We seek to enable divers to focus on the beauty of the underwater world by offering the knowledge and equipment needed to reach a state of calm guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort.
Our core philosophy is inspired by Zen: we seek to enable divers to focus on the beauty of the underwater world by offering the most thorough and focused education and nothing but the best minimalist equipment. Whether floating on a reef, drifting through a cave, exploring a shipwreck, or gliding through a kelp forest, we want our customers to be one with the sense of freedom that comes from being beneath the waves. With thousands of dives around the world, encompassing recreational, technical, and scientific diving, the simple moments of diving are still the best to us. Pausing, relaxing, reflecting, breathing deeply, and simply…being – underwater.
By transmitting our knowledge of equipment, technique, and some silly stories, we hope to empower our customers – our family – with all they need to reach a state of zen, no matter what diving looks like for them, now or in the future.
This isn’t just a business for us, it’s an opportunity to share this wonderful sport of ours with as many as possible.
Zen Dive Co. was born out of a collective realization that in many ways the scuba diving industry has drifted away from the important elements: quality education, quality equipment, and a sense of community. Our backgrounds reach out to the corners of the dive world, and the conclusion was often the same: we can do better, and we have to. So we did.
Our team draws from the experience of the individuals: scuba instructors, wildland firefighters, business owners, environmental scientists and educators. But at the core, we are all divers, and we want to share that with you. Our goal is to use all the skills, talent, and experience at our disposal to transcend the concept of the “dive shop”. Sure, we built what we think is one of the nicest showrooms in the industry, but we won’t measure our success by our sales figures.
We believe community comes together as a collaboration between customers, staff, instructors, and the natural world.
We will know we’ve succeeded when we’ve helped to foster and sustain a robust dive community in Los Angeles and southern California., when we’ve given back to local schools and science programs, when our local community is stronger for our presence, when our students are the most competent and comfortable divers in the world, and when everyone who walks through our doors gets the help they need to make the underwater world their home.
We invite our divers to guide us. We take feedback seriously and are always evolving and growing based on the needs and comments of our customers. Rather than following the trends of the industry or our sole vision, our products, courses, and everything else we do is a direct reflection of the needs of our customers.
We couldn’t exist without our staff and instructors and we are committed to them. We pledge to pay all our staff fair living wages, provide transparency in management, and offer excellent benefits. We are dedicated to ending the under-paying of scuba instructors so common at many dive centers just so they can turn a quick buck. Our instructors have worked long and hard to achieve the level of excellence they pass on to our students and should be compensated fairly for their past and present work. We also undertake to provide ample opportunity for career growth through training, equipment, and sponsorship of continuing education and underwater projects. Finally, we understand that we must take better care of our environment so that it can take care of us. When we train divers, we hope to encourage them to participate in and create events and projects that benefits the environment, whatever the level of their diving.
Alex Caillat – Operations Director
PADI Divemaster #240560
PSI-PCI Visual Inspector, Valve Repair, and Oxygen Cleaning Technician
Alex C. is a PADI Divemaster and American Academy of Underwater Sciences Scientific Diver with over 15 years of diving experience as well as over 10 years of experience in environmental science, consulting, and scientific diving. In the past he has organized citizen science and dive community programs (such as co-founding Los Angeles Underwater Explorers), and worked on high level research projects around the United States. He has also actively participated in the Dive Safety field, as a Dive Safety Officer intern for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. For the past several years, he has worked as a fisheries data scientist, consulting local, state, federal and private clients on a variety of issues related to fish passage at hydroelectric sites throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Alex’s favorite dives are long, slow dives with lots of biology to look at, wreck dives loaded with history, and teaching new divers how to experience the underwater world for the first time!
He holds a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and a Masters of Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Jamie Mitchell – Shop Manager/Travel Director
Jamie is the heart of the zen dive co. family. Her love of adventure and community brings warmth and excitement everywhere she goes. She loves to travel because it provides her the opportunity to experience new cultures, traditions, and make new friends! This love of adventure provided her a life changing opportunity, scuba diving. One of her best friends wanted to get certified and asked Jamie to be her buddy and of course, she said yes. She was then introduced to her instructor, and now partner, Kian. When Jamie slipped below the surface of the water, she instantly felt at home. As a diver, Jamie’s goals include exploring as much of the ocean as possible.
Jamie’s love of the ocean has always been a part of her and zen has helped bring this love full circle. One of her son’s, Graham, recently completed his Advanced Open Water certification with Kian and loves to share the aquatic realm with her. Her other son, Jarvis works with Karim and always has a smile and a wave to share. Jamie has used her experiences in retail and marketing to help build a business and her heart to build a home.
Kian Farin – Training Director
PADI MSDT #384789
NAUI Instructor #60501
Kian is a PADI and NAUI instructor with a passion for the underwater world. He is a volunteer at the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber and is a former wildland firefighter. He has 10 years of experience diving in Southern California and growing the dive community by training new divers and fostering the desire to explore the underwater world. He’s been working in diving since he was 15 years old. Kian is a technical and cave diver with over 2000+ dives, the majority of which are here in Southern California. He has worked as a diver and a consultant for Disney, HBO, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic, amongst others.
