PADI Professionals are people who want to dive safely and have fun!

Susan Dearing, owner of Underworld Scuba - Scuba Shack, was born in Branson, Missouri, where she grew up working in the tourist industry. At age 8 she'd show visitors to Branson where the best fishing holes were for crappie and bass, directed them to the best "mom and pop" cafes, and stood on the main street corner lecturing on the crotophytus collaris (collared lizard). Of course, the brave tourists were the ones who petted the 13-inch-long male, sleeping on her shoulder.

She paid her way through college by working for local weekly newspapers, and was graduated with a degree in English. She worked in print media for more than 17 years, starting as a journalist, artist, editor, finally general manager.

At the age of 37, she radically changed her lifestyle and career, became a scuba diving instructor, and moved to Pto. Vallarta. After 3 dissatisfying years, she relocated to Manzanillo, where she operates the dive shop, teaching all levels of scuba diving from beginner to instructor.

Susan at PADI's Project AWARE beach clean-up with Mexican Special Forces divers. Last year's ocean clean-up, sponsored by Underworld Scuba, had more than 40 divers participating.





In November of 1998, she returned to school once again to become an instructor with PADI, and now also teaches all PADI courses, including Discover Scuba, Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Divemaster and Emergency First Response.

Susan, 60, and single, currently lives in Solearis (behind the Soriana supermarket). She has several a new additions to her animal family, Lucky and Sandy (adopted street dogs), and 12 adopted cats. You can visit them at the new scuba shop, named Scuba Shack (opened September 1, 2003), at Km. 15, Blvd. Miguel de la Madrid in Santiago. 

Teaching new divers is always a pleasure, especially in Manzanillo's warm waters.

Susan also designs web sites and web pages, including the popular, and, sells real estate, and is the author of a tourist guidebook, "Facts, Tips & Day Trips, Guide to Manzanillo and Colima," designed to give prospective visitors to Manzanillo information to make their stay more pleasurable. She has also written a tourist guide for the Barra de Navidad and Melaque area. The book is also available locally for $25 at the Hotel La Posada or at Susan's scuba shop.

Other hobbies besides diving include underwater photography, camping, hiking, ATVing, and exploring Mexico, and writing feature articles about Mexico.

Not counting her own pets, she is active in turtle and iguana rescue (both endangered species), helps out at two orphanages, and is on the board of the Enrique Corey Scholarship Fund for disadvantaged children. Recently, she has joined two humane society groups, and is active in animal rescue and spay-neuter programs.

She has lived in Manzanillo for 20 years.






This pregnant green iguana visited the dive center one day. Before it was released into the wild, Susan had to have a final photo.

Carlos Cuellar, partner and general manager of Underworld Scuba - Scuba Shack has been with the company for more than 15 years. A former marine and Viet Nam veteran, Carlos learned to dive when he was 12, living with his mother and stepfather in Manzanillo. His first dive was in Playa Audiencia, where they filmed the movie "10" with Bo Derek and Dudley Moore. 

Born in Redwood City, California, of Mexican parents from the Guadalajara area, Carlos divided his time between the U.S. and Mexico. After Viet Nam, Carlos settled in Houston, Texas, where his two grown sons, Shan and Mark are now living. His mother and other family members currently live in Guadalajara, except for two cousins, who live in Manzanillo..

Though he spent a lot of time in Texas, Manzanillo was never forgotten, from his younger days, and he moved back here in 1993, to manage his cousin's fumigation company. Not being overjoyed at exterminating "creepy crawlies," Carlos decided to get back into scuba diving after a chance meeting with Susan at the old Jalapeños restaurant in Manzanillo.

Carlos, 62, and single, oversees the daily operation of the business, though he is also a CMAS instructor and a PADI Divemaster. He now enjoys dual citizenship, and is proud to be both Mexican and American. He was actually the first person in the state of Colima to receive dual citizenship, after the passage of a new law several years ago.

Diving for Trash

Filming a Pacifico beer commercial

In addition to his duties at the scuba shop, Carlos does translations, helps out with Susan's real estate transactions, is chairman of the Enrique Corey Scholarship Fund Dinner Dance, and heads the PADI Project Aware ocean clean-up campaign for Manzanillo. He also does radio spots and speaks about ecology/ocean issues at the various schools and orphanages.

