First time scuba diving

When I visited the nation of more than 7000 islands, the Philippines, last month, I was blown away by the stunning beauty of the place, the crystal clear blue sea and the most gorgeous tropical beaches. I’ve been fascinated by oceans, seas and the underwater world for a long time, but until last month had only snorkeled to enjoy the underwater life in their natural setting. I love snorkeling too, but scuba diving was something I told myself that I’d definitely do one day, I just didn’t know it’d be in the Philippines. And in retrospect, what a perfect place it was to scuba dive for the first time!

El Nido is gorgeous and a good place to scuba dive

Stasiek must have been drawn by the “Discover Scuba Dive” banners hanging in many tour offices in El Nido town, so he started proposing me the idea. He has been interested in scuba diving for much longer than me. W̶e̶ I thought about it for a couple of days, while he found out the prices and the number of dives offered on the internet. One day when we were returning after an island hopping tour, I said to him that we should just go and ask one of the tour operators about scuba diving right then and there. He was really happy as he knew I was apprehensive at first – we hadn’t planned for it mentally and financially – but I finally decided we should go. After all,  a little bit of spontaneity can make for some lovely experience and memories 😉

So, we finally chose a dive center called ‘Ranmarc Dive Center’ that is almost at El Nido main beach. We put our down payment for ‘Discover Scuba Diving’ and added one more dive in the total two provided, and it cost us a total of 4600 PHP (~85 Euros). It included boat transfers to all three dive spots, complete dive gear, lunch, fruits & drinks and a dive instructor just for the two of us. Not a bad deal at all! 😀

Dive Site #1

I had been quite nervous from the day before about diving but I really wanted to try it. Few years ago, I used to be uncomfortable looking (snorkeling) into  deep waters, and now I have overcome that to a great extent. The instructor was a friendly Filipino man who showed us the basics on the boat and then it was time to gear up! Wetsuit wasn’t comfortable but I was happy that it covered everything except my hands and face because I was being bitten regularly by invisible plankton on the sea there. The first point where we jumped to the water was really shallow (about 2-2.5 meters) with a sandy bottom.

Nervous, excited, curious

In under 15 minutes of instructions and basics, the instructor just signaled us to go down. What, that’s all? So we already go down? was what I was thinking. It was a strange sensation going under the water and breathing through the regulator that’s connected to the tank and attached to your mouth. I was nervous and I signaled the instructor to go up. I told him that I wasn’t comfortable breathing and we tried again. I was again nervous and we went up.  Stasiek on the other hand utilized all the time I was wasting by practicing and playing with his dive gear under water. He is such a natural! On the third time, I told myself that there’s no kidding and nothing can go wrong so I just focused on breathing regularly. And soon enough, we ventured deeper into the corals. Kudos to my very patient and encouraging instructor!

Beautiful reefs

Words cannot possibly describe that serene feeling you get when surrounded by colorful marine life under the water, while the only sound you hear is from your own regular breathing. I was completely mesmerized, even though I was thinking too much about things like whether I was breathing correctly, if I’d panic and what not. Despite that, there was no denying how much I loved watching the vibrant reefs and schools of fish swimming around. We saw a stone fish (dangerous) and other variety of fish on the first site. It was time to ascend and rest for an hour on the boat to rid the body of inhaled nitrogen.

Dive Site #2

The second dive site was pretty close by. It was wonderful enjoying the breathtaking scenery of El Nido from an uncrowded boat, unlike on island hopping tours. We enjoyed fresh lunch enjoying the gorgeous scenery around, on the boat. Soon it was time to jump in to the blue, inviting water. Our instructor told us that the specialty in the second dive site were Yellowtail Fusilier. He also informed us that we were going to dive below an active boat route, so ascending had to be done only with his directions. I was less nervous and more excited this time, and I had to go up just once immediately after we went down, because I thought I had problems equalizing my ear pressure. I was equalizing by just swallowing until then, but the instructor showed me that I can hold my nose and breath out as well. I thought pinching nose worked better.

