Diving has been a long time dream for me. Always enjoying snorkeling, when on vacation, yet dreaming of the freedom of going deeper and staying under water to enjoy the fascinating underworld of colorful fishes and corals.
Getting certified takes quite some time, so now seemed to be the right moment. Anouk has been diving in Egypt and Thailand years ago and with both of us having the certification, we can now include diving on our traveling agenda for the coming months.
Finding good spots to dive in South East Asia is pretty easy and there are plenty of diving classes. We first found a good place on the east coast of Bali, but due to the large volcano, Gunung Agung, threatening to erupt, we chose to leave for a tiny island, Gili Trawangan, short of two hours east of Bali and just off the coast of Lombok.
It takes three days to become certified as Open Water Diver. It´s a mix of theory, practice in a pool and a total of four dives in the ocean with an instructor. At the beginning, it felt a bit overwhelming, especially if you are not a born waterdog like me. But – as Martin Luther King Jr once said - « you don´t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step » and off it went.
My biggest challenge during the course was to – while being under water - take my mask off, put it back on and empty it from water. First in the pool, later in the ocean. It took me quite some training – and a good portion of my instructors patience – but I made it and now I am super relaxed in doing so. Water in the mask is not a problem anymore. Check
Back to Gili Trawangan (also known as Gili T). The island is minuscule, you can walk around the whole island – which we did one morning – in just two hours. It is purely for travellers and the locals living there are only serving the travellers. But the athmosphere is nice and very relaxed. Food is excellent, especially on the street food market, where a good mix of fish/meat, rice and vegetables will cost you 5 USD. Pricy compared to other places in Indonesia, but taken into consideration that it is a leisure island quite acceptable.
The ‘diving days’ were amazing. The course went very well. I got certified in the planned three days and can now dive up to a 18 meters. From here a big thanks to my instructor, Rob Hyland from UK, who is clearly one of the best instructors I have ever had. He is for sure not to blame for my bad diving technique as it is still a challenge for me to stay horizontal when diving close to the bottom, my head turns to be a bit too upright. Never mind, I love it and will keep improving.
After the classes, Anouk and I had fun doing normal dives as buddies and equipped with a camera. Taken into consideration that this was the first time we had to both dive and shoot photos, I think the pictures are quite awesome.
There are plenty of good dive sites around Gili Trawangan and we dived quite a few of them and saw all kinds of underwater creatures. Most impressive were the Green Turtles (spotted on almost all dives – one time we also saw an Hawksbill Sea Turtle) and Whitetip Reef Sharks (spotted six of them at the reef called Shark Point)
But also all the colorful species and variations of Moorish Idol, Clown Fish, Angelfish, Triggerfish, Scorpionfish, Trumpetfish, Anenome Fish, Moray, Batfish and many more impressed us. It is truly like swimming in a large aquarium and you also realize how gigantic the ocean is, when you are down at 18 meters and just look up and around. It feels huge and even if number one rule in diving is to keep breathing, you tend to stop breathing and just wonder.
I would absolutely encourage and recommend anyone to try diving. Might be challenging, but this new skillset opens up a completely new and fascinating world.
We stayed and dived from Trawangan Dive Center. This place is awesome. Nice helpful people and high quality, great equipment and focus on safety.
« The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you » (B.B. King)