Sarah E

★★★★★
5 5 1
SPE Dive School Chevy Chase Superb Five Star Review by Sarah E

Rajan

★★★★★
5 5 1
SPE Dive School was excellent in every respect. Mike and his staff are knowledgeable, professional, and personable, and I really enjoyed learning about scuba diving based on their experiences. When you first meet Mike, his passion about scuba diving is evident. His enthusiasm and energy encourages one to want to learn how to scuba dive, and how to scuba dive correctly, safely, and enjoyably. He wants others to share in his passion. Even if you want to scuba dive occasionally, he wants to ensure that you will not injure yourself, and equally importantly, not endanger others. The Friday orientation session was an invaluable overview, especially to the uninitiated. I left the session informed of several aspects of scuba diving. That there is an upfront cost - new gear, certifications. And that there is a continued cost - replacing worn gear, traveling to amazing dive locations around the world, advanced certifications (if desired). During the orientation, Mike also clearly states that scuba diving is not inexpensive, and I really appreciated his candor. The best part of the orientation session is that *it is free* during which you get the opinion from a professional who has been scuba diving for most of his life. I doubt that sort of option is offered elsewhere. I completed the weekend session in December 2012. The morning of the first day was dedicated to purchasing gear. For someone who had absolutely no idea about scuba diving gear, this was incredibly helpful. True, one could order the gear online if you knew your sizes and what you wanted. If you are clueless about scuba gear, finding the right gear can be quite a challenge. True, you could rent gear, but if you are going to scuba dive - even a few times over a span of 2-3 years - purchasing your own gear is a worthy investment. Nothing more of an underwater buzz kill than a mask that leaks. The classroom (theory) session was interactive and fun. I completed this and 90% of my confined water (pool) session that weekend in 2012. However, I was unwell on the second evening of the pool session and, therefore, had to stop with only three skills remaining. I was told I could complete these at a later time. When I approached Mike almost 10 months later, he strongly and genuinely recommended that I complete both days of the pool session again - at NO additional cost to me. His rationale was that the practice will only make me a better scuba diver. Again, I doubt that sort of commitment is offered elsewhere. I eventually completed my remainder confined water skills in December 2013, a year after I took his class. I could not align my work schedule with Mike's group on a trip to Cayman (would have fun, though). I got my certification in Cayman in December 2013. As I completed my skills over the required four open water dives, the dive instructor remarked that I had received outstanding training in the confined water sessions because of the ease with I demonstrated all the skills to his satisfaction and to meet PADI standards. Keep in mind that I had finished most of my pool session skills a year ago! That is the level of excellence Mike and his staff provide. And, I forgot to say that I actually am terrified of the open ocean (still am to a certain extent). The training at SPE Dive School and Mike's continued encouragement and guidance is a major reason that I am now a PADI certified Open Water diver. Simply stated, SPE Dive School is as good as it gets. I could not have been happier at my decision to go here for my scuba diving training."

Ivana M., Miami Beach, FL

★★★★★
5 5 1
I passed the adventure course of scuba diving with Mike, too. Whole course, instructor and trip to the Cayman Islands were amazing. It cost more money but, experience for my start up? wonderful. I highly recommend to everybody, who is scared to start diving. Safe diving practices Personal instructions, equipment for students at discount prices Breathing air at depth Take time for diving trip and enjoy the beautiful scenery at Cayman Islands, as I did.

Thomas M., Lake Forest, IL

★★★★★
5 5 1
I passed my beginers scuba class with Mike Parker at Grand Cayman last month. It was a great experience. I fell in love with diving and wonderful life under water at Caymans. All instructors from SPE Dive School are profesionals with a great patience for beginers. I recommend them to all people who wants to become a scuba diver. Next year, i will take a lessons to be advanced diver from SPE. Best regards Thomas

Will H., Bethesda, MD

★★★★☆
4 5 1
Friendly instructors and very knowledgeable. Would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn how to dive.

