We simply love the outdoors, from mountaintops that offer picturesque views of the checkered valleys to the depths of the seas that teem with rarely seen marine life. The joy that we feel whenever we are out there actually heals the bruises and wounds of our soul, be it the stress of work, the fear of the unknown, the devastation of a heartache, the pain of a profound loss, or the sorrow of a shattered dream. We have always sought the refuge of Mother Nature whenever we feel the need to refresh and fill our soul with positive energy.
Furthermore, we are always eager to share our experiences and let other people discover the wonderful healing power of our world. That was what we had in mind when we decided to hold our first invitational Discover Scuba Diving session to a group of friends. The DSD session was held on a sunny Sunday in March 9, 2014 at the beautiful Kontiki Dive Resort.
Our instructor, Jonjie, and I arrived at the resort a full hour before the activity, which was scheduled to start at 9:00 AM. Since Jonjie alone cannot handle six confirmed first-time divers (even if I’m a licensed PADI Open Water diver, I’m still not qualified to guide divers) by himself, he enlisted the help of two friendly fully certified PADI divemasters who will share the load of guiding.
In less than an hour and with four divers (including me) helping, the dive equipment of the participants were set up.
Close to 9AM, the six confirmed participants—Mark Cui, Dannea Moneva, Crisyl Khan, Karl Michael de la Cruz, Jun Rhen Sojon, and Maefe Revilla—arrived. After the usual introductions, Jonjie had them sign a standard waiver.
Jonjie briefed the participants on the rules of scuba diving in Kontiki’s in-house reef—no touching of corals, not to leave any garbage behind, stay close to your diving buddy, etc. Even in a commercialized and popular dive site like Kontiki, safety and proper ethics are still paramount and should always be observed and enforced in scuba diving.
He also taught the participants on some of the principles and what-to-dos in scuba diving such as proper breathing, pressure equalization, mast clearing, basic underwater strokes, and hand signals.
After the briefing, everyone changed into rashguards, swimwear, and wetsuits. Finally, it’s time to dive! Dannea (the lady in green and the blogger behind Toploading for Life) was having wild butterflies in her stomach. We later found out that she has aquaphobia, and she’s bravely taking DSD to punch her phobia in the face. Nice move, Dannea!
Then it was time to enter the water to don on the dive gear. This is advisable for first-timers; on land, the gear is painfully heavy and walking around in it is quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Divemasters helped participants put on the dive gear. Are you nervous, Dannea?
After all participants have put on their gear, Jonjie held a final briefing. One divemaster was then assigned to look after two participants. Oh, don’t mind the foggy photo below; our cam misted a little bit.
Their first breath underwater was a very memorable, exhilarating experience for all of them. At last, they know how to breathe like a fish. But most importantly, they felt absolute freedom, the shackles that bound them to fear, doubts, pain, exhaustion, and negativity loosen away.
Are you ready, guys? After the participants signaled that they’re okay, the divemasters started the hour-long tour.
Exploring the vibrant, bustling, alien world under the sea! The participants’ first glimpse of the underwater world was something that will always be in their memories.
Mike and Crisyl tried to smile for the camera through their regulators. Hehehe! Behind them is the divemaster who constantly watched over and guided them to ensure they were safe and enjoying the experience.
Farther and deeper into the blue they went where they can swim along with the many fish that inhabit the reef. Non-swimmers taking DSD do not need to worry. As you’ve seen in the photo below, divemasters can just hold on to the valves of your tank and provide the propulsion; you just need to relax and enjoy the ride.
However, to fully enjoy the DSD experience, we strongly suggest you swim by yourself but keeping close to your dive buddy and guide/instructor. Doing so gives you greater freedom to explore the area and do the things you want. Just think: you want to take a photo of an interesting anemone but you can’t because your divemaster is dragging you past it!
Are you okay? Jonjie asked Dannea using hand signals since he noticed that Dannea was hyperventilating. Jonjie and his divemaster take extra steps to ensure their guests are okay. Dannea fears the sea, but after the DSD experience, she came to realize that the world under the ocean is a beautiful and mesmerizing one.
While the people thoroughly enjoyed their first diving experience, I took the opportunity to practice close-up underwater photography using a simple digicam (Yeah, I know I need specialized photography equipment and skills to get this right. But I can’t afford them right now). I spotted a beautiful and regal lionfish hiding under a coral. Of course, I was very careful not to touch it or get too close; those pretty spines are poisonous!
