When my mom and I decided to spend Thanksgiving in the Cayman Islands a few years ago, I was so looking forward to being a total beach bum. I dreamed of laying on the beach for hours with a cute cabana boy bringing me endless tropical cocktails. As I was telling my coworkers and friends about my upcoming trip, all anyone could talk about was how the island had some of the best scuba diving in the world and how simple it was to get certified.
A few hours in a pool and you’re good to go!
The problem, however, was that I was (and still am) certified. Like for real, PADI Open Water Diver, certified. Having this expertise, I heard over and over again “Oh, if you’re already certified, you have to do it. You’d be stupid not to!”
The thing was…I barely passed my certification.
I took a Scuba Diving course in my last semester of college (yes, really), needing to fill a credit slot and thinking it would be a fun, easy class. Which it totally was! Until we got to the freezing cold reservoir in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Virginia to get officially certified. We had to wear a full wet suit, a hood, gloves, and boots because the water temperature was so cold. Everything seemed to be going wrong for me that day. My mask kept filling up, visibility was so low that I could barely see my hand in front of my face.
I’m pretty sure my instructor thought I was going to die if he didn’t help me.
He even went so far as to hold my hand underwater and basically drag me along. I was definitely the problem child in the class. Despite all of this, I was able to pass the requirements and I did, in fact, get my certification. Afterwards, I thought I had a great story to tell and laughed off the whole situation. So when I heard about this once in a lifetime opportunity, I knew I would feel so silly if I went all the way to the Cayman Islands and not go diving. After all, the best way to overcome a fear is to face it head-on, right? Keep in mind this was over a year and a half since I received my certification.
Which was even more reason for me to be terrified.
Our hotel, the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, had a separate concierge just for water sports and they were so helpful. The company, Red Sail Sports, basically does everything for you. They had a beginner class, a refresher course, which I opted for, and picked you up right at your hotel beach. My mom was even able to join and go snorkeling while I dove. I really had no excuse not to go. The morning of the dive, I went to another hotel’s pool for the refresher course. I was the only student (thank god) and the instructor was so encouraging. I actually remembered a lot more than I thought I did and was feeling confident to go in the ocean.
Even with the course, my nerves were so bad that I was literally shaking as we boarded the boat.
However, the moment I got into the water and descended to the 55-foot depth, I was absolutely blown away. The water was crystal clear and the colors were so vibrant. Everything was in full focus and there was so much wildlife all around us. We saw parrot fish, eels, and a sea turtle that I couldn’t stop raving about. I felt like I had been transported to another world. When the dive master signaled to his dive watch that it was time to ascend, I was crushed. Never in my life had I experienced anything like that.
This one little dive completely changed my views on this sport and made me crave more.
Scuba diving, although still pretty terrifying, is one of the most exciting skills to obtain. If you love being in the water and experiencing totally unique adventures, this is definitely the hobby for you. I now ache for my next dive and know it will lead me to new and different ways to see the world.