So last Sunday, I was able to go scuba diving in Mactan, Cebu. It was a shore dive from Kontiki Club. My sister is a PADI licensed rescue diver and has lots of friends who are licensed dive instructors, so it was only a matter of time before she got me to try it. I also wanted to try because you don’t get to do something like this everyday, so I was like, what the hell. I’m glad I gave myself this opportunity, and even though it was a bit scary, it definitely was an experience unlike any other!
Woke up around 7 AM, and I was lacking a bit of sleep (6 hours) but I had to suck it up. Had a hearty breakfast! Always make sure to get a full meal, as scuba diving is very tiring, and it’ll require you to be at your full energy! I was with my dive instructor friend, who would be teaching us, my sister, who would serve as assistant, and another acquaintance who was having his first dive too.
The usual price for a discovery (beginners) dive is around PHP 2,500-4,000 depending on the instructor. There is a dive instructor with you at all times, who makes sure nothing goes wrong. He’ll keep you safe and will teach you the basic dive signs too (OK, danger, up, down, stay close) and he has this whiteboard marker to teach you about the different species of plants and animals right under our noses. He’ll teach you everything about the gear (BC, regulator, tank, fins, mask, weights, rashguard) and how to set it up. It seemed heavy and awkward during the initial fit (especially the rashguard) but once you get underwater, it’ll feel very light and adaptable. You’ll also be taught the basic skills that you’ll need, such as clearing the mask if water gets in, sweeping your regulator to retrieve it and how to equalize. You can’t go up to the surface right away if you’re 40 feet underwater, lest you get decompression sickness. All of this sounds scary and technical, but one rule that the instructor gave me was to not think, and just enjoy, and let him worry about everything else.
It was pretty fun to learn the gear and skills, but actual application in the water really took some time. But I really had fun! You feel like an explorer, going to an alien world, with all your gear and stuff. It also feels pretty weightless when you’re underwater, kind of like flying but of some different sort. You also feel like a baby, since you’re taking in so many new sights and experiences, like learning to breathe with your mouth, and getting used to the fins. It’s an indescribable experience, something you just have to try! Something for the bucketlist!
With Dive Instructor, Francis Abelgas. Learning the basic skills!
After the skills and gear training, we went on two dives. The compressed air in our tanks was good for around 40-45 minutes, and each dive was something unique. The first dive was the getting used to part, as it isn’t really your natural reaction to go deeper and deeper. It’s a fear you sort of have to overcome. The deepest we went was around 40 feet, which is already a bit deep. I had some reservations and fears, like floating up too high and the air gauge reading low, but you’ve got to let go of that if you really want to enjoy down there! It was real beautiful! You get to see so many things that aren’t available up top, and so much marine flora and fauna came to greet us. The corals were very beautiful, teeming with fishes and other marine life. We got to see this crane part that fell underwater and turned into a rock formation over the years, and we got to see a school of sardines in a rush! Probably tens of thousands of sardines dancing around. It was very surreal! Let the pictures do the talking!
The second dive was more on reaching the Can-till or wall. Imagine a cliff, but it’s underwater. That’s how it’s like. It’s like the edge of a cliff, and it goes straight down. We went to 60 feet. Scary but exhilarating too. So much marine life, and it’s just a lot to take in. More exploring and observing. The deep blue and that feeling that time is moving very slowly and it’s like you’re in suspension. It’s really something you have to just experience.
Are you ready for school? Sardine rush!
Lots of weird animals and plants and things I can’t even begin to describe.
Beautiful corals. Teeming with fish of all different shapes and sizes! Imagine Finding Nemo, but in real life!
This pufferfish bloats up when you hold it! He seems mad. Gotta be gentle!
This is the cantill or edge. It just goes straight down, up to about 100-300 feet.
This is the OK sign. This lets everybody know that you’re still good and kicking!
And this is the rock sign. It’s not an actual dive sign, but it’s still pretty cool!
More fish! It’s crazy how many of them are under there. Lots of surprises in store, that’s for sure!
My sister was taking most of the shots. Our dive instructor is signaling us that it’s okay to touch this object.
Some weird plant I got to touch. Everything really does feel slippery and slimy under there.
Explorers into the deep blue!
Happy campers after the dive, resting and enjoying a fresh mango shake. I keep using thumbs up, but it’s actually the ‘up’ signal, which only the dive instructor can signal. Oops!
Don’t forget to strike a pose, enjoy, and just go with the flow! Like Dory said, just keep swimming!
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience, something you really just have to try to understand. There’s a whole world down there, and we just don’t realize it. This is perfect to try with your friends and family. Whether it’s just for the bucket list, or you want to go a bit deeper than snorkeling, this is definitely on your list. I’m really grateful to my sister for dragging me and finally convincing me to try it. Who knows, if you enjoy it, you might even get yourself to become a licensed diver.
We’re blessed to have such a beautiful landscape here. The Philippines has 7,107 islands, and it’s teeming with jackpot dive sites, both discovered and unknown! Even if you just try a shore dive here in Mactan, it’ll still take your breath away. So for those of you who have an appetite for adventure, and who just love the waters, you’ve got to give this a try sometime!
Until next time,
You can contact me if you have any questions or comments. If you really do want to give it a try, I highly recommend the dive instructor I went with, Francis Abelgas, as he’s been diving for over 10 years now, and he knows all his stuff underwater. He’ll keep you safe and he’ll keep everything in check on this crazy good experience. Just let me know through my various social media sites, and I’ll give you his contact details.