It’s fun! – Learning to dive was definately one of the best experiences of my life! I’ve been snorkeling ever since I was a little kid, and I absoulutely love it. I’ve wanted to try diving for a while now, and I was always certain I would love it even more than snorkeling – and I was right! If you like swimming or snorkeling, diving will be twice as fun! It might be a little weird or scary when you first breathe underwater, but I quickly got used to it. By the second dive, everything just clicked and it was amazingly relaxing and easy!
You’ll learn something – I used PADI’s eLearning program to do the classroom portion of the course, as well as Dive Exuma (the island’s local dive shop) to do my required dives to become a certified Open Water Diver. The only surprise was how much classroom work I had to do on eLearning! You had to learn a bit of the science and technical part of diving, understanding the pressure increase as you dive deeper, and using a dive table to plan your dive time & depth. It was pretty interesting stuff! I am glad that I had to learn it because it made me appreciate diving even more.
You will get to see a completely different world underwater – My favorite animals have always been sea animals (dolphins and turtles). Diving in the Bahamas let us get close to sea turtles, sharks, and various species of beautiful fish and corals. Unfortunately, no dolphins. The shark dive we did was at a reef about an hour long boat ride from Exuma to a spot off the shore of Long Island. And it was incredible! We descended to a sandy bottom about 40 feet below the surface, and were immediately encircled by reef sharks. They weren’t scary at all, and were quite small, only about 6-8 feet, and as my instructor Johnathon encouragingly said beforehand, “If they bite you, you’ll survive. You’ll just have a big scar!” We also visited 2 blue holes (one diving, one snorkeling), which are quite literally just big holes in the sea floor. They are like caves, with circular openings and steep walls. Some are deeper than others, for example the Angelfish Bluehole that we visited with the dive group was about 90 feet deep, with the surrounding sea floor only about 25-30 feet. There are so many things underwater that you just can’t experience without scuba diving, and for me, that alone is why I wanted to learn.
It opens up job and travel opportunities – I (obviously) want to travel when I’m older! Even before learning to dive, I fantasized about being a dive instructor at different locations around the world, spending every day underwater. And besides teaching, there are tons of cool group dive travel opportunities as well! You can find fellow divers on PADI’s ScubaEarth website and go on dive trips to places all over the world, with divers from all over the world! Just in the few days we spent with Dive Exuma, I met two divers from Austria, one from France, and two snorkelers from Italy!
You can help protect our oceans – When I went to the Grenadines two years ago, the coral there was not in great condition. Most of the corals were “bleached,” where the color is gone and it appears dead. It was really sad because it didn’t used to be like that! You can read more about coral bleaching here: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html Being a diver, you can get involved in marine conservation projects to study the damage being done, as well as play a part in working to reverse the direction that our oceans are going in. Debris is also a big problem, and as a diver, you can help by picking up trash and other objects, or by checking out organizations like Project AWARE, an organization that teams up with PADI to clean up our oceans. Visit them at http://www.projectaware.org/