2I dived with SVD for 5 days and I can confirm that what has been said about them in the previous reviews are true.
1. They are serious about marine conservation
There are two things which I look out for when I choose a dive operator to dive with: conservation focus and training rigour. Since I did not take a course with SVD I could not comment much on the latter but I do know that they do place additional emphasis on buoyancy control in their OWD classes. As for the former, it is always heartening for me to see dive shops who have a strong environmental mission. It is encouraging to talk to Sha and she is so ever hungry to learn more about conservation.
They do organize marine (and beach) clean up dives from time to time and what I admire about this shop is that they will not hesitate to turn down divers who might do more harm than good during the conservation dives (such as poor buoyancy control leading to kicking of corals and silting out the bottom). They do this not for the publicity or profit but because they really love the environment and to this I salute them.
2. They treat their customers like family members
I went there as a solo traveler but I have never felt alone because the staff there are so hospitable. Of course profits matter to a business but you will never feel that they are out for your money there. They clearly prioritise their environmental mission and customer relations over profits. It is difficult to find a dive shop like this nowadays! I spent almost all my nights at the dive shop after their operating hours to have dinner together with the staff and they have also given me discounts on my dives. They also got rice packs for me so that I have something to eat in-between the day dives and I am touched and appreciative of all these things that they did for me.
3. They go all out to serve and are tremendously helpful
I forgot to bring my charger to the island and the staff there helped me to charge my power bank over night and even lent me a charger. I wanted to do a last dive on the day of my departure but did not want to wet my own equipment so they offered to let me use theirs at no additional cost. While I was out diving they took out a table and helped me dry my equipment under the sun. I did not expect this at all and was absolutely touched by their thoughtfulness. I only briefly mentioned that I left my line cutter in their BCD but they really went all out to look for it when the divers were back. There was this night when I was at the dive shop and it started raining heavily but they opened their office for me and let me take refuge in it so I won’t be cold. I have also witnessed multiple occasions where they went out of the way to fetch and send customers to their accommodation even though they did not have to.
Their hospitality and helpfulness do not just extent to their customers. During the night which rained, the boat from the dive shop next door drifted away and I saw them running in the rain to go and alert the staff from the other dive shop.
4. Their diving is relaxed and flexible
The dive schedule is rather flexible and you can request which dive sites you would like to visit. The dive team also gave me room to decide how I wanted to wear my equipment (be it in the water or on the boat) and I was given the liberty to drift a little away from the team so I can do what I needed to do (wouldn’t recommend this for everyone though!).
There may be a lot of things which seem small and insignificant but I do notice them and I think their good deeds deserve to be broadcasted. I cannot highly recommend SVD enough. If you are planning to dive on perhentian, do dive with SVD.
Thank you guys for the wonderful time and I certainly want to dive with you guys again. If not on perhentian then perhaps somewhere else in Southeast Asia. Do not be discouraged by what you are doing for the environment even if you do not see immediate results. You guys are definitely doing a great job. Keep up the good fight!
Visited September 2016