Hernan Rodas, owner and founder of Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges (http://www.redmangrove.com/), the region’s leading hospitality company for active adventure and dive vacations, just announced that its expanded dive operations have received the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) / National Geographic dive center award, the only resort of its kind in Ecuador and the Galapagos to be so designated.

This is the second accolade Rodas has announced in past months targeting the ambitious and comprehensive dive center and its new academy scheduled for fall 2012 opening. Last spring the resort received the coveted PADI Five-Star Dive Resort designation. The five-star rating is the highest rating standard within PADI.

“The National Geographic rating goes hand in hand with Red Mangrove’s commitment to sustainable tourism and providing the most rewarding visit to the islands possible,” said Caleb Hayes, Dive Resort Project Manager and PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer.

The dive academy will offer classroom and open water instruction and PADI certification along with scuba diving tours and packages operated by the resort.

“Accompanied by an expert lineup of instructors and dive masters, our guests can witness all the various perspectives the islands have to offer – land and sea — for a complete Galapagos experience. This fact was not lost on the National Geographic ratings team,” Hayes added.

National Geographic partnered with PADI, the world’s leader in scuba diving training, to jointly create the National Geographic Diver program. Both organizations have the common goal of encouraging public interest in recreational scuba diving worldwide and exposing people to the aquatic environment to help them gain a better appreciation of our underwater cultural heritage. Red Mangrove’s instructors have been certified to offer National Geographic diver education classes.

Final touches are being applied to over 15,000 square feet of space now under construction that, upon completion, will be the largest dive training center in Ecuador and one of the largest in South America, said Rodas.

The Hyperbaric chamber is being readied for installation; trainings begin the third week of August. The Nitrox gas system will also be installed then, making this the only dive center in the Galapagos with a state-of-art membrane Nitrox maker that produces Oxygen Enriched air for Nitrox certified divers. Modern, comfortable classrooms will accommodate up to 40 students. There will be his and her changing rooms, lockers, a patio/juice bar, a large and modern repair center, a retail store for parts and new diving equipment plus a 20-foot-deep training pool.

The center will offer Open Water Diver, Adventures in Diving, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, Emergency First Response, Master Scuba Diver, Divemaster, Assistant Instructor, Open Water Scuba Instructor, Master Scuba Diver Trainer and IDC Staff Instructor all enhanced with National Geographic programming.

The resort’s two diver-dedicated lodges are the nine-room Red Mangrove Santa Cruz Divers Lodge in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island with hot tub, library/lounge and on-premise dining adjacent to the dive center; and the five-room Red Mangrove Isabela Divers Lodge just steps from the sea on Isabela Island with WiFi, cable television and laundry service. The adjacent Coco Restaurant serves three meals daily.

Image courtesy Widness & Wiggins/ National Geographic

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