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Scuba Diving in the Caribbean

Updated on February 28, 2016
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Chris practices free writing which often produces humorous or introspective results with practical applications to living life more fully.

Preparing to Dive

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Author's Note About This Article

Today we went scuba diving for the very first time. Michelle and I had no plans to do this when we came to the Caribbean Island of St. Croix, but one visit to the dive shop got us on our way. As first time divers, we were not allowed to take cameras, which is a good policy. When you are diving for the first time, all attention must be on doing the things that will make you a successful diver and keep you alive to dive again another day.

I say this to let you know why I have no original photos in this article. After we get certified, I'll be able to photograph the beautiful underwater scenes that we saw today.

Into the Depths of the Caribbean Sea

We stepped off the back of the boat and quickly resurfaced by inflating our buoyancy compensators. This very morning, we had practiced with the scuba gear in a resort pool for an hour. The setting had been safe, controlled, free of any real danger. But this was different. The surface was what the boat’s captain had called, sporty, meaning this was not an ideal day to be floating around in the Caribbean Sea.

Our dive instructor, Matt, signaled for us to begin deflating our vests, allowing us to descend into the blue waters of Scotch Bank, off St. Croix, and a whole new world opened up before us. As we hung suspended below the turbulent surface, my girlfriend, Michelle, and I did a slow high five in celebration. Matt pointed at each of us, then into the depths of a vast, subterranean world, and we began our virgin dive.

Life in the Sea

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The Act of Moving Through the Underwater Environment

In retrospect, I see that scuba diving consists of two activities, distinct, yet intertwined. I was floating, flying even, propelling myself through the water with a measure of control that was completely new. Forward, backward and side to side were limitations I had previously taken for granted in the world above. But here, there were no such constraints. I was free to move up and down simply by varying the amount of air in my lungs. This new ability was as liberating to me as throwing the door open would be to a caged bird.

In addition to this freedom of movement was the environment through which we swam. We were diving along a coral reef with a shallow plateau on one side, and a wall on the other, which drops to a maximum depth of over 13,000 feet (2.5 miles), or nearly 4,000 meters. We passed over the wall and gazed into the depths. The coral reef is home to countless species of aquatic life. We moved slowly, watching fish of every color and every combination of colors imaginable. Shellfish hid in crevices, peering out at the intruders into their realm. Spotted eels, bodies buried in silt, heads protruding upward, watched as we passed over.

Exploring the Coral Reef

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Maneuvering, Hovering, Changing Depths

When we spotted something we wanted to observe, we hovered, then slowly emptied our lungs which allowed us to drop toward the object of our curiosity. A deep breath carried us upward again, away from the coral structures, where we continued our journey. I wondered at this ability to stop and observe from every possible vantage point, to thoroughly examine a thing or creature, understanding how it survived in its native environment. I imagined what it would be like to have the ability to see the passage of moments in this same way, to hover, not just in space, but in time, to suspend a momentary occurrence, a kiss, a man rescuing a child from a fire, an assassin with his finger on the trigger, to analyze and comprehend the event, then release it to its ultimate conclusion.

Underwater Sounds

Constant breathing through the regulator drowns out any underwater sounds. At one point I held my breath for a few seconds. I heard something, but had no idea what it might be. Later, aboard the boat, other divers asked if we had heard the whales singing. Humpback whales, several miles away, were the sounds I had been listening to.

Too soon, pressure gauges showed our oxygen tanks were getting low. Matt pointed us in a direction I would never have been able to determine on my own, the direction of the boat. Our heads broke the ocean’s surface, and one by one we climbed from the water onto the rear platform of the vessel where gravity reclaimed its hold on our bodies, and we struggled under the weight of scuba gear and against the tossing of waves.

An Underwater Hierarchy of Life

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The Unique Qualities of Diving

As I write, I can hear waves rolling onto the beach, a reminder of the subterranean world that dominates this planet, a realm of quietness, of weightlessness and of countless creatures that call it home. I want to go there again, both as an adventure and as a retreat where I can gain new perspectives on living in the moment, truly seeing and comprehending what is going on around me. There are other places we can go and activities we can be involved in that will teach us many of these same lessons, but diving is unique in the sense that where we go, we cannot stay. We are, and always will be foreign observers in that undersea world where man can never be king, a realm with its own, unique hierarchy and way of life.

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    • VillaMargaritaSTX profile image

      Villa Margarita St Croix USVI 14 months ago from St Croix, USVI

      for divers coming to St Croix, here is a full list of dive shops, dive sites, maps, and other dive resources: http://villamargarita.com/st-croix-scuba-diving-us...

