This one will be my favorite post on Gili Air and also one of the two reasons I went to this tiny Indonesian gem; Scuba Diving!
Back in March in New Zealand I tried a Discovery Dive with the wonderful people of Northland Dive near Paihia. This was a really weird experience for me and made me realize a whole other side of myself. I almost didn’t want to do this Discovery Dive because I was so nervous about panicking under water, about all the gear and most importantly that I would hold my breath. Which is like the number one rule that you shouldn’t do. The thing is that once I was in the water and taking in my under water surroundings I didn’t want to come up anymore. It was the best experience ever and I totally loved every minute of it. After that all I could think about (quite literally) is getting my Open Water certificate. So I went on and booked my trip to Gili Air so Joeri could become my instructor.
Having a great friend as your instructor is something I would recommend to anyone if possible. It makes the process so much more memorable but also more comfortable. It is still a whole new experience that can bring some frightening moments, I mean breathing from an oxygen tank 18 metres under water isn’t particularly a natural human thing to do, plus it seems like for quite some people (thankfully myself not included) the whole buoyancy control isn’t very easy either Plus it’s just a lot of fun as well. So Joeri and I had a great time and I couldn’t wish for a better instructor. Thanks Joe!
The first day of the Open Water course was mentally actually quite full on ; I decided to watch all the videos in one go… it’s like a good 4 hours of video watching, some of it interesting, quite a bit of it rather boring, oh yes, did I tell you that was the second time I was watching them? I was so excited about getting my Open Water course that I already watched the videos at home just for fun… haha.
Anyway second day was much more fun… First I had to complete the quizzes that go with the videos. I’m quite competitive so I can’t deny I like a quiz! We also did the first pool dive to already get some skill tests out of the way and then in the afternoon; first ocean dive it was!!! As excited as I was before getting on the boat that is also exactly how seasick I felt on the boat and it was only a 15min boatride… oops… That’s my weak stomach for you. Anyway once we were in the water it all felt much better and I was ready to go down! It only took about a minute or so before I saw my first seaturtle… I felt so happy and this dive couldn’t have been more successful already. Those animals are just AMAZING! I actually don’t remember too much else about this dive, just bits and pieces, probably because it was so much to take in that first time but I do remember that I absolutely loved it and was certainly ready for more.
Fast forward to a few days later: I am certified! I got 48\50 on my exam, Joeri said I did a great job and I was totally ready for some fun dives now. So back on the boat and in the water it was for me… Indonesia is such a great place for diving and definitely to get your Open Water course. This place is just so beautiful. The water is about 30 degrees Celsius so I could easily swim with just a rashguard as protection, the visibility is between 20 & 30 metres and the amount of tropical fish is out of this world. I tell you it’s such a colourful world in the deep blue, it’s a whole other planet on its own and scuba diving is such a unique and great way to explore it. I’m already planning my next divetrip 🙂
I saw some amazing things while I was in the ocean; first of all lots of amazing and colourful coral, sea cucumbers, starfish (ok, not everybody is so excited about this but I was), shrimp… haha maybe also not the most exciting thing but I thought it was pretty cool to see how they actually live and behave in their natural habitat, clownfish aka NEMO!, triggerfish… don’t come too close!, turtles… lots and lots of them, snapper, trevally, a thorny seahorse, scorpionfish, lionfish, baby lionfish, Moorish idol, angelfish, cornetfish, pipefish, barracuda, mantis shrimp, moray eel, baby white spotted eagle ray… still about 1 meter long without the tail!, a huge napoleon fish, about 8 white tip reef sharks… they are so shy. I am sure there was a lot more but when you see so much it’s quite difficult to remember every little fish. Turns out Taking underwater pictures is actually really hard… even with a GoPro so that’s why the pictures aren’t fantastic… next trip I’ll do better!
I do want to say a big thank you to Oceans 5 dive resort and to everyone who works there for making this such an incredible experience. I am in no way affiliated with this resort so this next comment is purely based on my personal experience. I would however recommend this diveresort\shop to anyone thinking about going diving in Indonesia and\or doing their Open Water course in South-East Asia. I was very impressed with their facilities… They have a huge pool that goes quite deep actually where they can prepare you for your first dive and all the skills in-house before going into the ocean. It’s also great and big enough to just lounge around for the afternoon if you want to. Maybe on the instructors I’m a bit bias because mine was one of my best friends but all the other instructors seem to be very good as well. There were no complaining costumers and there is just a general very good vibe and positive atmosphere in this place. If you decide to go there for a fundive I would definitely recommend you go with divemaster Unus, he just sees everything! Big or small, Unus will find it for you and he is like a fish in the water. Obviously I would recommend Joeri as an instructor to anybody as well. He is so relaxed, positive and very responsible. What I thought was most important was that they were very safe and they have a great code of conduct in the water. They are very responsible, meaning the divers safety is their top priority combined with the protection of the marine life. At ocean’s 5 you can look at everything in the ocean but you keep your hands to yourself, this might seem as obvious to you but I saw it more than once from other diveschools where they didn’t exactly respect the sea creatures their natural habitat and found it necessary to stir it up a bit to satisfy their clients. It will be hard to find another dive resort that fulfilled all my expectations like this one.