Palawan is known for its natural beauty. The islands, as we have discussed before, ad nauseam, are abundant and beautiful. There are a number of ways that you can experience El Nido’s islands and we suggest doing as many of these as possible. On our recent vacation, if we weren’t sitting on the beach with a cold San Miguel in hand, you can bet that we were in the water. In one fashion or another, we were getting our fill of warm waters while in such a pristine place. We snorkeled until our backsides were Fire Hydrant Red from stupidly forgetting sunscreen, we took boat rides, and finally we decided to give scuba diving a shot and add to our list of skills. To steal a phrase from a friend of ours, we wanted to “add another arrow to [our] quiver” and try something we’d never done before.
Not knowing how to do something and trying it for the first time can be uncomfortable. Trying something potentially dangerous for the first time, however, can be downright terrifying. With an intense desire to get closer to coral reefs and bigger fish than we had taunted while snorkeling, Stephanie and I made an early morning beeline to Sea Dog Diving where we were to go on a PADI Discovery Dive. Our friends, Elicia and Tom had suggested we go on one of these dives and ensured us that there would be an educational element where they teach you to use the gear and dive safely.
Most diving companies take you to a beach somewhere and train you how to operate your equipment in water you can stand up in, but this was not the case for us. Ultimately we were very happy with our dive and the company, but our instructions were minimal at best. After a brief verbal run-through of our equipment and each function therein, we were suited up and thrown into 25 feet of water where the instructor told us to “just go down to the bottom. I’ll test you there.” Without really understanding much of what we were doing, we made the plunge and sank to an uncomfortable 25 feet where hand gestures were the native language and supposedly we understood.
In the end, we figured it all out and had a spectacular time. Although the introductory lesson was harrowing, we came out of it swimming in beautiful waters with spectacular fish. Scuba diving is now something that both of us expect to seek out on future vacations and have already talked about possibly getting certified for open water. It was an incredible experience once we figured out the equipment and regulating our breath, and eventually we came to the conclusion that it is quite easy! Hopefully no one else has such a traumatic first lesson in the water, but we can attest to the awesomeness of scuba diving if you can make it out alive.