School of yellowtail fusilier

2, 3, 5, 7, 9.. we were soon at 10 meters depth. We saw a huge school of Yellowtail Fusilier, and they were very friendly too! Among others, we saw parrot fish, clown fish, star fish, cabbage coral. There were many other creatures that we saw but I am not good with identifying plants and animals, so I won’t be able to name them. The instructor would wave his hand at some reefs and they would close, or change colors as a reaction. It was incredible to watch. I enjoyed this second dive much more and was more relaxed. Stasiek didn’t need constant help from the instructor as he immediately mastered the buoyancy control, navigation, clearing his mask and other skills that are necessary to get certified.

Dive Site #3

The third dive site was the farthest and the boat ride felt unreal, due to the magnificent scenery everywhere you looked on that hot, sunny weather. We didn’t see many boats on the third site and there was no beach nearby either. Seems like they had saved the best for the last. 🙂 We docked near a big limestone island, and the instructor said that if there is not much underwater current, we’ll try to swim through an underwater tunnel and come out at another point. Sounded like an adventure! I was so in. 😀 He also said that he’d try to spot octopus, and Stasiek’s eyes lit up immediately.

This school of badass looking fish

We descended with no problems on my part this time, and soon were at the fascinating underwater world. You could tell that this site was spectacular, as it looked grandiose to my amateur eyes. Soon enough, we swam through the tunnel and as we were going out of the tunnel into another area, the instructor showed us an elusive little sting ray! That was definitely the highlight of this dive site for us, as we didn’t see any octopus 😦 I enjoyed this dive site the most, as I was more confident than in the previous two, and put my mind into just really enjoying the moment! We saw many reef fish, camouflaged fish that were most likely dangerous, plants that swayed in the waves, shapes and colors and creatures that you don’t see everyday, it was truly an incredible experience.

I and dive instructor as we are about to swim through the tunnel

At the end of the day, we were so, so happy that we did the discover dive in the Philippines and wondered why we had never thought about just doing it, when we were in other famous locations for diving like Malta, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Croatia and so on. Never again as we are going to join scuba diving course here in Lodz in summer and get certified soon! 😀

// Do you scuba dive? If not, would you like to try? 












50 thoughts on “First time scuba diving

  1. OMG! Amazing views! I haven’t tried that yet but I am really glad that you took courage to do this Pooja..El Nido is really a gorgeous place!
    Thank you for the inspiration, can’t wait to go home to Ph to explore the islands once again!

    1. Thank you Christina! I am envious of Filiponos for having such world-class tropical islands right at their doorstep. You should definitely explore more of the islands in PH next time and hopefully I will read about your experiences on your blog 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I am going this weekend for scuba diving. It is my first time as well and I am kinda nervous and excited at the same time. Can’t wait to see that part of the beautiful world. And the pictures are just fantastic Pooja 🙂

    1. YAY! You will have a fantastic time. It’s my favorite experience ever so far, even though I was fairly nervous the whole time. 🙂 I hope it will go brilliantly for you, Chanchal! Let me know how it went after the experience 😀

  3. So lovely! It must have been like a fairy tale experience for you with those beautiful fishes all around you. 🙂

      1. 🙂🙂
        I haven’t done scuba diving yet. I have heard there are a lot of places in India where one can go for snorkeling and scuba diving. Snorkeling is easier than scuba , if one doesn’t know to swim, so I might have to try that first. 😀

      2. Actually you don’t necessarily need to know how to swim for scuba diving because you have the jacket that you can inflate/deflate anytime which can act like life jacket 🙂 But it definitely helps with the confidence in deep waters.
        For snorkeling in deeper water (usually the case to see any fish or other creatures), you’ll definitely need to know how to swim! Either way, you will have fun doing any or both of them. 🙂

      3. Oh. Then I got the information wrong. 😀 Thanks Pooja.🙂

      4. Snorkeling is good to do first. Scuba gear includes a snorkeling mask, fins, and, often, a snorkel. You use a snorkel on the surface to conserve the air in your tank.

