Learn more about our team

Matt Zimmerman

Matt moved to the island of Oahu in the year 2000 after completing a Ph.D in Biomedical Sciences at UCSD. Having already completed a PADI Instructor level certification, it soon became clear to Matt that one could support an avid diving habit on the island of Oahu by taking island visitors scuba diving – score!

What was at first an informal local diving club quickly became a part time business run from a one bedroom ground floor apartment in Waikiki. That part time business soon became a full time endeavor with a new friends/divemasters helping out (moved up to 2 bedroom apartment). Eventually, a strong local reputation led to a diving service contract on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam and the evolution of Island Divers Hawaii into a traditional, established dive store.

Success serving the military led to the opening of a second retail location at the Hawaii Kai marina and shortly thereafter the addition of the vessel Sea Fox imported from Florida. Since then the scuba dive vessels Dive Barge, Sea Hound, Enzo, and Moe Mac were added to the fleet.  Matt believes that the success Island Divers  enjoys comes from his position that customers are friends.

Matt started Island Divers with the goal of making customers into friends, and that principle has guided the growth of the business. Matt tells a story to each new instructor that comes into the business.  “A diver may remember what they saw on the dive, but for sure they will remember how they were treated at the dive shop and how you made them feel about diving with Island Divers”.  The dive professionals selected to work at Island Divers are chosen because they are friendly, outgoing people that truly enjoy sharing their passion for diving with a new group of divers every day.  The people you will find on this page are the best of the best.

Most recently, Matt became the president of Hawaii Scuba University.  Coming full circle back to academic life and incorporating 15 years of experience in the diving industry, he is very excited about the training programs being offered and is looking forward to tackling the opportunities the school represents, establishing new programs, and training the next generation of scuba diving operators.

 

Matt ZimmermanOwner
Rei Gil

Rei was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He joined the Air Force in 1996 and separated after eight and a half years of honorable military service. In 2004, he completed his bachelor’s degree in business management. As a successful business entrepreneur, specializing in government business, he earned the position of Vice President of Government Business, for Blair Moving & Storage, Agent for Atlas Van Lines in Macon GA.

Always enjoying the island lifestyle, he had the opportunity to relocate to Oahu HI with his family in 2011, where it landed him the opportunity to work with Island Divers. Rei soon developed a passion for SCUBA Diving and became a dive instructor in 2012. As a SCUBA Diving Instructor and with his experience in government business, he created Hawaii SCUBA University in 2012, and in 2013 it was approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Hawaii SCUBA University provides our active duty, retired and former service members’ the opportunity to use their GI Bill to pursue professional careers in the SCUBA Diving Industry. Current as of Jun 2016

Rei GilGeneral Manager
David Pinilla

Coming from Bogota Colombia, I have loved the Ocean since the first time I saw it when I was five. Since then, I always wanted to be close to it, if not in it. I did my first dive at the age of 12 in San Andres, Colombia and fell in love with SCUBA. I became a certified diver in Australia in 2000 and ever since I have been traveling the world SCUBA diving, looking for adventures, and exploring the beauty of the underwater world!
In Costa Rica, I became a PADI Divemaster in 2004, than a year later an OWSI Instructor, to fulfill my dream of being a Cruise Director for one of the best Live aboard vessels, the Undersea Hunter, in Cocos Island Costa RIca. After three years I decided to continue my dive adventures on the other side of the world, Africa. With my beautiful wife, I spent four years managing a resort Dive Centre in Zanzibar Tanzania. After having our son, we decided to move closer to the Americas, and landed in Mexico for 2 years where I became the Operational manager for a dive company in Mahahual Mexico.
I am now an IDC Staff Instructor with 10 Specialties under my belt and approximately 5000 dives.
I love the ocean even more than when I was five. It has given me some of the best experiences I have ever had, and I have seen things that I thought I would never see. Through experience I understand the importance of protecting the Ocean and taking care of it.

David PinillaCourse Director
John Miller

John grew up in southwest Florida and was certified in 1986 earning his open and advanced open water ratings, along with several specialties. He spent most of his summers diving in the Florida Keys and throughout the Caribbean. After attending Marion Military Institute and subsequently earning his 1st bachelors in Psychology from Stetson University in Florida, John began his career as a military officer traveling the globe. While serving as a health care administrator, John continued his education earning a 2nd bachelors in Health Information Management and a Masters in Health Information Systems. John’s job moved his family to Hawaii in 2010 and he could not have been happier to be back on the water. He quickly went from an Advanced Open Water certification to recently receiving his IDC Staff Instructor Rating. His passion is infectious and his high level of instruction and attention to his students shows in the number of students that come back time and again to learn more.

