My First Scuba Dive – Bethan Grylls

My First Scuba Dive is intended to be a series of posts from guest writers and Master Divers folk too where they can share the wonder of their first dive.  If you have a story to share please read the details at the bottom and you too could be featured!  This one comes from Bethan Grylls.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea of scuba diving, frankly it scared the living daylights out of me, but I was going with my two close friends, Amelia and Lucy, to Makadi Bay and they were both keen to experience it. Amelia had even researched into the best spots to go and pleaded with me for days, saying that it was meant to be one of the most beautiful, unforgettable and breath-taking experiences. “Breath-taking…nice choice of words Amelia…” But finally, I gave in…

We were told that we would be undergoing three tests (I tried to use this to my advantage, “do we really want to take not just one, but three tests guys…on holiday!?” Apparently, we did.)

Bethan Grylls

After somehow passing these tests, we were scheduled for a real diving session. I was kitted out in the gear, although I didn’t feel professional, I felt clumsy and uncomfortable. We stepped into the sea, looking rather like futuristic penguins with our flippers on. Our instructor, Chenzira was lovely and extremely patient (which was good, because I was so rubbish).

Chenzira told us to put in our regulators. I tried to remain calm, but my stomach had become knotted and my breathing irregular. Amelia squeezed my hand and Lucy the other, but both were, unlike me, itching to get started. Chenzira smiled warmly at me, his eyes full of reassurance. I told myself I was being silly. I watched Chenzira, Amelia, Lucy and the rest of the group go under. I was frozen for a few seconds, but then told myself to get over it. It was exactly like the pool, I was in safe hands. I’M GOING TO DIE! (A very rational thought at the time) No! I’m not going to die. I’m going to love this. I forced myself in.

Amelia and Lucy waved at me enthusiastically as I joined them underwater. I must have looked scared because Chenzira signaled to see if I was OK, I nodded, although my heart felt like it was going to collapse in on itself any moment.

Chenzira then got us all to clear our masks out. My hands shook as my fingers gently prised my mask away from my forehead. I felt disconcerted about letting my mask fill with water, but I’d done it in the training pool and after the initial panic it wasn’t so bad, it was a bit like giving my nose a bath! Chenzira then asked us all to breathe off our buddies, this was easier said than done, but we managed it.

Bethan underwater.

We swam deeper down into the depths of the sea. I could feel my heart racing and I wasn’t yet used to swimming with all this kit. I felt a bit like a clumsy, high-tech mermaid.

Suddenly I became surrounded by a rainbow of fish, I felt like I had entered a completely different world. Then all of a sudden it was time to surface. I looked around disappointed; I didn’t want to be stripped of this world yet, but our air was running low so we had no choice but to leave.

The next day we were set to go deeper. I could feel myself panicking again, but I was soon distracted by a rainbow of fish darting past my very eyes.  I suddenly realised why Lucy and Amelia were so keen to scuba dive, this was…incredible! I gave them both two thumbs up and swam further down to admire the coral. Amelia tapped me and I turned around to see two dolphins swimming past us. I stared in awe as they twisted and turned in perfect synchronisation. There was nothing quite like this feeling. I was proud I had done this and these memories of my first (but not the last) dive will stay with me forever.

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My First Scuba Dive – Caz Nemorin

After going through the motions (school, A-Level College/University/ first career job), at the age of 25, I had made a difficult, but necessary decision to quit my job and go see the world ‘before it was too late’…. so I handed in my notice as a primary school teacher, said my goodbyes and got on a plane. I was so excited, but also very nervous… I knew that I was in-charge of my own happiness and that I wanted to make it ‘out there’ and prove to myself that I hack a year away doing the whole backpacking thing. The schedule was somewhat planned with an Around The World ticket, but I had no clue what I was going to find or who I was going to meet – it was an adventure!


My first stop was Thailand. After spending the first month in Bangkok and traveling north to Chang Mai to go see some elephants, I’d decided to hit the islands, with the particular interest in seeing where Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ was filmed. The Beach had been released earlier that year and it was a craze at the time… I mean everybody was reading the book.

I was on Koh Phi Phi, on the west coast of the Thai gulf and had found a clean, basic hut, right on the beach. I was spending my days reading, meeting other travelers, trying all the exotic food and exploring the island.

One day, I was going about my usual business when a guy who was sitting outside a dive shop asked me if I had ever tried diving before, which I hadn’t. It seems crazy to me now, but I had never actually considered learning to dive before.

The guy was very friendly, knowledgeable and came across as very passionate for his sport – I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so signed up for my PADI Open Water Course.

Ayesha and Caz

That very afternoon I was sat down, given an orientation of how the course was going to run and watched some videos. I was then told that I would be going into the water with scuba equipment that same afternoon!! We had to walk down to the beach and I was going to try my first breaths underwater.
I had donned the scuba equipment and I remember that it felt awkward as we walked down to the beach and it was so hot! But I knew that I’d soon be able to cool down. Once we’d got to the water’s edge, my instructor took charge and instructed me on exactly what I would be doing. He reassured me that I’d be fine and that it would feel a bit strange to start off with but that it was normal to feel that way.
I can clearly picture kneeling in the sand and taking my first breaths… It felt exhilarating! I could see fish around me and I could breath comfortably. The equipment which had felt awkward as we’d walked down to the beach was now weightless and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I went to bed that night with a pile of reading to do, and I just couldn’t wait for the next day.

