Ask an Instructor!


by Susan Dearing, PADI Instructor & owner of Underworld Scuba – Scuba Shack

(Everything you’ve always wanted to know about diving and snorkeling, but didn’t know who to ask.)

Q.        I want to come diving in June. I’ve heard that’s the wet season. Is it going to be raining every day?


A.        Some folks think we never see the sun during “rainy season,” mid-June to mid-October. Usually it rains every four or five days, with the humidity finally building up enough to create a soft rain shower in the late afternoon or evening, cooling everything off and washing the dust off the tropical foliage. Read my article about “Summer in the City.”

Because we share the same latitude as Hawaii, the state of Colima has some of the best weather in Mexico.

Yes, it’s more humid, but the moisture in the air makes your skin feel wonderful! Yes, it’s a few degrees hotter, but that’s why we have an 85 degree ocean, swimming pools, and siestas during the hottest part of the day! Go diving and snorkeling more often and you’ll stay cool!


Q. My children are fascinated with fish! When can they learn to snorkel, and is it safe for kids to go on your tours?


A.        Liking fish is a great way start! We recommend starting your kid’s training in a pool to get them used to mask, snorkel and fins. Demonstrate the technique of snorkel clearing until they have it down pat. Make up some games that they can play in the pool “Diving for Treasure” is a great one. Throw some coins in the shallow end of the pool (or small shells collected on the beach) and once the kids are comfortable with wearing the equipment, have them practice diving for them. Come into Underworld Scuba/Scuba Shack and talk to me for specific instructions on how to work with your child.

Once on our boat, there will always be a guide in the water with everyone, and we also have snorkeling rafts with see-through viewing windows that children (or anyone) can lay on and look at all the coral reef’s wonders. 

Our first snorkeling spot (out of three that we normally visit), is in only 3-10 ft. of water and is perfect for children or beginner snorkelers. We call the King Angels over to our boat and feed them. There isn’t a child alive (or an adult for that matter) that isn’t fascinated with the “feeding frenzy.” If you have introduced your children to water and swimming at a young age, we’d be proud to take them on our boat as young as 3 or 4. We find that the age of 5 is the “magic age” for children being mature enough to enjoy snorkeling, but each child is different, and we try to help each youngster enjoy the ocean to the best of his or her ability. 

There’s more than just snorkeling on our tours. We educate everyone about our environment and how to protect and preserve it; we take a tour up the coast and enjoy Elephant Rock’s “blow hole,” and the “Elevator.” Plus, on the way out of the bay, we see pelicans, endangered brown booby birds, frigate birds, and just being on a boat is a lot of fun!

Q.         I suffer from asthma. Will I be able to take a diving course?


A.        That depends on whether it’s exercise-induced or allergy -induced.

If it’s an allergy, it shouldn’t be a problem for diving.

On the other hand, if you have asthma attacks while doing exercise, this could be a contraindication to diving.

You may be caught in a current or have a long surface swim . Both these circumstances could set it off. However, you can take your inhaler diving, and leave it in the pocket of your buoyancy compensator jacket.–just in case. We have taken many people diving with allergy-related asthma, and only one person has ever needed an inhaler. The inhaler, of course, must be used on the surface,

I suggest anyone who has a history of asthma to consult a doctor who specializes in dive medicine first before signing up for a diving course. 

For any diving-related medical questions I would recommend looking at the web site, or DAN for short.

Q.        I’m coming down to Manzanillo in April. What will the water conditions be like?


A.        Of course, no one can predict the state of the water in the Pacific far in advance, but so far this winter we have had the best conditions for years. Without sticking my neck out too far, I would say, expect between 50 and 60 ft. viz. However, please don’t sue me if it’s not that good. The best thing to do is to contact us a week before you arrive for current conditions at

Q.        What is there to be worried about in the water? Are there any jellyfish or sharks? Do I have to expect to be chased across the ocean floor by Great Whites?


A.        Sounds to me as though paranoia has set in already.

Don’t forget, all the fishes in the sea are more frightened of you than you are of them (well, maybe not in your case). Even to get up-close-and-personal with a fish you have to be very slow and very quiet or they’ll take off in the opposite direction. Let’s face it, what would you do if a monster with a big bulging eye (your mask) blowing noisy bubbles tried to get next you?

