So here we were at the Medhufushi Resort in the Maldives all excited to kick off our Beginners diving course that would see us certified to dive upto 30m within 3 days. We had chosen the Maldives as a diving holiday as after 10 years of marriage, we were happy to mix work and pleasure. And believe me it is work. Two dives a day, one after breakfast and one after lunch followed by an hour and half of theory in the evening…you’re hardly lounging around the exotic desert island you’ve just flown thousands of miles to get to!
Our first impressions of Medhufushi were great. We had just flown in by seaplane from Male airport, the capital of the Maldives, and were met and greeted by hotel staff who took our bags and lead us to the large wooden hut restaurant that sat along the jetty over the ocean, where they served us a refreshing aperitif and oriented us to the island.
Then they took us to our villa and after settling down and lauding over our patch of ocean-front beach, we head down to the Dive Center where we met up with our German instructor Julia. Now Julia and I had exchanged a number of emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) prior to us arriving and she had been very helpful in arranging the diving course. She kitted us out with diving gear before instructing us in her cute German accent to return tomorrow morning after breakfast for our first session.
The next morning after breakfasting in the resort’s huge dining hall and enjoying its sumptuous buffet, we made our way back to the Dive Centre where Julia was ready for us. The course began with understanding diving equipment and how to use it. I love this kind of theory and my wife and I picked up on it pretty quickly. Before long, our vocabulary had increased to include Buoyancy Control Device jackets, atmospheric pressure equalisation and the Octopus regulator!
Our first session was conducted on the beach front. It was an enjoyable session designed to get newbies comfortable with the new environment. We learnt the basics of breathing, how to use the BCD and removing the face mask whilst underwater. Following this and lunch we returned for the second session where we ventured out onto the jetty and practiced in depths of upto 5m.
Day 2 was much of the same. Diving off the jetty, getting more and more comfortable with the equipment and going through all the basic drills; emergency ascent, face mask removal, sharing air, hand signals, buoyancy control and other such requirements of the certification course.
Now here’s the thing. I was never 100% comfortable. I wasn’t freaked out by the surroundings and being underwater as such, but the mouth-gear never felt entirely comfortable for me. I just felt like wanting to yank it out sometimes but of course you can’t or at least its not really the kind of habit you want to be developing as a diver. I hummed to myself to keep my cool and found that when we stopped for exercises, I didn’t like it. It made me focus more on my breathing and mouthpiece which made me feel uncomfortable again. When we were on the move, at least I could look at the surroundings, concentrate on my movement and feel that the end of the dive was approaching. My wife on the other hand loved it!
Day 3 was the day we had been waiting for. It was an actual boat dive! For both morning and lunch sessions, we teamed up with a dive group and head out to one of the many dive sites in and around the Maldives for some real coral reef action. As long as we didn’t go to Shark Point I was happy with any destination. Suffice it to say, diving into the blue is dramatically different from diving off a jetty. It truly is a humbling experience of incredible serenity that opens your eyes to an underwater world you know exists but cannot palpably feel until immersed within it. I think we were lucky to see a Hawksbill turtle on our very first open dive.
To sum up we both completed the 3 day course and enjoyed the experience but whereas Wifey would now like to go to Sharm El Sheikh and swim with sharks, I am content with Discovery HD.
Evenings were spent learning the theory; oxygen toxicity, narcosis, equalisation techniques, diving watch usage and more. Afterwards we would enjoy another sumptuous buffet dinner before returning to our cabin to crash out. It was an awesome and unforgettable experience which as always was over too soon. Four days later we were back on the sea plane and on our way back home, certified to dive upto 30m.