(My Journey to Scuba Instructor)
I have been in love with the ocean since I was a little girl. Having grown up next to the ocean, I would spend summers at the beach. My love for marine life started when I first visited sea world when I was about 8 or 9. I remember crying at the orca show because I felt such a strong connection to them. I knew at that young age that I wanted to do something ocean related when I got older.
Fast forward to college, I started out going for marine biology and volunteered at Free Willy Foundation in San Francisco. I also did a summer internship at Orca Lab on Hanson Island in British Columbia my junior year, where we tracked Ocra behavior and sounds via hydrophone system. I winded up not going into the field, but my love for orcas and marine critters still remained strong.
When I took off to go backpacking in 2015 is when I got reconnected with the ocean and began my path to getting my open water scuba instructor certificate. Below is my 18-month journey from Discover Scuba Diver to Open Water Scuba Instructor. All photos taken with a GoPro Hero.
(Koh Phi Phi, Thailand)
When I started backpacking my plan was to do work exchanges along the way. I winded up only doing one. After I was done my contract in Chiang Mai, I extended my visa for another month to explore the Thai Islands. I went to Koh Phi Phi first for a week to relax. While there, they told me I could rent a mask and snorkel to swim in front of the resort. After my first day snorkeling, I was hooked and went out every morning before the snorkel tours were out and had the fish all to myself.
My first time snorkeling in Thailand!
Sergeant Majors are everywhere!
Trying half in, half out of the water
DISCOVER SCUBA DIVER
(Koh Lanta, Thailand)
After Phi Phi I went to Koh Lanta for a month. There was a cafe I went to most mornings and next door was a scuba shop. I'd watch the divers load up every morning. After a couple weeks of watching them, I went over to inquire about a discover class. After I came up from my first dive, my instructor said "wow, you're really comfortable in the water", I remember screaming "I belong in the water!" and so it began.
First Dive! Mermaid Hair, Don't Care!
OPEN WATER DIVER
(Koh Tao, Thailand)
I decided to goto Koh Tao to do my Open Water certificate as it was 1/2 the price of Koh Lanta and is "the place" to get certified in Thailand. This place is all scuba shops and is a scuba certificate factory! All the dive sites packed with divers. Not really my cup of tea, but I was able to get certified for cheap and stay a few extra days to do some fun dives.
School of fish
All the bubbles, so many divers!
ADVANCED OPEN WATER DIVER
While I was in Phuket doing fun dives I hung out at the bar outside the shop after my dives. It was there where they told me I needed to goto Borneo to do my advanced certification and dive Sipadan which is one of the best places to dive in South East Asia and only allows 120 diver permits each day. Off I went!
In the middle of a Jack Fish tornado
White Spotted Puffer Fish
Bigeye Jack Fish
Green Sea Turtle
GREAT BARRIER REEF
After Malaysia and talking to some of the instructors and divemaster there, I knew I wanted to move forward with getting my divemaster. I needed 40 dives to get into the program, so I headed to the Great Barrier Reef to dive on my first live-aboard to get my dives up. You can dive up to 4 times a day on a live aboard which I took advantage of and I did 12 during my 3 days.
(Komodo Island, Indonesia)
I was super excited to be able to do my divemaster in Komodo! I learned so much about currents (which are some of the strongest in the world) and how to navigate them safely. Komodo is known for manta rays (there are over 1000!) as there's multiple cleaning stations where they all hang around. This was by far my favorite certificate to get and favorite place to dive! Check out my stress test!
Giant Manta and me, they're super curious
This one glided right over my head
Batu Balong, diving into an aquarium
OPEN WATER SCUBA INSTRUCTOR
(Phu Quoc, Vietnam)
After my divemaster I went back to Thailand to do some freelance divemaster work while I looked for contract work. I landed a contract in Vietnam and after a couple weeks there, they asked if I wanted to do my instructor as an IDC (Instructor Development Course) was going to be starting soon. I said yes and it was my best decision. I loved teaching people how to scuba. It gave me a chance to change peoples relationship with the water. Two of my students had fears of the water which with extra time, I was able to help them over come. One of them was my first student, a 10 year old. After spending a couple days in the pool before hitting the ocean, she over came her fear and rocked her skills in the open water. She gave me a big hug after she was certified and it was the best feeling in the world. "I belong in the water".
Officially a mermaid, I passed!
First student! (Vietnam)
Another student conquering fears! (Vietnam)
Teaching 2 students a private course (Egypt)
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