Not all scuba certifications are planned.

When Lyanca Hoiting walked into Rosalinda Bar in Curaçao in November 2021, she had no idea it would change her life. A truck driver from Drenthe, in the north of the Netherlands, she often visited the tropical island but had never tried scuba diving.

Do You Dare?

“Can you imagine coming to Curaçao year after year without ever trying to dive!?” Porto Mari Sports dive center wrote when sharing her story. “Her friend wanted to dive and needed a little help from us to convince Lyanca to try it, too.”

“I was a regular visitor of the beautiful island of Curaçao and Porto Mari Beach,” Hoiting said. “One night in Rosalinda Bar (owned by the previous owner of the dive shop), we were sitting with friends who work at Porto Mari, and I agreed to do a DSD on a dare.”

a turtle spotted while shore diving in Curacao
Curacao is known for its calm, crystal-clear waters.

Hoiting didn’t want to go back on her promise and signed up for a Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) program at Porto Mari. Terrified, she almost quit, panicking a little when she submerged her face underwater. She said, “I was literally scared to death while submerging my head underwater.”

Then, with a lot of patience and guidance from her instructor and perseverance on her own part, she completed the dive. And then another. And then another.

“Here, we probably should have issued her the following warning: diving can be addictive,” the dive shop shared. “We didn’t, or maybe we did, but she didn’t listen.”

Collecting Certifications: From DSD to Open Water Diver to PADI Pro

Next, Hoiting decided to complete her PADI Open Water Diver certification on her next visit to the island in February 2022. While there, she also achieved her Advanced Open Water Diver certification as well as the Enriched Air (Nitrox) Diver, invasive lionfish tracker and Dive Against Debris specialty certifications. Moreover, she credits her instructor, Joost, with making it “impossible not to like diving.”

She returned to the Netherlands in March, but began to feel burned out with her career and personal life. Then, she decided to “make a plan B” and contacted her friends at Porto Mari. 

A buddy diver assists another on an adpative dive.
Lyanca Hoiting loves the adapative diving courses her shop offers because it makes the sport accessible to all. Image courtesy of Lyanca Hoiting.

She returned to Curaçao to become a PADI Pro, earning her PADI Master Scuba Diver (with Wreck and Deep specialties), PADI Divemaster, and PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) certifications.

“She is now teaching others to dive!” Porti Mari brags about their former student and current OWSI. “Just a little more than a year after her very own first dive.”

Live Unfiltered

“Diving allows me to get out of the everyday chaos – to feel free and at ease,” Hoiting said. 

Her story is the classic “Girl learns to dive; girl falls in love with diving; girl shifts her entire life to live a more free, happy and authentic life” story. 

In the Netherlands, she has a stressful and busy job and life running a family business in road transport and industrial cleaning. Furthermore, “Every day is hectic to make sure all our employees know what’s there to be done and react to changing plans and problems that occur,” she admitted. 

Lyanca Hoiting holds up a hang-ten sign while diving
PADI Pro Lyanca Hoiting became PADI certified based on a dare. Now, she’s a PADI Pro who teaches in Curacao. Image courtesy of Lyanca Hoiting.

On the other side of the world, diving and certifying others in Curaçao, everything is different. “When I am in the water, all of that [busyness and stress] disappears, and I am able to think about the things that really matter,” she said. “The fact that everything is so quiet, pure and vulnerable, including yourself at depth, is mesmerizing and makes me feel tranquil and humble.”

The Power of Your PADI

“After completing my Divemaster training, I decided, since I love to teach about my passions … to teach diving,” Hoiting said. She wants to help people “experience this amazing thing,” overcome their fears and learn valuable lessons.

One of her students was Ana Vigo, PADI’s Senior Manager of CRM and Loyalty Marketing. 

In December 2022, Vigo found herself in Curaçao’s crystal clear waters hoping to get certified. Vigo had done a prior DSD and now wanted her Open Water Diver certification. Like Hoiting, Vigo was nervous and almost pulled out of the course.

“I’m fearful of it, because I’m slightly claustrophobic, so diving can be a trigger for me,” she said. Despite these fears, she wanted her Open Water Diver certification to be able to dive anywhere in the world, to not have to pay again to dive, and to learn new skills to make herself feel more comfortable underwater. 

Ana Vigo holds up two peace signs while diving
Ana Vigo celebrates on her Open Water Dive Certification by holding up two peace signs. Image courtesy of Ana Vigo.

Hoiting was very patient with Vigo, taking time to teach the latter the skills and repeating them as many times as necessary. The PADI Pro shared her own certification experiences to encourage her student to overcome her fears and perform the skills she didn’t think she could. Hoiting said, “The course with Ana was a blast to conduct! She was nervous but not nearly as nervous as I was – It was one of the first courses I’ve taught!”

Now that Vigo is certified, she shared that diving means having the ability to not have fears and to live freely. “For me, facing my fears and proving to myself that I could do this was a real accomplishment,” she said. She’s learning to #LiveUnfiltered and loving it. 

What’s Next?

Hoiting is currently back in the Netherlands for a few months but is already planning her return to the island. “As soon as possible, I will be going back to Porto Mari Sports to become a PADI MSDT [Master Scuba Diver Trainer] and to start teaching there again,” she said. 

A diver hovers over the sea floor in Curacao on her open water dive.
Ana Vigo credits her Open Water Dive Certification with helping her overcome her fears and feels proud of herself. Image courtesy of Ana Vigo

As for Vigo, she plans to dive locally in California to continue developing her skills and feel more comfortable in the water.

Both recall their chance meeting and parallel stories with fondness – just another case of PADI magic. As they say: “Change Your Life. Learn to Dive.”

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