As soon as we had booked the trip my thoughts had turned to things we could be doing when we get out to more tropical climates. Scuba diving was something that I had always wanted to do and was keen to learn more about.
I visited Hawaii in 2007 for a friends wedding and spent most of my time in the water checking out the sea life. I’ve never been in such a tropical climate before and was amazed by the amount of sea life all around me. There was multi-coloured fish all around. I was loving every minute of it. The sea was also luke-warm and the sun was beaming down. It was great! What really made me want to scuba dive was when we went out on a snorkel trip to swim with sea turtles. When we jumped into the water with our snorkel gear on we could clearly see loads of turtles resting on the sea bed but they were too far down for us to reach. Of-course this wasn’t an issue for the scuba-divers who were already down there wth the turtles exploring the marine life. We just had to wait our turn and swim along side the turtles when they decided to come up for air. Although the snorkelling was fantastic, I wanted to try out the scuba diving but never tried it during that trip.
I put the scuba diving to the back of my mind until recently, when we booked the RTW. I thought it was time to do some investigating into taking a Scuba course. I searched around a few forums and internet sites, looked up the PADI website, checked for local dive schools checked out a few prices.
From what I could tell, I had 2 options, either wait until I was out there (Thailand or Australia) and do the course for around £250-£300 or do the course at home for £400. The cheaper option was much more appealing, not only because of the price but also the though of learning in tropical waters. The thought of doing the course in the freezing cold Irish Sea and paying extra for the privilege was not so appealing. Despite the obvious advantages or learning while I was on my travels I decided to do the course at home. The main reason for this is the fact that it takes 4 or 5 days to complete the course and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to lose 4-5 days out of our travel time to learn.
I found a dive school based in Randalstown (not so close to home) on the PADI website and decided to give it a call to see if they were doing any try before you buy sessions in a swimming pool. Zizo (nickname?) the instructor told me there was one the following Friday evening in Antrim Forum swimming pool. I was planning on going to it but took a half day from work that Friday and decided that it was too far to travel back up from home. I called Zizo to tell him and he told me that they were going out in the sea near Cushendall on the following Sunday and I could join them then if I wanted. I reluctantly agreed, the thought or the freezing water was putting me off! I decided to go for it anyway and ended up enjoying it. It wasn’t even that cold and I seen a couple crabs and some fish. I decided there and then to sign up for the course.
The course involved going to the dive school over a few evening over the next 2-3 weeks, doing some confined water dives followed by open water (sea dives). I couldn’t have signed up for the course at a worse time because work was at the peak of conference season and we have 4 conferences in 4 weeks, one of which was a 2 day conference. I was extremely busy/stressed with work because my workload had also doubled due to the fact that we were a web designer down and there was a lot of conferences. Anyone that knows me should know that I’m never stressed, so this was a big thing. Needless to say I struggled on and successfully completed the course.
I’m now a fully certified PADI Open Water diver with thanks to Zizo, Justin and co. at Zi Divers Dive School. I’ve been out with them for a few fun dives since.
I’m glad I’m now certified so that I can just go out and enjoy the diving when I’m out on my travels and not have to worry about spending time in a boring classroom environment first.