Hi, my name’s Andy and I’m the resident PADI Course Director and ‘Director of Professional and Technical Training’ for the Utila Dive Centre. I just wanted give you an insight into my personal and diving background so you know more about myself, the Instructor Development Course (PADI IDC) and other professional or technical courses that our team offers through the Utila Dive Centre located on Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras, Central America. Utila is located off the North coast of Honduras, Central America, in the Western Caribbean, and is famous for the whale shark and quality dive training from PADI Open Water to Instructor Development Courses and Technical diver training.
I took my IDC in the Bay Islands of Honduras in 1998 and worked on this beautiful island of Utila for months. If you’re fortunate enough to know anyone who has visited this island, they will tell you stories about the great diving, amazing lifestyle and Caribbean pace. Thousands of people arrive on this island every year for PADI certifications and all other levels of dive training, activities and whale shark expeditions. It’s a great place to gain experience as an Instructor, and within 6 months I had certified over 100 ‘Open Water’ divers. Still, I had a desire to travel, so I soon headed down to the Pacific Ocean off Costa Rica ro work in a resort and to enjoy pelagic encounters and then traveled to Dahab, Egypt Red Sea, where I worked as an Instructor for another 6 months, teaching shore diving and naturalist classes about the aquatic beauty to be found in the pristine waters of the Red Sea, a total contrast to the dry desert that surrounds it. It was in 1999, in Dahab, with its deep walls and infamous ‘Blue Hole’, that I qualified with ‘Technical Diving International’ as an ‘Extended Range’ technical diver with guidance from Red Sea TDI technical diving guru ‘Dr Ahmed Kamal’ and found a new love in diving, deep exploration.
In 2000, the turn of the millennia, I once again felt the call of the Caribbean and returned to Utila to work as the resort manager for the Utila Dive Centre, one of the top facilities for diver training in the Caribbean and Central America. After 2 great years of working with Utila Dive Centre, I was accepted by PADI in 2001 onto the ‘Course Director Training Course’ at PADI Headquarters in Newport Beach, California, and at the age of 28 was one of the youngest PADI Tec Rec Instructor Trainers in the world.
In the last 17 years, I have conducted over 170 Instructor Development Courses and trained over 3000 Instructors at all levels, from ‘Open Water Scuba Instructor’ to Trimix Instructor, and have trained most of the Course Directors in the region.
In recent years I have also been invited by the dive industry to share my experience and expertise in particular fields and talk at dive seminars and conferences. I have also reviewed PADI educational materials, including the revised 2018 Instructor course curriculum, and consulted for other dive operations and resorts.
As well as holding the highest qualification in recreational diving as a PADI Course Director (Professional Association Diving Instructors) from 2005 to 2017 I received an award of ‘Platinum’ status for recognition of my time and quality in training Instructors beyond the standard and at higher levels than the IDC for the last 13 consecutive years.
PADI Resident Course Director
PADI/IANTD Trimix Instructor Trainer
Rebreather Instructor Trainer
DAN Instructor Trainer
NSS-CDS Sidemount Cave Diver
International Yacht Training Instructor Trainer
IAHD-Americas Instructor Trainer
It’s always really good when researching a facility for professional training, to understand the philosophy and culture behind the dive operation, and the type of diving and training you’ll be doing. Whether you choose Utila Dive Centre or somewhere else for your training, it’s very important to try and know more about the background and philosophy behind a dive centre, this will make a big difference in the shaping, foundation and outlook that an Instructor has to the dive industry and also diving.
I do believe that we are unique, in that our staff and management, are more experienced divers and committed professionals than the majority of other centers in the Americas. We’re not just offering basic training as required by PADI, but we’re a real world diving environment, with courses at all levels being conducted almost daily. We’re one of the few dive centers in the region that is actually managed, staffed and ran by dedicated dive professionals and seasoned divers with worldwide experience, for our divers. During a candidates time with us, as they are training from a basic recreational level to becoming a dive professional, they will assist a multitude of courses, and also learn by seeing other levels of training occur around them, from tec diving, rebreather diving, marine ecology programs, sidemount diving, and adaptive teaching. This culture within our facility, our staff and environment really sets a solid foundation for a candidates career and pays for itself many times over.
I made a career choice like the majority of Instructor candidates do, many years back, and at the time planned just a few years working and traveling in the industry, and never planned to take the path that I did or develop a career in the dive industry. I believe that exposure to a real world diving environment, and being fortunate to have mentors who were committed divers and Instructors, and not just vocational Instructors (or resort/pool sales people), encouraged me to advance and get more out of this profession. At Utila Dive Centre we are principally a dedicated team of active divers and professionals (I believe the most qualified and active worldwide!), and we all still continue our own education each year, and really take our mentorship and role-modeling seriously and we measure our success not by financials, numbers or pass rates, but by how our candidates succeed within the industry, and for that reason take an ongoing interest in every one of the professionals we train, not just during the courses but years after their time with us. In fact most of the PADI Course Directors currently active in the Caribbean/Central America have received tutelage and guidance from myself at some point of their own careers as we set the bar and standard for professional training in the region and will support you long after your course is over, our consistency, track record, reputation and results are proof of that and will help you become the most successful dive professional you aspire to.
We’ve created a Youtube channel and Facebook community that tries to give you a feel for our facility, and would encourage you to take a look at these if you haven’t already, just be aware the videos do not do UDC or Utila justice, so if you enjoy what you see, just wait till you join us!
Please feel free to e-mail or call me for any specific questions you have. I hope you are able to join our team on this beautiful island in the near future!
Andy Phillips M.sc.
Director of Professional Training
USA broadband phone 305 4205959