Opportunities like becoming a professional scuba diver over one summer (from no previous experience, in the beautiful Mediterranean island of Ibiza might I add) don’t come around too often. So when it did I grabbed it with both hands. Okay so it would cost me nearly £3000, but that included everything I needed bar flights. Plus I would leave Ibiza with a new potential career path, or just be safe in the knowledge that wherever I travelled in the world I would find work doing something I loved . Making the two year world travelling trip I had planned between graduation and ‘the real world’ that little bit more unique. Not only would I be able to discover fascinating cultures and environments on land but also delve into the intriguing world of the deep blue.
I’m a watersports and adventure activities student, so surely I have no fear right? Sharks, jellyfish and eels should pose no threat, it’s easy for me to do, but you could never do it right? Wrong. Before I began my course, I was like many people scared of heights, but more importantly scared of the ocean! I found facing my fears in Ibiza expanded my horizons and freed me to get sucked into a world of serene beauty, unlike any I’d experienced before.
The great thing about Ibiza for beginners is that the water is warm and clear (you can see up to 40m), meaning you’re comfortable and for those fearful of the unknown (more people than you think, including myself), you can see what’s sharing your water. There are no sharks found in the waters around Ibiza, nor giant squid or Portuguese Man-O-War or any other scaries. There are however some fascinating fish, octopus, eels, sunken ships and even an old tuna factory, 30m down.
The courses I undertook were PADI courses, the leading body for scuba diving in the world, in fact 97% of dive centres are PADI run. The Open Water Course came first, covering all the basic skills and knowledge needed for safe underwater exploration at 18m. Punta Dive are lucky to have four dive centres and two dive boats on the island, as well as two beaches suitable for diving from the shore. These are protected from jellyfish by natural reefs and provide perfect confined water areas for beginners.
The second course is Advanced Open Water, this is where the diving gets more thrilling. The course gives you the chance to explore using different gases, deep diving and caves. As well as giving you the knowledge to start identifying different fish and plants and developing buoyancy skills. The best thing about this course is there are no exams!
The next level is Rescue Diver, this as you would expect concentrates mostly on rescue skills. What to do if issues arise underwater and on the surface. This goes hand in hand with the Emergency First Responder first aid course also included. These valuable skills can be transferred to almost all environments.
Finally begins the Divemaster course, this takes approximately a month to complete and gives you all the knowledge, skills and experience needed to go out there and begin a dive career. Well almost, it’s a bit like getting your driving licence, you get all you basics, but you progress as you continue, the more you do it the more you learn. Even if a career as a dive instructor is not what you are looking for, there are many jobs out there requiring dive skills: research, photography, documentary filming, working in an aquarium, the list is huge. This opportunity opened so may doors for me. I met many new friends within the industry, including potential employers. I was also then privy to exclusive job adverts using my PADI professional number on the PADI Pro website.
A typical day started with preparing equipment for Discover Scuba Diving sessions. Then assisting them into the water and helping them through their first underwater experience. Followed by a nice lunch in the shade of a palm tree, maybe a quick nap, before fetching equipment for an afternoon boat trip. Punta Dive also sell Discover Scuba Diving sessions at local hotel pools, so when I wanted to learn some selling and marketing skills, I could. Further plumping out my CV.
But it’s not all work work work, Ibiza is a notorious party island, where the term ‘superclub’ was born. Amnesia, Eden, Es Paradis and Space to name but a few. Yet this is just one part of the island. With its scorching sun, clear waters and white sands, all kinds of crowds are drawn. For such a small island (smaller than Wales) it houses so many diverse environments: deep red dusty lands, craggy cliffs and lush green forest. There are ‘hippy markets’ all over the island selling hand crafted goods and chilled out beach bars.
I stayed directly opposite Murphy’s Irish bar and was able to work there in order to fund staying on in Ibiza and volunteer my diving skills, enabling me to gain more experience. The bar had live music every night played by the house band and a restaurant on the side serving authentic Indian meals.
I would advise anyone who can afford to, to take this chance. Or even if you can’t, find a way, save your loan, save your wages, do whatever you can, this course will change your life!