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June 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Fancy Buying a Dive Resort Operation in the Sun?

itís not for the faint-hearted!

from the June, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

With kids growing up and leaving home, it's a time to re-evaluate your life and maybe have the life you have denied yourself. It's a time when some middle-aged men buy big motorcycles and some women take up mountain climbing. Many divers with an empty nest begin to book all those dive trips we promised ourselves. But some even go one stage further. They buy a dive resort, where the sun always shines and everyone is intent on having a good time. What would that be like?

You can buy Buccaneer Adventures in the South Pacific for $500,000

You may remember that last year the owners of Kosrae Nautilus Resort raffled off their resort, and a young Australian, 26-year-old Josh Ptassznyk, won it for a $49 ticket! Without such luck, one would need to invest a lot more, but with property prices in North America booming, you may be tempted to sell your house and make a life-changing move.

So what's available, and what would it cost? First, beyond your cash investment, you'll need a cash cushion to see you through the initial operating days. Since you probably have no idea how to run a resort, you might insist that the sellers stick around for a while to see you past any pitfalls, which might even include a little local animosity directed at a newcomer. And, since you're headed to a job with round-the-clock responsibility, you'd better have the stamina and temperament to manage it.

So, if you're up to the task and harbor the fantasy, there is a plethora of dive business opportunities, some close to civilization and others that are very remote indeed.

Have You Linguistic Skills?

Do you speak French? How about an operation in Tikehau, an island in the Tua Motos of French Polynesia, with some of the best shark diving in the world with its shark cave dive where sharks pour out like bees from a hive when disturbed. But it's a long way from medical help should you need it. $244,000 will buy it.

The Philippines might be more appealing, and no need for a second language. There's a PADI 5-star center up for grabs in northern Palawan, for a mere quarter of a million dollars.

If you're not ready to get into deep water on your own, consider a partnership. For a mere 60 grand, the owner is looking for a partner to help him grow his Discover Scuba Diving business at Koh Samui in Thailand. You'd have to be quite a risk-taker to get into a deal like this.

For half a million dollars, you have a lot of choices. What about a setup on a small, remote island in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, a Bangka resort with seven rooms and potential to expand? The British owners want to return to the UK to get better schooling for their children, but they'll probably be around for a couple of years to hold your hand while you take over the business.

Fancy a small liveaboard that takes but six passengers? Norwegian Freddy Storheil, a pioneer of Red Sea diving and, later, Thailand and the Mergui archipelago, is retiring at long last and selling his steel ketch, Colona II, for $180,000. It's a vessel familiar to many European divers, and you could even sail around the world in her. Freddy has! At the moment, it's in the Philippines, but could be delivered almost anywhere.

Be aware that in some countries you need a local as a business partner to operate legally. Evidently not so on the island of Niue in the South Pacific. Here there's a dive business, Buccaneer Adventures, complete with a house to live in, for half a million dollars. The deal includes five boats and four cars. The seller has health issues and it's time to move to where he can find suitable healthcare.

If you've already read that new novel by KL Smith, Tropical Ice, you might be tempted to spend $650,000 on a dive business at Ambergris Caye, Belize ( or $395,000 on a dive center on Roatan, Honduras, which has up to a one-year hand-over period from the current owner. You might need that help if you've never repaired a compressor or driven a dive boat.

Everyone needs to go home eventually, which is why $180,000 will buy you a thriving PADI/SSI business in Playa Herradura and Playa Jaco, Costa Rica. The owner says he's getting old and wants to return to Italy, where he has another dive center that needs some time dedicated to it. Are there any fish left in the Mediterranean to see?

Closer to home, how about a start-up dive business for sale in Baja California for only $40,000? It's only been operating for a year, and the dive season lasts only eight months, but the gringos keep moving there.

Failing health or retirement are common reasons for owners to sell out, which is why you need to be in good health if you're going into the dive business abroad. That's the case with the Deep Blue Dive Resort in Utila, Honduras, which accommodates 20 guests, has three ocean front buildings, and a weather-safe dock for its dive boat. It's available for $1.2 million, less than the price of an average house in San Francisco or London.

Want to Stay in America?

If you wanted to stay in the U.S., Florida beckons. $375,000 buys you a Palm Beach County dive shop where the owner thinks it's time for him to semi-retire. He'll consider a partnership. The only dive shop in Dade County, FL, is up for grabs at $200,000 including a stock inventory valued at $130,000. Located in Coconut Grove, Miami, its leased premises includes a two-bedroom apartment.

If warm weather is essential to your plans, what about Kauai, Hawaii? A dive operation for sale there is said to be very lean and profitable. If you ever wanted to live in Hawaii and get paid to go diving, a $150,000 stake is what you'll need.

Some Sage Advice

A word of caution from someone who once owned his own dive center: It's very hard work and not for the faint-hearted. Out in the boat, while the customers are enjoying the ride, you have to have one eye on the weather, the other on their safety, and another on your itinerary. While those same customers are enjoying a riotous evening, you'll be hard at work stripping down the compressor or answering emails or paying bills. It's not a business for someone who wants to take it easy. It certainly isn't something to do when you retire. And if you're out to make a small fortune from diving, you'd best start with a large one! And, there are no guarantees.

European readers might find a European dive center more appealing, because you're still in range of EU health-cover -- something that's important as you get older -- although the warm weather only lasts a few months of the year.

For more information as to what's available world-wide, go to

Finally, before you even think about it, read the 1965 classic Don't Stop the Carnival, by Herman Wouk. It's a humorous tale of a naÔve fellow who buys his own little tropical resort, and as you'll see, the problems are endless. It's still available at

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