Arriving off our Norwegian Airlines flight, on the white isle late in the evening, meant my early morning rising, to arrive at Scuba Ibiza’s dive shop by 9.30 am, had me standing bleary eyed on my hotel balcony, listening to the relaxing bird song, emanating from the surrounding pine forest.
The drive from our hotel to Marina Botafoch (where the dive school is situated) took approximately 35 minutes. The roads were signposted clearly and the dive school at the marina was pretty easy to find without being given directions.
I had been in contact with Yaqui, the co-owner by e-mail in previous weeks, about the diving and he had informed me that the boat leaves the harbour around 9.30 am and arrives back to shore about 13.30. Asking me, “not to be one of these people who do not turn up.” I wondered if this happened a lot in Ibiza.
The white washed building looked full of hustle, as I peeked my head into the changing room and was directed to the shop entrance by the other co-owner Paulo.
Yaqui greeted us with a smile, handing us a form to fill in for the company Padi records. I paid 6 euros for dive insurance – which is a necessity whenever you scuba dive in Spain. Usually I sort dive insurance out in the UK but this time, thought I would try out, how it all worked in Spain. It couldn’t have been easier. Arranged in just a click of a button. Within a moment, my dive insurance for the day had been sorted out.
Yaqui then took me out the back, to size me up for wetsuit and fins. I noticed all were in excellent condition. I was to wear a 5 mm wetsuit with a shorty on top. Scuba Diving Ibiza had advised completing a dry suit course, as the best option for scuba diving in the Mediterranean waters at this time of year. 15° is the average water temperature in the month of April – rising to a balmy 30° in the summer months but alas I didn’t have the time, so settled for the next best thing.
Up one side of the wall, plastic boxes were laid out in rows and numbered – the shop being a safe place to leave our clothes and valuables whilst out on the dive. Scuba Diving Ibiza were making things easy.
At each step Yaqui was explaining to me what would be happening. After sorting out the correct gear – our next step was to head to the boat and connect our tank with regulator. I always find I’m a bit rusty with this step, no matter how many times a year I dive and he advised spending a week with a dive school, so the first day nerves and jitters could be got over and out of the way. Leaving the rest of the week to enjoy the diving. His advice made sense and I definitely would like to find somewhere where I can make the most of good weather, warm relaxing calm conditions, (small group numbers) and great customer service to really get the best out scuba diving without feeling continuously challenged. I’d like to relax into it…
Yaqui supervised my connecting the tank to regulator, sharing with me the way in which Scuba Ibiza checked out the gear, leaving the tank turned off for our return back to the shop to kit up.
Once we were all ready, we made our way back to the rib – where we effortlessly glided out of the harbour to our first dive site. On the way Yacqui explained the kind of dive we would be experiencing at Llado Sur just 4km from Ibiza harbour.
“Currents are normally found here, around four times a year,” was the last thing I can remember him telling me before finally kitting up, feeling claustrophobic and back rolling into the sea. This dive was one of those four times.
Paulo had thrown out a buoy line to assist with the drag of the current and to pull us to the anchor line, if needed. I needed it.
I realised one of the differences between scuba diving in Europe, as opposed to diving internationally in countries such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand. When descending the group has gone down together. In the places I have dived in Europe, each diver descends individually. I found this more unnerving initially – especially knowing that I have trouble with my descent because of nerves, but here I just kept hold of the anchor line, crossed my legs behind me. To stop their unconscious kicking. Then calming my breathing to a slow and steady rate, I made my way down to the others at 16mtrs – eventually hovering above a green meadow of sea grass.