He is most at home cruising the kelp forests of the Channel Islands with his trusty Nikonos V in hand. When the SCUBA gear comes off, you can find him freediving or surfing our local beaches. Out of the water Kian loves hiking, climbing, and being outside. Kian loves to dive with Alex <3 (excluding Jamie of course).
Norbert Lee – Project Baseline Lead
GUE – 26489
NAUI Instructor- 56054
Norbert L. is a Marine Biologist for Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (LACSD) and a SCUBA instructor with 10 years of diving experience that both encompasses his passion for researching and exploring the aquatic environment along with educating divers. His work at LACSD exposes him to a wide variety of disciplines and technologies applied in the field of marine biology and oceanography. He is the project lead for the District’s Seafood Safety program and Water Quality monitoring program. Aside from that, he is a trained polychaete (bristle worm) taxonomist and identifies thousands of marine worms each year as polychaetes comprise around a whopping 75% of the animals found in the benthic environment! He is a certified Scientific Diver with the American Academy of Underwater Sciences with his work at LACSD. During his off-hours, he is currently the program lead for Ghost Diving USA West Coast who’s goal is to assess and remove abandoned fishing nets that can continue to harm wildlife. Aside from project’s he is an avid underwater photographer as photographing cool and rare animals is akin to finding the rare card in the pack of baseball cards. He enjoys including his knowledge of California’s ecosystem and marine life into his teachings to expand his student’s view of the ocean and hopes to mentor the next generation of steward-divers for our oceans
Jung-Han Hsieh – Burrito Lead
Jung was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. He spent his teenage years and college years in Long Beach, California. At a very young age, aquatic sports and ocean activities were a large part of his life. He enjoys swimming, water polo, surfing or simply lying face down in the water with a mask and snorkel. While attending California State University, Long Beach, he was certified as an open water scuba diver. And what started out as a hobby has quickly evolved into an undying passion. He follows his curiosity and uncovers the beauty of California. As a dive professional since 2016, he has many years of experience leading divers to discover their own underwater adventure. He is an underwater natural photographer who is joyful in showing aquatic life through his photography and brings awareness of marine conservation to everyone. Jung has many hours of dive experience in California. He continues to educate himself in the physics of scuba diving. He is constantly refining his fundamental skills and learning to dive in a variety of aquatic environments with the goal to inspire many to discover adventure for themselves.
Karim Hamza – Technical Instructor
Karim has been diving since 1999. His love for the ocean started early through watching Jacques Cousteau’s Silent World and dreaming of the wonders the aquatic world had to offer. He is a passionate wreck, cave, and deep diver. Karim is also a very passionate conservationist and community builder. As an instructor, Karim is a very skilled technical and rebreather educator. His goal for his students is to leave his class feeling competent and prepared to plan and execute their dives with both precision and accuracy. For Karim, diving is not only relaxing but endless amounts of fun and adventure.
Nate Hohman – Fill Station Operations
Nate, warmly called Ears, started diving at the end of 2021. Prior to learning to dive he had a huge fear of the ocean. Following some difficult life events, he decided it was finally time to conquer his fears and take an open water class. After his first pool session, he was hooked. An immediate love of diving couples with an intense fascination with World War II history has led him to zen dive co. His goal is to pursue technical diving. In the meantime, he dives as much as he can and enjoys every minute underwater.
Deanna Leonhart – Retail & Marketing Guru
Originally from Boston Deanna brings hard working, east coast sensibility, a boundless energy and a wicked love of the underwater world to team zen. From the moment she walked in to get her OW gear she knew she’d found a home where she could further her love and passion for the ocean! Deanna spent over a decade successfully leading a design team in the retail world and generously shares her experience and marketing expertise to zen. Keep an eye out for her to start leading trips as she expands her dive experience and love of travel.
Brad Bender – Fill Station Operator
Brad fell in love with the water early. He grew up swimming, surfing and playing water polo. If it involved water, he wanted to be a part of it. He was introduced to scuba diving through a friend of his and the rest was history. Brad became a Divemaster and started working on the CeeRay, Westerly and Ahra Ahn dive boats. Brad’s goal is to become a captain so that he can share his love of diving Catalina Island with divers.
Katie McWilliams– Dive Club Lead
Katie has been diving for 11 years. She was introduced to diving through a friend that gifted her a PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience. She got in the pool and was instantly hooked. Katie enjoys the educational aspect of scuba. It is not uncommon to find her reading about diving or researching different topics related to diving. Some of her favorite topics include decompression theory, diving physiology and the neurological benefits of diving. Katie’s personal goals include working towards her technical ratings, becoming a divemaster and ultimately, working with divers with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Sean Canullas– Shore Diving Guru
If you know, you know.
Shuksan– Bork Director
Pita– Treat Security
Maya– Shop Mama