Getting Certified For Scuba Diving in Nha Trang
Scuba Diving in Nha Trang
For the longest time it has been a dream of mine to get a scuba diving license. I remember as a child watching documentaries on underwater mysteries like that of the fated Titanic or the marine odyssey explorations of Jacques Cousteau. Did I mention that I know pretty much every word of “The Little Mermaid”? It’s staggering to think that approximately 75% of the world is covered in water, and its home to half of the world’s biodiversity yet 95% remains to be explored. The ‘hydrosphere’ (new word of the day) calls out to us to dive into its mysteries.
While I knew I wanted to get my certification on this trip to be able to dive in the famed waters of Thailand and one day Australia, I didn’t expect it would happen so quickly. But when we learned about the incredible deals on diving certification in a city en route to Saigon, we decided to take advantage of it. We arrived in Nha Trang after a spectacular week in Hoi An, and to be honest the city from the outset didn’t seem to have any overly redeeming qualities. First off the main beach was off of a huge road and backed by large resorts. The cost of daily living has presumably been grossly marked up by the swath of Russian tourists on vacation (seriously, in the main resort area nearly every restaurant and shop has Russian signage, totally bizarre for us). In short it was a bit of a wake-up call from the relaxed and very affordable beach life we had been living in Hoi An. However all was not lost. We met another fabulous Dutch couple (sensing a bit of a pattern here?) on the bus who told us about their plans to get licenses for scuba diving in Nha Trang. We were planning to just spend a few more days lazing around the beach but were inspired by Meike & Niels, as well as our good friends Rosa & Stijn who had just bought a motorbike and were going to continue their exploration of Vietnam by bike south to Vietnam. In short, I was feeling like it was a good time to shake things up a bit.
As usual, we wanted to do some pretty thorough research on how the dozens of dive shops in town stacked against each other, with an aim to minimize the language barrier- we were after all pretty much handing over our lives to our instructor. After quickly marching out of the shop with the cheapest certification (ask us if you want to know their name) after Ross took this picture of masks being “cleaned ” with the butt-blaster located beside the toilet, we agreed on Sailing Club Divers, a reputable 5 Star PADI diving club located right on the beach.
We debated the merit of getting a PADI Open Water License versus an SSI License (quite popular in SE Asia), and decided to go with the PADI which is recognized world wide but our decision had more to do with the quality of instructors we encountered when we went around to the shops to see what was available. The cost for our PADI Open Water Certification was $260 USD each for three days and included all gear and books. Compare this with a cost of more than $500 per person back home plus your certifying open dives in frigid Canadian water, this was pretty much a no brainer for us. As I mentioned Thailand is also a popular place to get your certification and my understanding is that you can get your PADI OW on Koh Tao for about $310 USD. The scenery for dives in Nha Trang, although nice, is not much to write home about compared to what I know of Thailand and Indonesia, but we just thought of it as less distraction while we were learning to dive.
Please bear in mind that apart from a little continuing education for our jobs, Ross & I have not been in school for a while now so the prospect of paying some fairly big dollars for a course with both practical and theory examinations was a little bit daunting for us at first. Day one was theory for the first half and then in-pool practice at a hotel WAY too expensive for our budget. We pretty much knew from the start that our instructor, Kung was a match made in heaven. We felt a bit like kids going for our swim badges when he instructed us to swim 6 laps and tread water for 10 minutes and although Ross had almost forgotten how to tread water, we finished the challenge.
The next two days were absolutely amazing. Its tough to articulate the experience of going underwater for the first time. It feels so incredibly unnatural for the first little while; there’s the rational thought in the back of your mind that diving accidents are extremely rare but its contrasted by the totally irrational mindset that you’re going to lose you mouthpiece, swallow a gallon of seawater, have your goggles fill up with water and have your tank explode blowing you into a million pieces and your remains being devoured by bloodthirsty sharks. Needless to say, it’s incredible how naturally body acclimatizes once you embrace the surreal sensation I can only liken to what it might feel like to fly or perhaps float in outer space. The freedom of movement is truly intoxicating. The only sound is your breath coming in and out and the bustling aquatic world you see beneath you is awe-inspiring.
On each subsequent dive, our instructor, feeling comfortable with our buoyancy control, would take us on more challenging dives culminating with a dive through an underwater cave with a very small opening. We were fortunate to see a variety of aquatic life amongst the coral like the clown fish, giant puffer, cuttlefish, sea snake and eel. Unfortunately we did not have the proper housing for our camera during these first few dives however, we will be equipped to take underwater photos before we dive in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
With the help of our brilliant instructor Khuong, we passed our tests and enjoyed a ‘few’ drinks with the Sailing Club Divers Team, man those boys could drink the Bia Hoi!
Our certification has opened up a world of potential new adventures and ignited a new passion to explore new places in the world and find that hot crustacean band…
For our diving inspiration check out “The World’s 50 Best Dive Sites”, and stay tuned for future blog posts on diving in Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa and the Philippines. We will be buying a camera and underwater housing set in Bangkok so that we can capture some of the prettiest scenery in the world to share with you all.
Please share with us your favourite dive sites in the world as well as your favourite underwater camera and housing for scuba/snorkelling.
Alyse & Ross
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