Since I was a scuba diving virgin, my trip to Gili Trawangan was planned especially to tick this off my bucket list. My first dive was booked in Ibiza, four years ago, but had to be cancelled at the last minute due to rough waters – The worst part was that I was leaving the very next day. That scarred me for life – or at least till I reached Bali and discovered how amazing diving in Gili islands could be.
My friend and I were so excited about our first dive that we started taking major precautions the night before the BIG dive. First things first, we had to stay off magic mushrooms. Well, trust me, it can be quite a task if you are in a place like Gili where you openly see signboards claiming how their shrooms can take you to the moon and back for a measly $10. It was tempting, to say the least, but we were on “high alert” for our early morning dive session and nothing could mess that up – except – Tequila shots.
After watching people who looked like they were physically there but mentally on a different planet, we had to take a few shots to get to a certain level and enjoy our night – Bad decision. So, my first tip – Don’t consume alcohol the night before your dive – You don’t want to be hung over.
We winged it. Somehow – here’s how it went.
My very first deep see diving experience
Cost and where to book
After checking out several dive schools, we zeroed in on “Diversia “ – And mind you, our decision had absolutely nothing to do with their good looking instructors (Ahem! Ahem!).
Cost for an introductory dive –
1 day (Lasts 5-6 hours total)
Test dive in swimming pool
Around 1 hour dive upto 12 meters in the ocean
All equipment included – Just carry your bathing suits
$65 per person
They have more packages for advanced divers as well. This is the one which we availed though.
For our 6 am dive session, we arrived – a tad dizzy with our heads spinning. We were asked to get into wet suits – which they provided, and get into the pool. We were handed over masks and oxygen tanks.
The next few hours were reserved for training. We had one instructor per two students. We had a great instructor who was patient, though, I must admit he lost his cool a couple of times (I bet this had something to do with our limited understanding power while hung over).
After the in-depth instructions and do’s and don’t , we were given a brunch break. We quickly grabbed a bite and were back in the pool for our first test dive.
Once we were at the deep end, our instructor re-capped everything – equalizing, how to handle our mask, how to ensure there are no bubbles inside our mask and how to move in water , among other basics. Too many instructions made us both kind of nervous. My friend got cold feet and she decided she would not do the main ocean dive as she wasn’t comfortable in the pool’s deep end.
After some motivation and words of comfort, we both set off into the big blue sea on a tiny boat with other divers for our very first taste of underwater life. We were excited and nervous, both at the same time.
The boat stopped and all divers were asked to put on the masks and dive in, backwards. Needless to say, we were the last to do so – after we were guaranteed a push if we chicken out.
Once in the water, we were asked to use only sign language (of course, since we cannot talk underwater – duh!) and hold on tight to a rope as we go down. As we dived deeper, my instructor signaled that he is going up – huh? Didn’t we just get here, I wondered.
I noticed that my friend was nowhere to be seen so I concluded that she probably got cold feet and our instructor has gone up to bring her. I was right. However, within few seconds my emotions changed from curiosity over my friend’s whereabouts to complete panic on realizing I was all alone in pitch dark and silence.
Underwater world can be fascinating but imagine when you cannot hear or see anything (Yeah I could not see the fantastic corals and colorful fish just yet) – You would panic! Big time!
I know I did!
Actually, I just stopped breathing for a few seconds in there before I remembered the instructions “Whatever you do, don’t stop breathing”. Due to my anxiousness, my next few thoughts went something like this – “What if my oxygen tank is empty after getting all used up in the pool?” “What if water seeps into my mask as I didn’t tie it tightly enough?” “What if I want to reach the surface, how do I do it?”
After few minutes, which seemed like hours, I felt a tug on the rope (which I was holding on to like my life depended on it) and looked up to see my friend and our instructor come down – That was perhaps the happiest moment of my diving experience.
There on, it was all fun and games , mixed with slight panic sessions as my friend had to stop at least ten times to adjust her mask (As water was seeping in constantly).
We swam through amazing corals & colorful fish before we saw “it” – Nemo. I was totally bedazzled after seeing the character of my favorite Disney movie “Finding Nemo” come to life – I mean, literally, the cute orange fish swimming in and out of corals. For me, that moment was probably the most exciting part of the dive. Then I saw a little blue fish swim past, in my mind it was Dory (The other character from Finding Nemo, though, in reality it could be just another blue fish).
After 55 minutes (though it seemed like just 20 mins now after our personal wide screen Nat Geo underwater movie), we re-surfaced – proud and victorious.
We talked excitedly about our underwater adventures all day long and promised to go back.
Btw, I just revisited Gili and even though I didn’t look for Nemo this time, I did try to find Crush (sea turtle) at the snorkeling turtle point. Here is my day by day itinerary for Gili Trawangan.
Did you ever have a crazy diving experience or yet to go on your first diving adventure? Tell me all about it.