My final post about the honeymoon (I promise!) is about getting our open water scuba diving certification at Sandals Grande Antigua. I had a disposable under water camera and took tons of pictures on the boat as well as on our dives, but on the last dive it somehow fell off my arm and is now lost in the middle of the ocean 🙁 Luckily, I have some photos from Kyle and my vacation in Honduras a few years ago (we took a one-day diving course), so I will use those instead! They don’t look too different from our pictures from Antigua!
The second day of vacation, Sunday, we woke fairly early (since we went to bed at 7pm on Saturday!) and I of course wanted to go straight to breakfast because I needed coffee asap. I actually took the coffee mugs from our room with me when I went down to the pool and we never got new mugs in the room. I also took mugs from the restaurants with me when we went to the pool or the dive shop- I think I must have been such a nuisance leaving random coffee mugs all over the place. Sorry Sandals!
The first thing on our honeymoon agenda was to go to the dive shop to sign up for scuba-diving. Kyle and I weren’t certified divers, but we learned you could take a one day course called “Discover Scuba” and still dive as long as you were with instructors. The Discover Scuba course was offered in Indianapolis and was significantly less expensive than the Sandals course, so we asked Sandals if we could take it ahead of time in Indy and they said that was fine. But, when we got to Antigua and went to the dive shop at the resort, they told us they wouldn’t accept our Discover Scuba cards and we would have to take their resort course.
We were really frustrated by this because we had specifically called and asked Sandals to make sure it was okay to do it in Indianapolis and they had told us it was… but the dive instructors in Antigua said “no way” and they weren’t going to change their minds. Kyle and I didn’t know what to do… we both wanted to scuba dive and we both felt like it would be a huge waste of money to take the “discover scuba” course again. We both wanted to get certified, but didn’t have time to do it in Indianapolis and were worried it would take up too much of our vacation if we did it in Antigua. We called the dive shop again to ask about getting scuba certified while we were there. They told us that most people did it in 4 days, but you could get it done in 3 days if you really wanted to. We asked how much book-work and time away from our vacation it would be and they assured us it wouldn’t be much. Kyle and I figured we are pretty smart people, and we’ve gone diving before, so how hard could it be? So, on the first full day of our honeymoon we signed up to get scuba certified, collected our textbooks and headed off to the pool to start reading.
We can’t stop studying- even on our honeymoon!!
The book was actually really easy to read, and interesting. Neither of us minded relaxing by the pool while reading the scuba book. We took the end of chapter quizzes together at the pool and finished most of the book that day.
The next day (Sunday) we needed to go to the dive-shop to watch a 3 hour video that covered the same topics as the book. The weather was so beautiful in the morning and we didn’t want to miss out on the sunshine so we asked if we could watch the video later in the day. We relaxed by the pool all morning, went paddle-boarding in the ocean, and basked in the glorious sun!!! Ahhhhh it was so wonderful!!
Around 2pm we picked up lunch to-go (jerk chicken- sooooo delicious!) and took it in to eat while we watched the movie. It was so perfect, because during our movie session it started pouring outside! We were so proud of ourselves for timing our indoor activity perfectly with the weather.
We made it through about 2 hours of the movie and couldn’t stand sitting for another minute, so we asked if we could come early the next morning to finish it.
Monday morning we finished the last hour of the movie and then came back later in the day for the pool portion of the class. We spent close to 3 hours in the pool learning all the diving techniques. We practiced assembling our bouancy-control-devices or BCDs (the jackets you wear while scuba diving). We learned how to clear our masks underwater should they get knocked off our face on a dive. We learned what to do if we run out of air, how to manually inflate our jackets, how to safely ascend to the surface in case of an emergency… all kinds of good stuff! After the pool course, we were all done with the hard part of the scuba-diving certification. All that was left was to actually go diving!!
So really, the class only took 2 days because the other 2 days were spent diving in the ocean, which isn’t really work- it’s what we would have been doing if we were already certified!
We had to do 4 total dives in the ocean to get our certification. We did 2 dives each day and practiced a few of the required tasks in each dive. In the first dive we practiced clearing our masks, running out of air, ascending and descending safely, etc. On the second dive, we practiced the same things, just a bit more intense.
The third dive sucked. I hated it so much. We had to actually take off our masks at the bottom of the ocean (50-60ft down) and then put them back on. I have contacts and so I have to keep my eyes closed when I take off my mask. I get so disoriented and flustered, so I tend to rise to the surface. Our instructor Furhlene keep yanking me back down to the bottom and would make me try again. I finally mastered taking off my mask and putting it back on without moving… but I hated it.
The fourth dive was much better. We practiced navigating with a compass and taking off our BCDs and putting them back on while in the water. At the end of the dive we were certified!
We dove for 2 more days after we got certified. On the dives we saw 2 sharks, sting-rays, a huge turtle (my favorite), lion fish, eels, jelly-fish, crabs, HUGE lobsters, and so many beautiful fish. I think the best part about diving is watching the sea-life all around you. It’s incredible and unlike anything else. I also love diving because it is so peaceful. I think it’s almost like meditating. You focus on your breath and slow it down, you move slowly and deliberately, and everything is quiet. It’s serene and relaxing. I just love it!
I think it was 100% worth it to get scuba certified at Sandals. For one, we were able to do it much faster than we would have done it had we taken a course back in Indiana. Also, we got to dive in the gorgeous Caribbean waters instead of random Indiana lakes and pools (what we would have done had we been certified in Indiana). The price was not much different at all compared to what we would pay at home. Also, Kyle and I were the only ones in the course and so it was basically a private course for the two of us. We had one other diver join us for the pool work one day, but that was it!
Now, we are certified forever and can start planning our next diving vacation 😉