John MillerCourse Director
Mary Christensen

Always in the search of adventure, paired with a quest for knowledge, learning and wisdom, Mary has tuned her life very thoughtfully to reflect her love for life, learning and joyful connections with people and the oceans.  Mary is a consumate believer in ocean conservation, learning and continuing education—it’s a focus for how she instructs.

It started young—her father was a Navy SEAL,  and instilled a sense of survival smarts, thrill and hunger to learn and master any new skill.  But she brings her own spirit of optimism, patience and gentleness that balances her coaching, responsibility and professionalism.  An Master Instructor, these values are now shared by numerous divers who’ve come from under her wing.

For the past 34 years, her dives across the northern and southern hemispheres… are the ones we would want as our own stories to share over food and drink:

  • Diving in frigid waters of the pacific north-west and the brutal harshness of the atlantic’s north-east
  • Basking in the abundance of sea life while island hopping the caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico
  • Near Bonaire, heartbreakingly ethereal and hauntingly breathtaking dawn and dusk dives, while thousands of creole wrasse enveloped you in a cloud
  • Near the Bahamas, spearfishing lion fish with a brood of reef sharks following—trying to teach the sharks to eat the invasive lion fish
  • Near Curacao, swimming through the forest of huge Alice-in-Wonderland’esque mushroom coral blooms
  • Near Honduras, even the moray eels would rub up next to you like latin lovers

Love for the Arts, Food, Travel and Adventure…..Come dive and explore the amazing Hawaii sites with her.

Mary ChristensenShop Manager - Master Instructor
Davy Vercoe

Davy was born in California but spent most of her life traveling the USA and a bit overseas with her beloved family. Her travels took her to Brazil where she lived and went to school for three years and met her future husband, Kendal. She fell in love with scuba diving the moment she took her first breath underwater at Blue Water Divers in Rochelle Park, New Jersey when she was 23 years old. She got her open water PADI certification two days after her graduation from college with a degree in Theater Arts. Davy went on to work for the very dive shop that certified her and thus began her climb to the exotic life traveling the world as a scuba instructor. She has had the pleasure of diving of the coast of New Jersey, the Caribbean Sea, Western Australia, and Bali, Indonesia.  Davy is passionate about sharing her love of the ocean and it’s inhabitants with future generations.

Davy’s favorite creatures to see underwater are any kind of rays, nudibranchs and octopus.

Davy VercoeShark Tank Scuba Director (MSDT)
Lauren Smith

I am a Life Long Divemaster closing on 10 years in multiple facets of the business including Guiding, Dive support Supervisor  for documentary/TV productions, management, and Guest Liason for large groups in remote areas.

My “past life” was as a Marketing/Sales/Distributor Liaison for a Vodka company started by a hip hop artist back in the early 2K when the trend for Hip Hop Artists becoming Moguls in many facets of Merchandising began.

It was a whirl wind of fun and excitement but I knew, after spending my undergrad years overseas in Surfers Paradise, Australia before becoming “corporate”, that I wanted a life on or in the water.

I retired early from the fast paced life and moved to Costa Rica where I surfed, sun bathed, and sold real estate. I soon became best mates with a Dive Center owner and became a professional Diver.  Costa Rica is where I met my Scuba Instructor husband and started my travels that ended us in Africa, married and with a our son.

We moved closer to the states working in the dive industry of Mexico for a couple of years and now Hawaii.  I am the Customer Service and Marketing Manager For Island Divers Hawaii. I get to combine what I am good at, marketing, and my passion, diving!

Lauren SmithCustomer Service and Marketing Manager
Jeff Santos

Jeff was born in Fall River, Massachusetts but grew up in East Stroudsburg, PA where he learned to dive in murky quarries and flooded slate mines. Jeff went to college at Plymouth State University where he was a three time NCAA All-American Wrestler, graduating in 1997 with a dual major in Finance and American Economic Development.

Since then Jeff has lived in 20 cities in 11 countries in the past 16 years. In 2002 he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida and signed up for the PADI OW Course. Unfortunately, there were four Hurricanes that hit Florida in four weeks and the shop that he had chosen was forced to close after their boat sank.

So Jeff went looking for another place to complete the scuba course and found Mermaids Dive School in Pattaya, Thailand. He called that day and after talking to the owner, he quit his job and bought a ticket to Thailand. A week later Jeff landed in Thailand and started his Scuba Diving career. Eight months later Jeff was a open water scuba instructor.

