I’ve never really had a desire to learn how to dive, so it’s kind of a miracle I can write this post at all. It wasn’t until Cody persuaded me to give it a chance by saying it would be a fun thing for us to do together that I decided to go for it. Of course, the next logical step is deciding where we are going to learn to dive. Well, you know by now I learned to dive and get PADI certified in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – a resort town along the red sea.
We chose to get PADI certified in Sharm El Sheikh for two main reasons; price and convenience.
For price it’s hard to beat Egypt; we paid $350 per person for the PADI Open Water Certification. This is similar to places like the Caribbean or South East Asia, but you should definitely pay attention to the quality of the dive shop.
As fast as convenience goes, well no place is a more convenient vacation destination for a Ukrainian than Egypt. In fact, for two round trip direct flights and a week all inclusive at the Hilton Sharks Bay Sharm El Sheikh we paid just $680. From where I live there are plenty of round trip direct flights every day to Sharm, so I just went to book this trip two days before the flight.
PADI stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and is the largest diving certification company in the world.
My goal was to get the Open Water certification which will allow me to go down to 18 meters depth. Of course, there are more qualifications like Advanced Open Water or Rescue, but I’m not at that level yet, maybe a future post idea.
The red sea is considered one of the best diving spots in the world, so I was more than happy to start my journey here.
With the help of my friend Scott (dove in Sharm last month, and decided to come with us this trip) we arranged our lessons with Butterfly Dive Center in Sharks Bay, near the Oasis hotel.
The owner, Osama, was extremely professional and settled my nerves quickly the day before lessons started.
We were picked up from our hotel entrance and taken to the dive shop around 9am. The first hour consisted of having some Egyptian tea, signing the waivers and other paperwork, and getting an introduction to the gear.
After learning how the regulator and BCD (breathing control device) work, we put on wetsuits and walked down the floating pier.
Our first dive was all about the basics and getting used to the BCD. We swam a few meters along the reef to get used to the gear and having a tank on our backs, and then went down just a few meters to try to achieve neutral buoyancy. Success!
In between the first and second dives we did some practice tests and read a bit of the PADI diving handbook.
The second dive was all about getting comfortable on the bottom. We slowly descended around 6 meters and just swam around the reef for about 45 minutes. We practiced removing our regulator underwater as well as cleaning our masks.
Unfortunately this second dive would be Cody’s last (on this trip). Even though he did all the skills perfectly (Osama said it was like he’s done dozens of dives previously), he felt dizzy and started to throw up after surfacing.
Back in the shop Osama gave him an electrolyte solution and some pure oxygen, and then drove us to the dive hospital. The doctor couldn’t find any evidence of a dive injury like over-equalization or expansion, but did notice that his ear canal has a larger diameter than normal, which could be genetic and cause discomfort while diving. He’ll get a scan when we get back home.
Now I’m doing the course by myself. Of course, Cody still came with me for support, as the location is great and there are plenty of sun loungers to laze the day away.
This morning I learned how to assemble and disassemble all the dive gear, as well as cleaning and taking care of said gear. The first dive consists of reiterating the previous lessons skills as well as using my own breath to rise and fall in the water after achieving neutral buoyancy.
More practice tests and book work at lunch before learning the skills for my fourth dive.
This dive required me to remove and reattach my mask underwater, which I have quite a bit of difficulty with. I really hate opening my eyes underwater as the saltwater hurts…but to pass this section I just have to deal with it.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but at least I was able to get it done. After the dives I spent the evening on the PADI online portal reading all the materials and passing the exam (96% woohoo).
My final two dives were all about showing all the skills I learned in this course. Of course, seeing as this certification allows you to descend down 18 meters, I also had to do that on my final dive to pass.
Surprisingly I found this to be the easiest day. I did everything I was supposed to, and going down to 18 meters was a breeze. I actually found it more difficult to go from 0 to 6 meters than 6 to 18.
Well that’s pretty much my experience with getting my PADI Open Water Certification in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. And even though Cody wasn’t able to finish his course I’m happy I was able to get certified.
Now that I’m an officially licensed diver the first thing I wanted to do was a proper dive trip. Scott, who has been diving around Sharm this entire trip while I was getting certified, planned a day for us to go to Dahab to do some shore dives.
This trip was arranged by Butterfly Dive Center, so at around 9am a shuttle picked us up at our hotel and drove us the almost hour and a half trip to Dahab, north of Sharm El Sheikh.
Sharm El Sheikh is one of the easiest places to visit from Ukraine (where I…March 18, 2021