Introductory Dives on The Great Barrier Reef
I’ve always had a bit of a bucket list, even if it wasn’t written down. I think a lot of us do. Mine has always included pretty common bucket list items, such as skydiving, bungee jumping, and snorkelling. But it never included diving. I thought it just seemed SO scary. Mild claustrophobia and goodness knows what other anxieties and fear made me worry about being so far underwater that I wouldn’t be able to reach the surface in time if the breathing system failed.
However, a couple of months ago I noticed that Divers Den, a company who take snorkellers and divers to the Great Barrier Reef, were offering a free introductory dive to anyone who booked a snorkel. After some contemplation and talking to a couple of people, I got the idea into my head that I had to do an intro dive. I forgot all of my fears (temporarily) and finally booked it. Conor really wanted to join too, so we planned it together. I do think that it’s incredible that anyone can do an introductory dive on the Great Barrier Reef without any kind of diving certification.
When we boarded the lovely boat for our trip, it was a delightful, sunny day. We had to read through some health and safety info and sign a waiver. This is when the anxieties began to creep in again. During the boat ride to the first dive site we were briefed on some basic skills and what would happen when we did our dive. I was getting more and more concerned, to the point where I was super close to backing out. The diving instructor told us that she hates when people back out as she knows that if they can just get past the first part they will have an amazing time. So I faced my fear and did it anyway.
The intro dive begins with a group of around 4 intro divers diving down to a bar attached to the boat, around one metre under water. You must hold on to the bar whilst the instructor checks that you can do all three of the basic skills discussed on the boat. If you can’t then they will not let you dive, however they’re very easy if you listen to what your instructor says. After this you go for a swim and go a little lower. As it is an intro dive you’re not allowed to let go of your instructor, so two divers hold each arm. I’ll be honest, for this first dive I was pretty preoccupied with remembering to equalise and checking how much air I had left.
After the first dive we enjoyed a delicious hot and cold buffet lunch on the boat as we travelled to the second dive site. The second site was sensational, with vibrant corals and plenty of marine life. For our second intro dive it was just myself, Conor and an instructor. We didn’t have to check the skills this time as we had already done them earlier. We enjoyed this second dive much more as we were less anxious so actually remembered to look around and take in the scenery. The highlight was when a turtle swam alongside us for ages. We were so distracted watching it that we almost missed the reef shark swimming beneath us.
I faced my anxieties and fears and did something I was absolutely terrified of. In the end I was so proud of myself, plus I had had an incredible day and found a new hobby. We will both definitely look at getting certified in the future, and doing more intro dives in the mean time. I feel like I can do anything now.
So for anyone considering doing an intro dive, here are my tips:
Divers Den is an excellent company to go with
Book more than one dive – the second one will always be more enjoyable
Remember to look around and take in the scenery
And a reminder – if I can do something I was that scared of, so can you!