There are jellyfish around, but they are not everywhere.  Chances are, you won’t even see any.

As far as being chased along the sea floor by Great Whites, you’ve got more chance of being chased around by your Instructor.


Q.        I went on a snorkeling tour while in Manzanillo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t yours. There was no one in the water with us, and it was my first time. Then, they ENCOURAGED us to stand on the reef and take photos. I was horrified since I teach biology and am very well aware of the damage they were doing. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, people were allowed to break off pieces of coral and take it back to the boat. I left Manzanillo with a very bad taste in my mouth. Can’t you do something about these stupid people?


A.        Whenever I am out and see this unacceptable behavior I try to give a lecture–which isn’t much appreciated by the offending companies. We can’t create a consciousness when there is no willingness to learn, and the bottom line is the money they make today is what counts–not what we could have in the future. I have written articles, which appear on, and we try to be as ecologically correct as possible, but we can’t control individual companies. If something happens that really annoys you on a tour, write a letter to the department of tourism. They care, and want things to get better. The trick is catching the offenders–and there are many. Other than that trip, I hope you enjoyed Manzanillo. The deparmtent of tourism’s web site is, and Sonya Suarez Lopez speaks English. Their address is Secretaria de Turismo, Blvd. Miguel de la Madrid, #875-A, Fracc. Playa Azul, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, 28869. Phones: 1-800-505-8164. (314) 333-2264, (314) 333-2277. Please, please, please write and let them know how you feel.


Q.        We will be coming to Manzanillo as a family. Although we all dive, we are at different levels and some of us haven’t dived for a while. What are your dive sites like? Have you got diving for all levels of experience? If I want to take a refresher class when I arrive, would that be possible?

The Whites

A.        We have dive sites here to suit everyone, from shore dives to 2-tank boat dives. We even offer night dives for the more adventurous. If you haven’t been diving in a while you can take a refresher course when you arrive, under the direct guidance of a PADI Instructor.

Q.        I get seasick. How long is the boat trip? 


A.        The closest dive site is only a few minutes away from where we  get on the boat. The farthest dive spot is only 25 minutes from the  boarding area. If you have a tendency to be seasick, take a Dramamine, or buy a “Sea Band,” (you wear it on your wrist and it works by acupressure), and eat a high carb breakfast, with fruit, cereal, or toast. 

Stay away from greasy foods (huevos rancheros) and acidic juices (orange, tomato or grapefruit juice). Eat something light, but nothing that gives you indigestion. Coffee has caffeine and is very acidic. Try herbal tea instead.  Don’t drink too much the night before!!!  I mean alcohol, dude!

If you’ve done all of this and find you still have to feed the fish, go to the back of our dive boat and toss your cookies with the wind. Try not to let everyone else know what’s happening, or we’ll all be feeding the fish with you!


Q.        I always seem to have equipment problems whenever I rent from a dive shop. Is your equipment safe? I’m also pretty large (275 lbs.). Do you have equipment to fit me?


A.        We have a complete line of equipment sized to fit anyone from 50 lbs. to 350 lbs. We are a PADI Dive Center, and are authorized service technicians. We have more than 25 complete sets of gear available for rental, including XXS to 3XL  exposure suits, and all our Sherwood regulators for certified divers have an alternative air source and a power inflator. When you come in to rent, we set up the gear for you and show you how to use it. If you go on one of our dive boats, we set up, test, and organize the equipment for you.


Q.        Can you tell me how long is the certification good for? (2 years, 3 years, what?)


A.        A PADI certification is good for the rest of your life. However, as you dive more, you may want to upgrade your open water certification to an advanced open water certification, rescue, master diver, etc.  Specialty courses are also available, such as wreck diving or night diving. Lots of people have enjoyed our underwater fish I.D. course, and our U/W digital photography course gives you memories to take home with you! Learn to use a top quality digital camera, and we’ll give you a CD of your photos at the end of the course.Some shops require a refresher course if you haven’t been diving in over a year. We offer this course free to all certified divers. If you have other questions, please write

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