Tropical Vacation? Learn to Scuba Dive Before You Go

Bonaire Aerial Paul Stockmann SQUAREImagine relaxing in a tropical paradise where pristine beaches are endless, trade winds off the ocean gently blow through your hair, and exquisite colors of turquoise blues and greens reflect off the crystal-clear water.

Did you ever wonder what’s underneath the open water, deep down in the ocean depths?

If you ask Gary Gordon, owner and operator of The Dive Shop Aquatic Center in Brookfield, he’ll describe an unexplored world that you can’t possibly imagine.

“Scuba diving is like swimming in an aquarium. It’s a whole different world where you think you’re on a completely different planet. Every single dive is a brand-new, magical adventure where you can explore thousands of exotic species of marine life that you’ve never seen before. The coral reefs are absolutely breathtaking.”

48249848_Turtle Paul Stockmann SQUAREFor Gary, he’ll never forget his first experience deep sea diving in Maui, Hawaii, and the trip was lifechanging. In 1996, he switched careers and opened the doors to The Dive Shop, taking students with him to exotic locations like Grand Caymans, Fiji, Honduras, Micronesia, and Tahiti.

Ever since, The Dive Shop Aquatic Center is Connecticut’s largest PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center – for beginners to advanced, and those needing recertification.

It’s also the only diving facility with a large, heated indoor lap pool that’s onsite, which was built 11 years ago. This means scuba diving students can sign up for individual or small group lessons any time the center is open, seven days a week.

Gary Diving Paul Stockmann SQUAREGary, a renowned master scuba diving instructor, who trained over 5,000 divers, recommends learning how to scuba dive before going away on vacation.

“You don’t want to be sitting in a classroom or spending several hours in a training pool while on vacation. If you get everything done beforehand, then you can enjoy doing your four open water dives that are required for certification, while you’re there.”


To get started, Gary recommends giving yourself at least one month, preferably two to three months, to take the first part of the certification course, before leaving for vacation. That way there’s no rush.

Bonair Orange Coral Paul Stockmann SQUAREThe Dive Shop’s OPEN WATER PART 1 course starts out with a one-hour orientation meeting.

Thereafter, there are three full sessions that meet once a week. Each class is 3 to 3.5 hours long. The course covers academics and pool training.

The tank, regulator, BCD, wetsuit, and weight belt are provided for each student. A mask, snorkel, boots, and fins can be purchased at The Dive Shop’s retail store at a discount.

After successfully completing Part 1, each student gets a referral form to do four open water dives and can choose any place, or multiple places, in the world. PADI rates all dive centers and gives each student one year to complete the open water dives.

Bonaire Scuba Boat Paul Stockmann SQUAREOPEN WATER PART 2 is the application of learned skills during your four open water dives requirement, demonstrating what you learned.

The Dive Shop offers guided dive trips throughout most of the year to the Caribbean, and to local destinations during the warmer months.

Gary is also a Gold Ambassador to Bonaire and visited this top diving destination over 50 times. The next group trip to Bonaire is scheduled for July 11 – 18.

Once certified, it’s for life. However, PADI recommends taking a scuba diving refresher course, especially if you haven’t been in the water for 6+ months since you last used your scuba gear in the water, or you’re about to go on vacation.

The Dive Shop offers The Scuba Refresher with a certified staff member. This two-hour course includes review of your gear assembly, demonstration of skills, attaining neutral buoyancy, safety measures, and breakdown of gear.

Bonaire Scuba Man Paul Stockmann SQUAREGeneral Scuba Diving Certification Requirements:

  • Anyone, 10 years of age (with restrictions) – and older – can learn how to scuba dive
  • There is a quiz and swim test
  • Every student needs to float or tread water for 10 minutes and swim laps for 200 yards


Contact The Dive Shop Aquatic Center:

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203.775.2755 /

Address: 439 Federal Rd, Brookfield, Connecticut 06804

Visit: The Dive Shop Aquatic Center on Facebook and like / follow, too.


Monday – Friday, 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Lap Swimming, Water Aerobics, Swim Lessons, and Pool Parties are also offered at The Dive Shop Aquatic Center.

Bonaire Snail Paul Stockmann

The Dive Shop Trip to Bonaire (Scuba Diving Photos): Paul Stockmann

Article and Facility Photo: Alicia Sakal


Regional Indoor Swim Club, The Dive Shop Aquatic Center, Celebrates 10 Years

48188478 Smile Fish Paul Stockmann SQUARE


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