The cold hit me, as soon as I entered the water – an immediate headache(brain freeze) pounded me in the cold. I had chosen not to wear my hood, as I don’t like feeling enclosed but I think this was an error. It would have kept the warm in. I concentrated on my buoyancy as we began to make our way round the craggy shelf observing a small school of barracuda. I thought I would be more nervous as this was the first time I had dived without Vinnie for a long time but dealing with the current as Yaqui assisted the other divers, acknowledging the brain freeze as it continued and enjoying the brown octopus as it suckered itself to Yaqui’s gloved hand – held me mesmerised for the 40 minute dive. One of the things I managed to sort out during this dive was how I let out the air in my BCD – Yacqui corrected my technique. Recognising that I wasn’t upright each time In attempted to do so – showing me with hand signals what to do. I finally managed to get it right and it made it so much easier. One more thing I learned. Our ascent had us committing to the 5 metres, 3 minute safety stop and as soon as my cold head broke the surface tension, Paulo was directing me to the back of the boat. He then helped me up, removed my BCD, tank and flippers (oops, I mean fins!) and I was able to flop down exhausted.
I was immediately hit by seasickness.
Vince had already been throwing up, after a failed attempt to snorkel in the strong current and our pale faces were a reflection of how the other was feeling. The point on my body between my wrists and elbow seemed to be the coldest and my mind felt a tad overwhelmed and confused, as I lent my head over the side of the boat and promptly brought up the bacon and golden eggs, cooked for me by Michaela, that very same morning. I don’t normally suffer with seasickness but today was going to be my first experience of it.
Both Yaqui and Paulo were attentive, Nuria the other instructor was busy helping her divers out of their gear.
“You must drink water.” Paulo said to me. “It will make you sick again but your stomach won’t spasm. Like it will with nothing in it.”
I could only manage the tiniest of sips, before once again I draped myself over the side and enjoyed the feeling of the rise and fall of the choppy waves. There was something restful about it. I wondered if it was to do with the cold on my head, which was making me feel bad rather than actual sea sickness.
Yaqui offered me a square of chocolate to eat. I took a bit and threw it back up over the side.
Both Yaqui and Paulo encouraged me to get back in the water for the second dive. ” Your seasick will disappear.” Paulo said. ” It is better to be in the water, than on the boat.”
My head span – I didn’t think it was better for me to be in the water. Thinking the confusion that challenged me would not be good if it continued, once I was below the surface and so stood on the back of the boat, with the wind in my face instead. I felt exhausted.
Surprisingly the time flew by.
Paulo shared with us, that his home country was Brazil and he had come over to Ibiza many years ago to visit his sister and had decided to stay. Scuba Ibiza had also invested a lot of money in buying dry suits recently, so the customers could scuba dive in Ibizan waters all year round. Such was the passion for the local waters and they wanted to share this with others. “It’s a change of mindset, not a change of water conditions that’s needed.” We were told.
“I like September best,” Paulo continued. “The fish aren’t so sleepy. It’s a good time of year to dive in Ibiza”
Between them, Yaqui and Paulo had many years worth of diving experience. Their customer service skills, knowledge and customer care were excellent. The best I have experienced. I felt that I was treated the way, all dive shops should treat their customers on a fun dive. Scuba Ibiza placed their customers having a good time as a priority. Saying to me, ” Well, you are on holiday after all!” It wasn’t their fault I felt, how my dive unfolded.
As soon as my foot hit solid ground, once we were moored again in the harbour. I began to feel better. The tanks and BCD’s were all left on the boat – the staff sorted that out and all I had to do was make my way back to the shop.
The showers were communal but because of the way the whole dive had been handled, I actually didn’t feel uncomfortable stripping off in the communal changing area. There was a large pile of fluffy towels for the patrons to use and in the shower area,in each of the cubicles, the water was hot and each had shampoo and shower gel available to use. I thought this was a nice touch.
I walked away from Scuba Ibiza impressed with the company – Yaqui and Paulo’s thoughtful attitude towards customer care. Their member of staff Nuria, was smiling, pleasant and helpful when approached.
Although the actual dive, may not have been all I wanted it to be. Scuba Diving Ibiza showed me what could be achieved, with a lot of thought, interest in their customers and care put into the dive service they supplied.
If you’re taking a trip to Ibiza – I’d say check them out if you want to step out into the Mediterranean blue.
What sort of Customer Service have you experienced?
I’d love to know your thoughts…