Ernst van der Poll
Scuba Diving

Ernst van der Poll

PADI® Course Director/Founder of ConnectOcean


Ernst van der Poll was born in South Africa and lived most of his life there, next to the ocean, which has helped shape the person he is today. He moved to Dubai in 1999, where he lived for 12 years and started his career in the diving industry. As a PADI Course Director, he was the diving instructor for the Crown Prince of Dubai.

Ernst left Dubai in 2011 and spent a year in the British Virgin Islands before relocating to Costa Rica with his wife. Currently, he runs his own PADI Dive Center and swimming academy in the town of Las Catalinas, where he teaches ocean stewardship programs, swimming lessons and junior lifeguard programs, along with adaptive diving for people with life-changing injuries.

“It is my mission that through passion and education I can ignite the fire in others that will bring about change,” Ernst says.


Port Edward,
South Africa

Career Highlights

  • Founder of ConnectOcean
  • Hosted the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first Marine Science Symposium in partnership with Ocean Classrooms
  • Invited as keynote speaker in Bermuda to help seed a STEM center for local schools
  • Invited to attend the No Barrier Summit in Colorado, USA, and Deptherapy Training event in Florida, USA
  • Founder of the first Adaptive Adventure Sport NGO for people with life-changing injuries in Costa Rica
  • Serves as consultant specializing in education, nonprofit, environmental impact and corporate social responsibility for hospitality, government and education organizations in the USA, Costa Rica, UAE, Malaysia and Australia
  • Currently constructing the legal framework for the Costa Rican Surf Life Saving Federation
  • Consulted on a project proposal for the largest artificial reef project in Australia for the Gold Coast city council
  • Established the Middle East and Costa Rica’s first disabled diver programs
  • Collaborating with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) media labs on an assistive technology research program for adaptive divers

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