Scuba Diving for the First Time: My Experience in Santorini
I’ve always been keen on snorkeling, and have loved bobbing my head below the waters surface since I was a child. Breathing through the snorkel mask came natural to me, and I even taught my husband how to snorkel during a trip to the Dominican Republic. I am fascinated by underwater life, and would live my life with fins and snorkel mask on if I could.
Me chasin fish, long fish
However, submerging my body more than a few meters under the ocean kind of freaked me out. Actually it totally freaked me out. What if I can’t equalize the pressure in the ears? What if I lose the group? What if my legs go numb and I can’t swim anymore? And my worst fear of all, what if I get eaten by a shark?! I kept this to myself, and here on this blog it finally comes out.
I decided to face my fears in Santorini, and what better place to give it a go?! We were on our honeymoon, ready to face the world, including the underwater world, together.
scuba diving for the first time
Without really thinking, we signed up for a beginners class, more specifically a discover SCUBA 30 minute session taught by the instructors at the Santorini Dive Center. At such a great price, only €80 for the two of us (I think… Don’t quote me on that) we booked it for few mornings out.
The morning came when the dive center picked us up from Astra suites, our cliff-side hotel in Imerovigli. We took the ride with another first-timer, and eventually made it to the place where we would face our fears.
During those short but precious 30 minutes, we learned how to clear our masks, equalize the pressure in our ears, how to adjust the air in our tubes so we could either sink or rise, the numerous hand signals and when to use them, how to displace water and fog in our mask underwater, and basically, how to be at one with all the sea life we were about to interact with.  I never examined an air tank before, and didn’t realize all the tubes attached were so complicated! Or so I thought at first.  It’s a pretty challenging contraption for the first timer!
And finally it was time to suit up. That in itself was an experience. Being petite (I’m only about 4’11” or so), and weighing about the size of a large child, finding a wetsuit to fit my tiny body was a challenge.
And getting on that wetsuit, no matter the size, was no easy feat. I remember tugging and pulling, and stretching and squeezing for what felt like ten minutes, and the instructors eventually had to help me. The material made it extra difficult to squeeze into, and I swear my bikini top must have shifted a lot during the process. After I was zipped up to my neck, my fins were on, and the air tank on my back, it was time for the weight belt. OHHH the weight belt. I could hardly walk. Must have added an extra 50 pounds, about half my body weight. How ridiculous! I was told I would basically float in the water without it, so it was obviously necessary for the days task.
To the water it was! Just what I had been waiting for all morning. While secretly freaking out at the same time.
Walking backwards into the water, which is way more difficult than you might think with the wetsuit, fins, air tank, and weight belt, I was finally ready to give diving a go. Curious and frightened at the same time, I made my way into the water, holding onto the instructors hand (I just couldn’t get used to the 5 foot fins strapped to my feet aka I kept falling over).
After getting past the small waves crashing onto the shore, we started descending into the water. It was time to equalize my ears, which I surprisingly did pretty well.

And we descended lower, and lower, and lower.

I felt like I was in a different world. An underwater world that was. I was surrounded by more fish than I could count, my eyes unaware of where to look next. I had totally forgotten all about my breathing and equalizing and adjusting my buoyancy level, it all didn’t matter anymore. (Well, I guess I did alright since I made it back, thankfully my guide was there for the constant check.) Schools of fish swam through us constantly, and I found myself honestly enjoying where I was, meters beyond meters below sea level. Even though my ears hurt like hell at some points, the fascinating colors of the life underwater kept me from signaling to my instructor that I wanted to go back on land.
Fishes

I did have some unexpected difficulties though…

I just couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t get my body to stay horizontal and had a difficult time using the huge fins to help me swim along with the group.
I’m a pretty decent swimmer, in a pool, at the beach, but submerged under water with all the crazy gear on? Apparently not.  I came out of the water with snot all over my face, my hair like a crazy lady’s, and wedgies in places I didn’t even know existed.  It was definitely not like that experience you imagine.  How do the pros do it?  Or is it all just for show?  They have snot too, right?
Would I give diving another go? Yes, I would. I would in a heart beat. Even with all the snot I felt messing around in my mask… It’s kind of crazy to say that after one little 45 minute dive or so (estimation since I obviously was not wearing a watch), I was hooked.

Although next time I dive, ill try letting go of my instructors hand.

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