What’s keeping you out of the ocean? Is it the fear of drowning or getting stung by a lionfish? Some of you might also be thinking that diving is expensive. Before doing my first scuba dive, I had my own doubts (or better put, myths!) too. But my biggest fear was running out of air while I was still underwater. “Has any of the trainees have ever run out of the air, in their cylinder, while diving with you,” I remember asking my instructor, Jason, moments before our first dive. Though we were cautiously trained about how to share air and avoiding other diving hazards, I was unsure of rescuing anyone (or even myself) if anything went wrong. And I think these doubts are only natural.
After my first scuba diving experience and posting a few pictures about it on my Facebook page, a lot of people asked me about my experience followed by a question that seemed to be putting them off from trying scuba diving.
So now that I’ve done a few dives and have moreover qualified as an Over Water Diver, I thought, I’d do my best to banish a little misinformation that might be keeping you, my friends, out of the water.
Scuba Diving Myth 1: Diving Is Expensive
Well, scuba diving is definitely not a cheap sport, but if it is your dream is to dive, or experience life underwater, for at least once, then you can make it happen – no matter how small your budge is.
I did my Open Water Certification, in Goa, for INR 20,000 which included 2 days of pool sessions and 2 days of open water dives. Though an entry level certification, it has now enabled me to plan and dive with a buddy more flexibly.
But if 20,000 Rupees and 4 days of diving lessons sound like a big figure to you then you can go for a fun dive for under 5,000 Rupees. This includes a short swimming pool lesson, where you master the breathing techniques for an hour or two, and then head straight to the ocean – all in one day. 5000 Rupees for an out-of-the-world experience, and all those ostentatious underwater pictures, is no expensive deal.
Scuba Diving Myth 2: It Is Dangerous
The potential risks of diving feel more mysterious and terrifying before your first dive. I remember I’d almost called it off the first time we reached our diving site. The idea of anything going wrong as you lose yourself in the oblivion of vast ocean, can feel tormenting. But as you finish your first dive and appear back on the surface, you realise that you had only overestimated the risks.
Throughout the dive training, you learn how rare any potential accident is likely to happen underwater, and in case it does, you learn to handle them, regardless. Moreover, the first few dives do not include any extreme stunts that might make it any risky. They are always, what I would call, simple “underwater sightseeing” experiences.
And if you’re worried about being attacked by a shark – please don’t! Because the truth is, sharks are clam and very organised predators, and humans are just not on their menu. It is highly unlikely that you’ll ever be able to spot a shark, particularly during your initial dives, but if you do, consider yourself lucky. Moreover, sharks prefer to feed at the surface, which means surfers, snorkelers and swimmers are at a higher risk of being eaten by them, than you as a scuba diver.
Scuba Diving Myth 3: You Need To Be A Great Swimmer
Diving has very little to do with swimming. If you’re one of those people who knows how to float in the water, you can dive just as normally as a professional swimmer.
As for the requirements, to register for an open water course, you need to pass an endurance test which includes swimming about 200 yards nonstop, but there’s no time limit and it’s not a race. The only reason behind your knowledge to swim is to feel more confident about the dive, pedal stroke correctly, and to be able to swim on the surface without your buoyancy jacket, if required!
Scuba Diving Myth 4: Snorkelling Is Just As Fun As Scuba Diving
Hell no! Though Snorkelling has its own charm. I mean the idea of floating around on the surface peering down on the fishes from above is a surely fun, but you can, in no way, compare the two experiences.
Comparing Snorkelling and Scuba Diving is like holding a helium inflated balloon in your hand vs riding in a giant Hot Air Balloon. Well, that was a stupid comparison, I agree, but you get the point!
Before you dive for the first time, your instructor asks you to snorkel in the open water for some time. The experience of peering down the great ocean – particularly if you’re doing it for the first time – feels undoubtedly amazing. Then you take the next step, you remove the snorkel, take your air source in the mouth, and submerge slowly into deep Ocean. And that moment you realise that snorkelling was just a child’s play. Diving is a new level of adventure, altogether.
scuba Diving Myth 5: It’s A Macho Sport & Isn’t Female-Friendly
Not true. Diving is just as female-friendly. The only part of it, which however is true, is that men have always participated more than women. But I think the gap has been closing steadily. While writing about this point, I found on the internet that the gap, where it stands today, is roughly 60:40. Moreover everyone, from equipment manufacturers to tour operators, offer products specifically for female divers. There are also thousands of female instructors and dive masters out there to make you feel more comfortable.
So if you happen to be a girl, reading this article, there is no reason for you not to try scuba diving, only because you think it doesn’t suit you. I’m moreover sure that you’d look more cute exploring the ocean, than sitting on the boat, waiting for your male friends to reappear on the surface.
The bottom line? Diving is one of those epic adventures in which the ending is always great and full of heroic memories. Everyone’s scuba story is different, and yours will be too. But if there’s still something holding you, to take the plunge, let me know in comments, and we can talk it out!
Disclaimer: I dived in Goa with WestCoastAdventures in Goa who offer PADI and SSI courses – the two biggest scuba certifications. I chose SSI. And as far as I know, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. I think it’s your dive instructor, rather than the course itself, which is the most important factor in terms of how well you learn the skills you need to be a scuba diver. And my instructor turned out to be pretty awesome! Still, if you still wish to change your certification, as you go to a more advance level, you can always jump from SSI to PADI, and vice versa.