I want to get back in the water, I want to hear that Darth Vader hiss of the regulator when I breath underwater, and I want to see a whale shark. This was how I felt after I finished my open water scuba course.
After a week of laying on the beach and lazing around on the little island of Koh Tao in Thailand, I knew I had to try something new. I mean there’s only so much relaxing you can do right? Koh Tao is known for being one of the best places in the world to learn to scuba dive. It’s probably that warm, crystal clear water in the Gulf of Thailand, or maybe it’s the abundance of sea life hanging around. Either way it seemed like an exciting idea to me.
So I signed up with an SSI (Scuba Schools International) dive school. To be totally honest my first day of class, I suddenly felt a bit intimidated. There is a lot of equipment, a lot of safety precautions, and even a good amount of math – water pressure vs air pressure sort of stuff. I found myself wondering if I’d be able to remember it all, and if I really wanted to do such an intense activity for fun?
The first part of the 3 day open water course you get a lot of information, watch a lot of safety videos, and go over all the equipment and how to set it up. At the time it felt like a lot to take in, but my instructor was kind and thorough and made sure everyone in our little group was getting it. I was still a little nervous though when we headed out to a beginner dive site for our first training dive. I really didn’t want to forget anything.
All those trepidation’s melted away the first time I went under though. I will admit, breathing underwater took some getting used to. In the very beginning I definitely was reminding myself not to hold my breath. But once I had the basics down, it was like my eye were suddenly open to a whole new world around me. Getting up close with a coral reef and the sea life that lives in it is like nothing you’ll ever experience on land. My first thought as a swam around through schools of fish was, “This is like being in space, or on another planet!” The weightlessness you feel is probably the closest I’ll get to space (for now at least), and it’s totally freeing.
By the last day of class I was ready to sign up for the advanced course. I wanted to go deeper, I wanted to see more, I wanted to explore this awesome place that I’d only ever seen from the surface before.
Around the time that I’d finished the open water course and was gearing up for the advanced, there had been some whale shark sightings at one of the more popular dive sights, Sail Rock, so I made sure I signed up for the class that would go there. Because I mean, whale sharks!
The advanced dive course is less classroom learning and more training dives, which is awesome for me, because I’m one of those, learn by doing sorts of people. You focus on diving techniques, and navigation, then you get to do some adventure dives which can be anything from checking out shipwrecks to identifying sea life.
The second day of my advanced class we headed out to Sail Rock. I had high hopes of giant sea animals, but unfortunately there were no whale sharks to be seen that day. That’s not to say the dives there weren’t amazing, because they were. As we circled around the underwater pinnacle I saw all types of fish and coral that made me feel like I was in Finding Nemo. And I did get to see some giant sea life, in the form of a great barracuda that was just about as long as am I tall!
My big take away from my whole learning to dive experience was that even though something might seem intimidating, it’s usually nothing you can’t handle. And the awesome experience you gain from it will far outweigh any nerves you have going into it.
So if you ever find yourself wondering if you should learn to scuba dive (or anything else for that matter), I say go for it. Usually it’s the thing that seems scariest that ends up being the most awesome!