This is a few years back where I had my very first dive. I have been binge watching everything labeled “David Attenborough” and “ocean” since I was a little girl and it was just a question of when I would dive into the ocean with my gear on for the very first time. I had the chance to move to Fiji in my gap year and explore a new world underwater.
I got my PADI open water certificate with Beqa Adventure Divers located in Pacific harbour, Vitu Levu, Fiji a few days after i landed. I got to dive with the crew, two-three times a week for six months and explore the beautiful Beqa Lagoon.
Beqa Adventure Divers have been a part of the establishment of the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, a previous fishing ground of the Wainiyabia and Galoa villages. The villages sold their fishing rights to protect the shark filled waters, in exchange every diver pays a small fee to the villagers, for giving up their fishing grounds.
Besides Shark Reef Marine reserve and the famous Shark Dive, Beqa Adventure Divers offers dives in the entire lagoon. I had nearly 100 dives in this lagoon, 20 of them in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve and I could do a 100 more.
But this post is about my very first experience underwater. (Besides hours of watching a theory video) It all started in the pool. Even though in Fiji, the pool water was freezing. Full of new diving information and excitement I stood in the cold water in the pool with my gear on ready to take my first breath with a regulator. My head went under the surface, I took my first breath in the regulator and immediately pushed my head back up in the air again. It felt so wrong and uncomfortable and my first thought was “what on earth did I get myself into”. I tried again a few times and really had to pull myself together to get underwater. After succeeding in staying in the pool, just below the surface, my instructor could start the exercises we needed to go through. All fine until the “share air” exercise, feeling uncomfortable enough already, I was not happy to let go of my oxygen source. I managed and finished my first day of exercises.
I started the next day being a little nervous after the experience in the pool. I past the theory test and swimming skill test. I went on the boat, finding it’s way out the ocean. We went down a beautiful river running from the rainforest out to the ocean. On both sides, close to the outlet of the river, where large mangrove forests, protecting the shores from erosion, taking up carbondioxide and being home to many animals under and above the surface.
We went out and anchored near a seemingly large round rock in the middle of the lagoon, a reef. We started to gear up. It didn’t feel the best, to stand on the boat with gear on, ready to jump in the ocean and go 12m down, after the experience in the pool the day before. I tried not to think to much about it when I took my giant stride off the boat and landed in the water. I put in the regulator and deflated the BCD, slowly going down. It wasn’t like the pool. The water felt warmer and it felt easier to breathe. A school of beautiful blue and yellow fish swam towards me while i descended further down the water column. In 27 minutes i swam around what seemed like a newer ending saltwater aquarium. Wherever I looked I saw fish in the colors of the rainbow and healthy looking corals shining in the water. I could have stayed down there forever. At one point it was time to go back to the surface though. We had a safety stop and when down coral heaven again on the 2nd dive. I was sailed back to shore with the biggest smile on my face, excited about my future dives and experiences in Fiji.
I recommend everyone to take the step and explore the ocean first hand. You will probably never regret it. I surely haven’t.