I will never put on scuba gear again! That is what I said after taking an introductory scuba diving session while vacationing in the Cayman Islands. That was a lie. I not only put on scuba gear again, but I did so multiple times since that statement. Looking back, my anxiety regarding the possibility of drowning did not help the situation during that first taste of diving, or rather my first taste of seawater down my throat. There I was 30 feet below the surface when water went down my throat while attempting to clear my mask. This fluid in my throat prevented me from breathing. I did what any rational person would do and freaked out: I pulled the inflate cord on my vest in order to quickly get to the surface. After getting yelled at twice for surfacing by myself I decided this activity is not for everyone and especially me since drowning is one of my biggest fears. However, for some unknown reason I needed to conquer this fear.
After a few years the fear started to dissipate, or I just became more insane, so I decided to learn to scuba dive. We had already scheduled a trip to Freeport Bahamas so I decided to check out some dive companies prior to going. I did some research and found the right instructor at Sunn Odyssey Diving Co. in Freeport. I was able to do the book learning portion online prior to getting there, so I only had to do two half days of underwater learning. Although still scared, I found it to be peaceful at the same time. The only noise you hear is your own breathing, which sounds much like Darth Vader breathing into his mask. In addition, the colorful fish swimming around often gives a person a sense of calm.
My first certified dive was a shark dive at a place called shark junction. I still don’t know how this anxious diver got talked into that one. Some outfitters throw chum in the water so that people can observe the feeding frenzy. The outfitter that I previously mentioned does not do that. We just swim alongside of the sharks. Of course I got off the boat last after telling the rest of the group that if they didn’t get eaten I would get in. I observed three different kinds of sharks, a sting ray, various fish species, as well as conch shells and coral reefs. I was hooked after that. One woman in the group stated that we are badasses. I agreed: so now I go around telling others to call me badass. The next day we dove with dolphins through Unexsco, which is another dive company, but they also offer diving with dolphins. They bring the dolphins out in the ocean and we meet them there. Did you know their tails are so powerful that when they swim past you they can push you backwards? I found that out the hard way! The sharks usually just lumber around and swim slow until they see something they want, which thankfully was not me.
If you are not a scuba diver there are numerous beaches that offer excellent snorkeling. If you have a vehicle you can drive yourself to Peterson Cay National Park where you will find live starfish, conch shells, sand dollars, just to name a few because frankly I don’t know all the names. One can also take advantage of the numerous providers that offer services such as kayaking out to the coral reefs and providing snorkeling equipment. Another excellent snorkeling location is Paradise cove on the west end. They charge you a small fee for their lounge chairs and snorkeling equipment if you do not have your own, but it is worth it.