Soft corals (types of corals that do not produce a hard exoskeleton) such as these are abundant in Kontiki’s in-house reef. It is very comforting looking at them gracefully swaying to the current.
Hard corals such as these are more abundant than soft, ahematypic corals in reef systems. The soft organs are protected by a hard armor of calcium carbonate. They are very important reef builders.
Corals are home to fish and other marine organisms. They form an important part of a healthy reef system, thus, they should not be damaged or destroyed.
Gliding along! Just check out that beautiful, coral-encrusted rock! Our participants began to learn the importance of preserving and protecting the marine ecosystem.
You can find vastly more organisms and spectacular landscapes in 10 seconds under the sea than in 10 hours in the forest or on a mountain!
When you’re with your buddy or instructor, be careful where you kick! Otherwise, your foot will connect to a really bad place. Hehehe!
Are they holding a prayer meeting under the water? No, not really. The divemaster was just helping them to stand on the seabed.
Whoops! Uncontrolled ascent! Don’t worry, your dive instructor or divemaster can help you get back down on the sea floor.
Dannea enjoyed the experience so much that she made a victory dance—-underwater!
After an hour of exploring the reef, the DSD participants surfaced and swam back to shore. As you can see in the photo below, their smiling faces show it all: they thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In fact, during lunch, a few were already asking Jonjie and us about the details of diver certification.
Well done, guys! Congratulations in taking an immense, exciting first step in conquering your fear of the sea.
Alexa’s First Scuba Diving Experience
As you, dear readers, know, Sweetie and I would take every opportunity to teach Alexa about how the real world works, the world described but outside textbooks, websites, libraries, and classrooms. Jonjie was very supportive of practical learning and agreed to sponsor Alexa for her first scuba dive experience.
Since Jonjie had an important engagement after lunch, he assigned a skilled divemaster to guide Alexa around the reef. As you can probably tell in the photo below, Alexa was pretty excited! After all, it’s not every day that 10 year olds can have the opportunity to experience scuba diving.
After a short briefing, it was time for Alexa to have her first breath underwater. She later said that it felt strange due to the fact that the air in the cylinder is really cool to breathe in.
After letting her get used to breathing, our divemaster signaled the start of the fun dive. Sweetie also joined in to accompany her daughter.
Because Alexa has a small, round face and a pert nose, she had a bit of difficulty squeezing her nose to equalize the pressure and to keep the mask on her face. But after the divemaster adjusted her mask, she was okay to go.
This highlights the advantage of having your own equipment that fits and is tailored for you.
Let’s stop for a while, the divemaster signaled. It turned out that Alexa needed to wear a little more weight; she’s a little bit too buoyant. After exchanging weights with our divemaster, everything became smooth sailing. Or smooth floating, to be exact about it.
Here’s Alexa’s first view of a coral colony. We were careful not to touch the corals; in scuba diving, a very important rule to follow is never to touch corals, especially soft bodied ones. The slightest touch can easily cause irreparable damage, which subsequently harms the reef’s ecosystem.
Sweetie felt really comfortable with her O’Neill wetsuit. While diving in warm, shallow tropical waters does not necessitate wearing a wetsuit, we strongly recommend wearing one to protect yourself from abrasions or stings from marine organisms.
Also, since Sweetie and I easily get cold, we wear full wet suits to help keep ourselves comfortably warm. How does a wetsuit work? Well, water that enters the suit gets trapped between the neoprene fabric and the skin. Body heat warms the trapped water, which reduces heat loss.
A soft-bodied anemone, a cute short tentacle plate coral, and a group of fish are all living in perfect harmony. Do not disrupt that harmony.
Here’s another beautiful and wavy anemone! Can you see spot Marlin, Nemo, and a cousin?
Just look at that gorgeous field of corals below the divers! The divemaster was pointing out to Alexa a large bunch of sea anemone.
What are you guys looking at? Our divemaster was pointing at a strange something in this cluster of coral. What is it?
It turned out to be a pretty little Christmas tree worm, a kind of polychaete worm that dwells on corals. The multi-color spiral branches are actually the worm’s respiratory system. Because of their vibrant colors, they usually make great subjects for underwater photography. Saltwater aquarium enthusiasts also collect them to brighten up their aquariums.
