Scuba Diving has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. When the opportunity arose for me to become a certified diver, I jumped at the chance and 2 weeks ago I packed a bag and excitedly flew to Aqaba in Jordan ready to start my Open Water Diving Course with PADI.
Situated on the coast of the Red Sea, Aqaba is Jordan’s most southerly town and the country’s only seaside resort. With over 20 sites along the coastline and a mild climate all year round, it is an ideal place to dive. Not only does it have amazing diving opportunities, crystal-clear waters, colourful marine life, coral and wrecks, Aqaba is also located near some of Jordan’s top tourist attractions such as Petra and Wadi Rum, making it a great place to visit.
The open water course consists of a mixture of book based learning and practical skills. Before I arrived in Jordan I had already read all the chapters of PADI’s Open Water Manual which teaches you the basics about diving, the equipment and how diving affects your body. I completed the quizzes and the final exam online via PADI E-learning so I could put all my energy into concentrating on the practical side of the course whilst I was in Jordan.
PADI Open Water Course is made up of:
• 5 chapters PADI Open Water Manual (learn, complete quizzes, pass an exam)
• 5 confined dives (normally in a swimming pool) where you will practice and repeat a number of scuba skills to prepare you for the open water.
• 4 open water dives (in the sea) where you will demonstrate your scuba skills in open water.
I took my OWD course in Aqaba, Jordan with Deep Blue Dive Center who were really great, patient and fun. As we had arrived at silly o’clock in the morning, my first day was mostly spent filling in forms, getting to know my instructor Omar, doing the swim and float test and learning all about the equipment.
Being surrounded by weight belts, air cylinders, regulators and BCDs was pretty overwhelming at first but by the end of the 4 days I was putting together my scuba equipment with my eyes closed. (well, almost) 🙂
Swapping my flip flops for fins we then completed the first confined dive in the pool at my hotel. Although I was nervous, I was mostly excited and it felt good to be learning a new skill. A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
The second day we spent at a beach club at Tala Bay in Aqaba and as the sun was setting that evening we had finished up confined dives 2, 3, 4 and 5. I learned a lot of skills on how to be a safe diver and how to solve any problems that may occur whilst diving.
Some of the skills I learned included:
• How to set up my scuba equipment
• The Buddy check (BWRAF)
• Swapping regulators with another diver
• Mask removal, replacement and clearing
• Breathing through a freeflow regulator
• How to deal with cramp
• Emergency ascents to the surface
• Towing and pushing a tired diver
• Weight belt removal and replace
• BCD oral inflation…
On my third day it was open water time and I was ready to put all the things I had learned in the pool into practise in the sea. We woke up bright and early and boarded the Deep Blue Dive Center boat. It was a really fun day with lots of diving, learning and good food. We sailed to a couple of popular diving spots in Aqaba including King Abdulah Reef and First Bay.
Diving in the sea is a completely different experience than diving in a confined space like a swimming pool. I’m a worrier by nature so I did have things i’d read about such as decompression sickness or trouble equalising my ears on my mind but once I got into the water all my worries floated away. Your instructor won’t put you into a situation if they don’t think you are ready.
Every skill i’d learned over the last couple of days made so much more sense now and it all came naturally. I loved that feeling of weightlessness and how you can control your buoyancy just by breathing in or out.
I won’t forget that amazing feeling descending down and seeing all the marine life swimming around. From then on I was hooked. We finished my last 2 open water dives and after 3 and a half days I became a PADI certified Open Water Diver!
Everyone was getting ready to sail back to land but I managed to convince them we should do a fun dive! 😀 So we got suited and booted and jumped back in the water. For my first dive as a PADI certified Open Water Diver we explored a shipwreck called Cedar Pride which was scuttled off the gulf of Aqaba 30 years ago. It was an unforgettable experience, I felt like Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
My last day on the boat was spent doing 2 fun dives. The underwater world at the Red Sea in Jordan is really beautiful and divers come from all over the world to experience it. We saw stone fish, scorpion fish, lionfish, eels and dived a shipwreck and a tank wreck. While we were there we were lucky enough to witness a C-130 Hercules aircraft being scuttled which is now the latest addition to the dive wrecks in Aqaba. I really hope I can return one day to dive that!
My last dive was 51 minutes long but it felt more like 5 minutes! Time really flies down there, there’s so much to see and there’s no feeling quite like it. I have well and truly been bitten by the scuba-diving bug and I can’t wait to get in the water again! A big thank you to Padi and Aqaba Tourism for this amazing experience, it’s one i’ll never forget!
If you’re interested in becoming a certified open water diver too, more information can be found HERE