After falling in love with the island during a summer holiday in 1998, Nicholas Thompson packed his bags the following year, left a lucrative job in the city and moved to Ibiza, where he still lives with his family, running the island’s premier dive school, Punta Dive. Essential Ibiza caught him coming out of the sea and got the low down on the increasingly popular island activity
What is Punta Dive?
Punta Dive is a PADI 5 STAR IDC (Instructor Development Centre) that has four dive centres located strategically around the island of Ibiza. After opening its doors in 1997 it has grown to become a trusted name in diving not only in Ibiza but all over Europe. Located in Cala Martina, Playa den Bossa, Cala Llonga and Port des Torrent. We believe diving is Fun and should be made fun.
Describe a typical dive session with Punta?
As a certified diver in Ibiza you are guaranteed to have clear warm waters, beaming with fish and other marine life. Because of the Posedonia grass around the islands of Ibiza and Formentera the water is very oxygenated therefore allowing for bright colours as well as abundance of life. Ibiza is not just limited to its amazing marine life as it has underwater caves in San Miguel and Cala Llonga as well as the ‘Fish Farm’ of Formentera and the biggest diveable shipwreck in the western Mediterranean the ‘Don Pedro’. With two purpose built dive boats, Punta Dive has access to the whole island. With FREE transfers from wherever you are in Ibiza, a day with Punta Dive will be one of fun, laughter and above all great diving with professional divers who have a passion about diving and Ibiza.
Are your clients normally experienced divers or do you attract first timers too?
Ibiza has a reputation for clubbing and unfortunately became a hard sell for serious divers from all over Europe. That was until the ‘Don Pedro’ was opened for diving in 2008. Since then there has been a steady influx of divers coming to Ibiza for no other reason than to dive. The majority of our business is still the beginners market. Where people are looking for a little adventure whilst here and find the clear blue waters too inviting to pass up. In 2008, 2009 and 2010 Punta Dive was voted number one by PADI for the most beginners certified in Spain and third in the whole of Europe, which is even more impressive when you remember that Ibiza is only open six months of the year and within those six months only four are really busy.
Ibiza might not be the first name that springs to mind when talking about diving, what makes the island a good diving location?
With a flight time of about two hours from any major airport in the UK and an island surrounded by clean, calm water, Ibiza is an untapped wonder. With the Don Pedro and other amazing dives Ibiza is slowly becoming a point of interest for serious divers who would normally go to for example Cyprus. As Cyprus is a longer flight and only has one dive of note, the Zenobia, whereas Ibiza has the Don Pedro, the Fish Farm, the caves of Light and the Cathedral just to name a few. Ibiza has so much more to offer. If you aren’t a serious diver and wish to enjoy your holiday to the maximum you can dive, party, relax and spend time at some fantastic restaurants. If you are after a family holiday, everyone will get something out of Ibiza.
What’s your favourite diving spot on the island?
Being from Australia I have been spoilt with my diving but there are some dive sites in Ibiza that will even blow spots in Australia out of the water. My favourite is definitely the ‘Fish Farm’ in Formentera. It’s only a 25 minute boat ride from our Playa den Bossa centre and you are guaranteed to see life every time. It is full of life including barracuda, stone fish and moray eels but what makes it so special is that the water is so clear. Apart from this dive site I am a huge fan of Dado Pequeno, which is the island that the ‘Don Pedro’ hit before sinking. Not for this reason but for the fact that it is also full of amazing colours and life and it was the first dive site I dived on when I came to Ibiza 11 years ago and it was what convinced me on the potential Ibiza has.
What brought you to Ibiza and why did you decide to make it your home?
I came here in August1998 with a friend who had been coming here for years. He was into the whole club scene and convinced me to come along. I had been working in the money markets in London and was due a holiday and being Australian I needed the sun. We arrived here in August and the first thing I noticed was the blue sky. It was a refreshing change from the cold of the UK. We had booked a holiday for two weeks and we where staying in Playa den Bossa. I did the club thing but it wasn’t until we walked into Space and saw Johathan Ulysses playing at the Space 10 year anniversary did I really fall in love with the island. There were thousands of people smiling and just having a great time. I was 26 and thought that I need to live my life instead of being in a job that was stressful and full of people that I wouldn’t consider friends unless they were clients. So, with that in mind I went back to the UK and made a plan to come back the following year to have some fun in the sun. I arrived on the fourth of April 1999 with a backpack a few quid and absolutely no idea what was in front of me. But I was lucky to meet some good people who had been here a while and Ibiza quickly became my home.
What is it about the island that inspires you?
In November 2009 I had a fire in my house that started by accident, a friend had fallen asleep with a candle on in her room.
We were all lucky that there wasn’t a fatality, especially as my 2-year-old daughter was asleep in the next room. The next day, after the fire, we assessed the damage and my wife and I were worried about the future, as we were renting and the landlord didn’t have insurance so we were duty bound to put it right. Believe me there were times when the easiest option was to get on a plane and fly either to the UK or Australia but we had worked too hard to walk away from our life here. So we put out a few calls to people we knew asking if they could spare some time and help us get this mess sorted out. Not only did they spare time they dropped everything they where doing and also contacted their groups of friends. It was inspirational to see people that you had know for years step up to the plate when things where at rock bottom for us. And the fact that we had strangers turning up with buckets, spades, cleaning equipment, trucks, carpenters and other tradesmen to put this right blew me away. My business partners put everything on hold and one of them put me, my wife, my daughter and my two dogs up for a week. It took 7 days and our house was fixed, new doors, completely painted and new electrics, and the people who gave up their time to help somebody in need have become my inspiration and they are the reason why I stay in Ibiza. This proved to me that the ‘Ibiza Spirit’ was alive and strong.
How do you unwind when you’re not trawling the depths on the sea?
Before I met my wife and had a baby girl, I was a workaholic and spent more time than I needed at work. Looking at things and trying to improve the business. But that all changed on the 18/01/2008 when my wife gave birth to Summer Anne Thompson in Can Misses hospital. It’s amazing how one thing can have such an incredible impact on your life. I had heard it would change everything but did expect how much. So now when I don’t need to be at work I’m not, I have two awesome partners who have strong family morals and we work it so that we are all with our loved ones as much as possible. On my time off, I leave everything at the front gate and hang out with my wife, daughter and two dogs and enjoy watching us grown together as a family. But sometimes we find a baby sitter and go for a dive just the two of us to remind each other why this island is so special.