[email protected]

Given the amount of springs in the area and proximity to Panama City Beach, it’s fitting that a dive shop would open in Vernon.

Ashton Davis and Erica Cureton–a couple–have done just that with S.E.A. Divers, a new business at 3005 Main Street–across the street from the town square.

Davis is the owner and diving instructor, while Cureton is the manager who handles the retail and social media side. He is from Alabama, while she was born and raised in Vernon.

Ashton Davis and Erica Cureton have opened S.E.A. Divers, a new dive shop in Vernon. They two are passionate about going underwater and want to share that aquatic lifestyle with the community. [COLLIN BREAUX | The News] 

Davis has been diving since he was 13 and has gone through public safety diving training for first responder agencies, given his other line of work as a firefighter. S.E.A. Divers has been a mobile business for years after starting in 2016 and decided to take the leap on becoming a brick-and-mortar spot.

“I was doing guided dives at least weekly during the season, in summer and spring,” Davis said. “From 2016 to 2019, I did that. In 2019, I decided to become a scuba instructor. The mobile business really picked up. I was teaching a lot of certification courses.”

The couple decided this past fall to continue expanding their business. 

“I wanted to provide a service to the dive industry that other avenues weren’t providing,” Davis said. “With a mobile business, we weren’t able to sell equipment to our students. You have to have a brick-and-mortar store to be able to sell gear. This was our only way to be able to sell equipment.”

S.E.A. Divers aims to make equipment and training affordable for people.

“The majority of my customers are college-aged kids, other people who didn’t have a lot of spare money. Getting through the certification course was a big expense. By the time they did that and they would go to another semi-local dive shop, a seat of gear was going to cost $2,000 plus out the door,” Davis said. “ I want to change that. I want to make it attainable for the average everyday person to get certified and buy their own scuba gear and not have to spend two months of rent or a mortgage payment on some scuba gear, which is easily doable through certain brands.”

Cureton said they also want to build a community with people.

“We started a dive club and we have over 60 members. We gather each month and talk about dive stories and we create trips together and do events together,” she said. “It’s more than just diving. It’s family. It’s really become such a highlight in our lives and for other people. They message us all the time looking forward to the social, asking can we do this dive together.”

Everyone is welcome, even non-divers. 

As a Vernon native, Cureton said it is “awesome” to be able to provide a dive shop for the town.

Davis became passionate about diving after having to go to the bottom of his family pool as a kid to scrape algae. It also runs in the family since his dad was a diver.

“There’s always something different,” Davis said on what he likes about diving. “Diving, in general, there’s no other way to become that close to nature. On land, animals are scared of humans. Underwater, you’re another fish. It’s a whole other world. It’s constantly changing with the tides and seasons. You can dive the same wreck or reef multiple times a day and see multiple species and fish on each dive.”

Davis likes teaching diving because going underwater changes people’s lives. One member of the dive club is a double amputee veteran, who has been helped through the activity.

“It’s a lifestyle that people just find themselves falling into once they try it,” Davis said.

Cureton said divers can fall in love with what they see underwater and become more mindful about the need to keep the waters clean. The dive club does beach trash clean-ups.

Visit their website at for more information. The shop is looking to hire qualified dive guides.