How to Work and Travel as a Dive Guide

How to Work as a Dive Guide and Travel the World:

An Interview with Prue and Becks from Straight On Detour

Prue and Becks, a couple from Australia and England have been on the road, making ends meet for over a decade. Working as dive professionals in Tanzania, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia they’ve managed to stay afloat (just!) whilst remaining physically submerged, a dream of theirs since their teens.

The girls passions (besides trying to name every fish underwater) are reaching remote tribes, climbing volcanoes and reaching far-flung destinations by themselves.  On their diving wage alone, they’ve hitch-hiked through Tibet’s backdoor, camped beside an angry, gurgling volcano and swam with killer whales in the Banda sea.

As you can tell the underwater world quickly enveloped these two and gave them a lifestyle that would keep them exploring. They’re honest, practical and adventurous, you can follow their lifestyle on their website Straight On Detour or on Facebook.

Guiding in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Guiding in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Sounds incredible! So tell me a bit more what it’s like to be a dive guide and how you made it happen?

We’re dive guides, we attach ourselves to a dive centre and get paid a daily wage. Put simply the job of a dive guide is to take a group of people underwater, show them all that we can, keep them safe and keep a smile on their face throughout the day. Depending on the company we could be taking day trips out to the reef from the mainland, taking a boat (live-aboard) out for 4 days or crossing an entire ocean on a three-week diving expedition, either way we’re spending our days around the ocean, a place Becks and I are both drawn to.

We both got into diving in different parts of the world but both for the same reason, we loved the ocean.  From our first dives it was easy to imagine a life showing people a new world and living in an endless summer so it didn’t take us long to start the progression upwards though the dive course programs. Using  internships helped keep the course costs low and insured maximum hands on experience both which proved critical elements in the beginning.

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How to work as a dive guide and get paid to travel the world

What do you like the best about your work as a dive guide?

As cliché as it may sound, it’s true. Every time you dip below the surface, you never know what you are going to find. Diving is spontaneous, ever-changing and constantly keeps you on your toes. I could take a group of divers to a dive site in the morning and have 40m+ gorgeous visibility, a school of snapper and a turtle and return in the afternoon to have strong currents, 15m visibility and 4 manta rays gliding above you the entire dive. Whether it’s the currents, the marine life, the visibility or the personalities of your guests, their is always something changing and something to learn about.

Weedy sea dragon, Flinders Pier, Australia.

Weedy sea dragon, Flinders Pier, Australia.

But nothings perfect right? Are there any downsides to working as a dive guide?

Of course there is. Working in the dive industry is certainly not all cocktails and sunsets.

  • Spending up to 5 hours under water every day means getting cold. A tropical 29 degree Celsius doesn’t feel that warm for very long.
  • Grumpy guests is something you cannot avoid in any job, but as a dive guide you might be spending the next three weeks with them sharing a 30m long boat.
  • Divers often come with high expectations… and sometimes no matter what the conditions are or which animals came to play that day, it doesn’t live up to them. It’s hard not to take it personally especially when you feel such a strong attachment to the area.
  • Saving money is a tough gig when you get paid $30 a day… even for a 12 hour+ day
Map drawing 101. Similan Islands, Thailand

Map drawing 101. Similan Islands, Thailand

Do you have one standout highlight, biggest achievement or favourite destination?

Is it wrong to have one of each?

My standout highlight would have to be getting a dive guide job on an adventure pirate ship that took a small group of people for 2 weeks from south Sulewesi to Raja Ampat. We dived some random atolls, visited the spice islands and ended up in one of the best dive hubs in the world… It was certainly the right place, right time kind of gig!

My biggest achievement would be being a part of a 4 person dive crew on a live-aboard in Thailand. We dived together, lived together, looked out for each other and relied on each other. To have family around you like that and have that sense of ownership and community was very special.

My favourite dive destinations:

  • Indonesia
  • Mexico
  • Iceland
Pirates!

Pirates!

And what has been the greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge was choosing to make your hobby a job. At some point Becks and I needed to take a step back and have a break from working in diving, we both knew if continued on we would lose our passion for the underwater world.

What do you wish you had known before you started working as a dive guide?

We wish we had of known how many skills you actually need to work in diving. Recently as a guest on a dive boat I realised how talented these people are. They can draw, speak to and enthuse an audience, time manage, keep groups safe underwater, go to bed last, wake up first (and be happy about it!), speak another language, understand tides and currents, know names, descriptions and behaviours of loads of underwater species, create schedules and rosters, entertain, administer first aid… and that’s got nothing to do with the actual diving part.

prue and becks diving

So, what about your plans for the future? 

Our future plans involve diving, for the moment only for fun but we both envisage using our certifications to work and travel central america in the future. Bring it on!

Diving is a skill and passion we will always have and a partnership that we never want to lose.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what tips would you give for people wanting to follow in your footsteps and travel around the world working as a dive guide?

Give diving a go. Take a try dive, see if you like it… if might not be your cup of tea, it might become a hobby or it might be that job you’ve always wanted.

BUT before you run out there and spend a lot of money doing your courses, just take a moment to remember that you only get paid $30 a day (in Asia) you’d better love it because it’s much harder work than most would imagine.

 

Thanks so much for this insight into your incredible lifestyle – what a way to see the world and best of luck in Central America!

If you are working abroad or living a life less ordinary and want to be featured here contact me. 

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3 Comments

  • Arianwen says:

    I’ve literally just completed my divemasters in Komodo, so it’s great to hear about how two people have made the professional diver life work for them! I’m also pleased they rank Indonesia so highly. Perhaps now I will be able to visit Raja Ampat too!
    Arianwen recently posted…PADI Divemaster Training: Week 6 – Stress TestMy Profile

    • Anna says:

      Glad you found it useful and how awesome that you’ve just done your divemasters! It’s still a bucket list dream for me! Good luck with finding employment it sounds like an amazing job and a great way to work and travel the world!

    • Mav says:

      Hey Arian!
      This is Mav here and I just have my rescue diver license.Can you share if you know any schools around Komodo,who offer a DM as an internship,inhave to do it on a budget!

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