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My first scuba instructor loved to say that 70% of this earth is water, and if you haven’t been diving, you are missing out on a big part of this world.
My name is Alexandra Baackes, and I am a scuba diving addict. I wasn’t always this way, in fact just two short years ago I was nearly paralyzed with fear of any form of water and the dangerous creatures sure to be lurking within. A crush on a cute scuba instructor in Thailand forced me to dive in and get Open Water Certified, and in those four days, a new love affair was born. Since then I’ve dove in Thailand, Malaysia, The Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Honduras, and Spain, and I haven’t lost the thrill of breathing underwater.
Because of my past, I can sympathize with and relate to those that would rather amputate their own arm then don a wetsuit and jump into the open ocean. However, there is a lot of misinformation and many myths about diving floating around, and I’m aiming to set them straight with the goal of helping just one person explore that last 70% of our world. What follows are some of the fantasies, fictions, and scuba diving myths keeping people out of the water:
Myth: You’ll Become Claustrophobic and/or Drown
One of the main concerns and scuba diving myths scuba virgins have is that they will feel claustrophobic and constrained deep below sea level. Those able to overcome their reservations will find that there is no freer or greater feeling than soaring over a vibrant coral reef, feeling weightless and able to stretch and move in ways that are impossible on land.
Scuba diving, like any sport, has its risks. There are long lists of checks and balances in place during each dive to ensure the fun and safety of everyone participating.
However, the biggest of all is human error. If you act responsibly and follow the directions of your instructor, the biggest crisis you are likely to face is what color wetsuit to wear.
Myth: It’s Expensive
It’s true that scuba can be pricey to break into. Completing the Open Water certification takes 3-4 days and is an investment of both time and money. But once you finish, you are certified for life, and diving in places like Utila, Honduras or Koh Tao, Thailand can be cheaper than a game of bowling in major US cities!
Certification in these cheap diving hotspots includes accommodation, gear, and books and runs about $300USD. Those not ready to take the full plunge and get certified can do a one day “Discover Scuba” for about $60. And once you are a certified diver, you can explore the oceans for a mere $25 a dive.
Myth: You’ll be Eaten by Sharks
Okay, this is the big one, one of the biggest scuba diving myths. Two short years ago I was so terrified of sharks that I had a hard time swimming in pools, for fear that perhaps when I had my eyes closed someone managed to drop a great white in there and it was just waiting for me to turn around.
Since then, I’ve dove with everything from nurse sharks to hammerheads, and I still have all my fingers and toes. In reality, there have been less than 40 fatal shark attacks on divers, ever. And that’s with millions of certified divers on this planet! So this is one of the scuba diving myths that is just not true!
Sharks should be treated with the respect of any predator, of course, but statistics show you are more likely to die from being crushed by a vending machine than at the jaws of Jaws.
Myth: It’s an Exclusive Club
I always thought that groups of tan, long blond haired people involved in aquatic sports (surfing, diving) were probably super snobby and unwelcoming. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The diving community is large and varied, from hardcore cave divers in Mexico to young first-timers just looking for a laugh in South East Asia. The one thing they all have in common is a weakness for breathing underwater, and a love of sharing that passion with others.
I routinely find the diving community to be the best way to meet people while traveling, and I have met some of my best friends this way!
Myth: You aren’t fit enough
Being an extremely un-athletic person, I never dreamed that I would put “passion” in the same sentence with any kind of sport. Many people don’t realize you don’t need to be an Olympic swimmer, a champion athlete, or a competition bodybuilder in order to be a world-class diver.
As with most things in life, you will have an easier time if you are fairly healthy and fit, but in reality, the threshold is low for the physical fitness necessary to enjoy diving. In order to pass the Open Water certification you will need to swim 200 meters, but once that is over you are in the clear! With a BCD keeping you buoyant and a pair of fins on your feet, you literally only need to be able to kick your legs to dive. And due to smaller lungs and better air consumption, women often have the upper hand in this sport!
Bio: Alex is currently living and working as an underwater videographer, designer, and full-time fun-haver in Koh Tao, Thailand. She writes about her travels and diving at www.alexinwanderland.com.
Alex tweets at @wanderlandalex.
Now That the Scuba Diving Myths Have Been Debunked Why Not Learn How to Scuba Dive? Here is how to get certified in Koh Tao!