Just thought I'd ask about people's scuba diving experiences or snorkelling if they had any good ones. For me I always loved the pics of underwater and stuff and was obsessed with tropical islands when a teenager so when 19 I took a year out and went to work in the South Pacific in a country called Vanuatu. I'll never forget the first time I took the bus out to a place called Hideaway Island and went snorkelling. I was surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of small colourful fish everywhere and the reef and it went on for hours.
A little later I looked out the scuba diving place on a small island with just a hotel on it in the harbor near the town. Scuba diving was cheap for locals or people working there at I think 8 pounds a dive (maybe 16 USD). I started off in the pool and then moved on to the water and stuff. My first dive was a shallow reef dive with my instructor Michael Crawford. I'll always remember looking at the very calm graceful way he moved underwater with minimal movement and I tried to emulate that (probably not very successfully). It was great and they were a very professional outfit made up of guys who used to all work on a cruise ship together and then decided to settle down there. I did quite a few more dives of shallow and deeper reef and wrecks and took the tests and stuff and got my basic open water PADI license.
Then I found some friends at the university who also were into diving and one weeknight they said lets go to this other "cowboy" outfit on hideaway island for a night dive. My first moment in the water at night was incredible, seeing all the light beams underwater like something out of the James Cameron movie the Abyss! However I was always a very sensible and cautious diver and was not too impressed when we were told not to go below 20m I think and my dive buddy decided to go chasing crabs off on his own deeper. I stayed put and luckily he decided to come back after a few minutes!
Then near the end of my work placement (the reality of which I did very little work!) my brother also came and my friend's wife and they both learned to dive also. Our final dive was a 35m night wreck dive which I think was all guys that night. We joked about getting nitrogen narcosis and the bends and stuff. I was actually a little worried about just dropping down to 35m but when they showed us there was a rope you follow down it was much better. Anyway we went down, swam around the ship, tried to see if we felt any different, saw a stonefish (very poisenous fish to touch) and came back. It didn't last very long and I actually preferred the shallower dives where you could enjoy it for longer and not worry about decompression stops and stuff. And on the decompression stop my buddy ran out of air so grabbed my extra mouthpiece only he was so light with no air he began floating to the surface and pulling me with him. Then an instructor grabbed him and pulled him back down to the bar we were holding on to.
The only other highlight of Vanuatu diving was on an island called Espirito Santo with a couple of friends on a shipwreck called the SS
President Coolidge. It was a shore dive which meant walking all over painful coral to get in but is apparently a dive people travel all over the world to do. We did a few dives and the size was incredible. Looking at the bridge or swimming down the promenade deck was like diving on something like Titanic or something. Plus going into holds and seeing jeeps inside and stuff. There were quite a few "hardcore" divers on Santo too. I liked diving but I really only liked looking at fish and swimming around coral and the underwater beauty. I never considered myself to be a "serious" diver (which I wasn't).
We did some more scuba diving on our way back to the UK in places like New Zealand (the Rainbow Warrior, current dive) and Malaysia and Thailand too (turtles). I never had any interest in diving with sharks as I don't like to be scared! But learning to dive in Vanuatu really did spoil me as everything else wasn't as good. Less fish, less visibility, less coral. I'm sure there are places just as good or even better but I never got a chance to visit them.
I'm probably too scared to go scuba diving now and will just stick to snorkelling. But back when I was 19 the thought about it possibly being scary never even entered my mind for a second. It was all about the adventure and the beauty of the underwater world.
Anyway apologies if I've bored everyone to death. Do you have any good snorkelling or scuba experience you'd like to write about. Would be great to hear.