John G., Hyattsville, MD

★★★★★
5 5 1
Mike Parker and Mike were great instructors with a well-organized class schedule and enthusiastic attitude about diving. They had plenty of knowledge and taught the course in two days. For the price, it was a great introduction to a totally new experience (and culture). A 2 hour orientation prepares you, and, a portion of the class involves purchasing equipment (fins, mask, etc.) I thought was helpful. I didn't feel pressure to buy anything (its all voluntary and can be skipped if you're renting). I did end up buying a pricey amount of equipment, but, I felt it was quality and reasoned that it was mine for life. After the class and pool portion, there is a recurring trip to the Grand Caymans that is affordable and completes the open water certification and includes an advanced open water certification. My brother and I plan to go on the trip and get our PADI certification (which has to be attained within a year of taking the class). As Mike explained, its a great alternative to being certified in a local quarry! I recommend SPE Dive School. I also talked with friends who attended other dive schools and, by comparison, they thought this school gave newcomers (like me) a quality start.

Jacquie P., Washington, DC

★★★★★
5 5 1
My boyfriend thought it would be a good idea for me to learn how to scuba dive. I took this course with him, (his 2nd time with this school because he failed to mail in his certification paperwork in a timely manner). I thoroughly enjoyed it, there is actually an instructor teaching you the coursework. They answer any & all questions, tell you great stories and give a more personal experience than putting you in front of a tv to watch a video. On the first day, Mike does sell equipment to the students. My boyfriend and I did buy equipment, and there were people who didn't. I disagree with the person that mentioned people feel pressured to buy stuff from him, that's not true at all. He also lets you know that the first couple of hours will be for buying equipment, so if you plan on not buying anything you can always show up afterwards. After the classroom training, you drive to the pool. It is at a school, I took the weekend course and there weren't any kids around. They split you into groups to train with Mike & his instructors. I had no experience with scuba diving. And a lot of things made me nervous, but Mike worked with me to make me feel comfortable and build up my confidence. And anything I struggled with during the pool training, he would ask me if I wanted to stay late and work some more on it to become more comfortable. My boyfriend and I took this course because we thought we were going to scuba dive while visiting friends in the UAE. We did attempt to scuba dive, but the weather was bad and the visibility underwater was nonexistent and it totally freaked me out. After one try there, I thought I would never scuba dive again. But, we decided to give the trip to the Cayman Islands a try. And I LOVED IT!! When I first got into the water, I let the instructors know that I was scared and nervous. They stuck by me underwater until I started to build up my confidence. I ended up doing all the dives for the advanced water certification, when I originally thought I wouldn't even complete my open water certification. I'm so glad that I gave scuba diving a second chance. Going to the Cayman Islands with the dive school was the best decision I've made. We swam through the USS Kittiwake, I actually was able to see a sea turtle swim by on one of the dives, and my boyfriend got to see a shark on another dive. I had such a blast, and I can't wait to go back. Mike Parker & his instructors really want to make sure that you have an enjoyable experience. Thanks so much Mike!!

Lily F., Rockville, MD

★★★★★
5 5 1
Mike and his staff are utterly passionate about what they do. Mike literally is a fish and feels more comfortable under the H2O! Scuba diving is something I've always wanted to try (as has my BF of 2 years) so we grabbed a groupon and away we went. While I can relate/understand how some people view some of the presentation as sale-sy, having a) gone on the trip, b) gone on websites to purchase gear I realize 2 things. Scuba is expensive. It requires a lot of gear adn I don't know about the rest of you, but I do not relish the thought of breathing someone else's spit 100 feet below the surface with a leaky regulator. Mike's prices are the lowest you'll find and he only suggested items you actually need (having BEEN under the h20 and realizing OH. really glad I have the wet suit, etc). Anyhoo. The classroom was LOTS of repeitition. It was WORK. BUT. when I went to a strange place, 100 feet down, breathing out of a tin can, I felt safe. Because I remembered the drills/cheat sheets. Hands down, trust Mike and his crew with my life. And I wouldn't have changed our trip--Grand cayman IS the best place to do your first dive with the lack of current, amazing views, etc etc ETC! I've referred a number of people to SPE Dive and have no reservations about attaching my reputation to them. KUDOS to a great team and an incredible experience.

