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Take the Plunge and Learn to Scuba Dive

Sporting Opportunities Travel Advisor, Pendra Heath, has put together a few top tips for learning to Scuba Dive and why she would recommend everybody to get under the sea!

As we set out to embark on the trip of a lifetime in Asia my travel companion announces she would quite like to do a scuba diving course. Having never considered this before I asked her what makes her want to do that to which she responds with .... because she is scared of fish!

Admittedly, not the most convincing of arguments but I am now very grateful for my friend’s fish phobia, as learning to dive was undoubtedly one of the best things I have ever done. We completed our open water PADI in Koh Tao, Thailand, then dived in Bali in Indonesia and  Coron in the Philippines. Then a year later we completed our Advanced Open Water in Utila in Honduras, then we dived in Cuba and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Here are my top tips to future dive enthusiasts!

1. Make getting your dive qualification a priority, because then you can really make the most of it throughout the rest of your travels. There is nothing worse than somebody telling you that you’ve just been near one of the best dive sites in the world and you didn’t dive there!

2. Watch Finding Nemo for inspiration, it is hard to imagine that life under the sea could really be that colourful and vibrant … but it really, REALLY is! It is so beautiful and full of life - you will be surprised at how accurate they got it with this film. 

3. Dive in the Galapagos Islands at least once in your life … diving here is more like diving an aquarium - you won’t always know which direction to look in. At one point our dive master pointed out a group of about 7 Hammerhead sharks swimming below us at the same time as a group of Manta Rays glided by and a sea turtle was also chilling near by. It was overwhelming to say the least.

4. Embrace your inner Mermaid/Merman - have fun. Make the most of the weightlessness and do your front flips and your back flips and your handstands … get the cliché photos of you hovering like a Buddha. On your ascent you will have to do a 3 minute safety stop anyway … don’t stand still - invite your dive buddy to a dance off - your underwater moves will impress for sure.

5. Push your limits - it will probably be worth it. I was very apprehensive to do a night dive, I didn’t feel completely comfortable knowing the creatures of the ocean  would be able to see me and I couldn’t see them. But it was great - such a different experience, we saw so many cool creatures that we would rarely in the day time, including bioluminescent creatures which glow in the dark. 

6. Don’t believe your dive instructor when he tells you that the ‘James Bond’ style entry to the water ‘will be easy’ and ‘you’ll be fine’ … it won’t be easy, you will end up looking very silly and they will film you. But definitely give it a go … you will have great fun watching your friends fail at this too.

7. Complete your log book after every dive! - It does feel a little bit like homework but it is a fantastic way to make sure you always remember the fantastic dives you did. Write about everything … you will never look back and think ‘I wish I had written less’. 

8. Don’t get the giggles underwater (Or do - it is actually really funny). Every time you laugh your mask will fill up with water … you will spend a lot of time clearing the water, just to begin laughing again … vicious circle. 

9. If you do want a good laugh then take off your fins put them under a rock and try to have a  running race on the seabed against your fellow divers. This is ridiculously difficult and you will find yourself almost horizontally running - it can definitely lead to the giggles. 

10. Buy yourself a dive mask, a bad mask can ruin a dive. You will find mostly hire equipment is pretty great and let’s be honest who is going to backpack with full scuba diving gear … but if you can squeeze in a mask it will be worth it, after all the main point of diving is seeing what is underwater so you want to be able to see well. 

Join a fantastic Changing Worlds project today and get your open water PADI qualification in Australia,  or The Philippines. You won’t regret it. 







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  • "Training in the Ghana heat is a challenge but so worth it. My fitness has improved 10 fold. Working with the young rugby lads was excellent and seeing my team score a winning try has to have been a highlight. Ghana has some amazing places to see and if you like Baboons then a visit to Mole National Park is a must".
    Phil Hall , Rugby Union, Ghana
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    Stuart Garrett , Rugby Union, Ghana
  • ''What they don’t have in skill, they certainly make up for in speed and determination. Ghana also has some very promising youngsters and it has been really exciting, and a real privilege, to share my knowledge of the game with them.''
    Doug Graham , Rugby Union, Ghana
  • “Coaching rugby to underprivileged children is a very rewarding experience. I am seriously considering coming back here and staying longer. It’s such a great place and there is so much to do!”
    Luke Norfolk , Rugby Union, South Africa
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    Philippa Tollit , Swimming, South Africa
  • "Being able to teach kids how to swim has to have been one of my most significant moments in life. From seeing 12 year old kids fearful of water on day one to being able to swim full lengths of the pool with confidence after 5 weeks was just incredible. You also know that you are giving these kids a gift for life".
    Neil Dennison , Swimming, Ghana
  • "I have had the best three months in Ghana ever! Working a living alongside local Ghanaians and seeing a completely different way of life will live with me forever. My project in helping kids learn how to swim was so rewarding too and it has really made me think about what I want to do when I get home with my future career and working with young people. Thanks to everyone involved and I look forward to coming back to my African home again one day."
    Sarah Dunbury , Swimming, Ghana
  • ''I really enjoyed the tennis coaching and was amazed at the standard of tennis and the dedication of the children. And they always had a smile on their face too.''
    Charlotte Wallis , Tennis, Ghana
  • ''Ghanaians are friendly in a way that is almost unheard of in the West. They are extremely affectionate and, once you have got used to it, you can be just as friendly back.''
    Graeme Acheson , Tennis, Ghana
  • ''I feel really fulfilled that I have aided less fortunate people in giving them a chance to play tennis in the first place and to offer assistance with my coaching knowledge to help the development of the sport in Ghana.''
    Sal Bolton , Tennis, Ghana
  • ''It was a seriously amazing trip that I will never forget. So thanks for what all you guys have done, and thanks for making it such an unforgettable trip!''
    Christian Dorin , Tennis, Ghana
  • “It was an incredible experience coaching the children in Port Elizabeth – they are so enthusiastic about learning to play tennis. Their energy levels are amazing and they had improved greatly by the time I left.”
    Dave Leicester , Tennis, South Africa
  • “One of the best experiences of my life! I just can’t believe how enthusiastic and grateful the kids were to learn and play Ultimate. The talent was awesome too – some were naturals! I can’t wait to come back to South Africa one day and see how my players are getting on.”
    Miles Jackson , Ultimate Frisbee, South Africa
  • "I've had the best few weeks of my life. The kids loved learning volleyball and in turn I loved every bit of my experience!"
    James Taylor , Volleyball, Ghana
  • "Coaching Rugby out here has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life. Met some awesome people and really enjoyed the country. Really kind host family made me feel v-welcome. Would definitely like to come back one day!"
    Tim Wace , Rugby Union, Argentina
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    Ceri Newman , Tennis, Argentina
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    Dan Long: Football Captain , Volleyball, South Africa
  • "Taking the girls on this two week hockey tour was excellent. It was the first time that any of us had been to South Africa and the team made us feel extremely welcome and comfortable. You pack so much into such a short period which totally tired us out but apart from being great fun will be a fond memory for years to come. We'll certainly be looking at coming away with you again".
    Sarah Jackson: PE Teacher , Volleyball, South Africa
  • "A well organised trip with a difference. Combining playing and coaching as well as all the cultural things you put on for us was a great idea. To even get to a Springboks Rugby game was a special treat for the lads on this tour so thanks for going the extra mile to make this happen for us".
    Geoff Fagence: Rugby Coach , Volleyball, South Africa
  • "Seeing the kids in week one be so fearful of the water to seeing them confidently swim after my 5 weeks in South Africa has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Thank you to everyone involved."
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