"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." - Jacques Yves Cousteau
Our "Finding Nemo" snorkeling adventure was fun at Puerto Galera's underwater territory and it felt like we wanted to see some more underwater species, together.
So when it's our time to exploit the beautiful island of Samal, snorkeling is one of the things on our bucket list. As we excitedly browsed online to read more about Samal, it seemed to be promoting its marine environment. Then, we got across SamalWaterSports' website and interestingly, they offer a variety of water activities at reasonable prices. We primarily wanted to go Island hopping and do snorkeling but then decided to upgrade our experience to an intro scuba dive course instead. This is very much fitted for diving beginners, like us.
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
This is a must-try! If you're interested, here are the current rates for their regular services which can also be found on their website: http://samalwatersports.com/rates/
Their website provides all the information that you will need suppose you desire to book for a dive or their other services. I tried to reach them via the contact form I filled out from their home page to inquire for some directions and they responded promptly.
When we're already in Davao, I contacted them through their mobile number and they confirmed our booking schedule for the next day. There was no required booking fee so that was quick and convenient. Our payment was settled onsite after the dive. Fun first, pay later! 🙂
It's A Date.
Off we go the next morning. They usually pickup from Davao Boat Club next to Pearl Farm Davao in Lizada Village, Lanang, Davao City. But since we were already in Samal, we headed for Villarica Wharf in Babak pier from Peñaplata. Locals also call this wharf "ACFA" near the bay walk. This is the usual docking station for outrigger canoes being used for public transportation.
Villarica Wharf in Babak, Island Garden City of Samal
We were instructed to wait at the big parking area next to the lantsa (motorboat) and find a blue and white boat named Rotchel. We arrived early so we had our breakfast first in a small cafeteria we found nearby. We also had ample time to take some photos at the bay walk.
Let us take a look at the Baywalk
When our boat arrived, Balolok and the rest of the dive staff welcomed us merrily and asked us to fill out an attendance form. There was no one else scheduled along with us on the trip that day except Leo, a Dutch diver from Netherlands. He's very fond of diving in the Philippines, he even got his diving license from Bohol.
We departed the wharf at 9:30am for Talikud Island. After almost an hour, we arrived at the Coral Garden and started to prepare for our first ever open water dive class. Learning can really be exciting especially if you're curious about something and as inquisitive as a child. And so our brief Scuba Dive 101 began.
Scuba Dive 101
I didn't know that scuba is an acronym. It stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and describes the breathing gas cylinders that allow divers to breathe underwater. Since we, humans, are not blessed with the capability to breathe, swim and stay warm underwater, dive gears are very important for our body to adapt and move comfortably while below the surface of the water.
A scuba set includes the following:
- air hose
- back plate, and
Ear equalization was also highlighted during the briefing. If you're a beginner, you might be wondering how you can equalize your ears. You may want to try pinching your nose closed and breath out gently against your pinched nostrils. There should be something happening in your ears as they equalize and you will feel it.
Ear pressure equalization is usually accompanied by a popping/clicking/“poof” sound and a sensation of fullness in the ears. -Natalie Gibb
Everything is Awesome.
Our diving instructor mentioned that he'll take us down to 30 feet. Remember, we're just beginners, so that depth is already pretty deep, well, for me at least. Alvin survived it but since I was not so courageous at that time, as we stopped at 15 feet, I asked my instructor (communicating through diving signals) not to take me any deeper. I was satisfied to have my photos taken at only 15 feet deep. I was very much delighted to see a pufferfish nestled inside a huge tube coral where I anchored myself as we took some pictures. I didn't really know it was a pufferfish until it went up outside the coral and it inflated itself right there in front of me. That feeling of awe was priceless! I was entertained for a moment. I focused Alvin's GoPro to that gorgeous fish and also to all the other fishes along the course, hoping to share it with the world through this blog, but to my dismay before we ascended, I turned the camera to face me so I can video myself ascending, the camera's display noted that its memory was already full. Grrrrrr! That was a real disappointment to me but lesson learned for future trips: "Make sure to have a memory card with much higher capacity."
As a first-timer, I was already gratified. That was actually an overwhelming experience for me. It was fun learning how divers do it. It also made me appreciate the ocean more and I am amazed at its own magnificent aquatic kingdom underneath. There is so much life in there. I know in my heart that I would try diving again and I would definitely go deeper next time.