Paul P., Hyattsville, MD

★★★★★
5 5 1
I've gotten various certifications from Mike (open water, advanced, nitrox) and been on two trips to Grand Cayman. I recently got back from my second trip. I always enjoy the diving, the service is very good and reasonable. Mike runs a very smooth operation, and he is very knowledgeable about both diving and Grand Cayman. I would highly recommend his certification program and trips. I've taken open water cert and advanced cert with Mike at SPE. Enjoyed the class very much. I also went on the Cayman Islands Cert trip and HIGHLY recommend it to any diver, either novice or experienced. Mike has done an excellent job of setting up a network of people that cater exclusively to the trip participants. Just as enjoyable is the fact that Mike knows the island and locals like the back of his hand. Our group had a wonderful time accompanying Mike to many of the local places that tourists would never find, for example, a hidden jerk chicken stand. This is the kind of trip where you can let go and just go with the flow, because it will take you to very fun and interesting places. You don't have to work, just enjoy (which I always appreciate in a vacation). Finally, I have bought a significant amount of gear from Mike (regs, tank, BCD, etc.) and I find that he is knowledgeable and honest about recommending appropriate gear tailored to an individual's needs and desires.

Billy H., Nanjemoy, MD

★★★★★
5 5 1
I took the 2 day weekend course in mid January of 2013 and was very pleased with the way everything was done. The instructors were all great and truly very informative. After the course, I went on the trip with the class to Grand Cayman so I could dive and complete my certification requirements. The trip was absolutely outstanding! Mike was extremely informative about every aspect of the class/trip and answered every question I asked. I have recommended his school to others and will continue to do so.

Mary P., Washington, DC

★★★★★
5 5 1
Mike Parker & the SPE Dive School have transformed all my fears into some of the most exhilarating & exciting times of my life. I was scared to go scuba diving but Mike was so thorough & helpful & fun that all my fears just evaporated. Mike truly cares about his students & spends as much time as you need answering questions & truly wants to open up his students to the amazing underwater world. He is passionate about scuba & gets a kick out of introducing people to it. Mike is with you every step of the way & makes everything easy & fun. Everyone in the class had so much fun together. Don't take your classes anywhere else & don't get your Open Water certification anywhere else except Grand Cayman with Mike Parker! I strongly feel that if I had gotten my Open Water certification anywhere else, I would have been a lot more scared & maybe would not have done so well. This is my first Yelp review but I wanted to find a way to thank Mike & to help others like me to make the decision to go for it!

Iris A., Silver Spring, MD

★★★★☆
4 5 1
My entire family got started diving with Open Water and Advanced certification with Mike Parke at SPE SCUBA. Our first dive trip down to Cayman Island to certify was great! Mike takes care of everything, so it went very smoothly. In spite of the threat of an oncoming hurricane, we all certified as planned. We got our gear from SPE, and that was a good move! He gets unfairly criticized for selling equipment. I feel compelled to speak out in his defense. He is honest, and he provides novice divers with a useful service that they need. He recommends and supplies a narrow range of good gear to students only. His prices are relatively low. Unlike internet sales, you get to examine the gear and try it on for fit. And he stands behind his gear and if something goes wrong he will fix it, or get the manufacturer to fix it. We can give testimony that he stands behind his gear if something goes wrong, based on personal experience. Unlike the Internet discounters, his gear is under warranty. Good SCUBA gear is expensive, a serious investment. Buying your gear is a necessary step to start diving. You really need the best gear that you can afford. Mike can help you make that investment decision. Mike is more than a nice fellow, he's a gentleman. His word is good. He cares. And he really knows and likes his business, which is SCUBA.

