(This post originally appeared on Facebook before I started this blog.)
Captain’s Log, Day 3
Ventured into a whole new world today. Entered through an aquatic portal. This world is filled with entirely different species, many of them with gills. It’s a very friendly and slow moving world. I’ll have to visit again.
Today was simply magical! I awoke early this morning, whereupon I trekked by myself down to Aqua Zone and met with Nick, who woke up even earlier so he could take an introductory scuba course in a pool. I chatted with the other divers in the shop, comparing stories and the pros and cons of wetsuit diving versus drysuit diving. My past diving experience has only been with a drysuit in the Pacific Northwest, so the added mobility and simpler gear (including a much lower added weight requirement) of wetsuit diving strongly appealed to me.
After signing the necessary paperwork, we boarded a boat and traveled off-shore for a bit before we entered the water. Being my first boat dive and the first with a new equipment profile, I entered the water cautiously from the stern. As a certified diver, I was partnered with the other certified diver who joined our group, while Nick partnered with the divemaster leading the tour. Not one to ever half-ass adventure, Nick jumped into the water with a giant stride off the port side of the boat.
Our first dive brought us to see giant sea turtles, and I cannot describe how exciting it was to interact with new marine life! Especially docile marine life that can rival the size of a human (and vastly outweigh one). Nick took to the waters gracefully like he was a merman in a previous life, flourishing in his new environment while I clumsily swam along despite my past (albeit limited, logging only about 10 dives prior) experience.
We eventually surfaced and returned to the boat for refreshments, returning the snorkelers who joined us to shore before we left for our second dive. While route to the second dive location, a school of dolphins swam by, and the divemaster geared back up impressively fast and jumped overboard in hopes to catch some great photos! She managed to get a few good shots before they swam off and we resumed our course.
The second dive encompassed local coral reefs and smaller marine life, and ended with a brief but careful visit to see a very pregnant reef shark hiding beneath a shelf in a small alcove created by the shelf overhang. Unfortunately, I failed to compensate for my aluminum tank switching from negative buoyancy to positive buoyancy during my buoyancy check (I usually dive with steel tanks), so I didn’t get to see it too closely once I consumed about half the air, despite letting all the air out of my BCD and exhaling completely. The divemaster eventually came to my aid when she noticed I was lagging behind and added a few extra pounds to my ankles to help me descend, but by that time the group had largely moved away. I saw it from a distance though, so I still consider that a rare opportunity seized. All in all, I highly recommend the experience with Aqua Zone if you ever find yourself looking for a good local dive shop in Honolulu.