Are you having fun, Alexa? We’re pretty sure you had. We headed to deeper water.
Our divemaster took Alexa and Sweetie to the kantil so they could see how deep the kantil is. Later, Alexa said she was half expecting a shark, turtle, whale, or sea monster to come out of the depths.
We came upon a large brain coral jutting out of an algae-covered rock.
Playing hide and seek among the lovely corals? It’s very pretty down there, would you agree?
Mother and daughter bonding together at the bottom of the sea! Now, how cool is that!
On our way back to shore, our divemaster picked up something, fondled it a bit, and released it back. As it fell down back towards the seabed, it produced and left behind a cloud of purple ink.
While marine creatures may be very pretty to look at, we do not encourage touching or handling any organism in the underwater world.
Back on the shore, at last! Thank you, Mr. Divemaster! Alexa truly enjoyed and saw a lot about amazing coral reefs, marine invertebrates, sea creatures, and underwater plants. Just like the guys who attended the DSD session earlier during the day, she started to appreciate the sport of scuba diving. In fact, she even asked her mama if she could go back again with a fresh tank! Hehehe!
Thank you for participating in this session, guys! We hope you had fun. We hope you learned about how beautiful and fragile the marine ecosystem is. But most importantly, we hope that through scuba diving (and other outdoor activities that you may be interested in), you’ll find the serenity, healing, hope, and happiness that your soul is searching for.
1. Contact us if you wish to try out scuba diving and experience a fun day of scuba diving in the coral gardens of Mactan. You can get in touch with us by:
- sending a message in our Adrenaline Romance Facebook Page
- sending us a message through our Contact Us form
- sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please provide us your cellphone number in your messages so we can easily contact you.
2. The PADI Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) program is intended to let you have a taste of scuba diving and see the beauty of the underwater world. It is not a course to acquire a diver certification or license of any kind.
3. The DSD session is held in Kontiki Dive Resort, Datag, Maribago, Lapu Lapu City.
- Dive will be shore entry, meaning, we won’t be renting a boat to reach the dive site.
- Don’t worry if you don’t know how to swim. The instructor and the divemasters will make your diving experience fun. Besides, moving in the water while scuba diving is actually easier than swimming!
- Our dive instructor and guide is Jonjie Deiparine, a very well respected PADI IDC Staff Instructor in the national diving scene. He has trained many top-quality dive instructors, divemasters, specialty divers, etc.
To get to Kontiki Dive Resort, follow the directions below:
- In Opon/Lapu Lapu City, ride a jeepney going to Soong, Maribago.
- Ask the driver to drop you off at Julie’s Bakeshop (left side) right before Imperial Palace (or tell the driver to drop you off at Julie’s Bakeshop at Iskina Datag).
- From Julie’s bakeshop, follow that road and turn right; there are signs that point you to Kontiki or you can ask for directions. Kontiki is at the dead end of that road. You can ride a habal-habal (P20 per head. Convenient but expensive!) or endure a 15-minute hike.
4. The DSD fee is P2,500 per head. This is already a very good deal in terms of scuba diving costs. We promise you, you won’t regret the experience. Your fee covers the following:
- rental of scuba diving equipment
- scuba instructor/divemaster fee
- comprehensive orientation before actual dive
- 1 hour of fun diving in Kontiki’s fabulous in-house reef
- free snorkeling (we recommend bringing your own mask and snorkel)
- free swimming before or after the dive
Please pay the following amounts:
- 1,500 reservation – a week before your scheduled DSD session. This will be spent for equipment rental, slot reservation, miscellaneous, etc. For the downpayment, we will provide you the account details through Facebook, e-mail, or SMS.
- 1,000 balance – on the event day. This will be paid to the resort and the dive instructor.
You are definitely welcome to invite your friends too!
5. Minimum age to undertake DSD is 10 years old.
6. Important things to bring:
- water (at least a liter)
- rashguard (or tight-fitting dry-fit shirt), board shorts, or cycling shorts.
- packed lunch, snacks, and beverages. However, there is a restaurant in Kontiki that serves very affordable food (prices comparable to that of A&A Barbecue)
- waterproof cam (you don’t want to miss taking photos of coral gardens and schools of fish!)
- extra dry clothes
- extra money
- life vest (if you don’t know how to swim, or you can rent one)