Expedition Dive Instructor Training

Kick start your career with our 12 week Expedition Dive Instructor Training Course in Costa Rica and become a fully qualified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor with Expedition leadership & Resort Management skills

More than just a Dive Instructors Course, you will learn expedition leadership and resort management skills enabling you to pursue a career working in a dive shop or leading marine conservation expeditions. The top performers may be offered work at the dive school on completion of the course to further boost your experience and career prospects.


  • Become a PADI certified Scuba Instructor
  • Learn how a Dive Shop operates
  • Develop key Expedition Leadership skills
  • Assist with ongoing marine research projects

Who can apply?

The minimum requirement to join this course is that you must have held your PADI Advanced Open Water certification for at least 6 months and done at east 30 dives. If you don’t have your Advanced licence or 30 dives, then just add our “Extra Dives Option” when you book and we'll organise an extra one or two weeks of diving to the beginning of your course to get you upto the required level!

Week 1: PADI EFR & Rescue

On arrival in San Jose, you will be transferred to our PADI five star dive centre on the Pacific coast. You’ll dive straight into your training this week with your Emergency First Responder and Rescue certifications. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is crucial to your dive progression this training will complete your recreational dive training and prepare you for your first step into the world of being a professional diver!

Week 2 – 6: PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation  

Next it’s time to take your first step in the world of professional dive training as you spend the next five weeks working towards your Divemaster certification. Your training during this phase will become much more hands-on as you learn to become a leader and take charge of activities. A large part of your training at this stage will include assisting with student divers as you develop your teaching skills.

Marine Conservation: our dive centre is also a 100% PADI Aware partner meaning that we are are committed to ocean protection. You will experience marine conservation work first hand during these 5 weeks, completing your PADI Marine Conservation and Research specialty. This is a unique PADI distinct speciality qualification, that takes you into the world of ecology and identification of reef fish, invertebrates and corals. In addition, you will learn a variety research and survey techniques. By the end, you will have the opportunity to set up and complete your own survey.

Week 7: Resort Operations Training, PADI Self Reliant and Adaptive Support Training 

Many Dive Instructors choose to work at resorts, and some go on to start their own dive centres so an understanding of how a resort operates is a great way to give yourself a head-start and make yourself more employable. Training this week includes an introduction to boat handling, basic equipment maintenance and GPS mapping of dive sites. The skills learned this week cover all aspects of resort management through hands-on self-reliance and leadership training alongside practical adaptive management tools.  

You will additionally bring your land skills into the water this week, and gain two more PADI certifications.  During your PADI Self-Reliant course, you learn about potential risks of diving alone, and gain the chance to develop skills for self-reliance and independence, while becoming a stronger partner in a dive pair or team.  You will bring your skills to a live setting, considering the needs and backgrounds of all that may enter into your care with the PADI Adaptive Support Diver course. With this PADI certification, you will explore adaptive techniques to apply while diving. 

Week 8-10: Instructor Development and Certification 

The final stage of your dive training will enable you to qualify as a fully-fledged Open Water Scuba Instructor. This stage includes your Instructor Development Course (IDC) which teaches you how to conduct all the PADI courses, as well as your Emergency First Response (EFR) Instructor training. You will now be ready for your external Instructor Examination (IE), a two-day evaluation of everything you have learned on the course, and after successful completion of this you will have earned your Instructor certification!

The perfect way to round off your training is with the PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer preparation course, an impressive addition to your resume! This fun 4- 5 day course is a package of 5 specialty instructor training courses and there are a variety of options available subject to your interests.

Weeks 11 – 12: PADI Expedition Leader Training*

As well as dive and resort training, you will take part in a two-week Expedition Leadership training course in the Costa Rican jungle. Under the supervision of our Highly qualified Gapforce Instructors, get ready to learn the fundamental skills required to lead marine expeditions in the future. Many marine conservation programs are in remote environments with basic living conditions so understanding how to operate with limited resources is a key part of being a successful expedition leader in the future. The training during these two weeks typically includes Expedition Skills and Leadership Training, Incident Management, and Expedition Planning. Your 2 week course will finish with a practical leadership experience, with the opportunity to lead a section of a Gapforce program in the jungle, where you will assume the responsibility of planning and implement your itinerary. 

