Scuba Diving

I don’t remember learning to swim, or the first time I went snorkelling. I do remember age 11, at the Great Barrier Reef being too young to join my brothers on the Discover Scuba Dive (DSD) and snorkelling above, watching them 10 meters below, in their neon green and pink wetsuits.. crying with jealousy into my mask.

I first tried Scuba Diving in a pool in Thailand, around age 13. I remember how clean the air felt in my lungs, and how unbelievably cool it was not having to surface whilst swimming around. But it wasn’t until age 18, on the Colombian Coast (Taganga, Santa Marta) I went for my first open water dive. After a few minutes my buddy shot to the surface and before the instructor followed her up, he signalled for me to just chill and wait. Kneeling at the bottom of the ocean (probably only about 10m) I was alone, happily watching the garden eels in the sand. From that moment on I was hooked. (Note: This was totally wrong & unprofessional – the guide should not have left me alone but taken me up with him.) 

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I completed my Open Water PADI in Mauritius, closely followed by my Advanced PADI in Sharm El-Sheik. I planned to work my way up to DM.. and hopefully beyond. But after 40 dives, after not once feeling slightly uncomfortable in the water I had a bad experience that put a hold on that. Despite not being able to dive for 5 years (you can read about that here:  (diving in Zanzibar) I never gave up trying to get back in the water, because, I couldn’t. Scuba diving is… is what? How can I adequately describe the blissful, but exhilarating state scuba puts me in? No doubt being underwater is my favourite place to be. I heard someone describe once that the feeling you get from scuba diving is similar to that of falling in love, and I couldn’t agree more. ❤

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Recently I spent a week diving in Palau, and saw Sharks on 16/18 dives, which included a school of between 50-70 Baby Grey Reef Sharks. This is possibly not only one of my most incredible diving moments, but in life, ever.

It’s really no secret I love sharks, I talk about them as much as I can, at work, teaching, and to anyone that will listen… (and have quite a few shark related clothing items… )and seeing big marine life on a dive is always fantastic. But, it’s not just these sightings that make me love diving so much. Some of my favourite dives (and snorkels) have included none of these, but the sense of peace, the exploration, just being totally and utterly present in the moment, watching, engaging with the marine life… playing with bubbles.. feeling weightless, floaty. A sense of adrenaline, so much excitement, overwhelming happy, yet at the same time feeling completely blissful and at one with everything. Underwater Yin and Yang.

That’s what scuba is about for me.

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Most of my diving has been fairly warm water diving, though being hit by the occasional cold currents or thermoclines at 20°C feels more generic f’in freezing and closer to 0°C

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I love night dives, though initially was pretty nervous before getting in the water. Strangely I’ve not once felt uncomfortable on a night dive! A totally different world with the nocturnal creatures coming out to feed. The silence, the darkness. You don’t just see the darkness, you feel the darkness. Everywhere you aren’t shining your touch. Turning it off, just floating, gazing up to the surface, what a feeling of quiet; both inwardly & outwardly. Seeing a baby white tip reef shark swimming past, it’s graceful body shimmering, reflecting back the light of the torch. You feel almost invisible.

 

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Mangoes after diving make a very, very, very happy Weeze. (Pic: Mnemba Island, Zanzibar)

And wreck dives! Seeing how the marine world creatures welcome these foreign objects and turn them into their own homes, like abandoned buildings on land, is just strangely beautiful. The history, and sometimes sadness that also comes with the area you are exploring; a living underwater museum, or memorial.

So far I’ve logged 150 dives and completed my Rescue Diver Certification (DIVER! DIVER?!) and booked to do my Dive Master in Komodo with Wicked Diving (October 2019)

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My Diving posts: 

Palau BlissWritten for Insider Divers

Personal blog post on all the sharks in Palau

Diving in Komodo, Indonesia   #MyfirstManta, Komodo

#MyFirstLiveaboard, Diving in Komodo

Malapascua Philippines:

Girls That Scuba Destination Guide: Everything you need to know about scuba diving in Malapascua, Philippines 

Personal blog post –  Thresher Sharks. Malapascua, Philippines 

Moalboal, Philippines

Zanzibar, Tanzania  – Diving in Zanzibar

Hong Kong! Scuba Diving? in Hong Kong? YES!

Girls That Scuba article:  What equipment do you need when you first start diving?  

Girls That Scuba article (contributor): Divers, why do we eat the fish we try so hard to protect?

Dive Locations I’ve been to: 

Oceania: 
Palau
Africa:
Mauritius (completed Open Water PADI)
Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt (completed Advanced PADI)
Zanzibar
Asia:
Komodo, Indonesia
Malapascua, Philippines
Moalboal, Philippines
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Sai Kung, Hong Kong (complete PADI Rescue Diver)
Koh Samui/Koh Tao, Thailand
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Khao Lak, Thailand
Americas: 
Taganga, Santa Marta, Colombia
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Caye Caulker, Belize (I only snorkelled here, but had some of my favourite underwater experiences – including watching a pod of dolphins play around with a couple of confused manatees)
Europe:
Banyuls-sur-Mer, France
Alghero, Sardinia
Next stops: Jordan… & Komodo to complete my Dive Master Training!
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A couple of years ago I came across the Girls That Scuba community on Facebook and could not be more grateful for the existence of this growing group of supportive, fun, informative woman – of all levels, from all over the globe. Sharing stories, helping each other out; no question too ‘stupid’ or obscure. (Thanks Sarah!)

If you’re a female and you love diving, or even just thinking of diving, check out the Facebook page, request to join the group (over, 36,000 members!), or take a look at the Girls That Scuba website (men can do this too!) Girls that Scuba also have some great eco-friendly products for sale; mask straps, tote bags and phone covers. Check them out at the online store:1413268_540x

As well as discussing diving itself we try to educate each other and raise awareness on the state of our oceans and how to help lessen (eliminate is probably going too far sadly) the damage the human race is inflicting on them. One of the major problems is the huge growth in single use plastics, and one seemingly small problem (though 500 million of them a day is hardly small), but causes huge issues for the marine life is the existence of plastic straws. If you need a little convincing check out the horrific ‘turtle straw’ video. (Google and watch at your own risk. It’s hard, hard viewing.) Do your little bit, and right now (right NOW) stop using them. But you love straws (cause yeh, they are fun.. and practical…) no problem – get your own ‘suck on this’ reusable stainless steel straw right here. (10% of the profit is donated to Plastic Oceans)

It’s also worth checking out the documentary A Plastic Ocean for more information. Facebook is a great resource to find out what more you can do to reduce and reuse – search for local and global groups to swap ideas & find non-plastic replacements. Join A Waste Free World.