Jeff then traveled all over Southeast Asia for three years, visiting Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, before working as a dive instructor in Koh Samui, Thailand for two years. In March of 2006, Jeff flew to Oahu to work with Island Divers Hawaii and has been here ever since. Jeff likes to work the summer and winter months and travel a couple months in between seasons with his girlfriend, Charlynn, the owner of Gone Diving in Bellingham, WA and also an PADI MSDT. It is a rough life, but somehow he seems to manage.

Jeff SantosShop Staff
Sheila Jordan

Sheila is moved to Honolulu at the age of 19 from California. Her first scuba dives were in 1994 but she really caught the diving bug in 2005 and a few years later she began working in the dive industry. At Island Divers Hawaii, Sheila is largely responsible for getting the right people assigned to the right boats and shops  so that the daily operations run as smoothly as possible.

Managing the schedule for two boats and two dive shop locations is a challenging job with so many people and moving parts, but somehow she brings it all together day after day with a kind approach and sincere attempt to accommodate everyone’s personal schedule.You can find Sheila manning the front desk, organizing the shop or captaining the boats as needed. Currently her latest dive passion is cave diving with Captain Matt, above.

Sheila JordanBoat Captain
Mark Savel

Mark grew up in San Diego, CA and has always spent time in and around the water. He first came to Hawaii in 1997 to study marine biology and oceanography at Hawaii Pacific University. He first took up scuba diving in the summer before his senior year of college in 2000 and found time at least once a week to avoid school work and go shore diving around the island of Oahu.

Upon graduating in 2001 Mark moved back to San Diego and started working in a dive shop. Over the next four years he worked his way up from an open water diver to an open water scuba instructor. But after getting tired of putting on a hood, gloves, 7mm suit, and a ton of weight to go shore diving, he decided to pick up and move back to Hawaii.

Mark has since been working at Island Divers Hawaii from 2005 and has become a Master Scuba Diver Trainer. His main passion in diving is photography and enjoys playing with his camera whenever he has a chance. Over the years he has been diving in Thailand, Grenada, Australia, California, and Hawaii.

Mark SavelScuba Instructor (MSDT)
Larry Hogan

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of dive instructor Larry Hogan.  Larry passed peacefully, but unexpectedly, at home last week (August 2016).  He was 66 years of age.

Larry worked at Island Divers for the better part of the past decade as a dive guide and scuba instructor, and many of you will remember him and his passion for sharing the underwater world.  He was a rock of patience and calm in our scuba diving family.  Again and again our guests over the years commented on what a kind a talented ambassador to the underwater world he was.  At the memorial service his family held one pastor said something that truly resonated with me personally: that is it not the passing of Larry that we grieve, but his absence.

We won’t ever get to see his smiling face again in the morning, or his sly joke, or his honest interest in what you have been doing, or see his latest great underwater picture, or again get to hear the happy words and smiles of divers he guided through the unique experience of scuba diving.  We grieve, because we are going to miss the presence of our friend.

Larry grew up with a great family, spending his youth exploring the tiger-filled jungles of rural Connecticut, and the ocean known as Long Island Sound. Not quite a valedictorian, he still really enjoyed NWCH high school in Hartford, and graduated from Villanova University, with lots of great friends and a degree in Psychology.

Which prepared him perfectly for a career owning and managing a construction company for over 30 years in New York city. While visiting Hawaii in the mid 70s with some friends, one of whom was a PADI CD, he was thrown into the ocean with a full set of dive gear on (thanks Dave) and immediately fell victim to scuba’s greatest danger – a serious addiction to diving.

Added to a love of travel, he has managed to dive all over the place and has seen and marveled at the profound sights the ocean offers, the great white sharks of South Africa, the giant mantas of Komodo, the whale sharks of Thailand, the white dolphins and piranhas of the Amazonian rain forest, as well as the Humpback whales, spinner dolphins, monk seals, and octopi of Hawaii.

He began the road to diving professional in the early 90′s assisting instructors at Beach 9, Brooklyn, Friday nights at the Y, and under the Throgs Neck Bridge in Queens (while still having a real job). A Master Scuba Diver Trainer since 2005 he has also worked in Phuket, Thailand, as well as NYC and now works with a great group of people at Island Divers Hawaii.

Larry HoganIn MemoriamLarry’s Memorial Off the Sea Fox
Joe Curcio

Captain Joe grew up in Deal, New Jersey and Miami, Florida where he started surfing, diving, fishing and sailing at very young age. He joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1988 and retired after 21 years of service including 12 years at sea on various ships ranging in size from 82FT to 378FT.

He sailed the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Columbia, and the Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea to Costa Rica, including Japan, Korea, and China. The other half of his career was spent as a Search and Rescue controller, including 4 years as Chief of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center here in Honolulu. He started at Island Divers in the summer of 2009 and is the Primary Captain of the Sea Fox.