John C., Alexandria, VA

★★★★☆
4 5 1
Mike & Scooter Provided me with a great open water education. I not only left with the knowledge of how to scuba, but a knowledge of all the equipment involved. I was able to do my 4 open water dives in Playa Del Carmin, Mexico with out a hitch. They really came through for me at the last minute by sending my referral paper work via email. And for that I am grateful. Thank You SPE Dive School!!!!!!!!!!! Scuba is AWESOME!!!!!

Sarah G., Bethesda, MD

★★★★★
5 5 1
Mike Parker and his staff run a first class organization and I would like to highly recommend the SPE dive school. This is my second experience with a PADI dive school and SPE far exceeded my expectations. I felt this was a very learning conducive atmosphere where the instructors are all very passionate about what they do. The education is thorough and hands on as opposed to sticking the students in front of a video and hoping they get the gist. Everyone was so knowledgeable, professional, and friendly and made both myself and my fiancée feel safe and at home. The set up is extremely organized and the weekend intense open water class felt like it flew by we were having so much fun. I couldn't be happier with my experience and can't wait to attend the open water certification trip! I recommend this school to Everyone!!!

Chris H., Washington, DC

★★★★★
5 5 1
I've taken a couple of courses from SPE and gone on one of their certification trips to Grand Cayman, and I really appreciated the personal attention that Mike Parker and his staff gave me during the class. They were patient with questions and very helpful in the pool when I was having trouble. They don't run their classes like a lot of other stores in the area (SPE teaches more like a class and not with "video learning" like most other shops do) and I felt like I got a lot out of the experience.

Robin O., Arlington, VA

★★★★★
5 5 1
I can't say enough good things about Mike and SPE. I had been wanting to take a PADI course for years but anytime I looked into it, was turned off by dive shops that seemed heavy on attitude and light on instruction. After randomly meeting Mike on an airplane, I decided he was the kind of guy I'd like to learn from. Decades of experience, a focus on safety, and a contagious love of diving made it an easy decision to sign up. I'm glad I did, as SPE starts the teaching process at square one to get everyone comfortable with the equipment, dive tables, and safety aspects of SCUBA diving. Since SPE is an actual dive school and not just a shop that teaches on the side, you really learn the fundamentals of diving, rather than watching a DVD and going on your way. The best part is the connections Mike has made in Grand Cayman and other islands, making the certification trips a true dive vacation where your only task is to enjoy the ride. I've been to Grand Cayman four times in the last two years with SPE and each trip has been an amazing experience. On each one I've been diving with great people at great sites, and I can't wait to do more. Mike has created a great network both in the islands and in DC, and I've kept in touch with a number of other SPE divers to continue looking for the next great dive vacation. Five stars isn't enough.

Sherry G., Potomac, MD

★★★★★
5 5 1
We highly recommend Mike Parker and his Scubaedu dive school. The school is very well set up, comfortable and beautiful. The staff are friendly , knowledgeable and courteous. The owner, Mike Parker, is very hands-on with the business and knows how to run a great scuba school. He is involved in the training classes as well as the certification dive trips to the Cayman Islands. He is honest, friendly and very straight forward. I took an "Advanced" dive training course with the school in 1999 and also went on their monthly Cayman Island trip. I got my "Rescue" certifications with the school in the August of 2011 and again had a great time on the certification trip to the Caymans. I my husband got certified last August. He is very happy with Scubaedu and really enjoyed the certification experience and the trip that follows. Today my husband bought his first scuba equipment package through Scubaedu. We were given great service with personal attention. They were very honest and their prices were way below retail. We are going back to the Cayman Islands in three weeks and Mike has offered to help us any way he can even though due to scheduling conflicts we are not able to travel with his group this time. We highly recommend Scubaedu.. you will have a great scuba education experience and a great time!