What’s so great about scuba diving?

Early, wet, and sometimes cold mornings. Long drives and overly enthusiastic morning people. A crushing need to look under the dock now, beyond just lying on top of it. These are some of the harder parts to take about scuba diving (Scuba Diver Life dispels more myths about diving here). But I got back in tanks after 10 years as a regular swimmer – so what’s the draw?

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This may sound silly but one thing only got me off of the couch and on my way to the Scuba Shop on Notre Dame one afternoon in July. It is one of the most beautiful sights to turn over on your back while under the water, and see the sunlight filtering down on a clear day. I was watching a television show about scuba diving (ever watched Descending?) and the camera person flipped over on their back to give the viewers a glimpse. I picked up the phone and called Mike in that instant, before I could hesitate, because I knew I had to see that again for myself. Soon.

There is so much beauty to be observed under the water! Saltwater, freshwater, warm water, cold water – it makes no difference to me. I first learned to dive as a teenager in 2005, surrounded by three of my cousins. The Open Water certification for recreational divers by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) consists of an in-class portion, pool classes, and open-water dives. It was a hell of a way to spend March break, but by the end of it we were all ready to jump in the pool – tank, fins and all.

While many memories fade, or are just forgotten about, my time spent in the Dominican Republic with them is crystal. It was the first time I was ever able to swim in the ocean, and the place where I learned to dive! I recall being nervous at first, but once you’re in that blue, blue water with visibility for days that all melts away. We were tested on our basic skills – things like regulator recovery and clearing, clearing a flooded mask, and the tired diver tow. My diving buddy quickly earned a nickname – Glowstick Panter – for the way his legs glowed white under the water, and how quickly he went through his air supply. Hope you’re reading this!! Scuba diving has always been something I have done with my family.

Some mornings, getting up early is worth it.

A father helps his son gear-up on Open Water testing day.

Our trip to the Dominican Republic sparked something in me – the travel bug. Since then I have completed a lot of school, scoured the internet planning my own trips and appreciatively/enviously looked at their travel photos. It was time to get traveling and back in the water myself!

Planning the trip to Vietnam and Indonesia, and advancing my diving education has moved in lock-step. The idea of traveling to Indonesia and not scuba diving there is inconceivable! And something I learned this summer? Scuba diving is similar to riding a bicycle – you never forget, and it comes back to you after a few kicks. So everything I learn now will continue to be useful, as long as I travel and dive. Costa Rica 2015… Yes please. More on that later!!

The point here? Diving and travel go hand in hand. When I first started considering the idea of scuba diving again, my travel companions and I were asking ourselves the question, “What jobs can we do that allow us to make a living, and travel at the same time?” One of the jobs on my list was Scuba Instructor, and so I started looking into that. Then we committed to going to Asia. I figured there was no better time to start the PADI Advanced Open Water certification. I found the blog of Astrid Fischer to be particularly inspiring – she just completed her instructor levels on Tioman Island and blogged about it here.

One more great thing? Besides being fun and awe inspiring, scuba diving is a hobby that is good for your health. Leg and core muscles are working, you are getting active (usually early in the morning), and there are benefits associated with swimming and being in water. This is true, no matter where you go.

So give diving a shot! Your certification never expires. It’s good for your health, your sense of beauty, your travel addiction, and your family life. Plus, being up early in the morning means some amazing pictures you wouldn’t have been able to take otherwise, and maybe some new friends that you wouldn’t have made otherwise.

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A sunrise I caught walking to the dive shop one morning.

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