As you drive north along Bald Eagle Drive through Old Marco, just before the intersection with Palm Street, feast your eyes on the aqua colored house on your right. It calls out your name with its Old Florida charm and inviting style. This is the home of Scuba Marco, the island’s premier dive shop. On August 23, Scuba Marco celebrated 18 years of successful business, taking a dive and loving it!
The shop features diving instruction and certification, dive trips, service and rentals, and a vast array of diving products. Scuba Marco is known for its “Mom and Pop” feel. Perhaps that is due to the owners, husband and wife team Jeff and Jessica Dawson. Their story is as magical as the art of scuba diving itself. Captain Jeff, a PADI and SSI diving instructor, moved from Ohio to Naples as a child in 1973. He received his first scuba certification and a degree in psychology from the University of Florida in the 1980s. Since then he has certified over 1,000 students and participated in over 6,000 dives. In 1998, he met a young woman from Arkansas when instructing her along with her parents. Remembering that day, Jessica Dawson said, “I fell in love with scuba diving and my instructor!” Jessica is the shop coordinator/fun specialist while Captain Jeff is out on the water. She hopes to one day bring the art of Adaptive Scuba to those with mental or physical disabilities. The couple and their children live, love and dive on the land and waters of Marco Island.
Dive master and scuba addict, Tyler Beck, is the newest addition to the Scuba Marco team. He discovered diving in his home state of Alaska and has since enjoyed underwater adventures all over the world, including dives of shipwrecks in New Zealand and night dives in Fiji.
When asked his secret to success for the last 18 years, Jeff Dawson said, “It has never really felt like a job to me. It is a laborof love,” adding that when you enjoy what you do, you will be good at it. But Jessica reminded him that it was hard work and determination that led to their success. “In the early years, there were times when we both worked two jobs just to survive. When you own your own business, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it work.”
It is obvious that Captain Jeff’s passion for diving is more than a job. On their website, HYPERLINK “http://www.scubamarco.com/”www.scubamarco.com, he says, “Scuba Diving is a magical place where both excitement and relaxation simultaneously fill my being. Every dive site is a different zoo, nature is in full bloom, and for a short while, my soul is content as I forget the world above.” He is thrilled with the opportunity to share this passion with both Marco Island residents and visitors. He feels that many have some misconceptions about the quality of local diving. “Some people think that they have to go to the Keys for really good diving. The diving here is different than in the Keys, but it is still very good.” He went on to say, “We often see the entire food chain stacked on dive sites often less than ½ a football field in area, which means that it’s that much easier to see things without straying too far from the dive boat.” Scuba Marco’s customized dive boat, the Psychquatic, takes divers on Gulf adventures where they often see large schools of snapper, snook, porkfish, mackerel, harmless nurse sharks, the protected Goliath grouper and loggerhead sea turtles.
Eighteen years of successful business is a dream come true for the Scuba Marco team. Take a drive to 1141 Bald Eagle Drive to stop in and say “Happy Birthday!” or give them a call at 239-389-7889. Whether you are an experienced scuba diver or just think you might like to give it a try, they love to share their knowledge and passion with Marco Island divers, old and new!