My first scuba diving ever – diving in Bali with OK Divers
I have to say that even though it looks like I am a super sporty person doing anything that challenges me, I am so far from being one. Many times I am more scared than you can even imagine.
However, I do go out of my comfort zone as much as I can when I convince myself I can make it. I am talking about horse-back riding, sky diving, paragliding, mountain biking, or even scooter riding.
And since my foot got stuck in corals when snorkeling in the Giftun island in Egypt back in 2007, I have days when I am even scared of snorkeling, too.
And what’s even worse?
I was born with lungs 1/3 smaller than anyone else and been suffering of sinus infection pretty often.
Plus, I’ve been SO scared of diving, too.
Why diving in Bali?
I tried snuba diving on St. Kitts island in the Caribbean but that was in early 2013 when I was still on a regular Western diet. And it did not go that well with my ears.
But trying to be vegan as much as possible since summer of 2013 has cleared out my sinuses and health-wise I was able to dive.
Let me sum it up.
For 30 years I have never even jumped into a swimming pool and hated putting my head underwater. And sometimes I even freak out when snorkeling, even though I’ve done it many times around the world.
So how on Earth I got into diving, you ask?
Well, I was approached by OK Divers Bali, a company owned by Slovaks and Czechs (my home country and the country where I studied) to visit them in Bali. As the name suggests, they focus on diving trips in the Indonesia’s best diving spot. And they also opened a Resort in summer 2015 with a top notch restaurant in the area.
So after 3 weeks in Thailand I took a flight to Bali.
The more we talked about diving, the more scared I was getting.
On the first day I joined a snorkeling trip with 4 sweet Asian girls and Lucia, a Slovak instructor. A group of divers were with us on the boat so seeing them, and then also seeing some people practicing in the pool, just stirred up my feelings even more.
”No way I am putting the tank on me and jumping into the water.” I thought to myself.
Discover Scuba Diving
But the following morning, I had a Discover Scuba Diving DSD lesson scheduled.
When finishing my tropical fruit breakfast, Lucia came to my table and started explaining to me the basics about breathing and how the lungs work using balloon vs. lungs comparison. The more she talked, the more freaky it sounded to me.
But knowing more about what to do and how it all works should have calm me down, instead. However, listening to how to get the water out of the mask underwater seemed like a mission impossible to me.
Then a briefing in practice followed in the swimming pool. First how to use the mask and how to breathe, and the underwater signs as that’s the only way to communicate with your instructor.
I have to admit that just putting my head into the water was frightening to me. And that is just an understatement!
”Why was I so crazy doing something I was so scared of to death?” was the only thought on my mind.
I was not only just about to overcome my claustrophobic fear and fear of water (I know, it sounds weird as you see me so much on the beach/by the pool) but also my health problems I’ve had for most of my life.
But all of these things were just in my head.
I was so not happy how I could not breathe easily in the pool.
”It would get easier in the sea as you will focus more on the fish and corals instead.” Lucia kept convincing me.
”Well, I still need to breathe!” I kept making faces when spitting out water.
And the equipment was so heavy! I had no idea how I could wear that thing on me and still enjoy swimming.
No matter what was in my head, we slowly hopped on the boat with other (experienced) divers and drove to the Blue Lagoon located less than 10 minutes away.
Because of my previous health problems (which should be mostly fine on my vegan diet now), we agreed on going up to 8 metres (instead of the usual 12 m) and starting on the sand to get used to it first.
As I cannot jump into the water backwards, I used a ladder to walk into the sea and then Lucia put the BC vest on me. We swam a bit further to find a sand spot and started going down holding a rope.
OMG, the pressure in my ears was so strong so I kept equalizing it every few seconds!
Once on the sand, Lucia let me breathe slowly and she did all the work for me. Because I was so scared, she even kept holding me for the whole time underwater.
Water kept getting into my mask (or I was making too many faces, or I had some hair in there, or it just didn’t fit) so I decided to hold it with my right hand pressing it into my face most of the time.
I remembered my yoga lessons and kept telling myself ”breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.”
The repetition of ‘‘I trust myself and I trust Lucia.” in my head helped heaps.
After a while I got used to the breathing as much as I could at that point and started to pay more attention to the colorful fish around me as we swam closer to the corals.
What a cool experience it was! It’s not possible to describe the orgasmic feeling.
I didn’t know where to look first! So many different species, such as cuttlefish, angelfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish, sweetlips, giant moray, stingray and Nemo.
And at one point we even saw a turtle. OMG, my dream came true!
It’s unbelievable but we spent incredible 57 minutes underwater in 27 Celsius degrees!
Then we got some water, tea, fruit and chocolate biscuits during an hour-long break on the boat.
I was so proud of myself for diving into 8 metres for almost an hour. That was like overcoming so many personal fears and not just once but even twice as the second dive followed later on in a different area.
Then we dived for 42 minutes at the Jetty around a molo. We even went down to 12 metres this time but I could feel a lot more ear pressure than before. It was also colder and the 23 Celsius degrees there felt like winter temperature to me. My fingers and toes were frozen! 😀
But we managed to see other species, for example lionfish, frogfish, giant pufferfish, trumpetfish, batfish, porcupinefish or loads of mackerels. My photos don’t do it justice.
Because there was more and more water in my mask and some current was moving us sometimes too close to a lot of pillars, I did not enjoy this dive as much as the first one. But there was more fish, that’s for sure, so I was glad I managed to dive for the second time there.
I could not be more grateful for Lucia’s effort and patience. Thank you so much for believing in me!
Overcoming my fears feels so rewarding! It taught me more about me and about what I am capable of.
I think I will go diving, soon again.
Just remember, breathe, breathe and breathe and everything will be ok! 🙂
The whole Discover Scuba Diving experience took us from 9 am to 1 pm and then a tasty lunch was served in the Colonial restaurant at the OK Divers Resort. You don’t get any certificate after this diving, it’s not a PADI course, but it gives you an experience of the thrilling underwater world.
***Disclaimer: Sorry I didn’t take more photos/videos to show you the amazing underwater world I could see but the most important thing at that time was to be able to breathe properly without freaking out. I promise to do better next time.
Here you can find more about my stay at the OK Divers Resort.
Discover scuba diving was part of my Adventure and Spa project I did on my Bali holidays. For more info about diving in Padangbai, please have a look at the OK Divers Bali website.
*photo credit: Rudo Hvizdoš