I bounce up and down in my airline seat. I can’t wait to land on the Caribbean Island of Dominica. I am excited because while on Dominica I am going to get my PADI Open water Diver Certification. It is the first time I have been to the Caribbean since I discover SCUBA diving on our previous trip to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. I have been looking forward to this trip for months.
Dominica is a small island near Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is a different island than the Dominican Republic. It is called the Nature Island and is 290 sq miles. It is a mountainous island with several peaks over 4,000 ft. The island is 29 miles long and 18 miles wide. The island is of volcanic origin and has sulfurous volcanic vents. The last eruption as on 4 January 1880. The volcanic formation can be seen in the rugged terrain and black volcanic sands.
We landed at the Douglas–Charles Airport. It is a 15-mile straight line journey from the airport to the capital city of Roseau. The drive took over an hour and half. The drive was an hour and half of driving up and down winding mountain roads with no guardrails. The locals treat the roads like a race track and speed around the corners pass at every chance.
We arrive at our condo and set about finding dinner. We ate at this great Chinese restaurant our condo owner recommended. The next morning we watched the sunrise from out patio and headed off to Dive Dominica to arrange my course. I was doing an Open water Referral Course. The Open water diver course is a four-day program with consists of two days of classroom and pool training, one snorkel, and four open water dives. An Open water Referral Couse is where one does classrooms and pool training at home and then complete the other requirements somewhere else.
Dive Dominica couldn’t start my training until the next day, so we drove down the Dominican coast. We made our way to the southern caldera of Scott’s Head. Scott’s Head is one of the most popular places to snorkel and dive on the island. We drove out ask the town of Scott’s Head to the Cachacrou Peninsula and parked our car. Watch for chickens in the roads while driving in Dominica.
We walked out to the Scott’s Head beach. We put on our snorkel gear and headed out along the Peninsula. The first part of the snorkel was just looking at rocks on the sea floor. About 100 feet from the beach, the sea floor drops vertically into an underwater cliff that descends past the field of view. Once can watch the coral and fish swimming below along the cliff. We had almost rounded the point when the current picked up. We were floating at the surface deciding if we wanted to round the point or not. We noticed a couple getting ready to snorkel. We waved at them and headed around the point. The couple were gone by the time we returned to shore.
The next day was my first open water dive. Normally, I would have gone snorkeling with my instructor Paul before the first dive. As Paul and I were preparing our dive gear, he asked about my experience. He realized that I was part of the group he had seen snorkeling at Scott’s Head the day before. He decided he knew I could snorkel and didn’t need to waste time on it.
We jumped off the docks into the water for my first open water dive. It’s about a 7 ft. drop off the dock into the water. Paul commented that I don’t hesitate when jumping off the dock. I don’t hesitate because if I do, I will freak out. I have a rule when jumping off things. One look, then step and never think about it. During this drive, we practiced regulator retrieval for when your regulator gets knocked out of your mouth or switching due to a malfunction. After an hour underwater, we surfaced and had a lunch break.
Our second dive was off the dock as well. We did an out of air drills and practiced tried diver tows. On the surface we did regulator and snorkel switches. I found most the drill easy and loved getting to explore the underwater world. On both dives, I had some minor issues with getting my ear pressure to equalize.
After a two day break due to the weather, Paul and I headed out for my open water boat dive. We headed out to a dive site called Danden’s North. We set our gear up on the boat and got ready to giant stride into the water. This was the training drive I was most nervous about. For this dive, I had to remove my mask, pause for a few seconds and then put it back on. Paul gave me the signal for the drill. My heart rate picked up and I took a deep breath. I pulled off my mask and did the drill. I put my mask on and removed the water. It was the scariest thing I had ever done underwater. After the drill, we swam through a rock arch and saw a Green Sea Turtle.
Our second boat was at a site called Point Guinard. This was a fun dive without any drill attached. We got to explore the area for about 40 mins. I enjoyed getting to see the little fish and look for moray eels. Paul and I surfaced and boarded the boat. Once we got our gear situated. Paul shook my hand and I had completed my first diver certification.
Where did you get your Open water Diver Certification?