So, you’ve decided to become a PADI instructor and are wondering where to take the Instructor Development Course (IDC). We selected these five great locations based on the quality of training, continuing-education options, availability of regular instructor course and exam dates, great diving and affordable living, plus regional employment prospects.
Florida Keys, United States
With a year-round tropical climate and the largest marine sanctuary in the United States, the Florida Keys are a great option for North Americans/Canadians who want to take their IDC closer to home. Key Largo has several PADI IDC centers offering monthly instructor courses. The Keys are also home to some great diving, with many wrecks and local reefs. Some centers also offer technical-dive training. If you’d like to stay in Florida, there are lots of dive centers in the region offering employment. Additionally, Miami is a good hub to fly to and from most Caribbean destinations.
Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The GBR is one of the world’s most well-known dive destinations and on many a bucket list. A mature dive industry means there are many established IDC centers in Cairns and with vibrant year-round tourism, plentiful employment opportunities at both dive centers and on liveaboards. Working in Cairns offers great tropical diving as well plentiful comforts and amenities topside. The city is also a great launching pad for other parts of Australia or to relocate for employment elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Labuan Bajo/Komodo, Indonesia
This is a new destination for taking your PADI IDC. We’ve highlighted it here because you can combine your education with the stellar diving in Komodo National Park. Diving in Komodo will improve your experience and ability as a diver thanks to the strong and unpredictable currents. In the right season, you can expect regular encounters with mantas as well. There are many dive centers and liveaboard vessels operating Komodo. Instructors who qualify for the KITAS working visa can find employment here or elsewhere in Indonesia.
Egypt, Red Sea
The Egyptian Red Sea features many prominent resort towns such as Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab and Hurghada. There are multiple international airports as well, serving flights from most European cities. Overall Egypt is a great choice for amazing diving and plenty of training options for instructors. Several dive centers also offer technical/rebreather and photography/videography training for instructors who want to advance their qualifications and experience. Instructor-graduates who speak more than one language will find plentiful employment opportunities due to the number of Europeans visiting the Red Sea. The area also offers a low cost of living and plenty of cultural opportunities topside.
Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
With a PADI IDC and exams scheduled every month, as well as international flights from the U.S. to mainland Honduras several times a day, Utila makes for a convenient and affordable training ground for an IDC. In fact, PADI divemaster and instructor candidates travel from around the world to take their IDC in Utila, mainly for the quality of instruction and continuing-education options at Utila Dive Center, which also offers post-instructor course internships, sidemount/technical/rebreather training, boat-driving courses and ecology programs.
Utila is famous for great diving as well, with over 50 dive sites just a 10- to 45-minute boat ride away. Sites include sheer walls, fringing reefs, offshore seamounts, and regular dolphin and whale-shark encounters. The low cost of living attracts backpackers and travelers, so the island has a fun and lively atmosphere. Finally, it’s a great hub to find employment in the Caribbean and Central America as well.