Joe CurcioBoat Captain
Jeremy Sanders-Lewis

Jeremy Sanders-Lewis originates from the northern state of Pennsylvania and to escape joined the United States Navy. He served six successfully years in which is primary job required him being locked into a dark room in the middle of a warship, out in the middle of the ocean, for extended periods of time. Being that he enjoys the sun and the ocean both far to much decided to take his adventures elsewhere which ultimately lead him to becoming a scuba instructor for Island Divers. In 2014 Jeremy attended the Hawaii Scuba University program run by Island Divers and on December 7 of that year earned his Instructor rating. Since then he has been enjoying a career diving with costumers and friends primarily out of the Island Divers Hawaii Kai location where living the dream of fun and adventure is coming along very nicely.

Jeremy Sanders-LewisOpen Water Scuba Instructor
Evans Humphreys

Evans comes from Richmond, VA where he grew up mountain biking and kayaking. He then
went on to the University of South Carolina as a Marine Science major where he grew his love
for the ocean. After taking open water as a freshman, Evans quickly knew scuba diving was his
passion and has now finished his MSDT instructor status. His favorite dive site in the world is La
Musa in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, but in Hawaii he loves diving on the Sea Tiger Wreck. He has
been diving in Mexico, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Utila, Honduras, where he
did his instructor courses. He also enjoys underwater photography and jumps at the chance to
find nudibranchs, octopus, or sharks to photograph. He loves learning as much about
underwater wildlife whenever he can and loves the opportunity instructing scuba gives him to
share his passion.

Evans HumphreysOpen Water Scuba Instructor
Jerred Shifflett

Jerred is born and raised in Gloucester Virginia. Before Jerred became a scuba diver he free dove up and down the coast of Florida. But once he went scuba diving for the first time he was hook. From there he went on to become an instructor and rebreather diver. He can never spend enough time with his turtle friends. He loves to dive wrecks and getting lost in new sites. His favorite dive sites are the YO-257 and Rojo Reef. In his free time he loves to surf out of North Shore, Oahu. He considers himself an amateur pizza eating contestant and you will probably find him enjoying a post dive beer at the local breweries near the shop.

Jerred ShifflettOpen Water Scuba Instructor
Daniel Bonds
Being born and raised in a small town, Excello, MO, obtaining his BA in Christian Music Education, and a long history of teaching/youth ministry there was rarely a mention of scuba diving anywhere.
But one day in 2013 the call/opportunity came for him and his wife to move to the Cayman Islands as a music teacher. Instantly falling in love with the ocean, he soon gained interest in doing everything the water had to offer. Upon completing his 1st dive Daniel was hooked! By the year of 2016 Daniel achieved his instructor certification. Still loving the island life, but wanting to be back in the United States, Hawaii became the #1 obvious choice.
Presently working at Island Divers, Daniel loves the ability to allow others experience the beautiful waters of Hawaii. He likes that he gets to meet various people from all over the world and is excited on seeing what else he can achieve being an instructor at Island Divers Hawaii.
Daniel BondsOpen Water Scuba Instructor
Katie Smith

Katie grew up in Ann Arbor, MI spending every day of the summers in a pool or a lake. After several vacations spent snorkeling and watching the scuba divers have fun without them, she and her family decided to get certified in 2007. Once she was certified, she was hooked! Every winter vacation was spent in a tropical location getting another level of certification.

Katie attended Denison University in Granville, OH and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2014. In January of that year she also completed her Divemaster training. With all of her new qualifications Katie wasn’t sure what her next step should be so she took a job at a local dive center in her home town. There she learned the trade of working in a dive shop and also became an Open Water Scuba Instructor and eventually a Master Scuba Diver Trainer.

After doing one too many cold water dives, Katie decided to move to Hawaii and join the Island Divers staff so that she could have an excuse to dive everyday and to help introduce new divers into the wonderful world of scuba.

Katie SmithMaster Scuba Diver Trainer
Carl Santangelo

Carl hails from South Florida where he earned his PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification at the ripe young age of 12. After graduating from The University of Miami he quickly realized that his love for the sea and its contents could lead to a full time career as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. Upon completing the Instructor Development Course, Carl has gone on to dive and teach SCUBA in the Bay Islands of Honduras, Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, Australia, and the island of Oahu where he currently resides. When he’s not breathing underwater Carl enjoys sailing, spelunking, playing guitar, long walks on the beach, virgin Piña Coladas, and making furniture.

Carl SantangeloOpen Water Scuba Instructor