Legends of Diving Articles
Diving in Costa Rica
Nadine Beard are PADI scuba diving instructors living and working in
Costa Rica. Bill is originally from North Carolina, and Nadine was born
in Oakland, California.
They are owners of Bill Beard's Costa Rica Scuba Diving & Adventure
Travel Company. Bill went to Costa Rica in 1970 and Nadine joined him in
Bill Beard, widely recognized as the true pioneer of scuba diving in
Costa Rica, was one of the key players in bringing the country from
virtually unknown as a
destination to the forefront as a dive destination. When Bill made his
first trek to Costa Rica, there weren?t even any scuba tanks in the
country. But on his second visit, he changed that by bringing tanks in
his bags " something you probably couldn?t get away with today! Bill got
the tanks filled with compressed air at the local gas company and talked
someone into taking him out in their dugout canoe. Obviously, Bill is
not someone who knows the word "no" and who was relentless in his quest
virgin territory. It certainly wasn?t
difficult for him to see the potential for diving in Costa Rica, but it
certainly wasn?t easy for Bill to fulfill his dream.
To bring this vision to life meant that Bill Beard had to carve an
industry where none existed. He is responsible for many firsts in Costa
Rica scuba diving: the first working instructor, the first dive shop,
and the first beach-based dive center to run daily scuba diving
Training of the first divers in Costa Rica came in the back of Bill's
barbeque restaurant in San Jose, where students attended classes after
hours. Word spread, and classes filled. It was in these first few
sessions that most of the dive masters now working on Costa Rica's live
aboard boats and in land-based dive operations throughout the country
got their training.
It wasn?t long before Bill opened Costa Rica's first professional,
full-service dive shop, Mundo Acuatico, in San Pedro, which but is still
in operation today. In the early 1980?s, Diving Safaris, owned by Bill
Beard became the first beach-based dive center, getting its start in
Playa del Coco and later moving to Ocotal, and opening multiple
satellite dive centers, before retrenching and settling in Playa
In 1988, Bill's wife, Nadine. joined him in Costa Rica and together they
formed an association and were the first to combine scuba diving and
adventure tour packages.
When Bill Beard and his wife Nadine were running the day-to-day
operation in the late 1980's and early 1990's they were the recipient of
many awards from the scuba diving community, including No. 1 in Rodale's
Scuba Diving's Top 10 Dive Operator in the Indo-Pacific and SSI's
Platinum Pro 5000 honors.
This was a period of great growth for Costa Rica's adventure tourism
industry. The visionaries who created the scuba diving and ecotourism
market in Costa Rica overcame many hurdles.
Nadine and Bill searched out dive sites in the Gulf Of Papagayo in the
NW Pacific coast where none were known. They trained fisherman to be
divers and together they discovered forty-one local dive sites, several
around the Catalina Islands and eight more at the now-famous Bat
In all the years of working in Costa Rica with literally thousands of
divers, Bill & Nadine have never had a dock or pier to load the boats --
it has always been done through the surf in small pangas. Can you
imagine the thousands of tanks, divers, equipment and gallons of fuel
they have loaded through the waves" However, in all these years they
have never had a fatality or even a serious accident proving that
?safety first" does pay.
It's hard to image that less than two decades ago, Costa Rica was
virtually unknown as a destination for diving. Suddenly it is being
applauded as an eco-friendly destination known for its variety and
abundance of marine life. New facilities along the Pacific coastline are
now offering first-class dive boats and fully stocked dive shops. And
best of all, divers enjoy the excitement of truly virgin diving in areas
never before explored.
Costa Rica's bid to become a player in the arena of the world's leading
dive destinations didn?t happen overnight. It has taken time and
determination. In the 1960's bananas were the number one industry,
coffee production was second, and tourism didn?t exist.
Nadine and Bill loved the scuba diving in Costa Rica and were proud to
introduce the dive industry to it but they also wanted the divers to see
more of this beautiful country, learn more about it's culture and
experience the adventure activities. They began combining dive and
adventure tours into complete vacation packages. Today not only divers,
but travelers of all types " families, honeymooners and eco-adventurers
" rely on Bill Beard's Costa Rica to plan vacations they will remember
Through determination and hard work the dive and adventure business has
flourished in Costa Rica and all the divers that have traveled here can
be proud of playing a part.
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Bowling Green OH, 43402
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