Since I was a child I wanted to learn to scuba dive, so much so that at one point I thought that I’d be great as a marine biologist (despite disliking biology only so I’d get to scuba dive). I can only say thankfully that I never followed up on this childish idea, I was useless as biology at GCSE level!
I’ve now finally learnt to dive in Utila, Honduras. This is one of the Bay Islands, known only for being one of the cheapest and best places to learn to dive in the world. Despite PADI encouraging safe diving, the ethic on Utila was to play hard and dive lots, not to say that the dive shops there aren’t safe but be prepared to feel like you’ve gone back to Uni whilst on the island.
In total I’ve now managed 4 actual (i.e under da sea not in a pool) open water dives, seen a variety of wildlife and I now wanna do more. Unfortunately due to illness I never managed my fun dives, so I am now dying to get better so that I can finally practice my newly learnt skill and dive with my boyfriend.
Learning to dive was a challenging experience, it’s a weird feeling knowing that your breathing affects your buoyancy and too deep a breath can send your soaring upwards. Mastering this is one of the key challenges of scuba diving which enables you to stop worrying about exhaling and knocking on coral and enables you just to relax and enjoy the sights under the water.
One of my favourite and frustrating parts of learning to dive was constantly being told to relax and stay calm. This meant that for most of the course I had ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Relax (don’t do it)’ in my head. However this is entirely true about scuba diving, it is one of the few activities that one can do in which you have to aim to not be active.
In our few short dives, we got to see porcupine fish, barracudas, squid, jelly fish and my boyfriend got to see a turtle. It’s being able to be up close and personal to such a range of wildlife that are normally confined to the nature programs on TV that makes people totally hooked on Scuba diving. Two of my class immediately signed up for more advanced lessons and many people end up staying on the island learning more and more advanced skills!
I’d highly recommend that anyone considering learning to dive (and even those who haven’t thought about it) go ahead and find a dive shop and learn as soon as they can. Finding a dive shop is to me like choosing a beer, totally a personal decision based on what you like best, but definitely take recommendations to find a good one (thanks Alex!)