PADI course, PADI course, book me a dive…

As already mentioned, our second day (and first true day) on Caye Caulker saw us sign up to do our PADI Open Water diving course.

This was actually something we had envisaged ourselves doing down in Honduras (which has a reputation as the cheapest diving in Central America), but we’d decided that the sooner we actually complete our certification, then it is something we have the opportunity to use anywhere between Belize and Honduras.

Day one wasn’t all that exciting, but did mean we managed to get all of the necessary theory completed in one go.

This involved us watching about 3 hours of video, completing a few trial quizzes, before finally completing a multiple choice test (which we needed to pass before getting in the water).

Thankfully, despite a few hairs pulled when it came to calculations regarding to wait times for repeat dives and in calculating approximate levels of nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream, we managed to pass.

Time to hit the books

Time to hit the books

Day two dawned, and after discussions the previous evening with friends Chris and Rikki (who both already have their dive certification), there was one very nervous attendee who turned up for class.

Yes, that would be me!

I’m not, and never have regarded myself as a strong swimmer, and one of the necessary requirements to pass this first part of the diving course, was for us to jump into the sea and tread water for 10 minutes!

This was the only time that I found myself wishing that our first practical sessions were in fact in a swimming pool (as is often the case), and not in shallow waters of the reef as it was in this occasion.

Being in the actual sea was usually a great situation, as it often meant that we would spot sharks, barracuda or even stingray on our first practical day, as opposed to seeing nothing in the confines of a tiles swimming pool.

The one disadvantage came when I tried to meet the challenge of treading water, and several times, after finally getting relaxed, a wave would wash over me and leaving me coughing and spluttering.

But guess what? I did it, possibly one of my proudest achievements of the whole course.

Heading out to the reef for our first practical dives

Heading out to the reef for our first practical dives

The remainder of the day saw us enjoy our first experiences under water, albeit only at a depth of about two metres.

We found it a great boon to find only the two of us in the class, as it meant that there was little waiting around for a full sized group to complete each skill and we were fortunate as well that we both managed to complete most skills without the need for any repetition.

The secondary benefit of this was felt when each of the days practical skills were completed, we were able to simply enjoy the water as we would on a normal dive until it was time to head to the surface (I’d hazard a guess we earned more than 1 whole additional dive over the course of the 3 days thanks to this).

Days three and four saw us share our dive boat with a couple of different dive groups, the third day providing some memorable highlights.

During the break between our third and fourth dives, we anchored in an area known as Shark Ray Alley, where we were able to grab our snorkels and swim in some very shallow waters with about a dozen sharks and a handful of stingray!

Ready to take a dip in Shark Ray Alley

Ready to take a dip in Shark Ray Alley

Our last dive saw us find some lobster as well as a huge Black Lionfish (an introduced species to the area), although Sarah managed to miss both of these!

The final highlight of the day coming when we surfaced to find our boat being circled by a small pod of dolphins!

This was a real cause of excitement, and included amongst their group an incredibly small baby dolphin.

Headed back through the reef with a dolphin escort

Headed back through the reef with a dolphin escort

There were some challenging skills to be learned, perhaps the most harrowing being the full removal of our masks from our face and head whilst 12 metres beneath the surface (a challenge we both overcame on a couple of occasions).

We were joined both on the boat and in the water for our final day by our Irish friend Dave, who’d opted to partake in a refresher dive.

It was good to have some additional company beneath the waves, for what proved a couple of really enjoyable dives off the coast of San Pedro.

Sarah surfacing after our 5th and final practical dive

Sarah surfacing after our 5th and final practical dive

These two sites were very rich in sea life, and also saw us hit our deepest permissible depth (for our level of training) at 18 metres.

The sixth and final dive revealed to us probably the most impressive undersea creature we’d spied to date (although Dave somehow missed it), a Spotted Eagle Ray.

To see this gliding through the water was a thrill

To see this gliding through the water was a thrill SOURCE: Wikipedia

True, we have no other dive school or instructor to compare to, however we were incredibly happy to have done the course we did, with our instructor Joey.

