By Cathryn Castle Garcia
Originally published in California Diving News, April 2017
We tend to seek the company of people with whom we share common bonds. Whether we’re connected through a common language or philosophy or passion, we experience a sense of comfort and ease when we’re with “our people.” For some folks, it’s mountain climbing or stamp collecting, but for us, it’s getting out on – and under – the water as scuba divers. When we see that little red and white dive flag bumper sticker on the back of a car, we immediately identify a fellow “dive person,” a kindred spirit of scuba diving.
The Scuba Show is the largest consumer dive event in the United States — a place where you can expect to see a sea of dive flags — along with every other cool dive-related thing you can imagine. And a few unexpected things, too. There are a lot of reasons why you’ll want to make your way to the Long Beach Convention Center the first weekend in May.
We share the same passion. Divers are an adventuresome bunch. We use diving to unplug from our daily routines and immerse ourselves in nature. Whether we’re new to the sport or we’re hardcore divers with thousands of logged dives, it feels good to connect with other like-minded folks who understand how great it feels to get out and explore the underwater world.
It’s a gateway for new divers. Okay, so maybe you’re the only diver in your family, within your circle of friends, or at work. When you talk about your weekend adventure of putting a bunch of gear on and jumping off a perfectly seaworthy boat several miles from shore, or charging through the surf to reach a kelp forest, chances are some of your friends and loved ones might think you’re a little looney. But when you invite them to attend the Scuba Show with you, they’ll see you’re not the only nut. And they will begin to understand. And when in the company of all these divers and all this dive stuff, maybe they’ll decide to give it a try. In fact, this year they can try diving right in the exhibit hall.
There’s lots of really cool stuff. In our surveys of attendees, the number 1 reason why they come is to see the latest dive equipment. This year divers again will be drooling over the latest and greatest in new gear and accessories. All the major equipment manufacturers will have their top people there to show their newest “toys.” You’ll be up to speed on the latest products and offerings. There’s also plenty for nondivers (or not-yet-divers) to enjoy, such as ocean-themed jewelry, art, apparel, and the 15,000 gallon heated pool (see below).
You’ll meet the locals. Attending the Scuba Show will put you in touch with local dive charter operators, provide information on a variety of area beach diving locations, and give you the scoop on diver-friendly vacation rentals. You can find out about dive clubs that hold meetings in your area, too. And maybe find a new dive buddy or two in the process.
You can plan that dream trip to a tropical destination. Practically every major diving destination in the world is represented at the show. You’ll meet resort and dive center owners and operators, live-aboard boat owners and crew, and island tourism representatives who can give you the straight scoop on planning your next exotic dive trip. (Insider tip: some places even offer special “show only” discounts on vacation packages.)
Your non-diving friends (and kids ten years of age and over) can actually experience diving. For the first time, the Scuba Show will have a 15,000 gallon heated pool in the hall. Bring a swimsuit and a towel (there are changing rooms at the pool), and the gear and instruction will be supplied. And best of all, it’s free. We are providing the pool as a way for people to take the plunge and get interested in learning to dive.
You’ll learn a thing or two. Seminars and workshops on a wide range of environmental, marine-themed, and scuba-centric topics are offered on Friday and both days of the show. This is your chance to learn from and meet some of the greatest minds involved in ocean conservation, scuba training, underwater photography and film, marine science, fun, and more. To see a full listing of seminars, go to scubashow.com/attendees/seminars.
You’ll see giant kelp walls around the photographic art of underwater photographer and digital imaging specialist Jim Hellemn. Jim creates images of extreme proportion, using specialized lighting and multiple images to capture incredible one-of-a-kind underwater landscape images. One of Jim’s projects, a 2400-megapixel image of a California giant kelp forest, has been reproduced at life size on a 125 foot glass wall at the front of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.
You could win big. Last year over $40,000 in prizes was given away. This year is shaping up to be even better. Prizes will be awarded throughout the show. And we’re not talking t-shirts here, but big-ticket items like dive gear and trips around the world.
You get to participate. Along with roaming the aisles of the show (which, by the way, occupies more than 76,000 square feet of scuba stuff), you can unleash the inner artist by joining an interactive painting project that raises money for local charities, or just get creative at the photo stations — your Facebook friends will love seeing a photo of you goofing it up in a shark cage, right? You can also attend a seafood cooking demonstration and ask Scuba Chef Trevor Cook for tips on preparing your favorite seafood.
There’s a party going on. And admission is free. It’s happening on Saturday night of the Scuba Show at the (indoor and fire pit areas of the) Hyatt Regency Long Beach, just steps from the convention center. There’ll be free appetizers and a cash bar, entertainment, and a silent auction and raffle with great prizes that will raise funds for Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles. You will also get to meet this year’s recipients of the California Scuba Service Award, award-winning filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall.
And finally, you get to mingle with old and new friends, and the people who make the diving industry work. They are passionate and love to share it with you.
And in the end, we want you to return to your local dive community, excited about what’s next.
So there you have it. There are lots of reasons why the Scuba Show is the place to be, the first weekend in May, at the beautiful Long Beach Convention Center. For more info, go to ScubaShow.com.
I’ll see you there.