouted ‘Nice diving!’ and I actually did.

But how do you become a dive guide? There are many roads that lead to Rome and the path I chose took me to Egypt. As a traveling dive guide it is of course fantastic to always be in good weather, to always dive and above all to embark on beautiful and special adventures. Yet it is a difficult decision to do so, because then you give up a lot of certainties and that is very un-Dutch. I thought about that a lot before taking the plunge; ‘Do I want a long diving holiday? Or maybe a sabbatical? And what if this completely changed my life?’ I kept thinking in a circle and every time the old thought came back: ‘Yes, but…’. I really drove myself crazy until I decided to just do it. ‘I don’t need to know what I’ll be doing in 3 months or a year, do I? I don’t have to burn all my ships behind me, do I? I can just go on this adventure and then I’ll decide later!’ And with that in mind, I booked my first ticket to Egypt.

Why Egypt? Well I’ve always felt at home there, it’s not very far from home, so worse-case-senario I’ll be home in no time as long as I have money for a ticket it will always be fine. In addition, the diving industry is very large there and so I have good opportunities to find something. And so I packed my bag and left for the first time, my goal was to get off the tourist track for once. Looking for an apartment, learning how and where to do your shopping and, above all, getting to know people, building a network. Because in the end you need people, whether it’s to find work, to ask for help or just to have a nice drink. Getting to know Egyptians is not difficult, but building a European network, well… where do you find those people? I decided to join local facebook groups and soon noticed that there are also people who help others with well-meaning and nice advice. I took the plunge and sent a number of messages every week to people who came across as positive. My goal? Have a drink together and get to know each other better. I can tell that I want to work as a guide and dive instructor, that I also want to work as a graphic designer and marketer and learn how they have built their lives here on the Red Sea. Of course I found that very exciting, but in the end it is great fun to get to know people who have built their lives in a foreign country with a foreign culture. And the funny thing is that they, like me, took the step once and it turned out that we all make a living as freelancers. I hadn’t thought about that at first, but almost everyone I spoke to had that entrepreneurial spirit and that appeals to me enormously. The nice thing is that everyone helps each other and before I knew it I was already introduced to different diving schools. Now my dream was to work on the liveaboard because as a diver I just really like it. Still, I thought it was important to gain experience on the day boats first. Learning about procedures, knowing how to manage a boat, knowing and recognizing the reefs and how to best interact with guests, all in English. And so I took every opportunity I got. There were a few good centers, but I found most of the local diving schools below par. But those are also good lessons to learn and step by step I understood more and more how everything works and what role I actually play as a dive guide. As a guide you are not only the diving instructor, but together with your colleagues you arrange everything around your guests, you provide briefings, you go diving and guides several times a day, you have to keep an administration, are you a role model, are you jointly responsible for safety and so on. It is a very versatile job that demands quite a lot from you. You work long days, the show must go on even if you feel a little less, but it is still a very nice job or actually way-of-life.

After working for several months at various dive centers and retraining my PADI Instructors I decided it was time to take the next step. I called a manager from the liveaboard company I used to travel with myself here in Egypt. We agreed to meet and he wanted to offer me an internship after hearing my story. A period of training on board in which you learn all facets. He couldn’t tell me how long that process would take as it would depend on me too, what he did make clear is that I would not receive any salary during the training period. My credit would be the training itself and that was okay for me. I entered that training with great enthusiasm and pleasure and before I knew it I was doing what I dreamed of as a diver during my diving holidays. Living at sea, diving in fantastic locations with usually great weather and every week I get to know a lot of nice people. By now I would no longer call it a job, but a way of life. It is certainly not for everyone, but if you, like me, dream of becoming a diving guide, for example, then my advice is. Do not burn your ships behind you and above all go on an adventure. You can always decide to go back, but embarking on an adventure where you will work in a foreign country and try to make your hobby your life is always an interesting and above all life enriching experience.

Love life… Blow bubbles