  4. So jealous. I never got around trying diving but then again I am a person who absolutely hates to swim in oceans and lakes :p
    Many of my friends have been diving and some even have professional diving licenses/ were combat divers in the miltary

    1. Wow I never thought you didn’t enjoy swimming in open water bodies, considering you used to swim professionally! 😀
      Oh wow, combat diving in the military sounds cool! We’re probably joining a course on July, but starting from the swimming pool after this amazing, first-time dive in tropical waters is going to suck 😦

  5. Pooja, this is just so fabulous. LOVED reading your experience. Felt I was diving with you.When I was in Andamans I wanted to go scuba diving but there was an accidental death and the area was cordoned off. I have to have to do it and this post just tempted me. What bliss! 🙂

    1. Hi Divsi and thanks a lot for your encouraging comment! 🙂
      Aw that’s unfortunate what happened in Andamans.. 😦 From what I read scuba diving is considered a very safe activity, so that incident must have been isolated and just unfortunate..
      I think you will love scuba diving! 😀 I think it’s a very worthwhile experience to try as it’s unlike anything you can find or do on land. 🙂

  6. I did my first scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef and it was an amazing experience. I was scared at first bit once you get the hang of breathing, it was an amazing experience. I love all your beautiful photos. Have fun.

  7. Oh my word, these diving sites look amazing! It’s definitely something I would like to try down the line but unfortunately I haven’t been anywhere like this where it would be really worth it!

    1. You totally should if you go somewhere south in Europe 🙂 I’ve read that there are also amazing dive sites in Northern Europe, but I imagine the water to be very cold with poor visibility :/ I hadn’t given much thought to scuba diving until I spontaneously tried it in the Philippines and it has opened a whole new world for me 🙂

  8. Wow Pooja! It looks like you and Stanislaw had a wonderful experience there in the Philippines.The pictures and the writing is beautiful. I would love to try scuba diving with you this summer. 🙂

  9. I’m trying to arrange a Scuba Course in Sri Lanka two weeks from now! These photos make me so excited for it!

  10. Beautiful photos! Most definitely want to try, and was actually looking to do a trip to Philippines next year, so now I have some good info to start off.

    I only tried this quirky combination between snorkeling & scuba diving, with Seawalker in Bali. Did you ever do that?
    Looking forward to the real deal though!

  11. Such beautiful places… nature is majestic. Love your post on the first experience. I also want to learn to dive. Keep going Pooja, love your blog.

      1. Sadly NO😑😑 in fact last week it crossed 47 😰😰 Though there are Hill stations that bring some respite but vacay lasts only for 4-5 days and summers for at least two months😯

  12. My first time diving was near Gili Air, Indonesia and then in the Komodos. It’s truly a different world! Hopefully I can go diving in the Phillipines one day!

  13. Nice flow of writing, Island of Philippines & Andaman are best place for Scuba Dive, i did in 2011, my experience was thrilling, When hoping to jump. I search for individuals whose ability i can depend on. What’s more, in whose hands i can believe myself to be with. While picking a jump focus i figure those two things must start things out as a top priority. i got. Will go once more. Much appreciated folks for the experience.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Ana. Yes you’re right that your scuba instructor or even dive buddy have to be people you trust and are comfortable with. In this regards I’ve been lucky so far. I am actually going to the Andaman islands in India coming winter, any recommendations for best places to dive?

    1. Yes but I assume it was due to the fact that it was just a discovery dive session – and probably they didn’t take the lessons as seriously as in an open-water certification course for example. I agree that it was a bit reckless on the instructor’s part to allow me to dive despite the inabilities I showed in the beginning. But he did take good care of me and held me by the tank the entire time.

  14. The Philippines is a spectacular place to scuba dive and it’s so nice to hear about your first dive experience! I have been a scuba diving instructor for a few years and unfortunately, due to Covid, we all were made redundant… So, I started a diving blog with free scuba tips, dive destination guides, and interviews with diving experts. Please take a look and let me know if there is a topic you would like to learn more about!

    Happy Bubbles!

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