The second day we went to a bay, but this time, I was diving off a boat. I had managed to get the deep water entry right and had remembered what I had to do to become positively buoyant on the surface. I felt nervous as I knew what would be coming next but with some deep breaths, felt okay. We descended down the line… I knew that I had to keep on breathing – that was the one thing that stuck in my mind – Don’t hold your breath Caz! I remember feeling quite nervous and wanting to hold the instructors had for reassurance, but after a few minutes, I felt safe enough to let go.

Caz and her camera !

I giggled with excitement with all the colourful fish around me, and the mere fact that I was sharing this amazing underwater world with creatures I’d never seen before. I wanted to take it all in, but I was concentrating so hard on not hitting any coral or getting too close to the fish, but with time I became more confident. On the last day, we went to the same beach where the Leonardo Di Caprio was only a few months earlier! We dived from the boat and I clearly remember, just before descending, looking at the view from the surface thinking ‘ this is the life’
I finished my Open Water course with a great sense of achievement and quickly knew that this was something that I was going to do again.

I’m now a  Divemaster and live in on a beautiful tropical island that I now call home. I wake up every morning and think just how lucky I am to be working in an industry which has been passion of mine now for many years.

Learning to dive was the best gift I ever gave myself and has given me so much pleasure that I really couldn’t imagine my life without it!


My First Scuba Dive – Richard Koenders

It was 30 July ’08 when a friend and I, Richard, took our very first underwater breaths. (Location Malta, Mediterranean Sea.) During the month July the temperature could reach above 35 degree. Although we initially went there for the culture and sightseeing we ended up at a dive school just to go into the water where we could discover a new world and kind of escaping the sun.

The dive school was quickly chosen based on experience of other divers on the island. Our Open Water started with a session in the swimming pool. I remember the odd feeling of the very first breath. I expected it would be harder to breath through a regulator than a snorkel, but it wasn’t. Now I could actually explain it as well. After a day in the pool, I was ready to go into the big blue. Lucky the next day the conditions were prefect and we went. The first open water dive was incredible. The underwater world looks so peaceful and undisturbed. This impression is even stronger by only hearing the little bubbles created by divers.

By the end of the next day all the students were certified Open Water Divers, except me. I ended up with an ear infection with no time to finish my Open Waterso I finished it in the Netherlands after a month. People may say that it could be poor visibility and cold water, but I believe every single dive is unique and has something brilliants. During the last dive a pike was there to congratulate us with our Open Water. (As a child I went with my dad fishing for pikes, but now I saw one peaceful underwater. Unbelievable beautiful creature)

Slowly I realized that I was at the point to create an new addiction. This could be said by booking a dive-holiday to do my Advanced and lots of fun dives in Hurghada, Egypt. The coral reefs are amazing ecosystems with still little impact of the global warming. Therefore lots of animals can be seen in the Red Sea. Diving with barracuda, turtles, anemone fish, lionfish, moray eels, dolphins and much more.

The advanced course was done in two days. It was the very last dive which had made the biggest impression: The night dive! Being in the water at night with your full concentration focused on a small beam from your torch is incredible. I find it more relaxing than during the day when you want to see everything around you. You actually could say similar conditions to diving back home.

After some dives in the Netherlands and Germany. (No dive-holiday this summer, because I had to finish my final project.)  I realized that until now I did only courses which were mainly focused on improving my diving skills, instead of the buddy-team. Well, you always dive with at least two certified divers. Why not learn some rescue skills in case something happens.

The next logical step was the Rescue course. The most fun course I recon. Even though it is a serious topic, the rescue scenarios are really fun. Together you go through certain scenarios and each time somebody has a problem, from panicking to unconscious laying on the bottom of the dive site.

The hardest part was searching for a missing buddy. We were waiting onshore and didn’t know what kind of scenario to expect, suddenly a panicking diver surfaced and was shouting that he lost his buddy. Quickly we analyzed the best options and a buddy team went to the panicking diver and try to calm him. At the same time another buddy team geared up to be ready to perform a rescue search, coordinated from shore. As soon as we got the last location of the missing diver they went in. So far pretty straight forward with the knowledge from the course. Except the conditions make it more challenging. It was a rainy and windy day with visibility less than arm length. Still we managed to find the missing buddy and brought him safely to the shore. A good experience if you asked me.

My addiction of underwater breaths continues, I was hunger to learn more about diving. Maybe I could combined my future job with being a Dive Master in my holidays. But to do my future job I first had to finish my studies. (Second study) So I did that in July last and then decided to do my Dive Master course.

