Our Instructors

Austen Potter: PADI IDC Staff Instructor

Hometown: Pleasanton
Favorite Food: Burritos!
Favorite Local Hangout: Dive Shop
Favorite Dive Site: Point Lobos
Favorite Type of Diving: All diving!
Best Dive You’ve Ever Been On: Spiegel Grove Florida Keys
If You Could Dive Anywhere in the World Where Would It Be? Great Barrier Reef
Anything Else You Would Like to Add? The ocean has a lot to offer and we can see so many amazing things in it from Coral Reefs to Kelp Forests and the different creatures that live in them. Enjoy every dive you do, you can always find something special that makes your dive.  Be nice to the ocean and it will be nice to you!

Nick Lightner: PADI IDC Staff Instructor

Hometown: San Ramon
Favorite Food: Burgers
Favorite Local Hangout: Underwater
Favorite Dive Site: Any
Favorite Type of Diving: Deep
Best Dive You’ve Ever Been On: Rubicon Wall Lake Tahoe
If You Could Dive Anywhere in the World Where Would It Be? Maldives
Anything Else You Would Like to Add? I love diving!

David Turner: PADI IDC Staff Instructor

Hometown: Portland Oregon
Favorite Food: Homemade Pizza
Favorite Local Hangout: Boardwalk Grill (Discovery Bay)
Favorite Dive Site: Two-Step (Place of Refuge, Ke Ala O Keawe, Hawaii)
Favorite Type of Diving: My next dive
Best Dive You’ve Ever Been On: Pelagic Magic (three miles off shore, at night in 1,500 fathoms beneath the keel)
If You Could Dive Anywhere in the World Where Would It Be? Truk lagoon
Anything Else You Would Like to Add? I love to dive!

Eric Schaad: PADI IDC Staff Instructor

Hometown: Mombassa, Kenya
Favorite Food: A great bacon or chorizo breakfast burrito!
Favorite Local Hangout: New in town and don’t really have one yet. Looking forward to meeting people and establishing a favorite hangout.
Favorite Dive Site: Santa Catalina Island is like my second home, but Point Lobos is growing’ on me fast!
Favorite Type of Diving: I absolutely love deep and night diving because it provides access to such a foreign world with so much to discover!
Best Dive You’ve Ever Been On: Wow! How to choose? Definitely loved that night dive in Zanzibar!
If You Could Anywhere in the World Where Would It Be? Definitely Galapagos, Philippines, Red Sea (sorry, have a hard time with choosing favorites).
Anything Else You Would Like To Add? I’m a biologist in my day job, but just can’t get enough of it. I love the endless discovery of nature that scuba diving offers and love to be able to share the underwater experience with eager new divers. My personal motto is (spoken before most any dive), “This could be the best dive of your life!” Let’s go diving!!

Paul McKenzie: PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor

Hometown: Palmer, Alaska
Favorite food:  Pizza, Pub food (ie. burger, wings, etc) and a good steak.
Favorite Local Hangout: Dive-n-trips and Norm’s brewery in Alamo
Favorite Dive Site: Socorro Island and Dreamgate, Cenotes
Favorite type of diving:  Caverns & Wrecks
Best dive you’ve ever been on:  Socorro Islands
If you could dive anywhere in the world where would it be?  Indonesia & Red Sea
Anything else you would like to add?  Relocated from SoCal in 2016 – So fortunate to find such a welcoming dive community and trilled to be part of the Dive-n-trip team.

Mike Merritt: PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor

Hometown: Livermore, CA
Favorite food: Mango
Favorite Local Hangout: Zephyr Bar & Grille
Favorite Dive Site: Bora Bora
Favorite type of diving: Wreck
Best dive you’ve ever been on: Teavanui Pass, Bora Bora
If you could dive anywhere in the world where would it be? Fakarava
Anything else you would like to add? I have been diving since I was 16 years old and enjoy introducing new divers to the excitement of underwater exploration.

Hazel Lai: PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor

Hometown: ​ Dublin, CA; Boston, MA; Hong Kong​ – next stop Bali then Micronesia
Favorite food: ​There are so many cuisine that I love …. Definitely Cantonese Chinese, you can’t never beat home cooking. Chinese in general, Sushi, Thai and any dessert!
Favorite Local Hangout:​ Dive N Trips of course! If you don’t see me in the shop, chances are I am either at Shadow Cliff or somewhere in Monterey.
Favorite Dive Site: CA: Pt. Lobos, Pt Joe, Hopkin’s Deep Reef and Ball Buster; Bali: Gili Selang, ​Jemeluk, Lipih and Seraya Secret. Muck Diving: Dumaguete in the Philippines and Lembeh Straits in Indonesia;
Favorite type of diving:​ Muck and Wreck. If I can combine both, that will the best!!
Best dive you’ve ever been on:​ It should be Dives 😀 First time I saw ​Mandarin Fish; First time I saw Pygmy Seahorse; First time I saw Robust Ghost Pipefish; First time I saw Blue Ring Octopus
If you could dive anywhere in the world where would it be? Indonesia: ​Bali, Lembeh, Ambon; Philippines: Dumaguete, Anilao; Timor Leste:  Dili and on the ultimate bucket list: New Jersey – SS Andrea Doria; Isla Guadalupe with Great Whites; Chuuk Lagoon – San Francisco Maru; Isabella Island Galapagos – Lava Tunnels and last but not least, Los Angeles – Heli Diving at Eureka Oil Platform
Anything else you would like to add? ​I am an underwater paparazzi who is passionate about Marine conservation. My tools of the trade include underwater survey slate, survey tape, camera and twin cylinders. Wave hello next time you see me in the ocean measuring a fish/abalone/sunflower star etc …