Obviously an animal lover, he helps care for the Scuba Shack menagerie, and also enjoys doing tours and visiting botaneros, particularly when the featured singer is a beautiful female Mariachi!

He has worked with both the Discovery Channel videophotographers, and the American Pacifico beer company, who are producing a video for a promotional "Web Trek" via the Internet.

Carlos at "Wings Army," a restaurant in Manzanillo with a military theme. Carlos' USMC flag is proudly displayed there.

Carlos the Cowboy

He also answers questions about Manzanillo under his web page, "Ask an Hombre!", which is a section of If you have any particular question to ask, whether it be about scuba diving or living in Mexico, write him at:

Besides scuba diving, Carlos enjoys all sports, including basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and the Olympics.

If there is a game on, Carlos will be watching it! If you want to make sure you see a game, come to the dive center!

He adds, "All marines and former marines are welcome! Semper Fi!"

Giving instructions to divers at the
PADI Project AWARE beach clean-up


Fernando Hernandez, 50, PADI Master Scuba Diving Instructor and marine biologist, has lived in Manzanillo for many years, along with his wife Elaine, also a marine biologist, and two children Daniel and Brenda, who are currently going to college in Colima. Thirteen years ago, he was one of Susan Dearing's first students, and since that time he has turned his love of diving into a career.

By working for the government agency CRIP--Centro Regional de Investigación Pesquera de Manzanillo (Central Region for Investigation of Fish) under the auspices of Instituto Nacional de la Pesca (National Institute of Fishing), Fernando participated in many studies of marine animals and the marine environment in the Manzanillo area.

Self portrait: Looking at the underwater
world through rose-colored lenses.

In the early days with CRIP, Fernando and his fellow divers used an onboard compressor to provide air to them at depth. The gasoline-powered compressor pumped air through a common plastic garden hose, which was attached to a regulator second stage. As they collected samples of marine life, they would sometimes reach depths of almost 100 feet, and the pressures at that depth made the surface-supplied air hard to get out of the nearly collapsed hose. Though trained scientists, they had no idea of the rules of diving. After seeing several divers get the "bends," or decompression sickness, and once, running out of air at 95 ft. (the compressor above stopped after running out of gas), Fernando decided he needed to know more about diving.

After becoming a certified SCUBA diver and learning all the laws and rules, Fernando knew he could never be comfortable diving any other way, and his love of the ocean and its life made Fernando want to progress to become an instructor, working his way up with Underworld Scuba, and doing thousands of dives in Manzanillo's bays and along its rocky coast.

Not only does Fernando love the ocean, but he also discovered he loves teaching diving. He has a special talent for teaching, too, whether it be a PADI Discover Scuba Diving beginners class, or training a PADI divemaster. He is well-known for his patience, enthusiasm, and concern for the safety of others. 

As an advocate of protecting the marine environment, he has participated in numerous ocean clean-ups, and teaches several PADI specialty courses, such as Underwater Fish Identification and Underwater Photography. Many of his incredible photos are seen throughout this website. His hobbies, of course, include diving, underwater photography, hiking, and mountain biking.

His wife of 31 years, Elaine, who has a PhD in marine sciences, just published her first book of fish species of commercial value along the coast of Colima. Fernando and Elaine live in Las Brisas, where they also help in turtle rescue. Any turtle eggs confiscated from poachers are given to them to incubate, and the hatchlings are turned loose in a ceremony at sundown on the Las Brisas beach whenever the need arises.

Private class at Scuba Shack; learning is fun under a shady palapa.

Fernando and Elaine are currently coauthoring a book, under government grant, entitled "Sea Life of the Colima Coast." It will contain his underwater photos, and all sea life will be identified by both their English and Spanish names, as well as genus.


Diane Johnson doesn't have time to get old. Diane, who retired and moved to Manzanillo 3 years ago , has been divorced since 88. She has two grown sons, Michael and Mark, and a grandson Josh. She grew up in Massachusetts, and in the beginning spoke French fluently (French-Canadian ancestry), but hasn't spoken a word since the age of 10. She moved to hot and arid Arizona in 1970, (quite a change from the northeast), and loves "not shoveling my weather," Diane quips.  With most of her family gone, she deeply values her friendships, and looks forward to meeting new people and developing new relationships.

