Best Dive Shop - 2008
Let's just say that at the normally lazy hour of 1 p.m. on a Wednesday, Lauderdale Diver was packed. More important than the number of customers were their identities: yacht captains organizing trips for elite clients. Dive instructors from other operations, here to get equipment repaired. One divemaster whose job was to don a chain mail suit, put bait on the end of a spearfish, and head to the ocean floor to feed sharks hors d'oeuvres as though they were shish kebabs. What all this told us is that Lauderdale Diver is pretty much the go-to shop for industry professionals. Because of its demanding clientele, you might be left wondering whether shopping here is going to make your bank account take a dive. Not so. A regular open-water dive course, complete with classroom instruction and training dives, costs a mid-range $395. (Pricier places charge as much as $550; cheapie $199 beginner courses may contain hidden costs and add-ons.) For the advanced, Lauderdale Diver offers a slew of specialty courses: night diving, rescue diving, and digital underwater photography, just to name a few. For the less advanced — heck, for those who could care less about scuba — the store has an immaculately clean and organized boutique area where ladies can pick up adorable resort-style dresses for an affordable $29, and dudes can peruse the sexy selection of titanium knives (these are rumored to add a testosterone jolt when clipped to your belt — no goofy-looking wetsuit required). If you don't believe us, just ask PADI: the omnipotent and all-knowing dive organization gave the shop a five-star rating.