Perhaps it was his ultra-cool Caribbean accent, but his relaxed demeanour meant we were never given cause to panic ourselves.

Now we just have to look forward to our next dives!

 

Notes:

* Our PADI Open Water course through Frenchies Diving cost us $800.00 BZ each. This included 1 day of theory and 3 days of practical training (5 practical/training dives and 1 additional free dive).

* Our dive instructor, who we’d highly recommend, was Joey Pacheco.

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20 Responses to PADI course, PADI course, book me a dive…

  1. Joella J says:

    Congrats on completing your open water! I also found the worst part to be taking the mask on and off! I don’t know why that bit scared me so much. I am so desperate to go diving again!

    • Chris says:

      Yeah, it’s great fun.

      We’ve fortunate enough to get a few more dives in since (one in a volcanic lake & then did our Advanced Open Water in Honduras) 🙂

      We’ll get them up on the blog eventually!

  2. karolinapatrykcom says:

    Oh my God, sharks are so scary. You are very brave to swim with them 😉

  3. Now that’s the way to do it! It looks like you had the proper training and preparation to make your diving debut a success! I tried it once while in MX, and all we had was a 20-minute intro on the beach! Definitely not sufficient to properly prepare so, so I was nervous and just stayed close to shore while some of the group went off into deep waters. How lucky you are to have seen that amazing spotted ray!

  4. Natalie says:

    Congrats on getting your open water certification–I got mine for my 18th birthday. Best present EVER! Our practice dives were done in a pool, which I actually liked, since it gave me a chance to acclimate to the safety procedures and scuba gear in an environment where I was in completely control. Still, what a great story to say that you learned to dive alongside sharks and dolphins! 🙂

    • Chris says:

      Yeah, I can see the merits of a pool session in an actual pool, but wouldn’t trade our experience for anything 😉

      The tales of our future dives will pop up on here eventually!

  5. Beth says:

    Congrats!! Diving seems like so much fun, I really need to get my certification!

    • Chris says:

      It is great fun, but the cost is often prohibitive (hence our decision to do the course outside of Australia).

      Haven’t regretted the outlay once yet 🙂

  6. Birdekko says:

    Nice work mate! My first PADI experience was in 12 metres of open water in rough choppy water in Fiji. It was truly the scariest experience of my life!!!

  7. traciehowe says:

    I’ve always wanted to do this, but have always made excuses. First that it’s expensive, which is true. Second that I’m not sure my ears could handle it. They always give me issues when diving even 6 feet. I can’t seem to blow the air out properly. Sounds like you had a great time!

  8. Milan Bardun says:

    I was thinking about becoming diving instructor in Thailand, so this post has inspired me a little. Awesome experience, but weren’t you scared of those sharks? 🙂

  9. Hi Chris!
    Congrats on your certification!!!
    And what amazing encounters you have!!!!
    I`m hoping to get my PADI here in Thailand 😉
    Cheers!

  10. rachel75 says:

    Reading this description makes me glad I learned in a pool to start with. Removing my mask under water was a real phobia for me, and in a pool it felt a bit easier since there’s no current and no distractions. We (my husband, my daughter and I) did the pool training here in the Netherlands, then did the rest of it in Australia, which was an absolutely wonderful first experience! Congratulations on getting your open water!

    • Chris says:

      Congratulations yourself!

      I find it very inspiring when people can overcome their fears, and give something like this a go!

      Can’t wait to now do some diving back home in Australia as well 🙂

  11. I am currently in South America and coming to Central soon. I just want to ask if the $800 you mention above are in USD? If yes, that is really expensive! I thought diving in Honduras would be much cheaper.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Trish.

      Yeah, this was in USD ($400.00 per person).

      You can do it a little cheaper in Honduras, however it was still cheaper than back in Australia, and it seemed like we’d miss too many good things waiting until then.

      We loved all our dives in Caye Caulker, and also did one in Lake Atitlan before we even got to Utila, so no regrets here 🙂

  12. Pingback: Lago de Atitlan | theworldwithchrisandsarah

  13. Pingback: Galapagos: Diving Isla Tortuga | theworldwithchrisandsarah

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