Marketplace: Mountains no barrier to underwater adventure for Caribbean Dreamin Scuba
Scuba instructor dives into Park City market
April 7, 2017
For the first four decades of Marc Larson's life, his only connection to diving was the scuba shop that occasionally piqued his curiosity when he'd pass it on his way to work in Vail, Colorado.
"I thought, 'What's that? Scuba diving in Vail, Colorado?'" he said. "It seemed a little odd, but I didn't think about it a lot."
That all changed a few years later when a patient in Larson's physical therapy practice invited him on a vacation to his property in Grand Cayman, considered one of the best places on Earth for scuba diving. One plunge into the crystal waters of the Caribbean, and Larson was hooked.
He was so enthralled, in fact, that in 2001 he opened his own scuba shop in Park City, Summit Dive Masters, offering diving lessons and gear and organizing scuba trips to locations around the world. After moving out of town and closing the shop, Larson is back in town and at it again. He started Caribbean Dreamin Scuba about a year ago and is aiming to once again share the splendor of what has become one of his life's passions.
"Any time you see a great rainbow or a sunset, it's something you want to take a picture of or share because it's so amazing," he said. "You're down there and watching nature. I've always been that way, wanting to share things with people. It's a great thing to experience with other people because it's so different than anything you can imagine."
Larson's passion for scuba diving is unsurprising, given that he wanted to be an oceanographer in high school, even though he had never been to the ocean. He speaks about scuba diving romantically while reminiscing about the experiences he's had in some of the most exotic ocean locales around.
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"It's just being underwater and being a fish," he said. "Just going down and being able to stay down for an hour or two hours and check things out is amazing. The things you see if you take the time are incredible and the photography is amazing. There are so many things you didn't think existed, but they're down there living and eating, and you get to go down and enjoy it."
Larson's scuba shops have thrived in Park City, despite being a mountain community hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean. He often gets puzzled looks when he tells people he owns a scuba shop, but said they're not actually rare in resort towns, which are full of active people who love to travel the world.
In fact, Larson said he's actually lucky to be located in Park City because the Homestead Crater hot spring, which is renowned as a scuba location because of the temperature of the water and its depth, is minutes away in Midway.
"That's a lot easier than doing it in California and going to Laguna Beach and fighting the waves and cold water," he said. "That was much tougher, so we're really lucky to have this."
Another misconception Larson encounters is that scuba diving is only for experts. While Caribbean Dreamin Scuba offers the highest levels of diving certification for serious divers, Larson teachers people as young as 10. It's an activity that is safe, and one that nearly everyone can enjoy, he said.
"People think it's this real hard, scary thing where you have to be an adventurer," he said. "Well, that's not it at all. It's one of the most relaxing things I've ever done is just to go down there and breathe. It's just a great feeling and so much to see — things you've never dreamed of."
Given that, Larson encourages people to try scuba diving even if it's something they've never considered. He said you never know what incredible experiences are out there. For those brave enough, it might even be swimming with hammerhead sharks, like Larson recently did with a group of travelers in the Bahamas.
Intrepid divers who missed that expedition need not worry, however, because Larson will be providing plenty of other chances for underwater adventure in the future.
"We're doing one in June in Cozumel (Mexico), when we can go out and swim with 40- and 50-foot-long whale sharks," he said. "So there are little things we try to do to make it special. Not everybody wants to do that, but if they want to, we have it available."
Caribbean Dreamin Scuba
1526 W. Ute Blvd.