Legends of Diving Articles

 

Bill and Nadine Beard
Pioneers of Diving in Costa Rica

Bill and 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 1988.

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

Bill and Nadine Beard

tourist 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 to dive this 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 excursions.

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 Hermosa.

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 Islands.

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 forever.

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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