On successful completion of the course, there may be opportunities for the top performers to work at the dive school in Costa Rica to gain more experience and really boost your career prospects. Your instructors also have extensive experience working in the Dive and Outdoor industry and will happily discuss with you what opportunities exist given your personal circumstances and aspirations and develop plan of how you might go about achieving them.

*The exact timing of this two-week phases in your program will change dependent on when you are scheduled to sit for your off-site, IE examination.  Therefore, you may leave for the jungle before Phase 4 of the program or after.  Please contact us for more information.

What is included

  • Pre-departure briefing 
  • San Jose Airport Pick up (flights excluded) 
  • In county Gapforce UK leaders 
  • Homestay accommodation including breakfast, dinner, Wi-Fi and laundry 
  • PADI Emergency First Response certification 
  • PADI Rescue Diver certification 
  • PADI Dive Master certification 
  • PADI Marine research and conservation specialty and Fish ID specialty 
  • PADI Adaptive Support Diver
  • PADI Self-Reliant Diver
  • Scuba tank visual inspection certification 
  • Emergency First Response Instructor certification 
  • Resort training; sales techniques, course pricing and budgets, working with clients, boat handling and marketing techniques including social media 
  • Hands-on Skills: Dive boat handling, equipment maintenance, compressor basics 
  • PADI Instructor program certification 
  • Expedition Leadership; Planning and budgeting, motivation and leadership
  • Jungle Survival Training; Navigation, survival, safety, trekking and camp building
  • Career placement advice and potential employment
  • Finacial bonding 
  • 24/7 Support  

A once in a lifetime experience!

As a bit of a nature freak who dreamed of traveling to Costa Rica since I was about 5 years old, this program seemed too good to be true. Based in Quepos, not 15 minutes from the world famous Manuel Antonio national park, prepare to be surrounded by a cornucopia of exotic animals ranging from toucans, to iguanas, to monkeys, and so much more. There is nothing quite like watching a whole family of squirrel monkeys plummeting from the jungle canopy while enjoying a delicious breakfast, only to be followed up by a sloth cruising down a power line on your walk to work a few minutes later. Only in Costa Rica....Upon arrival in Quepos, you will take up residence with a local family at a homestay. All of the people participating in Gapforce programs (this one and others) will stay at the same place so you will probably have some unique housemates from all over the world. The homestay provides a fantastic opportunity to work on your spanish, enjoy some great tico cuisine, and completely immerse yourself in the local culture.Regarding the surrounding area, prepare yourself for beautiful jungle lined beaches complete with loads of opportunities to jet ski, surf, parasail and more. The bus system is very cheap and easy so getting around is no problem. The nightlife is fun and the locals are super kind and laid back.As should be expected, the dive training is definitely the standout of the program. The staff at Oceans Unlimited (the dive center you'll be training out of) are absolutely top notch. Everyone at the shop is a master at their craft and are capable of providing so much practical knowledge and support through the duration of your stay. I entered the program a novice, and can confidently say I came out a very capable, self sufficient diver. The staff will not hesitate to push you out of your comfort zone, but all with the intention of making you the best you can be.The diving itself is also incredible, getting to see animals like octopus, eels, sea horses, and turtles on the daily. Costa Rica also has the longest whale season in the world, so prepare to see humpbacks on the surface multiple days out of the week.The jungle survival portion of the program was also a fantastic addition, presenting a nice break from the dive training and an opportunity to live secluded in the rain forest while picking up some interesting knowledge and skills. During your stay you will cross rivers, bathe in waterfalls, treck through scenic landscapes, encounter a variety of strange jungle creatures, and enjoy some unique jungle snacks. Truly a once in a lifetime experience!I could not say enough about this experience as a whole, massively worth while if you're looking to get properly educated on diving and enjoy a bit of adventure. The program delivered across the board and I will always look back fondly on my time in Costa Rica.

Kyle, gap year student from the USA

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  • Duration: 12 weeks
  • Departures: February, April, December

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