During 2016 scuba diving became a passion. Loving travel, people and the sea, becoming a scuba instructor, was the obvious choice. Easier said than done, but with a huge number of internships on offer I jumped at the opportunity to be able to dive and travel at the same time. My journey started in Cape Town with an internship from Advanced to Dive Master with a company called Into The Blue. During this internship I started looking for a place abroad to go from Dive Master to Dive Instructor.
By Stefan Oosthuizen
A Spanish dive company with dive centres all over the Caribbean became my choice. Ticket booked I left for a six month stint in Jamaica in January 2017. As a professional diver you need all your own gear, which leaves your luggage a bit on the heavy side. On top of this, one of my other passions is metal detecting, so the metal detector had to be factored in as well.
The Luminous Lagoon is bioluminescence. It glows a bright blue at night when the water is disturbed, creating a magical experience when you swim in the water.
Travelling time from South Africa to Jamaica was just over 27 Hours. Upon arrival I took a very expensive taxi to the Backpackers for my first evening. I knew I had arrived in Bob Marley’s country when the Airport doors opened and my senses were hit with the smell of weed. I interned at a resort just outside Montego Bay. Unfortunately, only having one day off a week didn’t give me much time to see the country but the beaches outside of Falmouth, luminous lagoon and the Rose Hall Great House is a must see. The Luminous Lagoon is bioluminescence. It glows a bright blue at night when the water is disturbed, creating a magical experience when you swim in the water.
The diving was really disappointing; there is little law enforcement with trawling, drift nets, cage traps and spear fishing having decimated the fish populations. The diving was easy though, making it nice for first time divers to learn and become better.
Remember… Always pack a small blanket and warm jacket in your carryon luggage…
The Instructor Development Course and Instructor Exam took place in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After missing the plane due to a ridiculous booking and technical difficulties I missed my flight and had to sleep on a bench in the Miami Airport. Remember… Always pack a small blanket and warm jacket in your carryon luggage…
Mexico is an amazing country. On the very first dive I was fortunate to see a spotted eagle ray and on the second dive five turtles, four huge green morays and a nurse shark. Most of the dive sites are drift dives and very little energy is expended, except when you try to swim after Mr Turtle who glides effortlessly against the current.
Between Playa del Carmen and Tulum there are numerous Cenotes that can be explored, dived or swam in. It’s a very touristy town but the streets off the main beat have some really good traditional food and are cheap as chips. The street food is amazing and do try it. Being a dive instructor you don’t get many off days, with one a week being the norm.
I tried to use every off day to the fullest. One amazing trip that I went on was to snorkel with Whale Sharks out of Cancun. It was an incredible day with flat seas and almost a hundred sharks feeding around the boats. We jumped into the water two at a time with a guide to snorkel with these amazing beasts. They continuously swim so you have to swim next to them as fast as possible and when you got tired the boat picked you up and another group got a turn. I visited Cozumel, said to be one of the top 10 dive destinations in the world. It is definitely up there, seeing huge turtles; sharks to weird looking Splendid Toadfish and tiny Nudibranchs. The ruins of Tulum but more especially Chichen Itza were amazing to see. The Mayan culture and the architecture of have always been a keen interest to me and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the ruins.
Seeing the happiness as a new world is opened up to them is incredible.
I successfully completed my Instructor Exam and started teaching divers. It is great to see first time divers gain confidence and ultimately master the basic underwater diving skills. Seeing the happiness as a new world is opened up to them is incredible.
With the tourist season coming to a close I realized I needed to start looking for a job outside of Mexico. I sent my C.V. to Small Hope Bay Lodge in the Bahamas, not long after I secured an interview my employment was terminated, meaning I was going to have a month long holiday before leaving for the Bahamas. Most days were spent metal detecting the beaches of Tulum, I would just jump in a collective taxi, buy some freshly squeezed juice from the numerous street vendors and I would be set for the day.
Small Hope Bay Lodge is situated on Andros Island in the Bahamas. Built in the sixties the small lodge only has about 20 rooms with most of the guests returning multiple times. The resort is really rustic with great diving. Caribbean reef sharks on almost every dive, really an incredible underwater environment to dive in.
…it’s just amazing to wade the flats seeing stingrays, Lemonsharks, turtles and fish float by with the tides.
Within the first two weeks of arriving on Andros I met a gentleman that opened my world to fly fishing. He left his rod with me making me promise that he wanted it back when he came in March again. Fly fishing can be very rewarding but also incredibly frustrating. There’s always wind blowing and you need to be a good fly caster to get the line out the appropriate distance. Many days were spent on the white sandy flats stalking bonefish, it’s just amazing to wade the flats seeing stingrays, Lemonsharks, turtles and fish float by with the tides.
I moved back to the most Southern tip of Africa in March, the need for biltong, tomato sauce and braai’s was just too much for me to stay away any longer.
My journey in becoming a dive instructor taught me that there is a huge world out there that needs to be explored. There’s always an adventure waiting, even if it’s just a day trip to see a new area or just chilling on the beach with friends and a few beers. Don’t be limited if you are unable to travel, in every area there are new things to see and experience. It’s just up to you to get out and do it!