This was my first trip overseas on my own, and I was naturally nervous about many things. However, from the moment I got off the plane, the staff and other kids made me feel supported and welcome. Everyone was very warm, and, in no time at all, I was feeling like part of the group even though I had arrived on the later plane and many kids were already there. We quickly hopped on another plane and flew to the tiny island of San Salvador, where the Gerace Research Center is located. The island was beautiful and right away we got down to business. We were split two groups, those who were already scuba certified and those who weren't. I was in the group who wasn't. Within a few days, however, we had gained enough skill in diving to merge the groups again. The diving instructors were very competent, clear and supportive and because of this we were able to speed through our instruction in no time. On the dives throughout this trip we saw many things including hawksbill sea turtles, grey reef sharks, rays, octopuses and more. Not only that, but the reefs themselves were healthy and amazing.
Besides the diving, there was also a heavy academic component to this trip. Every day you would have a lecture and homework to complete. If you are interested in marine biology as well as diving, than this is certainly the trip for you. You'll learn a ton and be able to actively observe what you're learning in the classroom during your dives. There are a couple tests and research projects that help determine your grade, however, if you love marine biology like I do, you will have an easy time with them because you've soaked up all the info during the lectures and homework. The academic instructor was a very intelligent and accomplished marine biologist who taught the material well and was eager to help everyone learn. She was very approachable and friendly and also very knowledgable and interesting.
If you're looking for great diving experiences and an expanded knowledge of marine biology, than you will absolutely love this trip!