• I Am Sam.

Bucket list item #62: Get your scuba license

I absolutely love the water. Some of my fondest memories growing up have been in my mother's home town, this little place at the southern tip of the island Leyte in the Philippines. Our house there was literally steps away from the seawall. I would wake up and go out on our balcony and sit there for half an hour just gazing at the view.

What's ironic, however, is even though I spent most summers swimming in the sea, I had an irrational fear of fish. I'm not really sure what caused my fear - whether it was a fear of choking on a fish bone, or a fear of possibly being eaten alive by piranhas (my mother used to love watching piranha/alligator/killer bees/shark movies that pretty much would give any 5 year old nightmares) - for the longest time, I have not eaten fish, nor did I feel comfortable seeing them so close to me whenever I went snorkeling. I was, and sometimes still am, the kind of person that you could hear screaming under water whenever a school of fish came too close.

Scuba Diver Sam

What spurred me to want to get my PADI Open Water license was the first time I took a Discover Scuba class. I was in Moalboal, Cebu. It was two hours long, and we were lucky enough to witness the sardine run where thousands, and I mean THOUSANDS of sardines were swimming along the Moalboal shore. Now imagine me, afraid of fish, seeing a black wall of fish in front of me. It was both terrifying, and spectacular. That was all it took. I was sold.

Fast forward a few years later, and there I was in the Gili Islands of Indonesia, attending the Open Water Course with my sister, Alyssa. For those of you that are considering getting your scuba license, here are some of the reasons why I think you should DEFINITELY go for it:

1. It's an adventure

If you're looking to discover new places, see new things, and experience something different, then scuba diving is for you. 71 per cent of the earth's surface is covered by water. There is so much for you to discover. Especially if you decide to further your education, there are PADI courses that teach you to dive in caves, ship wrecks, and all sorts of other places.

2. It's incredibly relaxing

One of the things I realised when I got my license is the importance of breathing. In order to not run out of oxygen too quickly, you have to remain calm and collected. The calmer you are, the longer you dive. So you'll find yourself taking nice long breathes, and enjoying the view. I've found that the breathing techniques I use underwater has helped me even above ground. You learn to control your breathing, and focus on maintaining a calm demeanor. It helps relax and clear out your mind.

One of the many sea turtle we saw!

3. The amazing marine life

If you're a lover of animals, scuba diving won't disappoint. On one of our dives, we saw around 12 sea turtles. They were just lazing around on the sea floor. I got so excited. We were also able to see baby white tip reef sharks hiding under some of the corals and rocks. They were adorable! The number of species there are in the ocean is unknown, but it's estimated to be around 700,000 to one million different kinds. Imagine everything you could see!

4. It's a great way to make friends

Every country that has diving sites have a diving community as well. It's a great way to meet some of the locals, as well as other travelers, and you don't have to worry about coming up with a conversation starter, you can talk about diving! Scuba diving also incorporates a buddy system, and there's nothing like experiencing a new place with somebody else. So go out there! Travel! Dive! Be one with the fish!

5. The opportunities are endless

What I love about scuba courses is that there's so much for you to learn. Once you've completed the Open Water Course, there are many other courses you can take. For example, one of the courses I might want to take in the future would be the Underwater Photography course that teaches you how to take great photos of the marine life. There's still so much for us to learn, and I don't think we'll ever get to fully know the ocean, but scuba diving gives you the opportunity to experience even just a little bit of it.

The list could go on and on. I won't say anything more, but I do recommend that you go out there and experience it for yourself. You won't regret it. If you need any tips on how and where to plan your scuba classes, feel free to message me, I can give you some insight into how I planned mine. Till' then, I'm planning on taking full advantage of my scuba license!