To answer this question, one must first understand life in Xcalak. Xcalak is not your typical high-tourist-traffic, dive training location in Mexico. Instead, it’s a tiny, off the beaten track fishing village – and it is an absolute gem on the Atlantic. The people are friendly and kind, the quiet isolation is calming, and the ocean views are completely stunning. In the middle of this, is XTC Dive Center. XTC sits right on the beach, complete with a restaurant and a hotel, all mere steps away from the dock and boats to take you out on the water. Being a diver here is to be in paradise. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef protects the beaches with a calm and shallow lagoon, while also offering a plethora of beautiful dive sites. These sites are full of tons of coral species, sharks, turtles, rays, hundreds of fish (including the spectacular tarpon), and most incredible of all – manatees.
Beyond the spectacular beauty, being a DM and IDC student at XTC is itself a great experience, and that’s what makes it so special – the experience. One of the best things about the courses at XTC is that not only do you learn to master the material required to complete the course, but it allows you to experience what life is like working at a dive shop. You spend time troubleshooting, replacing, and fixing equipment, you fill tanks and get equipment set up for clients, you learn to help with the boats and choose appropriate dive sites based on the weather. There are opportunities to be taught the ins and outs of office programs and requirements as well. The information taught in these courses is solidified so much better when they’re able to be applied to real-life, real-time situations.
A DM course can be completed in a matter of a few weeks, but at XTC you’re able to extend that time in order to gain an understanding of the way a dive shop operates. If you’re looking to work at a dive shop, then I believe this type of experience is especially beneficial. In addition, it’s fun! There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie between the instructors, DMs, students, boat captains, and XTC staff that makes coming in each day exciting and fulfilling. The instructors are patient, and they truly care about making sure you understand everything and are able to master each necessary skill.
After becoming a DM, there are opportunities to do your IDC as well. The IDC is much different from the DM course, but the dive center is well equipped for the increase in classroom-based learning. The upper level of the center has a learning room containing every conceivable learning material pertinent to the course, and most importantly – air conditioning! The course directors, much like the instructors, care about making sure you not only learn the information but will be exceptional at what you do. They take the time to help everyone with their specific needs, make sure they each student feels confident and prepared to take the IE, and they take the time to truly be a mentor and are there to support you through every step of the examination.
XTC has a way of nurturing the best DMs and instructors in everyone that passes through its doors. It’s a wonderful place to be a student and to learn, inside Xcalak – a little diamond at the end of the world.
By Courtney Black – March 2020
GoPro @ XTC Dive Center is a PADI 5* Instructor Development Resort and 100% Project AWARE partner located in Xcalak, Mexico. We offer the full range of PADI Professional Training Courses including custom EcoPro and Dive Center Experience workshops. Come and train with us in paradise and leave here ready to teach!