I will come back to South America later, but we are about to leave for Bonaire so my brain has shifted to preparations for a dive trip. I have been diving for about 8 1/2 years now. It was on my bucket list, even before I knew what a bucket list was. I remember the first time I went snorkeling and saw the amazing coral and fish just off the beach in Grand Cayman. At that time, 7 mile beach truly was a beach. The resorts were on the interior side of the road and there was no construction on the water side. I was there just a few years ago and was appalled at the construction.
I was pregnant with my son-Rocky is now 21-so diving was not an option, but I remember wanting to go “down there” even though there was a lot to see near the surface. At that time, you could actually go into water up to your ankles and see fish; it is no longer that way. We also went to stingray city, which I have gone to several times since. I highly recommend the experience, but be prepared. The rays will rub up against you. These are “wild” animals.
Although many divers still snorkel, I just don’t like it anymore. Your back gets sunburned, you have to ride the waves at the surface, and you only get to see the sea life from afar. The reality is that once you learn to dive, you are far more comfortable under the water than on top of it. I have logged almost 200 dives-192 and I hope to get to 200 on this Bonaire trip-but still get sea-sick sitting on a rocking boat. First in the water and last out of the water for me.
Scuba diving is not for everyone. It tends to be a sport that people love or hate. It has its risks and should be something you want to do. Some people talk about being claustrophobic or fearful, but I find the experience very freeing. Underwater, I feel the wide expanse of the ocean open a whole new world to me. My dive master told me she knew I would be a lifetime diver the minute she saw my eyes underwater. I was amazed.
You can take a resort course for a one time shot at diving and to see if you like it, but the only way to be trained to become a diver is to take a good multi-week course with classroom, pool, and open water components. Some destinations offer full course work with certification at the end, but do you want to spend your vacation taking a class? Do it at home before you go and establish a relationship with a local instructor who will be there when you return.
Although this trip to Bonaire is an exception, I usually do my dive travel with the dive masters who were my original instructors. Rocky was 12 when he took a scuba rangers class (pre-certification course for children as young as 8). He fell in love. I tell him it is because he was actually on that Grand Cayman trip when I snorkeled for the first time. He is alternatively baffled or embarrassed when I remind him of that. Anyway, he was hooked and we took the adult certification class together after that. He was a junior diver with depth limitations until age 16. Rocky was much better than I at the course work and practicals and is still amazing in the water although he has not had as many opportunities to dive as I have.
I captured Rocky just before he became a teenager. Even as he got older, pulled away, or just wanted to spend time with anyone besides his parents, he has never stopped being my dive buddy. It is an amazing experience to scuba dive, even more amazing when you can share the experience with your child and see the wonder of the ocean in their eyes.