In a nutshell, because my DM took about 8 weeks: My DM course at Master Divers was incredible. A small size dive school with far above average knowledge about the whole diving industry. Not only on a recreational level, but also on high-end tech level. The staff of Master Diver are high experienced divers who are more than willing to share their passion for diving with you. I would recommend Master Divers to everyone who eager to do his/her Dive Master course.

After an amazing 2,5 months on Koh Tao, Thailand, I wasn’t ready to go home and continued with the internship

Other divers often ask what my future will look like. I can’t give a complete answer, except I want to become a certified Tech-Cave-diver. The thing I know for sure is I’ll dive until I’m not capable of doing it anymore. Just the experience each time I go diving, even after hundreds of dives, can’t be captured in one word. I would suggest just try it once and let the underwater inspire you like it did with me.

If you are interested in writing about your first diving experience  – no matter where it was – then get intouch !

My First Scuba Dive -Victoria Heckstall

My First Scuba Dive is intended to be a series of posts from guest writers and Master Divers folk too where they can share the wonder of their first dive.  If you have a story to share please read the details at the bottom and you too could be featured!  This one comes from Victoria Heckstall.

Becoming A Diver

I must be honest, as a kid I was always a little bit tense around large bodies of open water. You know how it is – something brushes against your leg and you’re convinced it’s a shark (even though you’re in a lake) so you frantically swim and run and splutter your way to the side. At the time you think it’s fear that’s driving us, but as I grew up, I realized that I wasn’t afraid, I was actually getting a rush from being in the open water, an underwater world that was completely alien, and there for me to conquer.

As I got a bit older I started exploring the world of underwater sports.  I was immediately struck by snorkelling, because I felt that I would have the freedom to do as I want without all of that bulky diving equipment on me. And yes, it was great. Snorkelling is an amazing experience, and one really does get completely carried away and immersed in the beautiful underwater world. The quiet, the sea so full of life, and my almost voyeuristic presence in the water infected me with the urge to go further and explore more. The limitations of my body were holding me back from what I really wanted to do. I wanted to be able to dive deeply without that pain in my ears, or the need to constantly come up for air.


Scuba diving was the next step for me, but I was a bit apprehensive about all of the theory and exams that I would have to face. I put it off for a few months, and looking back that was the worst thing that I could have done because it kept me away from the water for longer. I eventually got stuck in, and learning the theory alongside practical experiences made things a whole lot easier.  Before I knew it I was ready to take my test, and just like that I was a qualified diver!

It is difficult to explain the emotions of my first real dive experience. All of the theory that I had learnt was flowing through my mind, and I was a bit apprehensive that I might forget something, but as soon as I hit the water, I felt at home. The elation of that feeling, of finally having the ability to explore the hidden world below the surface, is surely the most addictive thing on earth.


This guest post was written by freelance writer Victoria Heckstall.


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My First Scuba Dive – Jess Spate

My First Scuba Dive is intended to be a series of posts from guest writers and Master Divers folk too where they can share the wonder of their first dive.  If you have a story to share please read the details at the bottom and you too could be featured!  This first one comes from Jess Spate.


My First Dive- Bawley Point, South-East Australia

When I first dived in the sea at age 14, I was already a keen snorkeller. My father and older brother dived and I was naturally excited about joining them. I was a strong swimmer and had dived in a swimming pool for practice, but on the other hand, that water looked deep, dark, and choppy. Did those guys really expect me to jump into it from the top of the old loading gantry?

It turns out they didn’t, which was a relief. I slithered none-too-gracefully off the rocks into the water and got myself together, wondering what was down there. I’d be lying if I said there was no fear.

The first thing that struck me about being under the sea wasn’t a cloud of gorgeous fish and in those temperate waters it certainly wasn’t a brightly colored tropical reef. It was the silvery surface, moving and rolling like liquid mercury above me. I looked up and felt the utter strangeness of a different world. From that moment I was in love with diving.

Bawley Point has steep rocky walls and a sandy bottom. Two large stingrays haunt the waters below the old gantry, and being experienced campaigners they associate divers more with fishy treats than danger. When the biggest (a battered, tailless giant known locally as Stumpy) cruised gracefully overhead the shadow seemed to cover an impossibly large area. To this day I’d rather dive with rays than almost any other marine wildlife.

There were other critters, of course. On that dive even the ugliest rock cod was thrilling, and then there were the colonies of urchins, scuttling crabs, and best of all, a handful of neon visitors from the warm waters off Queensland. Every summer and autumn tropical fish get washed down to the chilly south by the East Australian Current, although I didn’t know that at the time.

On that first dive I learned a little about how to move around underwater. I learned about the gardens of the common southern octopus and how still the bottom can be even with a good swell up above. I learned that diving was not at all like snorkelling, where what you can see is limited by your lung capacity. It was like the difference between seeing a landscape from the window of a passing car and being able to actually get out and have a walk around.

I haven’t been back to Bawley Point for a few years now- life has taken me to Europe, a long way from my old playground- but I really hope that Stumpy is still there showing the beginner divers just how incredible the underwater world can be.


Jess Spate writes for Mozaik Underwater Cameras, an online store selling camera and housing products for divers.


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