Diane, who is a PADI Divemaster, states emphatically, "Diving is MY PASSION!" She regularly dives in Manzanillo, and can hardly wait until her next dive vacation. At Scuba Shack, she serves as a back-up Divemaster, and dives "whenever someone needs a dive buddy." She also serves as a guide on snorkel trips for the dive center.


As a single woman who is extremely independent and outspoken, Diane seems to be able to handle everything life deals her with aplomb and determination--and she does it with style! In her quest for sunshine, and warm turquoise waters to dive in, she has made many new friends, including the fishy kind, as the photos aptly show.


Diane, whose favorite color is Pink (you didn't notice all that pink dive gear?), enjoys other activities, such as going to amusement parks, antique stores, flea markets, art galleries, museums, country clubs, comedy clubs, concerts, live theater, movies and restaurant/bars. She also enjoys, boating, sailing, rafting, walking or hiking. Nature is important, as is enjoying a margarita while looking for the mystical "green flash" at sunset.


She enjoys all kinds of food, and all types of music. She often sneaks away for a weekend trip with friends. Diane considers herself very "low maintenance," and firmly believes everyone needs a hug.


"I am a very 'young-at-heart' woman; age is relative, and I don't act mine!" Diane says of herself.  "I'm a sun worshiper, so I want to be somewhere that is warm, wet and salty!" Diane describes herself as "real and grounded, honest and trustworthy. I don't play head games, and am the type of person who just tells it like it is."


She has been diving with Susan Dearing for more than 20 years. In fact, they met when they were both on a dive vacation. To her, working at Scuba Shack is not work at all.. "It's like getting paid to have fun," Diane says.



Always has a smile for customers

Jonathan Martinez is Scuba Shack's newest staff member. At 18, he is also the youngest, and hails from Washington, D.C. Fluent in both English and Spanish, he is a great asset to Scuba Shack. He has the responsibility of running the office while Carlos and Susan are away, as well as conducting snorkeling trips.

He has been recently certified in PADI Emergency First Response (EFR), and is working his way toward a PADI Divemaster certification. He is also a Jujitsu martial arts practitioner, works out at the gym daily, and plays safety on the first American football team in Manzanillo.

Jonathan at his 18th birthday party

In addition to staffing the office and serving as a guide on snorkeling tours, Jonathan prints out and collates Susan's guidebook, helps wash equipment, and assists the staff instructors where needed.


Jonathan's parents have lived in Manzanillo for a long time, and his mother is originally from Colima. His 3 other brothers and sister live in Washington, D.C.


Underworld Scuba - Scuba Shack Canine and Feline Staff Members

Not only does Underworld's staff believe in taking care of our divers, we believe in taking care of our environment, including dogs and cats, and sometimes burros and iguanas! Thanks for your support all these years. Our kids above and below appreciate it! Sandy, above, was rescued at La Boquita, where a little boy was trying to drown her. She still loves the water, however, especially riding in the boat or sitting on a snorkeler's back. She's also cat-friendly.






The Scuba Shack cats are all rescue animals, and are all sterilized, thanks to ARA (Amigos for un Refugio Animal). DMC came to us because his original owner died, leaving a cat and 2 dogs behind. We tried in vain to find out what her name was, and for several months we called her the "Dead Man's Cat." Finally, one of our customers suggested we call her DMC (Dead Man's Cat abbreviated). Mama is our oldest cat (she's been with us about 5 years), and came to us pregnant. Caballero is her son, and the only boy. Midnight was dumped off at the Scuba Shack. She was starving and sick. She's now healthy, but small for her age, which is about 2. Baby came to us from the back field. She followed her nose to the food dish. She's about 6 months old. Caballero hurt his paw when he was little, but he can still catch mice with the best of them! So far, Scuba Shack has found homes for more than 20 cats and about a dozen dogs, and in addition to supporting ARA, they also help PATA (Personas Ayudando a Todo los Animales, and the animal shelter (UAM), operated by Silvia Beas.

A video made by our happy customers!

A video about Scuba Shack, Susan Dearing, and Manzanillo! (by Randy Dean)

Visit You Tube and watch 50 videos from Underworld Scuba-Scuba Shack.

See more photos on Facebook

Scuba Diving Presentation
by Fernando Hernandez

(a .pdf file, open with Adobe Reader)

Fish Identification Presentation
by Susan Dearing

(a .pdf file, open with Adobe Reader)