      And of course, you're all welcome to stay at our villa on the north shore right next to Salt River marina where dive boats take off, and 5 minutes away from Cane Bay, another diving hub. Regular guests can store their gear with us :)

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Deb, a new world sums it up as far as I'm concerned. A new world to me, at least. And there will definitely be a second visit, and more. I'm not so sure Oklahoma is a prime scuba diving location, but I certainly hope you have the opportunity to give it a try at some point.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This gave me such great insight into diving, something that I have never tried. It sounds like a brave new world, for those armed with only a quest for knowledge into another realm.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Frank, so you are certified but haven't dived yet? You know, the certification is for life. A little refresher course and you could be swimming with the fishes.....wait, that's a bad analogy. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting. We did have a splash and are looking forward to doing it again.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Ann, when we went on this dive, we met several other people on the boat who had been diving for years. I never would have picked some of them to be scuba divers. But there they were, donning the gear and having the time of their lives. We had an awesome instructor named Matt. He made this so easy, and we felt very safe the entire time. If there had been anything close to an emergency, Matt would have taken care of us, I have no doubt. I encourage you to give it a try if you ever have the opportunity, especially in the ocean. Thanks for reading and for your very kind comments.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Randy, I think I would have done the same as you if my instructor had kept holding my head while diving. That is a strange way to teach someone to dive. We had a great time and I look forward to diving again. Thanks for reading this bit of writing and for your comments.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      looks like you guys had a splash..:) I remember taking those scuba diving classes way back.. never used the lessons.. but at the time I needed the certifcation .. thanks for sharing your experiences with us Cam.. bless you bro :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I'm tremendously impressed with this, not only because you've done it but because of the thoughts you express regarding the experience.

      I'm not keen on swimming. I'm scared of water. However, if only to experience what you did, I'd bite the bullet and try this just once. You never know I might do it again!

      Thank you, Chris, for this superb insight into an activity which is such a privilege for anyone. Your description made me cry because it sounds so special and literally wonderful.

      Ann

    • Randy Horizon profile image

      Randy Hirneisen 2 years ago from Philadelphia

      Sounds like you had a great time Chris! It's been a long time since I went scuba diving, it is great fun. Scuba diving in the corral reefs of the Caribbean is beautiful. Last time I went was in muddy water in China and the instructor kept holding on to my head, I couldn't take that so I surfaced and swam back to the boat. But it is a very cool experience. A whole new world as you say.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Michael, "Reading alone is sufficient..." That is so funny. i'm glad I could write about my experience so others could get an idea about what it's like. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Lela, You have brought up the exact reason I want to be certified. Wherever I go, I'll be able to dive. Cuba has what is probably the most pristine coral reef remaining. I'd love to dive there someday, as well as the Great Barrier Reef. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Bill, Thanks for stopping by. So, you are what? An hour from the ocean? I bet there are dive shops in Olympia too. Anyway, I had a wonderful and exciting time. Thanks for commenting.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Mary, I do believe I am older than you, so age has nothing to do with when you begin scuba diving. The apprehension disappears when you get over the initial entry into the water. When my tank pressure hit 500 psi, I was so disappointed. I had to go up. I know this isn't for everyone. But it is new and exciting to me. Thanks for reading.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Ruby, thanks for reading my article. Michelle was never interested in going scuba diving either. She went into the dive shop with me and listened to the conversation between me and the owner. She learned that safety is everybody's top priority, and it really is. The owner of the shop asked her if she wanted to go too, and she said yes. She is as excited about diving now as I am. Just thought I'd mention that to you. :)

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 2 years ago

      Thanks Chris for "taking me along with"; reading alone is sufficient thrilling experience.

      Voted interesting.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      The Caribbean is the perfect place for scuba diving! I used to go to Cozumel several times per year and even made plans to move there. I did move to Maui and did some diving there. The Caribbean is actually better than in Hawaii. I hear the great Barrier Reef is the best diving in the world, though.

      Enjoy! It's like visiting another world, like you say.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing your adventure with us, Chris. I've never gone scuba diving but I know I would love it.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Younger I would have done it, now I'm a little leary. My son and daughter-in-law are certified and have dived in the Caribbean more than once.

      Your description seemed spot on and made it more real for those of us who have never done it.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      It was exciting to read about your adventure under water. I went along but only in spirit. I would never have the nerve to do this. Thank's for sharing..Shared..

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Shauna, we plan on returning here next year at about the same time. That's when we will get certified and will be able to dive for longer times and go deeper where more of the sea life dwells. Other divers on our boat saw sea turtles and sharks that day. I'll be writing more for sure.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Thanks, John. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Thanks for reading.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Sea life fascinates me, but I'd be too afraid to immerse myself in that world. As you say, we are foreigners - intruders - in that realm. However, I love the way you describe the experience. I hope you write many hubs and display first-hand photos of your journeys once you are certified.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      We done on your first dive Chris...great achievement. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure it was a wonderful experience.