I want to share some of my experiences as a diver. You are going to love life as a diver.
I was living on Manhattan for grad school and they offered a dive class in the pool. To get certified, they took us to Montauk, NY at the far end of the Hamptoms. It was beginning of September and I wore a full wetsuit and did not feel cold. Of course, there was nothing to see there. In 1990, I moved to California but I have never been diving in California because I would not dive anywhere cold again. I did not dive again until I went on a trip to Maui in approximately 1994 and did a couple of dives.
Then I moved to Miami for about 4 years from 1996 to 2000 and started diving regularly off the coast of Miami and the Ft Lauderdale area, Key Largo, Tavernier, Biscayne National Park, and all over the Caribbean on dive trips and liveabord trips. In this 4 year period, I must have gotten to at least 225 dives just in those 4 years.
It took me until about 50 dives to feel comfortable. I got to about 50 dives when I did a liveabord trip in the Southern Bahamas. I went by myself on that trip and they partnered you with someone and we also dove in small groups with a dive master. On that trip, they did a class on breathing and buoyancy. That cinched it and then I could control myself and really enjoy diving. I highly recommend a separate class on buoyancy. It was about a hour and they give you a card.
I went on a trip to the Cayman Islands where the goal was to get certified as an advanced diver. I completed that comfortably and it gave me more confidence. After that, I got my rescue diver certification and that totally gave me confidence. You have to tow people in the water and it was very hard for me but I did it.
From Miami, I started doing many dive vacations. I met a friend who was my age in a diving club I joined in Miami and she became my buddy for Florida dives. We started going on dive trips in the Caribbean and Mexico. I have been diving all over the Caribbean now: Cozumel, Bonaire, Bahamas (at least 3 trips), Cayman Islands, Belize, Honduras, Grenada, Bimini and more. It is hard to remember all the islands I have gone diving in since that was over 20 years ago. I did 2 liveaboard trips in the Bahamas while living in Miami. I have done drift diving, wall diving, several blue holes, night diving, shore diving, wreck diving and swim throughs. Now I only do easy diving off boats. LOL
Then I moved back to California and stopped diving. However, when I went on vacations, I would do 2-4 dives per vacation over the years since moving back here. Since 2006, I have been diving in the Big Island, Turkey, Tahiti, Australia, and Pacific side of Costa Rica (2 trips so far).
I also went back to Cozumel a few years ago and did 4 dives on 2 separate days. I repeated a couple dives in Florida. My sadness is that the reefs are dying and beat up, and there are fewer fish than in the past.
In Cozumel when I was diving there in the 90s, there were giant groupers that appear to be gone now and you did not need to go deep on the walls to see colorful reefs. When I went back a few years ago, we only saw grass on the shallow dive and we had to go down 50’ to see reefs that I would consider to be nice but nothing like 20 years ago. The divers I met did not believe me when I told them the comparisons to the 90s bc they were young and started diving more recently. It is possible that where they took me was just not the best reefs and maybe Cozumel is still amazing elsewhere.
In the Bahamas, I purposely went on shark dives where they fed them chum to attract them. I would not do that anymore bc I have since learned it is environmentally unsound. Even when we weren’t doing the shark dives, I was diving with many sharks in the Bahamas because they were so plentiful. On the liveaboard trip in the Southern Bahamas, we saw a tiger shark at about 50 feet when we were diving on a wall with a small group. I stayed as near to the wall as possible thinking a shark would not get me there. One of the men in the group chased the tiger shark to get photos. Crazy!
In Tahiti, I went diving a few times. One time was off Moorea and we saw at least 50 sharks on one of the dives. In Tahiti, there are so many harmless sharks that they think of them as sardines. LOL We are going to Fiji next year and I look forward to some dives there. I’ve heard the reefs are still good there.
You asked about equipment. I bought all of my equipment fairly quickly after getting certified in the 90s. I used that equipment for at least 10 years, probably more. I packed it and took it everywhere. I loved having my own equipment and dive computer because it made me feel more secure. Eventually, I did not dive enough and I was servicing the equipment periodically but not enough to feel confident it was good enough anymore. So I got rid of it. On the dive trips after 2006, I started to use rental equipment.
Amazingly, when I dive now, the skills all come back to me even when I have not dived in a year or two. I still know my buoyancy and breathing and do not use a lot of air. I have not been Nitrox certified as I think that is more common now than when I used to dive in the 90s. When I was diving in Costa Rica in 2019, they made me do a quick refresher course because I said I had not been diving in a couple of years. I aced it with no problems. By now, I am guessing I must be up to close to 300 dives. When I got to 225 dives while living in Miami, I stopped logging. No one asks for my log because I show them my advanced certification card. I do not even have my log anymore since I only logged in the 90s when I used to dive a lot.
Before I met my dive buddy, I went on local FL dives and a couple dive trips by myself and it was fine. Often, there were other divers who went alone too. Now, I dive alone again. My dive buddy lives in FL and I do not go on trips with her anymore. My husband got certified but he could not learn to breathe properly in order to control his buoyancy and he said his ears hurt. So he only went diving with me once. He kept going to the surface and he decided he did not like diving.
This is a long story but I wanted to share a little of my history. Diving is amazing and one of my favorite activities. Even if I do not see much on a dive, I love breathing the air because it slows down my breathing since I want to conserve air and that way of breathing totally relaxes me. I also enjoy the process of breathing in and out and playing around with my buoyancy.
You are going to love diving. In the beginning, it is natural to be nervous. Realistically, it will take many dives until you feel comfortable.
Please share stories about all your diving adventures. I will live through you vicariously!