Fact is, I’m a mountain person. But I’ve always been fascinated with the underwater world… an ecosystem on its own, with sea creatures big and small (turtles are my favorite), and colorful reefs. Unfortunately I could only go as far as the surface to snorkel (in a life vest, of course). Yes, it’s a pity – especially since I’ve been living in Cebu for 2 years now and it has some of the best diving spots in the world.
I finally found courage to get an Open Water license last August together with some friends. We took a weekend course with CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques) in the waters of Mactan Island. The course started off with lectures and skills training in the shallow water. We did 5 dives in 2 days, with each dive lasting about an hour. On the last 2 dives we reached the maximum allowed depth of 18 meters (60 feet). Woohoo!
Lesson #1: Relax and don’t panic.
It’s easy to say but hard to do, especially on the first dive. Under water every movement is in slow motion and everything is magnified and admittedly I was a bit uneasy at first. My foot also got cramps because it was my first time to wear fins. There was also a strong current during our training dives that we had to go against. It was frustrating because it seemed that we were not moving, but we eventually reached the shore.
On the succeeding dives I tried to have more focus and control of my movement, but at the same time enjoy this different feeling of ‘freedom’.
Lesson #2: Don’t move (too much).
Proper breathing is the key to buoyancy and how long your oxygen will last. The more you move, the more oxygen you consume. Unlike swimming, no arm movement is necessary. Just look around and enjoy nature 🙂
Lesson #3: Don’t touch anything.
There was one time the instructor made us hold this rope underwater for a photo op, and that moment I was sure something bit me because there was a stinging sensation in my hands.
It feels amazing just to look around and see how everything works down here, how it’s so alive and peaceful without human intervention.
Be safe and more importantly leave no trace.
I’m excited to do more dives. Just keep swimming!