Speedboat vs. Pump Boat for Scuba Diving in Boracay
One beautiful day last May, I sat on a speedboat beside my kid and two foreign tourists. Accompanying us on the dive were four instructors of Aqualife Divers Academy. Powered by a monster 200 HP engine, we arrived at a nearby dive site in less than four minutes. In comparison, a pump boat would still be on the shore while we were latching on to a buoy.
“That is what I used to do,” I thought to myself while watching two instructors helping the other divers gear up. Looking at my child, I can see the excitement on his face as he was about to enter the water. Suffice to say, it was an exhilarating experience, and I may write about it soon.
After the dive, we were back to the shore in no time at all. There are three stations on the main white beach. From boat station 3, it was only a two-minutes-walk to Aqualife Divers Academy.
While taking a quick shower, a few things came to mind. One is the speed, and the amount of time we saved for other activities. Another is the benefit of using a speedboat in case there is a need for an emergency evacuation. Most dive centers in Boracay use pump boats because they are cost-effective. Unfortunately, they may not be in the best interest of customers.
USING SPEEDBOAT FOR SCUBA DIVING IS PREFERABLE
In Boracay, the only dive centers using speedboats are New Wave Divers, Scotty’s Action Sports Network, and Milky’s Dive Centre. On the other hand, only Aqualife Divers Academy has a speedboat rigged with a 200 HP engine. One of its competitive advantages is that the owner, Jun Bondoc, is also a boat builder.
One thing that concerns many people is the cost, so that is the first thing I want to get out of the way. Regardless if a dive center uses a pump boat or a speedboat, the cost of scuba diving in Boracay is the same. As it is, all dive centers are members of the Boracay Association of Scuba Diving Schools (BASS). There is a fixed price for all scuba diving activities to prevent a price war which may have catastrophic consequences.
As alluded to, it took only a few minutes to reach a dive site and to return to shore. After freshening up, we ordered food and started eating. I looked out to the sea and saw a couple of pump boats with scuba divers returning to shore. So, that made me think.
As a tourist myself, I do not have much time on the island. In this case, the use of a speedboat gave my family more time to do other things that please us. Back when I lived in Boracay and taught scuba diving, it never occurred to me how beneficial it is to tourists.
It has been fourteen years since I departed the island. On that vacation, even if we spent ten days, every minute counts. After all, it is not cheap to visit the island and stay in one of the more beautiful resorts.
It occurred to me too that students taking the Open Water Diver course can save more than two hours. As part of the course, students will have to do four open water dives. Using a pump boat, the total travel time for all required training dives will be around 2 to 3 hours as opposed to 30 to 45 minutes using Aqualife’s speedboat.
2. Emergency Evacuation
Scuba diving is not without risk. As such, the best thing that operators and professionals can do is to be ready at all times. If there is an emergency, the sooner a patient is evacuated and brought to shore, the better. For that reason, dive centers must have their emergency action plan.
Speed Means More Time on the White Beach
Boracay became famous for its powdery white sand. As a tourist, I loved spending as much time as possible catching up with old friends – Jon Jon and Debbie. For other people, they could be doing another activity, or soaking up under the sun.
We had ten days, and yet it felt as if it was not enough. In fact, after coming back to the city, I contemplated returning to the island.
Boracay is everything people say it is. Depending on the season and perception, it is either a paradise or a tourist trap. Regardless, one thing is clear. It is still one of the best islands in the world. Already, we have made arrangements for a visit again next year. Of the many activities that we can do, my kids have decided scuba diving is the only thing they want to experience again.
As for me, I look forward to catching up with my friends at Aqualife Divers Academy. For sure, we will have more time to do that – all because of the use of a real speedboat.