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PADI Certification: Conquering My Fear Of The Open Water

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I never claimed to be brave.  In fact, I’m a huge brat about heights, roller-coasters, and eating bugs.  But I suppose any normal person SHOULD be a little antsy with eating cockroaches…

Since I was small, I’ve always been afraid of the ocean, any ocean, because of the lack of visibility and my fear of stingrays/flatfish that are hiding under the sand… obviously, to murder me.  In a very “Vanessa” fashion, I #YOLO’d it and signed up for my open water diving certification course with BadLadz Beach and Diving Resort in Puerto Galera, PI.

I took a taxi, to a bus, to a boat, to a tricycle to get to BadLadz resort, and after inhaling my share of Mexican food in the Philippines, I jumped into the pool for my first day of certification training.  At thing point, I’m running on 2 hours of sleep from all of my traveling, but the adrenaline and cold water keep my energy levels high.

DCIM100GOPRO(How lucky was I to wake up to this?)

When I get nervous, I start to talk. A lot. And my poor instructor Gavin put up with me.  We ended up being in the pool working on technique for 5 hours… only to look forward to another 3 hours the next day AND THEN we finally went out to the ocean.

Even though we had practiced in the pool, I was not prepared for the emotionally taxing process that came with my first open-water dive…

What if water got into my mask? What if I killed a seahorse accidentally with the force created by my flipper?  WHAT IF I GOT STUNG BY A JELLYFISH IN THE FACE?!… not the face…

…the chest maybe. But anything but the face!

And then I just sank.  On purpose mind you.  When you exhale all of the oxygen from your lungs, your natural buoyancy decreases and you’re able to sink lower and lower without any movement.  When you’re a pro, like my instructor Gavin, you’re able to stay suspended with just your breath; moving up and down with the ocean’s current.

I consider myself extremely adequate at breathing, but I was rubbish at this technique.

I think the most exhilarating thing about scuba diving is the fact that you are at the mercy of nothing underwater.  You can flip upside down, swim fast/slow, float, glide, and anything else you can image underwater.  You’re not limited by age, weight, height, or physical conditioning. You are king of your own mountain.


DCIM100GOPRO(schmexy, Vanessa)

While I was underwater, Gavin put me through a series of safety tests that I needed to complete incase of emergency in the pool and then the ocean.  Some of them included, but are not limited to: removing your mask COMPLETELY, using a buddy’s emergency air, taking off your scuba gear and then putting it back on, etc.  It’s pretty terrifying, I won’t lie.

There’s also a written test that you have to take that is designed for 12+ divers to pass… it was hard… but I passed so it’s like whatever, you know?  My best advice is read through the WHOLE BOOK even if someone tells you not too. I’m not great at tests so I rather play it safe than sorry. It’s multiple choice (with pictures) and all of your field training is on the test so that makes it easier.

DCIM100GOPRO(That’s Gavin… he’s a Saint)

A PADI Open Water Diving certification will run you anywhere from $300-$400 USD in Southeast Asia AND THAT’S CHEAP! If you do it in the Maldives or somewhere fancy it’ll run you $500 or more.

I would ABSOLUTELY suggest that EVERYONE tries diving at least ONCE in his or her life; if not pursue your PADI diving certification all together.  These courses will always be cheaper in Southeast Asia and SE Asia arguably has the BEST conditions as well.  This is definitely one of the official Wandering Wonders of the World!… according to me that is.

Check out my YouTube video about my experience!

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  • This is so exciting! Congratulations on taking the plunge, literally!

    SCUBA diving and being certified is one of the many things on my “life list,” and it’s so great to know there’s a company offering it in Puerto Galera! I have a friend living at a resort there and I’m hoping to get out to see her next spring before I head back to the Americas from Korea.

    Thanks for sharing this adventure. 🙂 I enjoy reading your posts!

  • This gives me hope! I have always intended to scuba dive but the sad truth is that when I spent last summer in Thailand I had to settle for snorkeling and even panicked the first time I tried that (popping back out of the water immediately after jumping in and ripping off the mask like it was attacking me haha). Any tips for how you handled the anxiety of jumping in the first time? I think my big fear is breathing/claustrophobia related.

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