A recent group trip to Palau with Maui Dreams was my first ever experience with dive travel. I was so excited and nervous all at the same time. Being a newbie has its advantages, like having no idea of what to expect! I have known Don & Rachel for a few years now, diving on the Maui Diamond II and shore diving with Rachel, so what I did expect was fun, fun, fun!! I went in with an open mind, excited to meet new like minded people, to learn new skills (a good diver is always learning!), and to see the most amazing underwater life ever, especially sharks galore!
After returning home and “processing” the experience, I realized how much I’d learned. The following are some lessons I took away from the trip:
Owning/Bringing you own gear is preferable. Rental gear may or may not be as comfortable/nice/easy-to-use as you expect. Plus the first thing I will buy for dive travel is a dive computer!
My Silver Lining: I had the opportunity to experiment with other gear, really practiced my buoyancy and I learned that I am very adaptable to new situations!
Thoroughly read all pre-trip documentation. Ask any questions before you leave your home base! In the absence of doing so, I spent unanticipated time in a classroom (working on my Nitrox certification) when I would rather have been out playing with my new dive buddies! I was also concerned about holding others up if I dived on air while everyone else had nitrox.
My Silver Lining: I turned my perspective around to how fortunate I am I get to learn something new in this amazing location surrounded by experienced divers and yes, I achieved another certification!
Learn to accept help from others and to really enjoy it! The dives in Palau contained a smorgasboard of underwater life… the amazing colors, corals, fish galore, and especially sharks. I kept rubber-necking, twisting, and drifting around just to take it all in…. Then, at just the right moment the lovely man, Don, reached out and held my hand. I immediately felt my breathing calm and my body relax… slowing it down so I could experience it all – to be present in myself hearing my own breath while drifting along my journey with friends… which reminds me of the movie “Finding Nemo”. I became the turtle “Duuuude let go, ride the channel!”
I think my life changed in that moment. With tears of joy in my mask, I thought of how much better our journey of life is with others beside us holding our hands sharing the experience.
This trip was life changing! Honestly, it took me a couple of weeks to really absorb all I have seen, experienced, and felt. I am still processing all the life lessons that diving and now dive travel have brought into my life! I believe I have made lifelong friends along the journey as well and look forward to seeing and diving with them in the near future! I am forever grateful and highly respect those divers who can take pictures while diving, especially current diving! Now I have visible evidence to remind myself and show others the ocean world at Palau is filled with great abundance of underwater life.
Some final thoughts: I AM a most fortunate person… This is MY Life…I Get to do this – WOW – How cool is that!!?? Expanding my life thru dive travel…. mmmmm…. yes, please!!
A huge “Thank You” Hug to Don & Rachel at Maui Dreams Dive Co. I soooo appreciate all the planning you have did to allow all of this be easy for the participants! You managed 24 divers (with all our different needs, desires, and perspectives), hotels, guides, and amazing land tours all with ease and grace and tons of Fun Fun Fun!!
I wish everyone could experience it…. Oh yeah, you can!! Dive Travel Rocks!